INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA
REAL ESTATE DEALS
The highway is clogged with surfboard-peppered Range Rovers, the waters of Sag Harbor are pregnant with yachtage and there's an hourlong wait at World Pie:
Agents who've maintained this glass-half-full attitude toward Hamptons real estate during America's recent and all-too-lengthy recession have reported a marked increase in first-quarter 2010 transactions over the same period in 2009. "The first quarter of this year has been like night and day compared to last year's first quarter," said Corcoran Group's Susan Breitenbach, adding that she closed $133 million in sales in 2009 and has much higher hopes for 2010. "We're even seeing bidding wars again!"
Well, one at least. Fellow Corcoran broker Mala Sander had a front-row seat when her Manhattan developer client was faced with three deals before finally selling his personal $5.3 million labor of love on Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton. "We haven't seen that kind of stuff going on for a while," Sander says.
And Robin Kaplan of Prudential Douglas Elliman barely had a moment to return our call following an influx of new business. "After a year of utter slowdown, we have closed on three houses in 2010 and have five more in contract," she says. "Are they all good deals? Yes, like 15 to 20 percent below what they might have sold for in a better market."
In addition to custom homes, Perello Building of Southampton constructs a new spec home about every 18 months. This Tuscan-style estate in Amagansett is set for completion this fall and will be offered at $3.5 million (call 631-871-6886)."I don't do the traditional gambrel cedar shingle Hamptons house," says company president Rich Perello, adding that Amagansett is a hotspot for new construction. "The Hamptons market really reflects what the stock market is doing, and the bulk of the money is Wall Street money," he says. "There's a lot of younger 30 somethings buying secondary homes and they seem to like Amagansett. It has a very beachy feel, there's a nice town you can walk to, and no matter where your house is you can walk to the ocean."
NOT EXACTLY A FIRE SALE.
"Many buyers are still expecting low prices when they come out here to look and are surprised that prices didn't drop as much as they had expected," says Christine Saar, associate broker at Brown Harris Stevens.
"The mood of buyers and sellers has definitely changed from 'wait and see,' and I think everyone does realize it is a very good time to buy," Breitenbach adds. "Buyers are taking advantage of the reduced prices, and they're realizing if this selling volume keeps up and the inventory starts to shrink, the prices will start to slowly increase."
But Sotheby's International Realty top producer Harald Grant isn't singing the same sweet tune. "My first quarter earnings were the worst I have had in years, but that's from our downturn," he says. "We work in a cyclical marketplace." And really, what constitutes a bad first quarter for a 20-year veteran with more than $1 billion in sales under his belt? After all, as of press time he'd already closed the highest sale of 2010: Two adjacent 4-plus-acre waterfront parcels with a dock on coveted Captain's Neck Lane in Southampton Village, priced separately at $16.5 million each, went together for $24 million.
As of press time, Grant's $1 billion in available listings include developer David Walentas's historic Two Trees Farm for $75 million (just down the street from Madonna's new digs), Three Ponds (a 60-acre estate with private golf course listed for $68 million), German billionaire Jurgen Friedrich's 10-acre Southampton estate for $49 million, a brand-new oceanfront for $31 million, a Lake Agawam estate for $28 million and Russian socialite Janna Bullock's beachfront contemporary for $34.5 million. He suspects all will move in the next two years.