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Last Quarter of 2019 Lagged for Housing Market

Wed, 01/29/2020 - 12:06

The East End real estate market continued to lag in the final months of 2019, but it may be emerging from its years-long slump, according to fourth-quarter reports from several agencies.

“Brace yourself!” warned Judi Desiderio, the C.E.O. of Town and Country Real Estate, as a lead-in to her analysis, which showed a 44-percent decrease in overall home sales during the quarter. “In my three decades of reporting on Hamptons real estate statistics, this is the first time we’ve experienced such declines without the catalyst of a financial crisis such as the ’87 crash or when Bear [Stearns] and Lehman [Brothers] fell,” she said.

Town and Country found that, compared to the same quarter of 2018, sales were down 56 percent in Montauk, 68 percent in Amagansett, 43 percent in East Hampton and Wainscott, 50 percent in East Hampton Village, and 71 percent in Sag Harbor Village. Shelter Island bucked the trend with a 63 percent increase in sales, and Bridgehampton, in which there were 36 sales, matched its 2018 number.

The good news, said Ms. Desiderio, is the market seemed to hit bottom earlier in the fall, and began to improve late in the year. “All eight Town and Country real estate offices experienced the busiest December and January we have seen in over a decade. This tells me we are now bouncing off that bottom.”

The Corcoran Group also found cause for optimism. According to its report, home sales rose by 3 percent in the quarter. It was the first time in 2019 that sales had outpaced 2018.  

Douglas Elliman recorded an 11-percent rise in home and condominium sales, the first such quarterly increase in two years. Still, the report said, the 400 sold were the second-lowest fourth-quarter total in 11 years.

The main driving force behind the market’s improvement, according to the report, was sales of houses under $1 million, which had increased by 28 percent. Those in the $1 million to $5 million range fell by nearly 9 percent, and only 27 houses priced at or above $5 million had sold, the lowest number in a decade. Overall sales for the year were down more than 6 percent compared to 2018.

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