Summer is nearly here, motivating many who have been on the fence about whether or not they should buy a house on the East End. The same goes for those wonder- ing if now is the time to sell. The answers seem to be a decided yes and yes.
“Right now, the interest rates are better than they’ve been,” said Ann Marie Pallister, a Hampton Bays branch manager for Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “And it can’t stay like that forever. The sooner you buy and the lower the interest rate is, the more house you can buy for the same amount of money.” That plays a factor in any market and especially in pockets of the Hamptons where the average sale price is around $1.5 million.
One of the hottest areas this year, Pallister said, is Hampton Bays. Because construction was never allowed right on the waterfront along Dune Road’s bay and ocean sides, Hampton Bays has some of the largest beaches in the Hamptons. Owning a home here doesn’t require the same traffic binge as going further east or out to Montauk. The hamlet is also attract- ing attention because it provides access to both calm bay waters and the ocean’s surf, making it ideal for enjoying a range of watersports. The town even offers many classes for kids and adults to help them get into the activities.
“There’s less inventory, but there are still deals to be had,” said Denise Rosko, the owner and principal broker of Hamptons Realty Associates in Southampton. “I predict we’re going to have a very good selling season this summer.” Homes that have been for sale for the last few years without being sold are finally being picked up, she said. And without much of a drop in the asking price. But buyers can lock in at low rates and get more house for each dollar. However, this could mean bidding wars will make a comeback this year.
Recently though, the rental market in the Hamptons has started to shift. People have gotten away from the Memorial Day to Labor Day timeframe and are instead enjoying more of the autumn. “More people are renting July 1 through October 1,” Rosko said. “They’re skipping June.”
Renters asking to change lease terms to begin later in the season, when the weather is more certain, is a trend that Rosko first saw last year. Many lodgers have also become buyers, using the money that would have gone to a lease as a down payment on a home.
Warm weather and beaches are certainly still a big part of the Hamptons experience but associations in the Hamptons have been working hard to get people to stay for other reasons. Vineyards in Suffolk County are a big draw, especially the annual grape harvest in late August, followed in October by the Hamptons International Film Festival, which takes place from Southampton to Montauk.
Pallister said that she is even seeing an increase of Hamptons’ rentals for the entire year, not just the summer. “It allows that person to come out earlier. And they’re still in the ocean to the end of October at times.”
For those looking to get into the Hamptons market now, the poor market over the last few years could have been a blessing in disguise. Interest rates are low, prices are going up and there is still some inventory available, especially when given a fresh perspective. “If interest rates go up, there’s less money that people can spend on a house,” Pallister said. “That’s less money for the sellers, too.”