Big Hamp­tons Buy­ers Are Back, But Not In­ter­ested in Mega-Man­sions

The Jewish Voice - - THE HAMPTONS - By Charles Bern­stein

Man­sions in the Hamp­tons are fi­nally sell­ing again, af­ter a long pe­riod of in­ac­tiv­ity. Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Re­alty bro­ker Beate Moore told Bloomberg News, “We’re com­ing out of a re­ally down mar­ket. It was very frus­trat­ing. But the mar­ket has picked up, and we’ve seen a surge of huge sales.”

Last month’s re­ported num­bers sup­port this. 48 homes cost­ing at least $5 mil­lion were sold dur­ing the se­cond quar­ter of this year, which is the most in nearly one and a half years, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Miller Sa­muel Inc. and Dou­glas El­li­man Real Es­tate.

Bloomberg re­ports, “Now that wealthy se­cond home buy­ers are re­turn­ing to the south­ern tip of Long Is­land, they have no­tice­ably dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria than their pre­de­ces­sors of 10 or even five years ago. Prices might be the same or even higher than be­fore, bro­kers said, but the needs of an of­ten younger, lessshowy buy­ing set have changed.

One of the pro­nounced dif­fer­ences in taste has to do with scale. Drive through the Hamp­tons to­day and you’ll see mega-man­sions built over the last 20 years or so, many with dozens of roof lines and such a va­ri­ety of win­dows that it ap­pears own­ers were given a cat­a­logue and asked for ‘one of each.’ Echo­ing a trend al­ready ev­i­dent in places like Green­wich, CT, these mono­liths have fallen from fa­vor.

Paul Brennan, a Bridge­hamp­ton-based bro­ker at Dou­glas El­li­man Real Es­tate, told Bloomberg, “Those great big huge houses from the 1990s and early 2000s, they’re sit­ting. I think that con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion isn’t in vogue these days, and that’s why big­ger isn’t bet­ter. The taste is: ‘I want it now, and I don’t want it huge,’ and those sub­stan­tial houses haven’t come down in price enough to ei­ther knock them down or ren­o­vate them to a cer­tain stan­dard.”

Be­sides per­sonal taste, it seems that many peo­ple are re­al­iz­ing that it is not nec­es­sar­ily very fun to live in a mega-man­sion.

Moore said, “I think there’s a dif­fer­ent aware­ness. If you have a re­ally large fam­ily, with grand­chil­dren and staff, of course you want to ac­com­mo­date ev­ery­one gra­ciously.” When a house is too big, though, “that al­most sug­gests an alien­ation fac­tor be­tween fam­i­lies, where ev­ery­body is in their own wing.”

It all re­ally comes down to ease of use, when you are spend­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars you want to va­ca­tion in your va­ca­tion home, not work.

Cor­co­ran Group bro­ker Deb­bie Bren­ne­man said, “If you have a house that’s easy to main­tain, ob­vi­ously you don’t have to put as much time and money and en­ergy into main­tain­ing it.”

She added that smaller is merely rel­a­tive. “If you go from 13,000 to 8,000 square feet, it’s still a large home.”

Just be­cause a home is smaller, does not mean it is any less lux­u­ri­ous. Brennan said, “The bells and whis­tles are in­side the houses. There’s no lack of that.”

Bloomberg re­ports, “Buy­ers of houses— even ones fronting the ocean—want to have pools, while ‘smart’ homes filled with tech, elab­o­rate out­door seat­ing ar­eas, and homes with so­called ‘flex­i­ble’ lay­outs (mean­ing they’re open plan, rather than hav­ing ded­i­cated din­ing, liv­ing, and en­ter­tain­ing rooms) are in vogue. Brennan points to the

home theater as em­blem­atic of the trend.”

Brennan said, “Be­fore, ev­ery­one’s theater had to be big­ger than the next. Now they’re do­ing flex-rooms, where the screen can come down, but when it’s up, it can be a rec room for the kids.”

Once con­sid­ered a sym­bol of great­ness, tennis courts are also no longer pop­u­lar with big spenders.

Moore said, “It’s not an im­per­a­tive for most peo­ple.” Peo­ple who do have courts, rarely use them, it is more just for show.

Brennan said, “Some peo­ple still seem to like the fact that they could at least put a tennis court on the prop­erty. But they don’t use it.”

Bloomberg news ex­plained that many of the bro­kers in the Hamp­tons agree that what buy­ers are look­ing for now is value.

What is ex­actly meant by the term “value” is de­bat­able. It is gen­er­ally de­ter­mined based on three qual­i­ties: lo­ca­tion, con­struc­tion qual­ity, and po­ten­tial for flip­ping for a profit.

Lo­ca­tion, for the Hamp­tons area, is about how close the prop­erty is to the beach.

Moore said, “That’s what peo­ple come out here for. You want to be as close as you can af­ford.” This week, Moore listed a 5,000-square-foot house on the beach for $55 mil­lion.

In the Hamp­tons, the qual­ity of con­struc­tion greatly varies. She said, “The poorly slapped-to­gether spec houses with more quan­tity than qual­ity are just get­ting very lit­tle play.” The fi­nal test is more about whether the buyer per­ceives the prop­erty as a good deal. Bren­ne­man ex­plained, “There are still peo­ple who are will­ing to do the work. They’ll buy some­thing, come in, and fix it up.”

How­ever, there are a lot of peo­ple who want to “walk in with their tooth­brush,” Brennan said. “That’s one end of the spec­trum, but those houses aren’t fly­ing off the shelf.”

32 Mid­dle Lane in East Hamp­ton, which has more than 8,000 square feet, and is listed for $29.95 mil­lion. (Photo Credit: Dou­glas El­li­man)

(Photo Credit: Cor­co­ran Group)

420 Ox Pas­ture Road in Southampton, which has 6,700 square feet and is listed for $29.995 mil­lion

(Photo Credit: Cor­co­ran Group)

The li­brary, which comes with a fire­place, at 8 Dart­mouth Road.

8 Dart­mouth Road in Sag Har­bor. It has 4,000 square feet and is listed for $5.3 mil­lion. (Photo Credit: Cor­co­ran Group)

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