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We are seeing more “positive” real estate reports published these days. As a matter of fact, the most positive reports since the crash of 2008.
The last quarter of 2012 was a big quarter for property owners who were tax averse or had a great sum of wealth tied up in their property or both. The looming threat of the 2103 increase in capital gains, was too much to bear for some. A number of sellers dropped their asking price by millions to avoid paying additional taxes (perhaps in the thousands) to the government. The reality is, many of those sellers were finally motivated to price their homes at market value after years of wishing, wanting, hoping for the price they would’ve, could’ve, should’ve taken in 2007.
Buyers have been waiting patiently on the sidelines for sellers to get real with offering prices. It seems that the threat of increased taxes, only trumped by death, was just the elixir that brought motivation home to roost for many. Quite clever, that Uncle Sam.
So, while Manhattan and The Hamptons are seeing record sales, many other parts of the nation are seeing increased sales as well. California, Arizona and Florida have seen increased values and numbers of sales, but coming back from a 50%, 60% or even 70% drop in value was inevitable. Even as my friend, Alison Rogers, writes in Time Business about Home Prices “Jumping”, it’s not happening in every market.
Jonathan Miller posts about the Pre-Covery (a term shouted out by my other friend Phil Faranda, one of the sharpest tools in the shed ). Read the Jonathan Miller post and the Robert Schiller NYTimes piece for more insight.
The way I see it, business has maintained a pretty healthy level of activity as we have arrived into 2013 and I believe it is going to be a good year for many in the market, but for different reasons. We are still left with three basic groups in today’s real estate economy; The Good or the “Haves”, The Bad or the “Holder-On-ers” and the Ugly – the “Have-Not’s”.
The Good (Haves) may have lost some of their net worth during the last 5 years, but still have plenty of assets at their disposal. They know that many property values are down to 2004/2005 levels and the cost of borrowing money at historic low levels. The Good know now is a good time to invest. While many sellers have been resilient, holding on to their 2007 asking prices, the Good have been even more resilient. They walk through homes, take notes, ask about length of time on the market and price history (or more often tell the agent about them based upon their online research). If the price is out of line, they don’t bother to make an offer, unless its a one-of-a-kind, gotta-have property that has particular appeal to them. They don’t need a recovery.
The other sub-set of Haves are the young, responsible up-and-comers who were too busy either finishing school or getting their career started during the fat-and-happy days. They didn’t get caught up in the Irrational Exuberance. They watched home prices escalate rapidly in the ’00’s thinking they may never be able to buy a home and are now delighted to buy their first home from a bank or a motivated seller at prices they saw 8 years ago.
The Bad (Holder-On-Ers) are just holding on for dear life. They were either able to move laterally in their career or are still there, watching company blogs and listening for the next round of layoffs…kind of like my older buddies waited for their number to be called in the ’69-’72 draft. Many of them resisted using their homes as an ATM during The Roaring ’00’s and are able to pay their bills and get by. Some were hoping for retirement or an easier pace of life by now, but the depletion of their investment accounts and loss of value in their homes has made that unattainable. Maybe they would like to move, but can’t afford to sell their house, buy a new one and the jobs that were once plentiful are now scarce. Left wondering why the stock market is back up to 2007 highs and their investment accounts and property values are not, they feel stuck, waiting for something to get either better or worse. They are hoping for a recovery.
The Ugly (Have Nots) have lost the life they once new, only a few short years ago. They not only over refinanced on their home (or homes) at the peak of the market, but they lost their ability to pay for it when the job market crashed or their company went out of business. Some of them were making $200k a year as a sales rep for just showing up and now can’t get hired for $75k, even though they learned to tap dance to Yankee Doodle Dandy. Many of them saw their credit lines shut down, their credit card interest rates double or triple and they are drowning in a sea of lack. Not a fun place to be. Others are making decisions for them right now. Maybe they were granted a loan modification and since then, have failed to keep up with new payments. They’re either just waiting for the bank to take their home or it already has and now they are renting. Dazed and confused about how the last 4-5 years could have happened. They are praying for a recovery (and filling out their Peace Corps application).
One thing is for sure: the economy is getting better – incrementally - for SOME , but not for all. Fortunately for us, the Hamptons has more of the Good…and Wall Street bonuses are unfolding….and spring rental and sales season is here…and the snow is melting…and life could be much worse.
“Guys on Wall Street would sell the Hamptons house and their art collection before they would take their kids out of a top school,” says one Morgan Stanley banker. “Education is an essential.” The top end of the art market has recovered quickly from the recession, so selling now might not be a bad move.
Funny thing is, I see business picking up in the Hamptons ( albeit, from a horrendous Q4 2011) and am hearing about an uptick in NYC sales too.
So what’s the truth here? Unfortunately, with no dependable date sharing and tracking system in The Hamptons, we can’t know…stay tuned!
It’s not unusual for homeowners to add or rent out a room from time to time, but there are rules about this sort of thing, you know…
Southampton Town Code Enforcement chief says the estate was operating as a transitional rental without a permit.
- By Brendan J. O’Reilly
- February 6, 2012
Southampton Town Code Enforcement executed a search warrant Sunday at a Water Mill estate advertised as “The Ultimate Luxury Rental in the Hamptons.”
The owner and builder, Michael D’Alessio, and two others, Matthew Ardley and Megan Kemper, were issued appearance tickets for alleged code violations, including change of use, construction without a permit, operating a transitional rental and not having a rental permit, according to Chief Investigator David Betts. see more here
Gregg Saunders, vice president of retail real estate development at Philips International, had been in no rush to sell a house north of Route 27 in Sagaponack that was built for him and his wife in 1998. The four-bedroom property with a tennis court and pool had been on the market for two years at $2.9 million.
Then last year, he bought a historic home on an acre of land closer to the beach in the same town for $2.45 million.
Saunders said he “didn’t want to be stuck with two homes,” so he cut the price on the first house “dramatically.” It sold in December for $1.75 million.
as told to Bloomberg News, Jan26, 2012
The reality is, the realty market in Manhattan has held significantly better than The Hamptons. We have typically said that “as goes New York, so goes the East End”, however it does not appear to be holding true this time around.
January 27, 2012, 8:14 AM EST, Bloomberg
Why would that be? Could it be:
1- Manhattan has more permanent residences and The Hamptons are more discretionary homes?
2- There are more foreign buyers in Manhattan than The Hamptons because the investment quality of Manhattan real estate is more stable?
3- The Bankers who have fueled both buying here as well as the business of others who end up buying here are being more conservative? ( have you heard the stories about the senior management at Goldman, Chase, etc telling their ranks to “keep a low profile”)
4- Is it that The Hamptons don’t have professional property management companies that can manage real estate investments adequately for investors?
5- When enough properties sell for 60% (or less) of asking price, does that spook big buyers to downsize and play it safe?
6- Could the lack of dependable Market Data make today’s more educated buyers uneasy?
One of the things that keeps values down in Springs is the high taxes and now they are getting thumped again…they just can’t win.
Shouldn’t the Board of Ed try to figure out how to level the taxes between the districts that share the same resources?
A Surprise Tax Increase For Springs
District influx of 37 high school students
By Kate Maier, The East Hampton Star
(October 21, 2010) The 2010-11 Springs School District tax increase has jumped from 5.1 to 9.5 percent as a result of an unanticipated influx of 37 high school students, which amounts to an additional tuition payment of more than $800,000 to the East Hampton School District.
The Springs School District’s attorneys have advised that the tax levy increase is not subject to a public vote because it is tuition related, said Christopher Kelley, the Springs School Board president, at a meeting on Monday night. rest of story here
Many have been trying to put on the best face possible about Hamptons Real Estate for the past couple of years;
“Oh, it’s a little slow, but it will come back” or ” I’m busy, aren’t you?”…yeah, right.
Sure, a handful of agents have done well to ok during this economic downturn and, if getting listings is a measure of success, then some are doing great! But if selling those listings is important (and isn’t it?), then very few are thriving.
Sales are down +50% from the peak and values are down 25-33%, and even as much as 50% on some properties that happened to get caught up in the frenzy of “The Roaring 00″s”. Just recently, B of A sent a value statement from an off site appraisal company to a homeowner stating their property in Sag Harbor was valued at $660,000. In November of 2006, that same property was appraised for $1,200,000. How do I know? That homeowner is me.
