Behind the Hedges
Dec. 20, 2019
Hamptons real estate professionals have had a big year, with significant sales and big listings making headlines throughout 2019. Now, the East End real estate community reflects on 2019 and looks ahead to 2020.
I think the biggest surprise was the new rental law that doesn't understand how short term and seasonal rentals work in many parts of New York State and the effects it has on both homeowners and tenants. It unfortunately didn't think through the implications it would have on our market and hopefully will soon be rectified. Secondly, the increase in movement of the luxury home segment. As we progress into 2020 and onward, the next decade will continue to see shifts in the way real estate business is transacted and the way buyer search for their properties. We must embrace these changes and challenges to continue to better serve our clients--Doug Sabo, Nest Seekers International
What has remained surprising in 2019 is the fact that there is so much money in the stock market, mortgage rates continue to be historically low, and yet the luxury market in the Hamptons (and overall in the Hamptons) was not as robust as one would expect.
It's apparent that buyers just don't want to overpay in a softening market for a discretionary vacation home, especially with such a slowdown in the Manhattan market. Sellers who priced their homes to sell, however, had much better luck at getting to the closing table. Some buyers are still waiting for the market to go down even more to get better deals. What I've learned in this business is that you just can't time the market. By waiting, you can miss out on some amazing opportunities.
I think buyers are starting to realize that. While the first three business quarters were down by double digits, the fourth quarter--normally a slow selling time--has been surprisingly very active. Hopefully, this is a good omen for kicking off 2020!--Aimee Martin, Saunders & Associates
2019 was a great year, after a bumpy start in January. It's been my biggest selling year yet, and I'm looking forward to all that 2020 has in store with the ongoing renaissance taking place in Westhampton Beach. So regardless of the chatter, home purchases continue to be a good investment in the Hamptons.--Natalie Lewis, The Corcoran Group
I was surprised by the resilience of the market during a year that struggled. Personally, I had a bidding war on one of my listings in Montauk with only two bedrooms in the main house that sold for almost $18 million. Another Montauk sale of vacant land nearby sold for $9 million. It had been on the market previously for several years. A sale of a 4-acre estate in Kean Development's Olde Towne in Southampton Village, that had been asking $35 million, was later joined by the sale to my same buyer of the adjacent 4-acre vacant lot--that hadn't been officially on the market--for $13 million. One of my buyers bought one of my listings that came with a renter for around $10M; and then got an amazing price for an August rental after the tenant vacated.
The rental market for 2020 kicked into gear much earlier this year with some pricey decisions already made for all or part of the summer season. In November and December, I have been seeing some great new deals by brokers all over the market as I too negotiate some of my own listings. I believe you'll see some surprising closings in January/February. This points to great expectations for 2020.--Gary DePersia, The Corcoran Group
The biggest surprise this year was, without question, the way the market shifted into a gallop as the leaves began to fall. While we heard from many of our colleagues that the market languished well into summer, this was a fall to remember. Strong. Active. Solid. Exciting.
We'll leave it to the pundits to explain the many variables that led to this upturn, but for now we are pleased to have shared our confidence in the Hamptons market with our many sellers and buyers alike. Serious sellers are getting solid offers, and buyers are getting fair value. A balanced market is always our best market.
With this great fall behind us, we head into 2020 with great expectations. We encourage sellers to "Get Real." Let your brokers list your home at a reasonable price--the most important thing you can do to get this behind you. Buyers, do all the homework you want, but trust your broker to lead you to a reasonable offer. You can and will get fair value in this active market.
All in all, we want to be the first to declare that we honestly believe that the market we're heading into will one day be remembered as the roaring '20s.--Ann Ciardullo and Keith Green, Sotheby's International Realty
The market was brisk at the start of 2019! I found the political environment took a bit of a toll on the market. That said, 2020 is poised to be a stellar year. Global tensions are easing, and consumer confidence is expected to be on the upswing. I wish everyone a joyous holiday season, and I look forward to seeing you all in 2020!--Sherri Winter Parker, The Corcoran Group
I was pleased to see that the number of transactions and pricing were not substantially affected by weakness in our feeder markets. The price range from $750,000 to $1 million saw a large increase in activity when compared to years past. Buyers below $1 million were more selective and negotiated harder than in the previous two years. What surprised me was to see that the number of closings and contracts written over $1 million are down about 20% in 2019. The highest price paid for a luxury residential home on the North Fork was $3,025,000 according to MLS data. Years past have seen more activity above that price point. Development Rights Intact Land and commercial property saw an increase in activity and interest.
Looking forward, the North Fork market will remain busy below $1 million. Above $1 million will continue to be impacted by the challenges of the loss of SALT deductions. Interest in Development Rights Intact land and commercial property will remain as strong as it was this year.--Thomas McCloskey, Douglas Elliman
First, I am very excited to enter into 2020. I think we have overcome a lot of uncertainty and we are at a great time in history in the market with low interest rates, good inventory, and an extraordinary place to live and enjoy life.
I think the biggest surprise/happening in the market in 2019 was how the crazy increase in the stock market did not translate to the confidence in the real estate market. However that ship seems to be turning very slowly and people are finally recognizing the opportunity that exists in Hamptons real estate. Another interesting surprise was how the new rental law which was clearly designed for year-round tenants, but also applied to our season rentals created such a disruption. We are all complying however and are very excited to move to a very successful 2020!--Martha Gundersen, Douglas Elliman
After more than three decades as a broker on the East End, this is the first time I can recall Wall Street hit a series of records in 2019 yet the luxury market on the east end was soft. I used to say our markets were "umbilically" connected--I can't say that after this year, in my opinion the geopolitical climate changed the game rules here.
As we enter 2020, the uncertainty of our agreements with Mexico and Canada and separately china seem to be finding neutral ground--two of several distractions that hold buyers back from feeling comfortable enough to make such large purchases, which at times is a luxury item.--Judi Desiderio, Town & Country Real Estate
For me, 2019 started out with a lot of uncertainties in our marketplace! I love my business, so I just stayed focused and worked harder. I will never forget the Spring season having several listing systems to now use as our tools for information. It was clearly three times the work! Then as the Summer season heated up, finally the market picked up and we saw many listings that were on the market for years finally go to contract and trade. This year is ending much better than it began and I have more closing in December than in the past years.
I believe in 2020 the market will continue with a good balance of inventory and trading at market prices. No one wants to overpay for anything these days when we have access to a wealth of information. New real estate technology is going to come out more than ever in 2020! However, it is based on a year round marketplace and users will still need the insight of a knowledgeable broker in "The Hamptons" Resort market.--Maryanne Horwath, Douglas Elliman
With over 20 years in real estate, the biggest surprise for me was the market in 2019. With the economy at an all-time high, low interest rates, record unemployment, low inflation, real estate just didn't mirror what normally should have been an auspicious year as in the past based on the data. There were many theories as to why, i.e. the new salt law to price corrections. However, going into 2020, there has been an upswing in the number of homes going into contract. As such, I feel, the New Year should be strong since most people are now moving from a "wait and see" position to one of wanting to live the Hamptons lifestyle.--John Christopher, Sotheby's International Real Estate
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson