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The Hamptons Copes with the Coronavirus

By HRES Staff Writer - March 20, 2020

In recent weeks, the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has swept the globe, leaving thousands sick, hospitalized, and in the worst cases, deceased. The tragedy of this global pandemic has caused seemingly everyone to avoid handshakes, stock up on hand sanitizer, and remain inside the four walls of their homes to practice the recommended social distancing.

Once the coronavirus hit New York City, we knew that it was going to be hard to contain. New York City is by far the most populated metropolitan area in the United States, with nearly 9 million residents inside of the city, and over 20 million in its metropolitan area.

By March 12, Mayor de Blasio declared a state of emergency in New York City. With this came the closure of schools and establishments, and many were left to work from home. The government even suggested that people don’t take the subway in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. But when this happened, the Hamptons saw a stark increase in its population that seemed completely foreign to early spring. It’s as if Memorial Day came early as city residents flocked to their East End retreats before we even marked the first day of spring off our calendars.

According to data provided to HRES by Out East, the Hamptons sales and rental listing site has seen a 33 percent increase in short-term rental searches this March compared to the same time period last year. “There has been a conscious decision by the majority of ultra-high net-worth individuals to get ahead of the greater impact that [the coronavirus] will likely have on more urban areas by searching for less densely populated areas, such as the Hamptons,” Cody Vichinsky from Bespoke Real Estate told HRES. “In the Hamptons you can get a private property that is in a relatively more geographically contained area.”

It really does appear that summer has come early this year. Not only have we had mild weather throughout the winter season with not a single snowstorm, but individuals and families alike are ready to set up camp in the Hamptons starting now. “We’ve seen more than a significant increase, and people are setting up their operations from both a business perspective and a family perspective,” Vichinsky continued. “The season is starting early and it’s happening now.”

According to Vichinsky, Bespoke has seen approximately a 20 percent boost in rentals this month compared to the same time last year. “I’ve never seen the type of increased energy like we’re doing this quarter,” he says.

Vincent Abbate, a real estate agent with Nest Seekers, has said that he’s seen a similar impact on the real estate market. “The market has been inundated with requests for immediate occupancy rentals,” he says. “It’s been a scramble, but those looking to pay a premium for off-season months are taking advantage of the Hamptons as a haven away from the city.”

But it isn’t just the rental market that has seen a boost over the last few weeks. “I have a handful of clients who are using this opportunity to jump on homes that have been on the market for some time,” Abbate continued. “People want to have an escape from the city without having to scramble to find a last-second rental, which has proven to be chaotic for most over the last week or two. And the current mortgage rates don’t hurt.”

Even though the coronavirus has caused a substantial boost in the otherwise slow Hamptons real estate market, it’s taken a considerable hit on small businesses. Many establishments that Hamptons residents rely on for jobs have closed: restaurants and family-owned shops have shut their doors indefinitely, resulting in lay-offs and loss of business.

That being said, our wonderful, close-knit East End community has managed to come together in times of hardship. People are supporting their favorite restaurants by ordering take-out and delivery options, and many have offered to help the elderly and at-risk populations by purchasing groceries and supplies and delivering to them. Without the normal everyday things that we’ve grown accustomed to, people have been getting outside and going on more walks, enjoying nature, and spending time with their families.We hope that everyone stays safe and healthy in the coming weeks, and we look forward to a wonderful summer ahead in the Hamptons!

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