The realities of The New Reality are staggering. Many are still in denial about the value of their property. On Long Island as a whole, it appears that about 25% – 1 in 4 – of the listings are priced within 10% of fair market value, which is the same price it was valued at in 2004. In the Hamptons, that figure appears to be even less. The rest of the properties just sit and get stale. many of them don’t even get shown because the asking price is so far off the market value no one wants to see it.
The Ebb & Flow of Hamptons Real Estate
Many of those who had been standing on the sidelines with cash to take advantage of the reduction in values did just that in The Hamptons in late 2009-early 2010 ( flow), but once word got out that sales were brisk, sellers got emboldened and started raising their prices or put their houses on the market for ridiculous prices and buyers backed off (ebb). The uncertainty around the economy and the upcoming elections all contribute to the stalemate and the ebb.
Conventional wisdom would say that once the elections are over and there is a clearer picture of what the make-up of the congress will be, that confidence will start to come back and sales should pick up. Also, word has it that Wall Street Bonuses will be healthy for 2010 and, as they start rolling out in these next few months, that should contribute to brisker sales in Manhattan and The Hamptons as well. That being said, while money is no object to some, many don’t want to be in the position of reaching for a falling knife.
My belief is that Hamptons Real Estate will maintain +or- 5% of 2004 values for the remainder of 2010 & 11, and that we are in for a similar market as the 1990’s when values pretty much held for much of the decade until the banking industry woes worked out and economic and demographic forces came together to create The Roaring 00’s.
That’s not from my crystal ball, that’s from my head and my gut. I threw out my crystal ball in 2008 after it cost me pretty much all I had. Onward and upward…
Some recent articles about The New Reality:
|Hamptons Home Prices Fall as Buyers Seek Budget Retreats: Video
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) — Home prices in New York’s Hamptons, the beachside resort towns in Long Island swelled by summering Manhattanites, dropped 14 percent …
The Hamptons Home Sales Down 19% Quarter-over Quarter in Q-3
‘Affordable’ Sales Dominate Hamptons Real Estate
|Hamptons Go South
Wall Street Journal
By SHELLY BANJO Even though Hamptons publisher Richard Ekstract dropped the price of his eight-bedroom Bridgehampton mansion to $7.99 million from its …
|Hamptons Home Prices Fall as Buyers Seek Lower-Priced Retreats
By Oshrat Carmiel – Thu Oct 21 04:00:01 GMT 2010 A for sale sign hangs in front of a property inEast Hampton, New York. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg …
I first spoke with Oshrat about this piece in April. Since then numerous articles about how “The Hamptons Are Back” have surfaced because sales are up from the dismal 2009 levels.
Keep in mind that sales, in 2009, were down a whopping 75% from 2007 levels, which was the peak of the market coming out of a strong 2006 and sweeping into 2008, despite the first “credit bubble” of fall 2007. So, doubling of 2009 sales still leaves us with sales down 50% from the peak, a steep grade to climb.
I see real estate during this upcoming decade (the 10’s) as being much like the 90’s, where there will be ups and downs, but little meaningful appreciation. There is little to drive enthusiasm and still lots and lots of underwater inventory and “a new reality” that will drag on many for years to come.
Another thing to consider is that, while the median and average sales prices are up, down and all around, while they are appearing to resemble times past, what is different is the homes that represent those figures. Homes that would have sold for $5,000,000 in 2007 are selling for $3,500,000 today. Sure there are exceptions, but that is the rule.
So numbers don’t lie, but those who interpolate them sometimes do…md
By Oshrat Carmiel – Aug 10, 2010 3:18 PM ET
Now’s the time to buy a beachfront home in New York’s wealthy enclave, where prices are down and inventory is up.
George Ross, an energy analyst at First Eagle Investment Management LLC in New York, made a deal in the Hamptons that would have been impossible just a few years ago. He bought a waterfront cottage for less than $1 million.
Ross, a triathlete who swam three-quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometers) around the Statue of Liberty in June, had a vision for the perfect vacation home in the Hamptons, the New York retreat where celebrities mingle with financiers. It had to have what he calls swim-ability. “I go out of my house without crossing the street and go swimming–and I don’t mean in some goofy creek,” Ross, 41, says. “I come out of the water, back on my own property, take an outdoor shower. To me, that sounds pretty great.”
