Behind The Hedges 18.12.2018 18:22 Round Table
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Round Table

Hamptons real estate is trend-driven--more so than other markets. The combination of well-heeled buyers and a second-house market means that buyers here are more interested in the next big thing here than elsewhere. Last autumn, the word was that small (meaning 3000 square feet and under) was the new large. But that hasn't panned out, at least according to Judi Desiderio, CEO and president of Town & Country Real Estate. "The sweet spot for size is 4,000 square feet above grade and another 2,000 in the lower level, with sliders to outside." Gary DePersia at Corcoran agrees, saying "I'd say more like 4,000-5,000 square feet above ground plus a basement which could bring total to 6,000-7,000 square feet." And how much are buyers willing to pay for this place? $5 million to just under $10 million. "I always say, 'the numbers never lie--according to Town & Country's mid-year home sales report, the $5 million to $9.99 million market segment rose 59%, more than any other price range," reports Desiderio. Mary Slattery of Corcoran says that in her experience, the sweet spot for pricing is under $2 million. "Under $1 million is on fire," she adds. Sag Harbor has been the hot neighborhood in the Hamptons for the past few years, a trend that shows no sign of abating. But there's a scrappy newcomer to the hot nabe club, and that's Water Mill. Many agents are reporting a lot of interest in the hamlet. Again, according to Desiderio, "The numbers never lie. I will defer to the Town & Country sales report: the Bridgehampton area (which includes Water Mill) increased 19% year over year for transfer, beating all other Hamptons markets." Slattery says, "Shinnecock Hills seems under-valued, so I have had lots of buyers looking in that area. Any location that has proximity to water continues to be strong." As for home style, modern seems to get the most press attention, but when it comes down to it, many buyers still prefer a traditional Hamptons house. "I would say that the prevailing trend is traditional to transitional with a strong resurgence of modern," comments DePersia. Desiderio contends that favored styles depend on the market segment. She says that buyers in the $20 million to $30 million and up market--the super high end--want the classics. "In the teens," Desiderio adds, "modern is currently the favored child." Local architect Erica Broberg Smith is on the side of tradition. "Traditional local shingle style is back--thankfully," she comments. "Classic, utilitarian, historical style without a lot of pomp and fluff. "Minimal details similar to the older agrarian farm style are in. People are craving simplicity and pureness. The statement makers seem to be quelled for the moment with their modern houses and the practical and economical cottage style is back." "Hopefully, our villages will get a good traditional architecture run for a while!" Broberg adds. On a house's exterior, Broberg says that the white house with black-framed windows look is over. It's a clean look, but spec builders have worn out its welcome. Instead, Broberg says, "Gray windows are the latest trend, and variations like very dark blue or deep evergreen. And white windows are a classic and never look dated." Another interesting trend is a pool house that is in a painted finish different from the main house. Since the pool house is just for fun and relaxation, designers are taking more risks here.     On the interiors, bright colors are out. As for the floors, Broberg says, "Dark high gloss is out. Natural is in." She adds, "Painted wood floors are starting to trend--patterns, lots of colors--so much fun!" Interior designer Sydney Maag of Sag Harbor is favoring navy for fall. "Navy (jewel tone) is handsome, preppy, elegant, timeless, comforting. It is a classic that men and women both can relate to," she says. As an accent to navy, Maag likes touches of gold or mustard to add warmth. Natural materials are always in style; Maag says she likes rough plaster walls in the kitchen to reference the elements of nature, as well as stone floors with radiant heating. A great accent, too, she says, is "Bringing the outside inside through indoor trees." A trend from last year that has carried over into 2018 is the fully furnished spec house. But, warns Desiderio, the furnishings must be very carefully selected. She says, "Time is one of the most valuable commodities today. Therefore, when a new home is decorator furnished--as long as it's very well done--then there's one more reason to select that home over the others on the short list." DePersia agrees. "If a new spec home has been nicely staged, often buyers will buy some of all the furnishings," he comments. "Same with older homes if furnishings are available. This makes it easier for some buyers to start using a home immediately. Of course, later they may replace some furnishings." Outdoor amenities continue to be crucial parts of an East End home. The days of a Hamptons home used only in summer are well and truly over. A residence needs to have outdoor space that works in the spring and fall as well, but this no longer necessarily includes tennis courts, which take up a lot of space and are expensive to build and maintain. Instead of tennis, outdoor spaces with fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, grills, and firepits are popular. Desiderio says, "I use my outdoor kitchen more than my indoor kitchen during the season!"