Home sales rebound on East End

Sales activity appears back to normal on the East End of Long Island.

According to the Corcoran Group’s quarterly market report, released today, there were 466 residential sales recorded in the Hamptons and on Shelter Island last quarter, compared to 208 during the first quarter of 2009 and 413 during the first quarter of 2008 (see full report below).

In the more dressed-down North Fork market bordering the Long Island Sound, 108 sales of residential property were recorded with the county last quarter, compared to 61 during the first quarter of 2009, and 109 during the first quarter of 2008.

Corcoran’s report includes all sales in the nearly two dozen East End towns the company is active in, but unlike most reports Corcoran’s counts the sales recorded during that quarter versus the sales that actually closed during that quarter. Since the Suffolk County Clerk is so slow to record closed sales, often waiting two to four weeks, Corcoran’s approach allows the company to get its report out sooner than its competitors, however many of the sales were closed in the prior quarter.

Still, the numbers reflect “a continued trend of sales activity that is consistent with historic norms,” said appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel, who prepares the New York City and East End market reports for Corcoran competitor Prudential Douglas Elliman. “Prices are not where they once were, but they’ve improved somewhat since the dark days of post-Lehman last year.”

The Hamptons and Shelter Island in particular are primarily vacation home markets for wealthy professionals who work in Manhattan. North Fork, while becoming more popular with city dwellers, has somewhat less expensive vacation homes and more year-round residents.

Miller noted that the East End’s recovery mirrors the recovery seen in the Manhattan market last quarter, during which sales activity also returned to “historic norms” while prices stayed below boom levels.

Last quarter, the average recorded sales price of a home in the Hamptons and Shelter Island was $1.69 million — 13 percent higher than the $1.5 million recorded in 2009 and slightly less than the $1.71 million recorded during the first quarter of 2008, according to Corcoran’s report.

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Bolstering last quarter’s average were a dozen sales recorded in excess of $10 million, compared to only 13 sales recorded in excess of $10 million for all of 2009, said Rick Hoffman, Corcoran’s senior vice president of the company’s East End division.

The total volume of sales in the East End recorded last quarter was $789.4 million, 11 percent, or $82.9 million, higher than during the pre-bust days of the first quarter of 2008. During the first quarter of 2009, recorded sales volume was a measly $312.4 million.

However, the first quarter average sales price continued to slide in the North Fork, from $863,000 in 2008, to $613,000 in 2009, to $557,000 in 2010.

Rental activity is up for Corcoran as well. Last night, the mega brokerage hosted its second annual East End Rental Expo at its Manhattan headquarters, where 40 agents were onboard to push some 14,000 listings and more than 200 people attended.  

The event was started last year after the economic crash took the Hamptons rental market down with it — summer rentals that were traditionally spoken for by the winter were still available in May.  

But Hoffman said last night that East End leasing activity was up 70 percent last month compared to March 2009.  

Rents are still lower than the go-go days of the economic boom, but Hoffman said landlords aren’t desperate enough to offer further discounts anymore.  

“People are holding steady to what they were able to get last year,” he said.

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