Hamptons and North Fork Real Estate All Over the Place

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A Corcoran Group Inc. for sale sign hangs in the yard of a home in East Hampton, New York, U.S. on Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Home prices in New York's Hamptons, the Long Island resort towns favored by summering Manhattanites, increased 4.2 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier as buyers opted for more expensive beach properties. Photographer: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo: Bloomberg/2011 Bloomberg

The Hamptons has become the land of bread-and-butter buyers, who appear to be returning to the market in search of deals. Both the under-$1 million and the $1 million-to-$2.499 million segments saw huge bumps in activity, according to first-quarter reports released today by brokerage firm Brown Harris Stevens.

Sales for the former rose from 130 from January to March 2011 to 172 during the same period this year; in the $1 million-to-$2.499 million segment, 49 to 66. But that flurry of activity didn't translate to big price spikes: The median price for properties priced less than a million fell from $557,500 to $506,250; the $1 million-to-$2.499 million segment edged up from $1.55 million to $1.6 million. (Overall, the median price in the South Fork rose 5 percent to $815,000.)

Perhaps the lack of a huge payoff is why sellers are balking at putting their properties up for sale? Prudential Douglas Elliman's survey shows 10.5 percent fewer properties available in the Hamptons and a befuddling 33.4 percent fewer in the North Fork. "Home sellers are more cautious about entering the market," writes Jonathan Miller, who prepared the Elliman data. It's taking longer to unload a listing, too: In the Hamptons, expect 177 days to find a buyer (up from 167 last year), and 199 days (from 168) in the North Fork.

More observations:

• The median price of a North Fork property is now $418,500, according to Elliman, 3.2 percent less than 2011's stats.

• East Hampton Village is doing just fine, thank you very much. Corcoran saw transactions there go up by 31 percent from last year, the median price climb 17 percent to $3.4 million, and the average price rise 35 percent to $4.13 million.

• There were no transactions over $4 million in Sag Harbor, and prices dove 14 percent, per Brown Harris Stevens. But don't unpack that little violin just yet: 10 percent more properties closed in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2011.

• The Village of Southampton saw a major drop in prices, according to the Corcoran Group. The median price there is now $1.1 million, down from last year's $2.31 million. That said, the number of deals there is up 19 percent.

• Montauk saw its median price swing up by a whopping 38 percent to $945,000, with a 4 percent dip in transactions.

• In unassuming Greenport, sales increased by 500(!) percent. Then again, we're talking a shift from two properties sold in the first quarter of 2011 to twelve this year. Still, a win is a win.