Real Estate Finished 2013 on an Upbeat

Real estate signs are becoming fewer and more far between as houses sell like hotcakes.
Real estate signs are becoming fewer and more far between as houses sell like hotcakes.

Realtors and real estate analysts seem to agree that the East End real estate market has finally recovered from the doldrums of the Great Recession.

Reports from Douglas Elliman, The Corcoran Group, Town & Country Realty and Suffolk Research Service issued last week show the number of sales skyrocketed in the fourth quarter of 2013, and prices in most East End towns saw solid increases over the fourth quarter of 2012.

Town & Country CEO Judi Desiderio said her fourth quarter report “demonstrates a solidly recovered market.”

In particular, Ms. Desiderio reported an explosion in the market in Mattituck and Cutchogue, with 51 home sales, up from 18 in the fourth quarter of 2012, and in Southampton Village, where the number of home sales doubled quarter over quarter. She also reported a 40 percent increase in the number of houses sold in Southold, Peconic and Orient. She said Jamesport saw the biggest jump in median price, up 25.4 percent to $460,000.

Town & Country’s reports are available online here.

Analysts said last year the 2012 fourth quarter numbers were suppressed somewhat by a delay in closings after Superstorm Sandy, as banks held up mortgage commitments on Long Island while waiting to assess damage from the storm on real estate transactions that were in process at the time Sandy hit.

Suffolk Research Service President George Simpson, who is a frequent critic of the rosy predictions of realtors, couldn’t help but join the enthusiasm. He described the market as “booming” in his end-of-year report last week.

Mr. Simpson said the number of fourth quarter sales was up 61 percent since 2011. In 2011, according to SRS, there were 490 sales on the East End in the fourth quarter. This year, they reported 1,002 sales. SRS reported 636 sales in the fourth quarter of 2012.

SRS reported the number of sales was up 57.5 percent quarter over quarter, but the median price of single family homes rose just 4.2 percent between quarter four of 2012 and 2013. They also reported the total dollar sales on the East End in the fourth quarter surpassed the fourth quarter of 2007, just before the beginning of the Great Recession.

According to SRS, median price rose substantially over the fourth quarter of 2012 in every East End town except for East Hampton.

Southold saw the biggest gain, with the median price up 16.4 percent to $495,000. Riverhead followed just behind, with an increase of 13.6 percent to $360,000. Median price on Shelter Island rose 12.4 percent to $725,000 and median price in Southampton rose 7.2 percent to $835,000. The median price in East Hampton fell 26.3 percent to $925,000.

The Corcoran Group’s Corcoran Report says inventory of homes on the market, at 7,600 is at the lowest point since the second quarter of 2009, when 7,288 houses were on the market.

Douglas Elliman’s North Fork Elliman Report said homes on the North Fork were selling in an average of 148 days, down from 201 days in the fourth quarter of 2012, while homes were selling at an average 6.7 percent discount from the listing price. On the South Fork, they said, days on the market fell by more than two months to 163 days, with an average discount of 7.9 percent from the list price.

The Elliman Report, which, unlike the Corcoran Report, lists North Fork and South Fork listings in separate reports, showed a decrease in inventory on the North Fork but a surge in inventory on the South Fork in the fourth quarter.

Douglas Elliman reported sales of lower end houses were more brisk on the North Fork than in the last quarter of 2012, skewing median price downward, while Town & Country reported that the $500,000 to $999,000 range saw the most activity on the South Fork.

“My concern here is there’s little inventory as replacement inventory is slim,” said Ms. Desiderio of that price range on the South Fork.

Corcoran reported the number of vacant land sales skyrocketed by 69 percent on the South Fork and 89 percent on the South Fork quarter over quarter, while the median price of land sold decreased 5 percent to $540,000 on the South Fork and 15 percent to $220,000 on the North Fork.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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