The Hamptons: You Still Can't Afford 'Em

by BILLY GRAY · February 12, 2010

Do you have plans for the long weekend? Are you in the market for a $1 million summer home? If so, the Times reminds you that Presidents' Day is the traditional kickoff of the Hamptons buying season.  And the market out east, while relatively crappy, is healthy enough to keep out the riffraff. The median sales price of a Hamptons home was $825,000 in 2009. That's off 15% from the '07 peak of $975,000 and down 3% from last year. While the market has not roared back to its Gilded Age II heights, realtors are relieved th;at things didn't get much, much worse. Said Douglas Elliman's Hamptons regional manager Paul Brennan:

“If you had asked me last year at this time where the market was going, I would have said: ‘Do you have a spare room? I might need to move in. ”

Like a journalist would have a square foot of extra room! Luckily though, “disaster has not happened. We did much better in ’09 than we ever would have anticipated.”

Still, the number of deals finalized last year (1,124) was just half of the average between 2000 and 2007 (2,300).  The reason for this somewhat humble stabilization? Sellers and buyers woke up and smelled the shade-grown coffee and stopped listing homes at exorbitant, boom time prices and making ridiculous low-ball offers.

Case in point: Gerry Logue had slashed his the list price of his Sag Harbor home three times before landing at $1,495,000 last fall. But it wasn't until a further reduction to $1,195,000 last month that buyers started to bite.

No word yet on how much it will cost me to summer on the Coney Island boardwalk from May to September.