"This spring it was a very overheated real-estate market out there," says Charlie Krusen, a partner at the Wall Street firm Crimson Capital, who went out to the Hamptons with $500,000 and came back with a $1.35 million place. "The house I ended up buying was three-quarters done. During the period of time after the builder shook my hand and we agreed on a price, a week later he was offered $40,000 more. And then a week later he was offered $100,000 more."
But the builder, J. R. Siwicki, held to the deal and is now finishing up the six-bedroom, 6.5-bath bachelor pad a mile and half north of the Montauk highway. And after 25 years of being a "professional houseguest" of friends like David Koch, Krusen sounds quite pleased that he'll finally be able to return the favor.
Most of the money fueling this boom still comes from Wall Street rather than from Silicon Alley. Dot-commers may be the instant winners of the economic expansion, but "I haven't seen any," says Turino. "Someone said to me recently, 'It's real money out here. It's not dot-com people.' " One who did come out was iVillage's Candace Carpenter, who bought a 7,500-square-foot Shingle Style house on two acres on Southampton's Lake Agawam in March for $7.5 million. But when her company's stock price plummeted, brokers say she tried unsuccessfully to sell the contract and took possession in April only to put the house right back on the market for $9 million. She might get it. (Too bad for the iVillage staff -- the place had six bedrooms, staff quarters, and a four-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot pool house.)
Demand is so high, even the modern houses are moving. Dunemere's Andrea Ackerman recently sold Elena Ford's 1991 Southampton house for $5.5 million. "The house was listed several years ago, but it never sold," she says, because anyone who could buy an 11,000-square-foot house wanted Shingle Style comfort. (Records indicate that it was bought by star makeup artist Trish McEvoy and her husband.) And after bouncing on and off the market for years, Alice Lawrence's house in East Hampton, which looks like JFK's TWA terminal, recently sold for about $12.5 million. "We showed it to clients for so many years," says one broker. Still, says Ackerman, "most of these people are interested in cookie-cutter Shingle Style houses."
A fashion-and-sales couple who bought a house in the Settler's Landing section of East Hampton's Northwest Woods for $310,000 three and a half years ago were caught up in the land drought. "The reason we bought it was because of the privacy," says one of them. But two years ago, another subdivision was built behind them, and they sold when a new neighbor put in a pool that faced theirs. They got $400,000 for the place -- making money even as the privacy they had purchased was paved over.