Overseas property - Hamptons Heaven

Posted on: 19 October 2012 by Laura Henderson

The playground of New York’s rich and famous: British buyers are now sampling a taste of the good life across the Pond. Laura Henderson reports.

The HamptonsThe first settlers may have been English Puritan farmers in 1640, but these days, opulent, super-size-me estates overpower normal homes, in New York’s most celebrated summer hot spot where the East Coast glitterati, the great and the good like to hang.

A stronghold of quaint colonial hamlets, towns and villages stretching out like a daisy chain along the east coast of Long Island, whether you’re eyeing up the homemade organic fare at the farmer’s market or chilling beachside with the Nectar Imperial bubbly – the Hamptons vibe is hard to beat.

Most visitors arrive with a cargo of heavy-duty luggage but the Atlantic offshore breeze invariably works its magic, sending even the most harried of urbanites back home with a dose of Zen. More than perhaps any other place in the States, the area is shorthand for ‘A’ list attainment. Elm-shaded lanes, wild dunes and body surf beaches are par for the course, but so too, are the Volante convertibles, chi-chi designer ensembles and café carmellos.

Though “The Hamptons” technically refers to the villages of East Hampton and Southampton, there are several other communities that fall under the Hamptons umbrella including: Water Hill, Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, Sag Harbour, Amagansett and Montauk (much less glitzy but with a fun-loving, beachy charm). The area has suffered its share of the downturn in the US market, but its reaction to events has been lagged. Whereas some parts of the US are now seeing a definite bottoming out of prices, the Hamptons, because of its Wall Street homeowner bedrock, has taken a little longer to feel the pinch. But while reducing expectations became par for the course for sellers during the worst of the crisis, the market has undoubtedly started to pick up, as Gary DePersia, Vice President of the Corcoran Group explains: “Wall Street’s recent stock market rally has inspired optimism, with an upturn in real estate activity in the past few months, although prices well below original ask are helping to fuel activity. At the height of 2007, a house may have sold for £10m. Come 2011, you’d be looking at intermediate price drops to around £8m. These days the final sale price could be around £7.5m.” DePersia says many factors have aligned for bargain hunters. “There’s increased inventory, sellers are more negotiable, but also interest rates are still near historic lows.” As to the best places to invest: “Everyone has a different idea of what their ideal Hamptons experience is. For some it’s a rambling country estate, with a pool and landscaped gardens, while others prefer a charming cottage on the beach.”

Price point wise, a budget of £500,000 will secure you a three-bed, two-bath vintage home with a decent-sized garden in historic East Hampton, upwards of £3m a six-bed country mansion in a sought-after neighbourhood like Water Mill.” Location wise, anything on the water is going to hold its value adds DePersia, because “they aren’t making any more of it.” “North Haven is still underrated, and Sag Harbour Village is still competitively priced compared to Southampton Village. Certain areas North of the Highway (Montauk Highway, the rapidly blurring dividing line between the “haves” and “have nots”) from Amagansett to Southampton have also yet to be tapped.”

Long-term however, DePersia sees a full return to form: “Two underlying factors carry sway in the market: from a general perspective, there are sellers with significant financial strength and staying power. But also, there’s the reality that we’re located just 90 miles outside of Manhattan, with world-class beaches and a genuine small-scale community feel, which is, and will, continue to be in demand. That vintage mix isn’t going to disappear. If anything, it will just keep getting better and better.”  

Tricks and Mortar: The Little Book of Property WisdomTricks and Mortar: The Little Book of Property Wisdom by Laura Henderson is out now.

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