An article that appeared in the Real Estate section of the Sunday New York Times
has reaffirmed recent experiences that many of us have seen in the Hamptons. I've enjoyed the writings of Michelle Higgins throughout the years, and her article entitled "Buying a Second Home First" was no exception. This particular piece was about the mindset of New York City
based buyers as they purchase vacation homes north of the City. I often turn to the Real Estate Section before Sports or Arts and Leisure; which one should not always do on a restful Sunday morning. While I agree with the premise that the trend of "Buying a Second Home First" has caught on with many upstate homebuyers, it is important to note that purchasing a country house (before a primary residence in the City) has also become somewhat commonplace in our Hamptons/North Fork community.
In her article, Ms. Higgins focuses on second homes that are more affordable than a City apartment. She states that "Some New York City renters are skipping the typical first rung on the urban homeownership ladder. Instead of investing in an apartment, they are buying a country house." However, some Pembrooke Fine Landscapes clients have purchased luxury homes in the Hamptons in lieu of buying a primary residence in the City. It is interesting to note that these are often younger buyers, who are just starting their family and have plans to extend the outdoor living space for their new Hamptons home. Renovations to these newly purchased homes, in particular exterior renovations, are often quite considerable. The outdoor living spaces that Pembrooke design and build are quite significant in scope.
One client recently shared their story: "We live full time in a Manhattan rental apartment, and intend to stay there for a few years. We purchased our first house last year - in East Hampton - as a vacation home and get away from the City for the summer weekends. Every weekend during the first summer in the house, we invited family and friends out to visit and entertain, which was a lot of fun," they explained. "We found time to relax, lay by the pool, and enjoy ourselves. After the first summer, we decided that the focal point of our house should not be the house at all, but rather the outdoor space. When we bought the home, we thought the outside was not nearly at its full potential. We embarked on a journey to transform our landscape from an underwhelming, dated "yard" to an "estate-like" extension of our home. We're currently in the process of constructing a pavilion with a full kitchen, dining area, and living space with fireplace; removing an old vinyl pool and installing a gunite pool and spa, adding a tennis court, and building an outdoor bathhouse and shower. We are very excited for Memorial Day, when the summer really begins, for us to enjoy our new outdoor space for the first time."
A completed renovation project that features a pavilion. (Photo: Pembrooke Fine Landscapes)
The trend of family friendly homes harkens back to the tradition of more modest homes of our childhood vacations and what "The Hamptons" or "The North Fork" have meant for many of us for decades. It's a welcome development that allows the second home owner to experience the best of both worlds. Sheri Winter Clarry (a top selling broker on North Fork) states that "The outside space has become an integral feature in most second homes. It always starts with the location, location, location! However, recently it has become all about outdoor living space. I have seen a significant trend in outdoor living space becoming just as important as indoor living space. I'm also seeing the trend carry over into post-purchase construction of pavilions, outdoor kitchens, and outdoor fireplaces. Clients buying luxury homes want to work with a professional that can help them visualize the potential of their new backyard and fully develop that potential from concept to completion. The decision to renovate an existing home's landscape is often as sensible as it is fun. Another benefit, which is not lost on savvy first time home buyers, is the customized outdoor living area is an appreciating investment that adds to the value of their home."
It is very rewarding for Pembrooke to bring everything together to expand the indoor living space to luxury outdoor space. The family estate becomes an oasis that is in direct contrast to city life; it becomes Central Park (very) East. After all is said and done, after the discussion about who you saw on Jobs Lane
, and what reservation you were able to get at a trendy restaurant, summers in the Hamptons have been, and always will be, about family.
Chris Hall is a partner at Pembrooke Fine Landscapes. He has been a luxury gunite pool and landscape consultant for over thirty years and shares his observations and advice each month on Hamptons.com. www.pembrookefinelandscapes.com