Marketwatch – 2016 Off to a Strong Start

By Ruth Thomas

2015 was a strong year for Hamptons real estate and 2016 is off to an even better start. Most high-end rentals are already rented for the season. Mid-markets are very active and new construction is robust. Demand is high, inventory is diminishing, and prices are heading up. The Spring is anticipated to be a very busy season in the Hamptons.

Judi Desiderio of Town & Country Real Estate reflects, “Sales have been excellent for the past two years, while seasonal rentals were way off. Rentals are usually inversely related to sales. The wild card in our rental markets are short-term rentals done online, without brokers.” She believes, “Sales should be consistent in all markets except possibly the high end where stock market trends are the driver. The mid-markets are most active, which for us are the elite price points for the rest of the country. Prices should hold strong with no radical swings in either direction with different price points having different inventory issues.” Judi doubts “we will break any records or shatter any ceilings in 2016.”

Dianne LeVerrier of Sotheby’s International Realty – Bridgehampton observes, “Most high-end rentals are already rented for the season. Currently, renters are looking for full season rentals, though peak summer rentals remain high in demand.” She remarks, “Homes in the $1-3M range tend to be moving quickly and we continue to see nice movement in the $3-5M range. Inventory at the high-end remains high. However, with some price reductions on the higher end, this inventory may be reduced. As this inventory is sold, supply diminishes and when the summer approaches, prices may climb. New construction remains robust.” Dianne states, “The momentum which picked up at the end of last year continues into 2016 and neither the increase in the Fed rate nor market news has affected that momentum.”

Gene Gilyutin of Hampton Estates Realty thinks, “We’re going to see a lot more monthly rentals (July or August only) as opposed to full season rentals. With the stock market at the highest level in years, buyers are pulling their profits out and buying tangible assets, namely homes in the Hamptons. Other contributing factors are the (still) relatively low interest rates and the sky-high real estate market in the city. New construction and/or turnkey homes are leading the way.” He notes, “There seems to be a shortage of quality listings. As inventory diminishes, we expect prices to start heading up.” Gene reflects, “The spring season will be very busy, while the summer and fall are a big question. The upcoming presidential election may have some impact on buyer sentiment as will other external factors like the Middle East and China.”

Martha Gundersen of Brown Harris Stevens believes, “Rentals and sales will be strong this year due to continued low interest rates and available product. Sag Harbor, Montauk, and Amagansett are still very popular; Southampton, especially the village, is very strong as well. Anything priced well with a water view or turnkey also sells very quickly. There is lots of inventory, including new construction expanded to areas North of Montauk Highway.” She reflects, “Prices are comparable to pre-crash levels and oceanfront is the one area that has surprisingly achieved very significant numbers.” Martha believes, “Buyers are ready to step up to the plate realizing that Hamptons real estate is a solid investment. Interest rates remain low, there are lots of luxury homes for sale, and the lifestyle here is truly magical. There is no place as close to NYC that has the beauty and amenities that the Hamptons possess.”

Raphael Avigdor of Douglas Elliman Real Estate exclaims, “We had our best year ever in 2015 in our niche of the market, at $3-4M, new construction. This segment of the market continues to move at a brisk pace.” He mentions, “We have five new construction projects all North of the Highway from Southampton to Sag Harbor. South of the Highway, waterfront properties remain in strong demand with beautiful glass and steel architecture.” Raphael predicts, “The 2016 market in the Hamptons will continue to be a strong market. Recent fluctuations and hiccups in the stock market in addition to other global events create insecurity in other more volatile markets, which drive investors to the security of real estate. I think the November elections will influence the economy by keeping it propped up and by keeping interest rates in check which will further support continued strength. All in all, I am expecting a strong 2016.”

Patricia Petrillo of Sotheby’s International Realty – Southampton feels, “The rental market for 2016 should be as active as last year. So far, I’m not seeing any change in activity or price. Despite the turmoil in the financial markets and political turmoil in the world, the East End real estate sales market is a safe haven for both. We are mostly a second-home market for NYC area residents, who are a savvy group of buyers and very aware of the advantages of being East End homeowners.” She observes, “New construction is the easiest purchase for buyers in all price ranges. Also homes with a larger parcel of land, mature landscaping or grandfathered uses can sell quickly, sometimes with multiple offers. Inventory is on the moderate to low side and prices are headed up.” Patricia believes, “Buyers understand the great investment potential and wonderful lifestyle of East End living and will have the continued confidence to be homeowners.”

Predictions are that the Hamptons real estate market will continue to be strong in 2016. As turmoil rocks the financial markets and other world events heat up, savvy buyers are recognizing the security and investment potential of Hamptons real estate. The Hamptons will always be an attractive destination for its chic lifestyle, superb dining, and magnificent shores.