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The Heart Of The Hamptons Real Estate Market

Anne White

All of the agents agree that the biggest problem currently is the very low inventory of homes available for sale. (Photo: Saunders & Associates)

Hamptons real estate is hot. Since last year we have seen an unprecedented demand for houses in the Hamptons. While oceanfront estates that sell for tens of millions of dollars capture the headlines and most of the attention, the majority of Hamptons real estate sales are in the low end of the market - $2 million and under. Andrew Saunders, President of Hamptons real estate firm Saunders & Associates, observes, "The critical mass of transactions in Hamptons real estate has always occurred in the $2 million and under segment of the market. A common misinterpretation among industry observers is that the market here is all about the headline making transactions of $20 million plus, but the real action has always been at $2 million and under. However, the transactional activity we are seeing now and since last year is unprecedented. It's evolved into a mania, which has been precipitated by the change in the live/work paradigm that has existed for generations. The demand has resulted in a market where properties in most price categories are selling quickly at full price and above. There is a significant imbalance in the supply/demand equation that favors sellers tremendously. My advice to anyone seeking to purchase a home in the Hamptons now is to bid at the full asking price or above if you hope to acquire the target property."

As a company, Saunders & Associates focuses on the Hamptons real estate market. Hamptons.com spoke with several agents with extensive experience in the under $2 million segment of this market about the current environment, and how they assist buyers and sellers. David Zazula is well versed in both East Hampton and Southampton, though also active in other areas. Romaine Gordon is active in the East Hampton and Amagansett area. The Oakley-Leicht Team of Patty Oakley and Brian Leicht cover an area that includes, in addition to Southampton Village south of the highway, east of the canal to East Hampton. Julie Crowley is seeing lots of activity in East Quogue, Hampton Bays, Shinnecock Hills and especially Southampton. John Brady covers a larger area than most agents - from Westhampton to Montauk - and sees activity increasing at higher price points.

All of the agents agree that the biggest problem currently is the very low inventory of homes available for sale. They have customers looking to buy a home in the Hamptons but have little to show them. David finds the best value north of Montauk Highway in East Hampton, and Romaine sees the most activity under $2 million in East Hampton's Springs. When asked what buyers are looking for, all agree that people are looking for space for remote schooling and home offices, basement space that's finished, finishable or for storage, a backyard with room for a garden or for kids to play. Most want a home that is move-in ready, and not necessarily in a village location.

In this fast-moving market, Romaine reports hearing of a home that sold before it was photographed, and Julie sold a condo sight unseen after the buyer viewed a Facetime showing. They all advise their customers and clients to be ready to move quickly when they find a house they want. Have financing lined up, have an attorney, try not to buy on contingency (closing being contingent on securing financing). It is essential to have a memo of sale quickly (David has his ready to email to the seller in 24 hours), and to get a signed contract.

Communication with buyers, sellers and other agents is key to successful transactions. John believes his most important job is to listen to the customer and identify their wants and needs. Buying and selling property in the Hamptons is a complex undertaking, but in the end, David says, "I have yet to meet the person who said buying their house in the Hamptons was not the best thing they ever did."

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