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A “New Normal” in the Hamptons

Virtual open houses…face masks…stay 6 feet apart. These all became part of the “new normal” for agents in the Hamptons over the past few months. Of course, buying a house is a highly personal transaction involving numerous sensory inputs. The virtual world can only go so far in this regard, as nothing will ever take the place of personally walking through a potential home that one is seeking to purchase. Now, as we move toward more relaxed rules for brokers to show properties, everyone is breathing a sigh of relief for some return to normalcy in the homebuying process.

The East End made national news back in March as thousands of people who once only visited in the summertime started to search for short-term rental homes to shelter themselves and their families. Things have quieted down quite a bit on the rental front now that we are into the summer season. However, as remote working has now become the norm this short-term migration may turn into a permanent relocation for many. The remote working trend, accelerated by the pandemic, may have a silver lining in the long run for the real estate market in the Hamptons and other rural areas with great lifestyles and amenities, as temporary city renters turn into full time homebuyers.

HRES spoke with a few of the top brokers in the Hamptons to get a better feel for where the market stands currently, and for what the future may hold.

HRES: Can you give us some insight into how you see the real estate market evolving this summer?
Martha Gundersen: In one word busy! There is a lot of pent up demand. Everyone is out here really using their homes. Home cooking, gardening, swimming in their pools, enjoying their neighborhoods, taking walks. This should equate from a crazy strong rental market to a great sales market.
HRES: What amenities are homebuyers currently looking for most at this time?
MG: A lot of buyers are looking for new construction which usually includes at least 5 bedrooms all en-suite. Master on first floor, open and light. Pool, gym, home office. If not new, they want a deal where they can add what they need, for example high ceilings in a basement they can finish.

HRES: Do you think more buyers will choose to permanently relocate to The Hamptons?
Thomas Davis: I do. If we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 experience it’s how quickly as a society we’re able to adapt. That has been largely seen with the New York City exodus. As the dust clears and everyone settles into their current situations, they’ll come to the conclusion that life, work, friends and family can all exist outside of their preconceived bubble.
HRES: What are some of the challenges you face in this “new normal” market?
TD: The biggest challenge we face is a newfound responsibility to protect the health of our clients, customers, their families and ourselves. This is, and should remain, the number one priority!

HRES: Can you give us some insight into how you see the real estate market evolving this summer?
Michaela Keszler: The year began with a very strong January and February, where we saw people investing in the Hamptons real estate market, followed by our clientele moving into Hamptons rentals homes in March. Those same people are now preparing to leave their rentals for their newly purchased homes. Given the current state of things, people have a new appreciation for space. And so, we will be seeing lots of new buyers, as well as, existing homeowners upgrading to larger homes to accommodate their new work and lifestyles. We will be very busy!
HRES: Any advice you can offer to our readers about buying in the Hamptons?
MK: If you find a home you fall in love with, make an offer and move quickly. Competition is big and buyers are missing out.

HRES: Can you give us some insight into how you see the real estate market evolving this summer?
Maria Cunneen: The active inventory is currently clearing. As a result, I anticipate new homes replacing this already low inventory. Sellers who have considered coming to market pre-COVID may have more confidence in doing so now after seeing an impressive uptick in sales during COVID.
HRES: Do you think more buyers will choose to permanently relocate to The Hamptons?
MC: I do suspect many buyers will indeed relocate here especially after successfully transitioning to remote working efficiently in place. Now more than ever, the need to have a space that accommodates both work and play, has become so much more apparent. It is both the good and the bad side of this pandemic as it relates to housing The need for space is being reassessed affording more work from home scenarios and less need for office space. Buyers from NYC as well as Connecticut are now reaching out to me looking for their slice of the Hamptons.