In response to the pandemic and subsequent city lockdowns and closures, a flood of homeowners returned to the East End months before they originally planned, in search of a retreat from the crammed and turbulent city. This flock and their followers’ buying behavior has changed the Hamptons real estate market and the way in which business has been conducted in the area for years. “Sellers are holding firm on their sales price and are willing to wait to get a ‘COVID premium,’” says Sara Goldfarb of Douglas Elliman. “[They] are willing to turn away buyers if it’s not at the price they think their property is worth, but [the homes] are remaining on the market longer than average, and new buyers that come to the market always take that into consideration, making the property seem ‘less desirable.’”
As inventory becomes more scarce and bidding wars continue to ensue, home prices are on the rise. A 2020 Q4 report by Corcoran notes that the luxury average price on the South Fork increased a whopping 24% to $9.541 million. For scale, the most expensive home sale went for $61 million in East Hampton Village. The good news for buyers is that interest rates are still low, and they’re wise to act soon.
So what are buyers looking for? Cee Scott Brown of Compass says space. “Since working remotely from home may become prevalent, and with home-schooling still the case for many children, a five-bedroom house can really be considered a two- or three-bedroom house with one or both parents working from one or two bedrooms and the kids working in the den or living room, for example,” he says. Eager Hamptonites are also seeking pools, home gyms and offices, and sprawling outdoor areas because, as Brown adds, “after working all day, it’s nice to be able to take a walk on the beach.”
With the unprecedented rush to the Hamptons came inevitable change—and it may be for good. Brown notes, “Our local infrastructures will need to be beefed up to handle the new load. No more Tumbleweed Tuesday.” A strange thought, indeed. “Of course, as the pandemic becomes more under control and things return somewhat to ‘normal,’ the market will likely be a mirror,” he adds. Market predictions suggest these conditions may hold up, but only time will tell.