Coronavirus

Demand from NYC buyers cushioned falling sales on East End and Long Island

Houses along canals in Oceanside, NY. The median sales price on Long Island, $469,000, tied the record set in the third quarter of 2019, according to The Elliman Report.

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Sales were down in the Hamptons, North Fork, and on Long Island in the second quarter, when the shutdown largely prevented in-person showings—but the numbers could have been a lot worse. Demand from buyers looking to leave New York City permanently or find second homes to ride out the pandemic prevented the declines from hitting NYC levels.

Despite a low volume of sales in these areas, and a lack of inventory, many price records were set during the quarter as buyers snapped up pricier properties.

According to the latest Elliman Report, compared to the same quarter a year ago, second quarter sales were down 13 percent in Hamptons, 24 percent on the North Fork, and 34 percent on Long Island—nowhere near as severe as the 54 percent record sales decline in Manhattan in the same period.

The East End and Long Island, as well as other suburban areas, are benefiting from “the outbound migration trajectory” of New Yorkers during the pandemic, says Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel and author of the report. “The suburbs and the Hamptons are having their day,” he says.

There’s been a lot of press about New Yorkers fleeing the city, however, another narrative deserves attention. Buyers are seeking what Miller calls “co-primary homes.” That’s his term for second homes that allow New Yorkers to live full-time in either their city or suburban location, thanks to one upside of living in the pandemic: The rapid adoption of technology that now enables jobs and schools to be online.

Another moderating effect was a lack of rentals in the suburbs, Miller points out, which helped nudge New Yorkers into the sales market in these areas.

This burst is not expected to last, however.

“The summer right now is the spring selling season that never happened,” Miller says. We may see “that pent up-demand and supply get satiated by Labor Day,” he says.

Here's a look at the numbers: The Hamptons recorded a median sales price of $1,080,000, the highest in more than eight years of tracking, and a 27 percent increase over the second quarter of 2019. Listings fell for the third straight quarter. And the sales total was the second lowest in 11 years.

The North Fork’s median sales price, $595,000, represented the first year-over-year decline in three quarters. The area had the lowest second-quarter number of sales in eight years because of the market shutdown. Listings were down 41 percent, the steepest drop in 13 years.

The median sales price on Long Island, $469,000, tied the record set in the third quarter of 2019, the report says. Listings dropped 16.6 percent, the largest rate in 16 years of tracking this metric. 

Other market reports

The Hamptons report for the second quarter from Brown Harris Stevens says gains in the average and median sales prices can be attributed to increased demand, bidding wars, and the rising number of homes trading for $10 million and above.

“While a flurry of new rental activity marked the beginning of the quarter, sales activity has since surged, with many customers looking not necessarily for a summer or vacation home, but a second home as the live/work experience has evolved during the epidemic,” says Robert Nelson, BHS executive managing director.