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Hamptons Mansions Pile Up on Market as Luxury-Home Sales Dip

  • Inventory of high-end houses on the market climbs 34 percent
  • Median luxury-home price falls 18 percent to $5.3 million

New Yorkers who want to buy a high-end retreat in the Hamptons have plenty of options to choose from.

Sales of luxury homes in the area, known for its beachside mansions attracting financiers and celebrities, tumbled 16 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier to 52 transactions, according to a report Thursday from appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman. The inventory of such properties -- defined as the top 10 percent of the market by price -- climbed 34 percent to 292.

Wealthy buyers on Long Island’s East End are taking a pause after several years of heated sales, leading prices to fall as more houses come to the market. The median price of Hamptons deals completed at the luxury level dropped 18 percent from a year earlier to $5.3 million, in contrast to an increase for lower-cost homes.

“People who had the cash, they came out and bought the last couple of years so they’ve kind of leveled off,” Dottie Herman, chief executive officer of Douglas Elliman, said in an interview. “They’re still here, but the demand has just gotten flatter.”

With many Hamptons luxury buyers employed by the financial industry, the sales drop may have been tied to declines in global markets, said Ernest Cervi, a senior vice president at brokerage Corcoran Group who oversees Hamptons sales. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index sank 6.9 percent in the quarter, the worst performance in four years, while currencies and commodities also slid.

“There was a lot of turmoil on the financial markets around the world and that might have stopped people from pulling the trigger,” Cervi said. “The international buyer has been absent.”

‘Sitting Back’

Corcoran, which released its own report on the Hamptons market Thursday, said that total sales in the quarter fell 16 percent to 515 homes, even as the median price of all deals climbed 6 percent to $975,000. Only three of the 14 villages and hamlets that the brokerage measured had an increase in sales from a year earlier.

Bidding wars, common for most sales in 2014, weren’t as frequent, Cervi said.

“People are just sitting back a little bit and studying the market,” he said. “The pace is different.”

Brokerage Town & Country, in its own report this week, said there was a 29 percent decline in sales across all price ranges.

Sales increased in the village of East Hampton, Southampton and on Shelter Island, Corcoran said in its report. In Bridgehampton, there were 31 home transactions in the quarter, the same as a year earlier. The median price rose 8 percent to $2.8 million.

Hamptons homes at the lowest end of the spectrum -- those under $1 million -- did the best during the quarter, according to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. The median price of those properties, accounting for just under half of all sales, jumped 10 percent to $567,500, he said.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of wealth creation in New York and not all of them are billionaires,” Miller said. “There’s interest in second homes that aren’t necessarily trophy properties.”

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