Hamptons home sales jump from dismal first quarter in 2013

Southampton leads the rebound; highest prices in Bridgehampton

Aerial view of the Hamptons
Aerial view of the Hamptons

Hamptons home sales returned to normal first-quarter levels in the first three months of 2014, rebounding from last year’s post-“fiscal cliff” slump, according to Douglas Elliman’s first-quarter Hamptons Sales Report.

The number of homes sold in the Hamptons for the quarter jumped to 528 from 347 during the same period the previous year – a 52 percent increase. The median sales price ticked up as well, rising 18.9 percent to $880,000 from $740,000 in the first quarter of 2013.

Fiscal cliff fears spurred a mad rush toward high-end purchases at the end of 2012, poaching sales from the first quarter of 2013, Jonathan Miller of appraisal firm Miller Samuel told The Real Deal.

“Here we are a year later, we’ve had four consecutive quarters of fairly robust activity, but we’re comparing against this activity outlier so it’s making all the numbers jump in a big way,” Miller said. “But essentially the way to characterize it is that the market is now seeing a more normal mix of high- to low-end property, and general conditions are improving slightly.”

Miller, who has been tracking Hamptons sales data for nine years, said that the average sales activity per quarter has been 448 over that period, and so at 528 “we’re doing a little bit better than average.”

Listing inventory also rebounded from the first quarter of 2013, jumping 18 percent to 1,696 from 1,437 in the same period last year. But despite the increased number of offerings, properties spent slightly less time on the market, averaging 183 days compared to last year’s 187. The monthly absorption rate likewise tumbled to 9.6 from 12.4, according to Elliman data.

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“I think when people’s equity comes back, people sell who don’t have to,” said Dottie Herman, president and CEO of Douglas Elliman. “And in the Hamptons, a lot of people don’t have to sell because they can rent. So as people get equity back, they look to the market because it’s a safe investment and people want a second home.”

Southampton Village, located in the southeastern part of Suffolk County, saw a 17.4 percent uptick in median home sales price to $1.12 million from last year’s $956,000, according to Elliman’s report. The greater Southampton area, meanwhile, jumped 19.2 percent year-over-year jump in median price to $835,000 from $700,000.

The neighborhood with the highest median home sales price was Bridgehampton at $1.77 million, though that number represented a 4.1 percent tumble from a median of $1.85 million in the first quarter of 2013. The neighborhood with the lowest median price was Hampton Bays, though the $370,000 rate represented a 23.5 percent leap from last year’s $299,500 median in the same period, according to Elliman’s report.

East Hampton Village, meanwhile, held steady with a median price of $885,000 – only a slight lift from $875,000 in the first quarter last year.

The North Fork, which is not typically part of the Hamptons, saw a whopping 60 percent increase in the number of sales compared to the first quarter of 2013, according to the Corcoran Group’s first quarter analysis of residential real estate on Long Island’s East End. The number of sales in the area leapt to 171 from 107 year-over-year, and the overall dollar volume jumped 66 percent to $103.1 million from $62.02 million in the first quarter. The median sales price for North Fork properties also ticked up year-over-year, but only slightly to $440,000 from $435,000, according to the Corcoran data.

“There is a huge increase in activity on North Fork – people sense value because you do get more for your money there,” Ernie Cervi, executive managing director at the Corcoran Group, told The Real Deal. “I don’t think the dynamic or demographic of buyer has changed, I just think more people are now purchasing there. This is not your typical South Fork buyer, but people coming from mid-Long Island to the North Fork, which is traditionally what it has been.”