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Finding Opportunity Around The Corner; And A Nod To Old East Hampton

Originally Posted: March 17, 2009

Lona Rubenstein

  |   2 Comments · Print Article
East Hampton - Brokers west of the canal bring to our attention George Simpson's Suffolk Research shows Quogue and Westhampton with median prices on the climb, showing, they infer, that things are not as bad as some would have you think. Highlighted in an email is that this foreclosure mess truly is focused on five states, New York not among them, using CNBC as a source for that item.

Broker Jude Lyons, of Westhampton Beach Realty, looks at the current real estate market this way - stocks are on sale and so is real estate. "It's a great time for young people to buy. They might look back on this time with regret if they don't make the move now, especially if they are paying rent which is money down the drain, " writes Lyons, reminding buyers not to forget the write-off on mortgage interest and urging anyone paying rent who is going over taxes with their accountant to ask what they would be paying on a mortgage.

From her point of view, particularly fundamental and axiomatic, I would say, to the nature of real estate before this down market cycle collided with a broader economic chaos, is the sense that home owning is asset owning - a commodity one could live in - with the added kicker that it is there to sell when one is older and the kids are grown. Lyons points out as well, "if the market is down again at that time, a house can be rented."

Apparently some young people are thinking this way. One cannot go from the particular to the general with reliability, but we do know of a brand new house, four bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths with amenities in East Hampton's Northwest area that is in contract with a young buyer for $600,000 or thereabouts. Seller is giving good short-term mortgage terms. The buyer, who will live there, is making rooms available to both summer working people and year-round tenants to cover the overhead, so that appears to be a good deal for all involved.

Smack in the heart of East Hampton village, the Baker house was built in 1913, designed by F. Russell. The original owner was the fourth Mayor of the incorporated Village of East Hampton. Photo courtesy of Town and Country Real Estate

The Baker Homestead
Broker Victoria Van Vlaanderen, vice president of Town & Country Real Estate Bridgehampton, has listed for sale one of the Baker homesteads, a house with a history. We love local history. In these times of exponential ups and downs and financial crises, it is comforting to know that, all said and done, many things last. And some families manage to "stay put" carrying on a heritage that speaks to the land on which we live as more than just real estate.

The Baker home neighborhood is old East Hampton at its best. (The late Dr. David Baker was our dentist, and there are Baker family members still living in town). The house is in the Hook Historic District, by the "common" or greens surrounding Hook Mill and the Sheep Pound in front of the post office. Smack in the heart of the village, it was built in 1913, designed by F. Russell. The original owner was the fourth Mayor of the incorporated Village of East Hampton. And the stunning magnolia tree in the back garden is believed to have been planted by F. Russell, himself.

As open space is at a premium in our villages, the remaining parcels of the 1648 town common around which the properties in the Main Street Historic District and the Hook Historic District are situated, gain even more import.

East Hampton settlers, like the Bakers, laid out a broad street, which they dubbed a Common; this one ran down the center of the plain west of Hook Pond. Dwellings were lined on either side of the Common where they built their meetinghouse and placed their burying ground. The Common represented the community hub of the 1648 East Hampton settlement where land was commonly owned and divided equally among the proprietors. The early Common served as a street as well as a gathering place for livestock to be herded to common pasture and was more mud and dirt than grass. During the 19th century the common began to acquire its present appearance when street trees were planted, white picket fences built and large areas of lawn maintained.

Today that same Village Green marks the entrance to East Hampton Village. "The greens, pond, old elms, and windmills convey a sense of the pastoral East Hampton landscape of the last century," writes Ms. Van Vlaanderen, telling us that the remaining greens of the Common are recognized and protected as core elements of the Main Street Historic District and the Hook Historic District.

In a piece we wrote for Town and Country several years ago as to the artist colonies on the East End, so many artists and writers mentioned to us there were places as pretty and as private where they might have gone, but no place with the sense of community found in East Hampton and Southampton towns.

So East End real estate can be a strange but lovely business - a refuge when the rest of the world is in chaos. Want a piece of it? Buy now if you can. As the broker pointed out in the beginning of this column, prices are right.

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Guest (George Simpson) from Southampton says::
The median prices published on our site for Quogue and Westhampton don't show increasing median price. And the data is too thin (small, and declining unit sales) to make such a conclusion. I suggest that any of your readers who want to track the East End prices look at our 3 month running average of Median prices. We update it monthly. Looking at the most recent calculation, there is a slight hint that the downward trend of median price on the East End may be leveling off. See: http://www.suffolkresearch.com/medianprice.pdf
Mar 20, 2009 6:09 am

Guest (north fork realtor) from southold says::
Prices are "right"? Time will tell- market comprehension is key.
Mar 19, 2009 10:31 pm


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