As we move towards the end of the year, I sat down with Laura Miele Wynne and her real estate partner, Elliott R. Epstein, agents with Brown Harris Stevens
in Southampton, to gain their insights into the Hamptons real estate market. We discussed the current market, how they saw it evolving in the near and longer term future, how market conditions are impacting upon preservation, environmental concerns, and the need for affordable housing.
Both of you have been in the real estate business prior and after the market crash, how do you view the current market and where do you see it going in the foreseeable future?
The market is very slow, but I see this as a good opportunity for buyers to take advantage of the excess inventory resulting in price reductions. Unfortunately, buyers are withholding making offers waiting for the market to further decline.
I think that the best time to buy a house is between Thanksgiving and New Year, because people are focused on other things, and if you find a motivated seller, you are likely to find a good deal.
Is the market down across all price points and areas?
The market, in general, has seen a steady decline over the past two years, although the median price continues to rise, slower in Southampton than in some geographical markets.
What do you see as some of the reasons for the decline?
For one thing, there are way too many expensive houses being built in "B" locations. I have seen many times where these homes sell and are back on the market within a year because the owners can't stand the traffic morning, noon, and night. The tradesmen know all the back roads.
Are builders pricing the homes consistent with market value?
No, they are overpricing the homes but not selling at those prices.
Usually builders are very knowledgeable about the market and build to suit market conditions, so how do you reconcile overpricing with that?
Because today, everyone is a builder. They are less sophisticated in building to the market than some who have been doing it a while. It amazes me when I see the construction that is taking place despite the backlog of inventory.
I don't understand why builders don't meet with the real estate agents to ask them what buyers are looking for. Not only do market conditions change, but also buyers' preferences. For example, I find that buyers today prefer a well-appointed 4,500 square foot house to a 7,500-square foot house.
I see buyers still wanting large homes with all sorts of amenities, but the unemployment and lower bonuses on Wall Street together with the overpricing of homes are the biggest causes for the downturn in the market. We're in a real estate market where sellers don't need to sell and buyers don't need to buy.
Where is the biggest demand price wise?
Under $2 million. There is a big excess of inventory in the $4 million and above price range, which in my estimation, based upon statistical data, will take years to move.
Do buyers already have a mindset regarding which town they want to live in?
They do, but based on what they heard rather than what they know. Most buy in an area other than the one that they originally intended.
Are most buyers cash buyers?
Yes, but in the sense that their obligation to close is not contingent on getting a mortgage but they do want an appraisal and finance the purchase out of other assets they have.
How do the issues of preservation and environmental considerations fit into today's real estate market?
The Community Preservation Fund made it possible for the towns to buy land which contributed to preservation but also the rising costs of land. The ability to use some of these monies for clean water is an important step forward for the community.
There is universal agreement that there is a need for affordable housing in the Hamptons, not only for the obvious reason of providing shelter, but because of the needs of the community for school teachers, fire fighters, health care workers including doctors, to name a few. How do you see the real estate market responding to those needs?
We need it badly. Just observe the morning and afternoon trade parade traffic. A problem that cuts across rich and poor is that we just don't have the infrastructure to absorb more people.
Doctors we need to work in our hospitals can't find housing that they can afford and must drive long distances to get here. It's not just nurses and other health care workers. I think the Southampton College, now Stony Brook University
property, would be an ideal site for the inclusion of affordable housing, especially with Southampton Hospital
relocating there. It also has the benefit of the Long Island Rail Road Station being located there. Not only would it be an ideal location for affordable housing, but also special needs, the elderly for assisted living, as well as the interns who would need housing.
How would you get the community to focus on what seems to me to be something worth pursuing?
I think we should talk about it publicly, and involve the community as well as our public officials and investors to help undertake the project.
We would have to identify a local developer who would be attracted to doing something for the community in a cost effective way.
Sounds good. I would welcome the opportunity to be involved with you towards that end.
John is a St. John's University graduate, licensed Real Estate broker, DOS Certified Instructor, lecturer, teaches real estate license classes at Cook Maran Real Estate School, and is a well-respected consultant to the real estate industry. He previously taught at LIU and NYU. www.johnaviteritti.com
East End Tick Control
The East End's only New York State licensed dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists!
Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home
We pay less,and so do you.With over 1,000 stores in our buying group, we can get the lowest prices
from the best flooring manufacturers — and pass the savings on to you.Visit our other locations: Hamptons Carpet One Floor & Home, 675 North Sea Road,Southampton, NY 11968
Southampton Masonry-Visiting the Southampton or the Wainscott locations is an exciting experience.
Southampton Masonry has been serving Long Island's masonry and tile needs since 1975. Delivering quality products from Manhattan to Montauk for over three decades. The company's continued success is due primarily to their number one priority: customer satisfaction, with a promise of prompt and courteous service from the professional, knowledgeable staff.
Southampton Masonry has the largest inventory on the east end. As direct importers they can offer a large variety of the finest quality products at the most competitive pricing for both your interior and exterior projects.
Hamptons luxury real estate specialist for 33 years, Andrea Ackerman offers outstanding expertise in the field.
Hamptons luxury real estate specialist for 34 years, Andrea Ackerman offers outstanding expertise in the field. Trusted, experienced and successful, Andrea has solidified herself as the go-to broker of the Hamptons and a wholehearted advocate for her clients. A pioneer in the real estate industry on the East End of Long Island, she is driven by her passion for the business. Andrea is based in the Bridgehampton office of Brown Harris Stevens as a licensed real estate associate broker and consultant.
Formerly, a principal partner and Senior Director at Brown Harris Stevens, Andrea now assists in developing their corporate strategy for the Hamptons region, advising other brokers and sales associates, as well as being one of the top producers and listors.
Southrifty Drug 54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village
Southrifty Drug is a small, neighborhood pharmacy with limited shelf space, and we have to be very selective about which over-the-counter items we carry. As a result you'll find a no nonsense concentration of very effective, high quality and useful products on our shelves. In this new section, we feature a number of these products that we feel are especially worthy of your consideration.
Burner Law Group, P.C.
Burner Law Group, P.C. are full service elder law attorneys concentrating in the areas of Estate Planning, Trust and Estate Administration and Litigation, Special Needs Planning, Guardianship and Elder Law. Offices in East Setauket‚ NY, Westhampton Beach, NY, and New York, NY.
WordHampton Public Relations
We build client revenues and reputations.
Our reputation is built on delivering a strong media presence and, as a result, demand for our clients' offerings, resulting in a positive impact on sales. Successful campaigns start with understanding the goals of our clients and developing a customized strategy that will achieve those objectives.
Top Hat Home Services - Manhattan Luxury Home Care & Management
For the past 14 years, Top Hat has managed Manhattan luxury properties for clients in and out of residence. We currently manage and maintain over 160 Manhattan brownstones, condos and townhomes. Our team of experts at Top Hat serves as your proactive and dedicated Manhattan property management team. We manage, beautify and maintain each client’s home with the highest standards of quality, care and precision. Fully bonded, licensed and insured.