The year 2020 was a frenetic year in the real estate market on Long Island, and 2021 proved to be another perfect storm — a shortage of inventory with homes selling in a fast and furious pace.
“Homes were being sold at record numbers and in record time. A house would hit the market on a Friday and within 24 hours bids would start coming in. By Sunday night it would shift to ‘best and final’ offers. That is what is happening typically across the island. All because of lack of inventory and more buyers in the market,” says Traci Conway Clinton of Compass, who specializes in high-end luxury real estate in both Nassau County and the Hamptons, where many of her clients have second homes.
“I put a home on the market recently on the North Shore and it went $502,000 over the asking price,” she says in an interview about a recent $3,548,000 listing of hers. “That wasn’t because it was underpriced, it was all about the demand in a sought-after location that resulted in an intense bidding war. It’s really crazy what has been going on.”
Clinton, who has risen to the top in her field during her 17-year career in real estate, doing over $600 million in sales, feels the current market is different from the market during the height of the COVID pandemic. In the spring and summer of 2020, people were looking to escape the confines of the city to a more spacious home with property. “With work and schooling being conducted remotely, buyers could go anywhere, making the Hamptons and the North Shore markets explode,” she says. “Buyers were making purchases at times sight-unseen or through videos, photography, virtual open houses and mere floorplans. While the pace and urgency of the 2020 market has subsided, the low levels of inventory persist presenting new challenges that continue to fuel this vibrant market.”
During the pandemic, there was still left- over inventory from pre-pandemic lulls. “But now you’re dealing with a different situation. If you are looking to downsize, upgrade or make a move out of state, one piece of the puzzle might fit perfectly while the other proves to be quite challenging; given the scarcity of supply, some sellers are reluctant to commit until they are confident they can execute their next move. And like most things, timing is everything. There are many buyers across both markets that are becoming extremely frustrated as well because at certain price points, they are continuously being outbid.”
In markets like these, that’s when it’s more important than ever to have an experienced, tenacious and untiring agent in your corner.
During a recent conversation, Clinton, who had an early morning meeting in Quogue with a client and then headed back to the North Shore for a marketing meeting, says she attributes part of her success to her strong work ethic.
“I am relentless in working for my clients. Whether it is selling their property and getting them the most money for it in the least amount of time on the market or finding them their next home, it’s about placing their properties above the competition when it hits the market. I like to think about it as offering a curated, seamless experience, regardless of the price point,” she explains.
Just a couple of weeks prior, Clinton had put under contract a beautiful waterfront home on four acres in Westhampton, which had sat on the market unsold for close to two years prior to her taking over the listing.
Clinton knows the South Fork well. Her parents first rented in the Hamptons in the early 1960s, deciding to buy a house in Quogue by the late ’60s. “I’ve been out there ever since,” she says. She was married at her parents’ home there and has owned a home of her own in Quogue for over 25 years. She now splits her time between the East End and the North Shore. “I love the small quaint village of Quogue, with all the charm and character it has preserved throughout the years. I have so many amazing memories there from attending summer camp as a child at Junior Sports in Westhampton, getting engaged 35 years ago at the Inn at Quogue (now the Quogue Club at Hallock House) or bonfires on the beach with my kids.”
Clinton is the founder of the Traci Conway Clinton Team, which provides her with the bandwidth to canvas the region and a support structure that covers all the details including a concierge-type experience. “Photography, flowers, staging, catering, you-name-it — we have the resources to deliver the complete package from prepping, marketing, property events, execution, closing and beyond.”
Finding clients the right spot and the right deal for them — wherever that may be along the island — is what Clinton does best, even in the most challenging of markets. Whether it’s educating them on the current market or introducing them to new neighborhoods or towns they never considered before, it’s important. “It’s a time-consuming process, but one that has to be done. Otherwise, if the process is too rushed, they may end up not making the best choice, only to find that out further down the road. People appreciate the local market expertise and the extra steps taken to help them through the process.”
Clinton, a Long Island Founding Agent and Luxury Division Council Member at Compass, has received prestigious awards over the years given to sales professionals in the top 1%. She has sold several of the highest-priced homes in Manhasset over the course of her 17-year career and has been the number one agent by volume in Manhasset for the last six years.
She has always had a passion for real estate.
“My dad was a banker, so growing up as a young teen, I would spend Sunday mornings going through The New York Times Real Estate section with my father perusing column after column of homes, discussing the different homes that we recognized that came to the market in our area.”
Her passion has only grown. “I love that every deal is so unique, as are the people that you meet — the buyers and sellers you get to work with — I would never have had the opportunity to cross paths with them otherwise,” she says.
Before her real estate career, Clinton was an interior designer with her own firm. Her design expertise has been invaluable to her in real estate, as she can advise sellers on how best to stage their homes and help buyers envision the potential a home has.
Clinton believes in giving back to her community and has served as a member of the Architectural Review Board in Plandome Manor for the past 17 years — so she is also quite familiar with the various issues that can arise when purchasing a home in areas, like the Hamptons, that care a great deal about history and character.
One piece of advice she gives buyers in a sellers’ market is: “I always say, ‘If I call you up and say you didn’t get the house, are you going to be upset?’ I don’t want to push somebody to do something financially that they’re not comfortable with, but I also don’t want them to regret it and say, ‘I wish I had given you X dollars more on my offer.’” She adds, “In the end, you need to put your best foot forward.” Sometimes that means getting creative. No matter the price of the home, there are always buyers that can make their offer more appealing to the seller. “Perhaps a seller doesn’t know where they’re going yet and they need more time in the house versus someone saying, ‘I can close in three weeks,’” she says. “Maybe they are waiving a mortgage contingency like a cash buyer. Maybe they’re putting more down at the contract signing — things like that.”
Buying and selling is also an emotional process. “Sometimes I feel like a therapist and you’re just trying to keep everybody calm,” she jokes. In all seriousness though, she says she is there to keep all sides calm even in the tensest of negotiations.
As in the North and South Forks, where the market is causing new areas to be discovered, Nassau County is seeing more activity in Sands Point, areas of Port Washington and East Hills to name a few. “Garden City is hot as well right now,” she says. “We’re all suffering a little bit from the inventory issue from Nassau to Montauk. I put something on in Garden City that was the same thing — it was a condo, and it just went over the asking price in a weekend.”
She adds, “I think people are scratching their heads, wondering when is this going to end? In all likelihood the market will back off but the timing is anyone’s guess.”
This article appeared in the November 2021 issue of Behind The Hedges. Click here to read the digital version.