Real Estate Roundtable: New Year, New Challenges?

Credit: Barbara Lassen

After an unprecedented year in East End real estate and more people than ever now living here year-round, what changes can we expect in the market going forward in 2021? 

We asked some of the top agents in the Hamptons and on the North Fork what they think will be the biggest differences and challenges for the year ahead.

“People are starting to have a very different relationship with the city and work. Before this year, you always had to work in the city to have work, but now so many companies have figured out that working from home has been very beneficial. Young professionals are reconsidering their priorities when it comes to what they are looking for in a home. We will become a much stronger first-home market creating more year-round communities and opportunities in education, technology and art. We are already seeing new galleries, stores, restaurants and pop-up shops this winter like we have never seen before.” -Michaela Keszler, Douglas Elliman

“What we’ve seen in 2020 will likely continue. The biggest challenge is going to be inventory. Much of the inventory that had been on the market, some of it for many years, was absorbed last year with some of the closings still to come early this year. Both seasoned lookers and new people coming into the market are going to be challenged to find the houses they want, in the locations they want, at a price that works for them. Rentals again are off to a great start. That inventory is going to be challenging. Prices are up from past years and renters are moving forward rapidly to find houses. All that being said, as always, there will be opportunities for both buyers and renters if they are diligent enough to move quickly in making decisions. In 2021, ‘he who hesitates is lost.'” – Gary DePersia, The Corcoran Group

“The market was on fire in 2020. People fled to find a refuge, more space and an environment to work and school from home. Further, record-low mortgage rates provided greater purchasing power. Dynamics that will make the market continue to be strong: 1) Pandemic. COVID pushed many to purchase sooner and demand was great in 2020. Lagging supply will keep prices and interest in properties going. Although the vaccine is on the horizon, we are anticipating a new normal in terms of how people live, work and entertain. We also expect people enjoying the Hamptons even more and trading up. The fact that we are close to New York City and the airports is also important. And, sellers will continue to capitalize on the strength of the market. 2) Younger Buyers. We are seeing a generational trend and anticipate younger couples and new families will have a role in the strength of the market. They have learned to work and school from home, are desirous of space and are buying homes to fit their new lifestyle. 3) Construction – We expect continued gains here and prices to increase.” – Jennifer Friedberg, Brown Harris Stevens

“I feel lucky to be selling real estate in the Hamptons during a time when people are flocking out here. An obvious challenge is limited inventory and a plethora of buyers. My guess is this will continue through 2021, given the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus and its various strains. Even with the vaccine it will take some time to return to normalcy. I believe there’s a new normal and the world will never be what it was pre-pandemic. Although the pandemic has brought horrific things, I can’t help but think it was time for change. I anticipate another year of abundant sales and look forward to the rewards of selling homes to buyers who have found a community where they feel comfortable and safe.” – Jennifer Reiner, Hampton Estates Realty

“The biggest market change that we can expect going forward is a lack of adequate inventory to meet the demand that we have, in both the sale and rental categories.  Even at this early stage of the season, it is proving difficult to find properties, especially in our bread-and-butter price ranges.  Also, there are backlogs and delays in our pipeline, some of which are COVID-related:  Procuring the goods and services that are needed to keep the market moving:  permits, building materials, title searches, etc, is taking longer.  I am grateful for the increase in our local population, however.  It brings vibrancy to our world and supports our economy.  The Hamptons are better than ever!” – Deidre DeVita, Sotheby’s International Realty 

“We haven’t really settled down yet. The intensity to live in the Hamptons is still here and I don’t see that stopping until we get to some kind of equilibrium. Furthermore, I think that a lot of the people who decided to buy or use their second home as a safe shelter are going to stay. Many will probably keep their place in the city, but I expect that the Hamptons house will shift from second-home status to primary.” – Enzo Morabito, Douglas Elliman 

“Inventory! What I am seeing is a lack of inventory in certain areas, especially certain price points, so the seller’s market we are currently experiencing, I believe, will most likely continue here in the Hamptons at least for the first half of the year. I am seeing many buyers out there right now—especially some that I know who have rented last year because of the pandemic—looking to acquire a new residence. Last year was definitely unprecedented, and business was through the roof with the amount of buyers we had here in the Hamptons that were fleeing the urban landscape. I expect that trend to continue. However, I believe this sense of urgency will slow at some point especially as the vaccine continues to roll out and take effect. Timing on that remains to be seen and what effects it will have with overall demand here in the Hamptons, only time will tell and what corrections and changes will follow in the marketplace.” – Rob Canberg, Compass 

“With the migration from urban centers and the inability to travel, the Hamptons home is now viewed as a sanctuary. A place to work and school remotely, while being able to enjoy nature, more space and freedom. More of a “co-primary” residence and as such the quality, size and amenities have taken on greater importance.  There are now demands for: larger homes/compounds to accommodate extended family, homes with larger property, pool houses used as gathering places deemed safer in COVID times, separate outbuildings to quarantine in. Before COVID, buyers did not experience urgency to purchase a home they deemed secondary. They were willing to wait and rent until the right fit came along. This is no longer the case. Multiple bidding situations are now commonplace. As rental prices have skyrocketed, it is cheaper in many cases to purchase. We expect the market to remain strong in 2021. With uncertainty around the rate at which we will be vaccinated and hesitancy to travel, there are many ready, willing and able buyers on the sidelines still waiting to purchase. The biggest challenge we expect in 2021 is the lack of inventory to keep up with demand.” – The ClarkThoerner Team, Sotheby’s International Realty 

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