Summer Shun

Summer Blues: A "negotiable" Southampton rental from Century 21 Agawam Albertson.

“This is the worst season I’ve seen,” moans real-estate investor William Guidi, who hasn’t rented his four-bedroom Amagansett house for the first time in over a decade. Last summer it went for $57,000, but he just dropped the price to $45,000.

Prices are being slashed by as much as 50 percent, and Stuart Epstein, owner of Devlin McNiff Realty, says people are calling him begging, “Get me a tenant!” Before Memorial Day, an owner wanted $28,000 for an East Hampton house he’d rented for $25,000 in 2002, but now he’ll take half that—or less. Recently, someone offered $11,000, but the deal fell through.

“Everybody’s saying, ‘My house is still available and I’m willing to be very flexible,’ ” says broker Tina Fredericks. And brokers, if not residents, are pining for the heyday of the free-spending, hot-tub-thumping Josh Sagman crowd. Last year, Epstein brokered a rental of a three-bedroom East Hampton house with a pool and tennis court for $62,000; this year, even at $50,000, there are no takers. “This would be a group house, for young investment bankers,” says Epstein. “But they’re not anywhere to be found.”

The summer season is also shrinking, with some renters taking a house for one month instead of three. However, one broker’s burden is another man’s (relative) bargain. Last year, one 36-year-old entrepreneur shelled out $22,000 for a two-bedroom house with a pool. This summer he’s willing to spend $25,000—but he’s also willing to hold out until July for the best deal.

Summer Shun