April 26 (Bloomberg) -- Home prices in New York’s Hamptons, the Long Island oceanside retreat for summering Manhattanites, increased almost 12 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier as the most expensive properties attracted buyers.
The median price of homes that sold in the quarter climbed to $780,000 from $699,000 a year earlier even as total sales declined, according to a report today by New York appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and broker Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The median for luxury homes in the Hamptons and Long Island’s North Fork, defined as the top 10 percent of all sales, increased 3.8 percent to $4.78 million.
The high-end market is showing stability as employment improves and foreign investors seek beachside real estate as a place to park cash, said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. New York City’s financial industry had a net gain of 6,700 jobs in the 12 months through March, according to the state Department of Labor. The city’s jobless rate was 9.8 percent that month, down from 10.2 percent in February.
“The big boys are comfortable parting with money again,” said Judi Desiderio, president of Town & Country Real Estate, which released a report this month showing that the dollar value of Hamptons homes that changed hands in the quarter jumped 30 percent to $394.4 million.
Sales of Hamptons and North Fork luxury properties, which this quarter includes homes priced at $3.4 million or higher, increased to 38 deals from 37 a year earlier, according to the Miller Samuel and Prudential report. Total Hamptons home sales fell 7.1 percent to 287 transactions.
The median home price in the Hamptons fell to as low as $675,000 in the first quarter of 2009, when demand plunged in the aftermath of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s bankruptcy. It rose to a post-recession high of $937,000 in the second quarter of 2011.
“Prices aren’t rising rapidly, we’re just seeing strength at the upper end,” Miller said. “You have a steady diet of high-end property being absorbed.”
The most expensive property to change hands in the first quarter was a 9,000-square foot (836-square-meter), six-bedroom oceanfront house at 322 Meadow Lane in Southampton, which sold for $28.5 million in February after almost 3 1/2 years on the market, according to to Miller and Streeteasy.com, a property-listing website. The final price was a 16 percent reduction from what the owner last sought, according to Streeteasy.
“Much like Manhattan, prices aren’t what they were before Lehman Brothers and that’s certainly true of the Hamptons,” said Gregory Heym, chief economist for brokerage Brown Harris Stevens.
Brown Harris, which also released a report today, said the median price of sold homes in the Hamptons climbed 5 percent to $815,000. The Corcoran Group, another New York brokerage with offices in the Hamptons, reported that prices declined 5 percent from a year earlier to $821,000.
Hamptons homes took 6 percent more time to sell in the quarter than they did a year earlier, averaging 177 days on the market, according to Miller Samuel and Prudential. Luxury homes spent an average of 122 days on the market, 15 percent less time than they did a year ago.
The towns of Montauk and Shelter Island saw the biggest gains in prices, according to Corcoran. In Montauk, the median price of sold homes jumped 38 percent to $945,000. Twenty-three properties changed hands, compared with 24 a year earlier.
In Shelter Island, the median climbed 21 percent to $652,000. There were 11 deals in the quarter, down from 15 a year earlier.
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