Hamptons homebuyers come back, lured by deep seller discounts

Listings have piled up in the Hamptons as shoppers balked at overpaying. (Wikipedia pic/Masterchief1307)

NEW YORK: Homebuyers are interested in the Hamptons again. It took the biggest price cuts in more than four years to bring them to the closing table.

Purchases in the Long Island beach towns jumped 11% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the first annual increase since the end of 2017, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Seller discounts averaged 12.9%, the largest since 2015.

“This confirms that the buyers are there but they’re waiting for the sellers,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel.

Listings have piled up in the Hamptons as shoppers balked at overpaying for vacation homes in a market where prices aren’t rising the way they used to.

Wall Street jobs and bonuses – the pillars of demand in the area – are on the decline. And federal law changes that limit the tax benefits of ownership have further dented buyers’ willingness to shoulder high carrying costs.

The median price of Hamptons homes that changed hands in the quarter slipped 8.9% to US$906,250, the firms said. 87% of all deals were completed below the asking price, up from 81% a year earlier.

“Sellers are traveling farther to meet the buyer, but they were much more aggressive in setting high prices to begin with,” Miller said.

The sudden burst of activity made a dent in the stockpile of available homes. The inventory dropped 13% – the first decline in more than a year – after rising more than 75% in each of the past four quarters.

But sales were still tepid in the context of history: With 400 deals, it was the second-weakest fourth quarter in 11 years, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said.