The Rush for Summer Rentals

For anyone who has held off on a Hamptons summer rental, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that it’s late in the game—rental-hunting season starts as early as January. The good news is that there are still options available, especially for those willing to compromise on location or bump up their budgets.

“Demand is stronger than last year at the beginning of the season and things are moving faster,” said Maz Crotty, a licensed associate real estate broker with Nest Seekers International in Southampton, which has seen a 30-percent rise in revenue from summer rentals in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.

Crotty said last year wasn’t particularly bad—it’s just that this year is better. For a June rental, prices range from $4,000 for a 2-bedroom condo in Montauk to $200,000 for a 10-bedroom oceanfront home in Southampton. “Some homes have raised prices since last year, but also many have been making improvements—from adding a new bathroom or kitchen to a complete renovation and adding a pool house for more space.” Accordingly, communities like Montauk and Westhampton, which are known for having more affordable properties closer to ocean beaches, are in demand this year.

In addition to its attractive rental prices, Montauk is also the hottest east end destination among 20- and 30-somethings who are drawn to the local nightlife. “The ‘in’ nightclubs now are in Montauk, making it and nearby Amagansett attractive to young folks,” said Diane Saatchi, a real estate broker with Saunders & Associates in Bridgehampton. According to Crotty properties in the villages of Southampton and East Hampton “always move fast” and are also in high demand this season.

It seems one constant in the supply-demand paradigm of Hamptons rentals amounts to three words: location, location, location. Everyone who summers in the Hamptons wants a home with four or more bedrooms on or near the beach.

“Rentals on the beach or just across the street—or a very short walk where it’s easy to carry chairs, food, toys, etc.—are worth more,” Saatchi said. She explained that a 5-bedroom house on the ocean in any town could be $700,000 for the season. But the same house on the same size property located across the street from ocean access but without a view would go for $400,000. “A bike ride away, it’s now $300,000. And a few miles away but still south of Montauk Highway would be $250,000,” she said, noting that if the home was north of the highway, but not in the woods, the price would go down to $200,000.

Rental activity gets hot in May, the longer hopefuls wait, the fewer choices they’ll have, experts agreed. “Many would-be tenants wait as late as possible in the hope of getting good deals. It is a strategy, but not necessarily an ideal one,” Saatchi said. In fact, some landlords make better deals early to guarantee tenancy, she added.

Crotty emphasized that there “are always options, but it’s a moving target.” If the ideal house isn’t readily available, “either we have to move out to somewhere else, or we need to take the budget up by $10,000 to $15,000.”