The Hamptons—Whadda Bargain!

Some things don’t change. If the Manhattan housing market is shifting and the Brooklyn brownstone market is sputtering, North Fork

Some things don’t change. If the Manhattan housing market is shifting and the Brooklyn brownstone market is sputtering, North Fork and the Hamptons seem to be on a fast track to recovery.

The Prudential Douglas Elliman second-quarter report, which went public this morning, shows a dramatic increase in sales. The quarter clocked in at 582 properties sold, a 19.8 percent increase from last quarter’s 486, and a whopping 89.6 percent jump from this period last year, when sales were at 307. It’s an unusual sign of confidence at a time when most markets are taking only tentative steps out of the recession.

Prices, though, showed a bit of fluctuation. The average cost of a Hamptons or North Fork property this quarter was $1,360,044, a 5.9 percent increase from the same period last year ($1,284,486), but a 13.2 percent decrease from this year’s first quarter, when the price was $1,567,580. The results for median prices are similar: The current $775,000 is a 14 percent increase from the same period last year ($680,000) but a 3.1 percent decrease from this year’s first-quarter figure of $800,000.

The report, authored by Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel, calls the price trend a “leveling off,” indicating “a more stabilized housing market in the second quarter.” The dip isn’t necessarily a bad sign: “Enhanced affordability through lower prices from peak and mortgage rates at historic lows continued to drive demand.” That sounds almost like how a market is supposed to behave!

There’s one startling statistic the report doesn’t point out. The average price of a property in the Hamptons and North Fork, $1,360,044, is actually lower than the average price of an apartment in Manhattan—$1,432,712, according to the calculation of Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. The Hamptons are looking like a mighty fine place to spend the summer, and the fall and the winter and the spring.

walden@observer.com The Hamptons—Whadda Bargain!