Jane Gill has been working in Hamptons real estate for 15 years. She’s never seen a market like this.
Here’s an example: She recently listed two properties in Bridgehampton, N.Y., south of the highway — meaning closer to the beach, thus more desirable. Within two days, one property had 14 showings and the other 12. Both received multiple offers. Two years ago, Gill would average three showings a day and have to wait up to six months for competitive offers.
The flood of interest is “extraordinary,” said Gill, who works for luxury real-estate firm Saunders Associates. She notes most homes are going for asking price or above, and those desperate for an escape home will spend whatever’s needed to land the deal.
“Buyers are not flinching at an offer,” she said.
The rules of Hamptons real estate have been upended. Historically, the tony beach community at the eastern end of Long Island tracked identically to New York City’s housing market. COVID has changed everything. New York City sellers are struggling to meet asking prices, as buyers avoid the prospect of having to quarantine in an apartment. Meanwhile, Gill notes Hamptons sellers are witnessing an unprecedented amount of interest.
According to a report from Town & Country, also a real-estate firm, the number of sales grew 47% last year, compared to 2019. The price category with the greatest increase in activity is homes over $2 million. The report: “2020 will go down as the most unusual year for East End Real Estate. After nearly 3 months in lockdown, sales activity rushed in like a full moon high tide surge.”
2021 is not showing signs of a slowdown. Case in point: Last year’s most expensive deal in the Hamptons was billionaire Ken Griffin’s purchases of a seven-acre home in Southampton for $84 million. The mansion next door was just listed — for more than double that, at $175 million.
$50,000… a month
The rush is having an effect on rentals, too. Gill said she rented triple the number of properties in 2020 compared to 2019 because everyone was so desperate to get out of the city.
“Prices have ridiculously escalated,” Gill says.
Some owners increased their prices from $25,000 per month to $50,000 per month, while another renter increased from $40,000 per month to $80,000 per month, she said. Even winter rentals, usually a bargain season in the Hamptons, have shot up. Properties that landlords once listed at $4,000 to $5,000 for the winter months of 2019 are now starting at $15,000 per month.
Not a quiet winter
Gill admitted she has “never seen anything like this.” Seasonal renters are signing longer contracts and as a result, weekend traffic has increased, stores are more crowded. There has frequently been a line down the street just to get into the post office, Gill said.
Buyers out of luck
The most common range for a Hamptons house sits somewhere between $1 million and $3 million — but finding the perfect spot is a much bigger feat than it used to be. Potential buyers, Gill said, are panicking as “this is a difficult market to find something in a desirable area.” Confronting 100% increases in price, loyal renters who once rented summer after summer have decided buying makes more sense. Gill consistently warns her potential buyers that they have to act quickly in such a “fierce” market.
Tips to getting a deal on a summer rental
While she made clear the market is competitive everywhere, Gill wants readers of The Escape Home to rest easy: You can get the best “bang for your buck” in Westhampton, Hampton Bays and East Quogue. If 2020 has taught Hamptons real-estate seekers anything, it’s that you have to act quick or not at all.