Little houses draw big interest in mansion-heavy Hamptons market

Living small: Out East, abodes tinier than an average NYC studio go for nearly $1M

Tri-State Issue /
Jul.July 23, 2021 01:20 PM

104 Edgemere Street in Montauk

Picture this: a reality show, in which East End brokers compete to get the highest prices possible for a Rubbermaid shed (the fancy kind with window boxes — this is the Hamptons, after all) set on 0.05 acres of prime real estate.

Just think of the easy, hose-down upkeep! And the low, low taxes!

So far, that remains a dream. In the Hamptons, as perhaps no other place on Earth, more is more. In many ways, this approach makes sense: Land costs are so high, there is no point in building anything but the largest home zoning allows (plus, of course, a pool house, guest cottage, potting shed and garage with a caretaker’s apartment).

But there are still some older dwellings, set on small plots, for sale, and many of them are not much bigger than your average plastic shed. Forget a pool house. Forget, in fact, a pool, unless it’s the inflatable kiddie kind.

Of course, many of these houses will be rubble by this time next year, but there are still some who appreciate the charm and simple upkeep of a smaller abode.

One of the smallest in recent memory was 14 Huntting Road in East Hampton, which had an asking price of $325,000 and sold a couple years ago for $400,000. It was cozy. Really cozy.

Comprising 261 square feet and one room, it is ideal for those who get sick of managing a 10,000-square-foot McMansion. What if you have weekend guests? Not to worry! There’s a guest shed! Set on 0.29 acres, we can assume the house and guest shed are not long for this world.

Another house slightly larger than a Little Tikes plastic playhouse is 38 Lincoln Avenue in Southampton, at 625 square feet. It, along with a fenced 0.36-acre yard (and guest shed), is available for a cool $899,000 from Douglas Elliman’s mother-daughter team of Michaela and Paulina Keszler.

The place may be tiny, but it’s lovely inside, with a wood-burning stove, doll-sized kitchen and attractively updated bathroom.

“This would be perfect for a small family. Yes, it’s small, but there’s a good amount of land,” said Paulina Keszler, noting its proximity to the village and Sag Harbor.

70 Little Fresh Pond Road in Southampton

A cozy Montauk spot offered for sale this year for $675,000 is 104 Edgemere Street, which is just 500 square feet, with one bedroom and one bath. The downside to the 0.13-acre property is its location on a busy road; however, the owner could easily walk from the railroad, from the Jitney, to town, or to the Surf Lodge or many other downtown restaurants.

Another diminutive Montauk charmer is 165 West Lake Drive. The house is just 780 square feet, set on about one-third of an acre, including a pear orchard. It originally listed at $825,000 on June 11; two days later the price was increased to $929,000, and it is already in contract.

“We asked buyers to submit their highest and best,” said listing agent John D’Agostino of Martha Greene Real Estate. “There’s just simply nothing else on the market at this price point.”

Because of setbacks and wetlands, D’Agostino doesn’t believe the house is a teardown, either.

Not central enough? An extremely cute Bridgehampton cottage could not be more convenient for shopping or restaurants. It is located on the busy Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, though for $825,000, who’s quibbling?

There are two bedrooms and one bath across 800 square feet. But the real star here is the 0.75-acre lot, which offers the ability to build another house or a pool on the land. (Stow your annoying relatives in the existing cottage.) Annual taxes? A fairly ridiculous $800 per year.

Of course, many currently small Hamptons homes have a date with a wrecking ball. Land is at such a premium that even if anyone wanted some of these dated little cottages, it doesn’t make financial sense to keep them.

The most expensive bijou house for sale, perhaps, is 38 Bayview Avenue, Sag Harbor, asking just under $5 million. Listed by Matthew Breitenbach of Compass, the 624-square-foot, two-bedroom cottage is clearly not going to be here much longer. The listing notes “approved plans for an exceptional five-bedroom, seven-bathroom residence.” The 2.29-acre lot, right on Noyac Bay, boasts 450 feet of sandy beach. Heck, that’s almost more beach than house.

In Springs, a tiny house, 585 square feet, one bedroom, one bath, can be yours for $985,000. This building is also a goner, as the listing touts that the 0.35-acre lot, close to the water, offers a “generous building and pool envelope with engineered and surveyed plans for a 6BR septic system.”

Another adorable waterfront cottage, 70 Little Fresh Pond Road in Southampton, is just 700 square feet but boasts a dock on the pond. Asking just $899,000, the listing, by Holly Hodder at Sotheby’s, notes that “a wraparound deck with grill serves as a larger dining area” and “the private back deck works as an outdoor ‘morning room.’”

No motorized watercraft are allowed on the pond, so the new owners will be able to enjoy peace and quiet, just as in the old days. There’s been a lot of interest in the property, Hodder says, and “young couples come to view it and get all dreamy about it.”

Hey, young couples: Don’t forget the inflatable pool — sales figures suggest they’re hip these days. In a small space, it’s all about getting creative.


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