Market picks up on East End, report shows

<i>Hamptons, North Fork still not out of the woods</i>

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Source: Prudential Douglas Elliman

The residential real estate market on Long Island’s East End is looking better, although the end of the slump is still not in sight.

There were 459 homes sales in the Hamptons and North Fork together in the third quarter, a 29.3 percent leap from 355 in the same quarter of last year, and 49.5 percent more than last quarter, according to a quarterly report by Prudential Douglas Elliman (see full report below).

Thanks to this spike in activity, the region saw a respite from the steep price declines it’s seen for the past two years.

The average sales price of a home on the East End grew 1.3 percent to $1.34 million, from $1.32 million in the third quarter of 2008, and increased 4.3 percent from the second quarter. The median price was $700,000, 4 percent less than the prior-year quarter but 2.9 percent more than the last quarter.

“The worst is over,” said appraiser Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel and the preparer of the report. “After a precipitous drop in the first couple quarters, we saw prices move sideways, and even a little uptick in the summer.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be further price declines, he said, thanks to the tenuous state of the economy and still-rising unemployment. 

“Best case is we move sideways for a while,” he said. “Realistically, there will be more price erosion moving forward.”

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Still, the steepest price declines are likely over for the area, which has been hard hit by the credit crisis and Wall Street meltdown. In the Hamptons, prices fell 38.6 percent from their peak in 2007 to their low-point in the first quarter of this year.

That increased affordability was one reason so many buyers began making purchasers over the summer, now that the stock market has begun to strengthen.

“People were swooping in because there were deals to be had,” Miller said.

That effect was more pronounced on the East End than in Manhattan, he said, because the slowdown there has gone on longer, creating a greater stockpile of pent-up demand.

“Sales had been depressed for a long period of time,” he said. “In Manhattan it was overnight, but in the Hamptons it was like a slow bleed.”

In the Hamptons, the average sales price was $1.57 million, up 2.2 percent from the same quarter of 2008. The median sales price was $810,000, 2.4 percent less than the prior-year quarter. There were 339 sales in the region in the third quarter, up 31.9 percent from the same quarter of last year.

The Hamptons market was characterized by the return to high-end sales, Miller said.  The median price in the Hamptons most exclusive area — anything “south of the highway,” putting the properties closer to ocean — skyrocketed 67.3 percent to $1.84 million, up from $1.1 million in the prior-year quarter, according to the Elliman report.

“A lot of people just got off the fence, at all price strata,” he said.

In the North Fork, the median sales price was $477,500, down 17 percent from the prior year quarter but up 6.1 from the previous quarter. The number of sales there jumped to 120 from 98 in the prior-year quarter.

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