So does the price that the analyst paid for his small but well- maintained wooden cottage in Westhampton Beach. The 640-square- foot (60-square-meter) house sits on a thin coastal strip, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Moriches Bay 50 feet (15 meters) away on the other. In February, Ross made an aggressive $830,000 bid for the house, which was listed at $889,000, before settling on $875,000. Three years earlier, the two-bedroom with a wraparound deck sold for $1.24 million.
Buyers have been snapping up vacation homes valued at about $1 million in the Hamptons. As of the second quarter, properties had lost about 24 percent of their value–a steeper decline than in Manhattan–since peaking above an average of $2 million in 2007. Owners who couldn’t sell in the past two years are trying again, keeping the sale inventory high. Some need to sell urgently. Default notices in the east end of Long Island rose 62 percent to 276 in the first quarter, according to Long Island Profiles, a real estate data service. Lenders have even become amenable to short sales, in which they accept less than the balance owed on a property.
“It is still a buyer’s market,” says Jan Robinson, president of Hampton Homes Inc., a broker in East Hampton. “There are some really good deals.”
In his one-year hunt in the Hamptons, Ross used StreetEasy.com and Redfin.com to track price cuts. As he looked for homes that had last changed hands during the peak years in the mid-2000s, Ross was keen to find out if, and by how much, the owners had dropped the price. “If you can identify the value of something in 2004, you can be pretty certain that that would be the value today,” says Michael Daly, founder of brokerage True North Realty Associates in North Haven and author of Hamptons Real Estate Blog.
City dwellers often make the mistake of valuing a waterfront property in the Hamptons much as they would their own apartment- -on a price-per-square-foot basis, says Deirdre DeVita, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens who helped Ross find his home. “That is not at all relevant here,” says DeVita. She says the land value is the most important factor, determining as much as 90 percent of a sale price.
Even rotting docks and seawalls–vestiges of a more permissive waterfront construction era–can add to the worth of the property. In the town of Southampton, which includes Westhampton Beach, docks built from scratch can be no longer than 100 feet, while the presence of an older dock grandfathers in the potential of building a bigger one. Seawalls along a property have been banned, while existing ones, like the 60-foot bulkhead on Ross’s property, can be refurbished. The tough restrictions convinced Ross to drop his idea of buying a fixer-upper and expanding it with a deck or extra bedroom. “Zoning is brutal,” he says. “You can’t do anything without going through huge numbers of hoops.”
Buyers also need to be aware of the presence of illegally installed amenities such as patios when purchasing a home. Local officials may require that the structures be removed before the property changes hands. “I’d see a house and say, ‘Is that deck going to have to come out?’” Ross says. “And they’d say, ‘Yeah.’”
Ross didn’t get everything he wanted, such as a second bathroom, but the cottage has what he desired most: a nearby saltwater workout. “For me, $875,000 is a very fair price for this property,” he says.
Oshrat Carmiel covers residential real estate at Bloomberg News in New York. firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s reported that the $50M Corzine to Tepper deal in Sagaponack is being done sans broker.
I can hear the “Aw, shucks” (or something similar) being exclaimed at every bar and pilates class on the East End, not that I have been to either during this wicked allergy season.
So, how much does an agent make on a $50,000,000 transaction? I’m sure many of you imagine MILLIONS!
The reality depends on a several factors:
1- The agreed upon commission between the seller and the listing agent.
Every agent enters a listing presentation aiming for the highest commission they can get the seller to agree to.
6% commission is common in many places, but never guaranteed. Some markets go as high as 7 or 8%. It’s not uncommon for the higher priced home owners to negotiate the commission down to, lets say 4 or 5%.
2- The agreed upon “offer of compensation” between the listing Broker and the Broker that brings the buyer.
In the Hamptons and Manhattan, the commission is typically split 50/50 between the listing Broker and the Broker who brings the buyer. In other areas of Long Island, the listing Broker usually keeps a larger amount of the commission and offers out less than 50% to the Broker that brings the buyer. Why? Greed, and they get away with it. Saps!
3- The “Split” between the agent and the Brokerage they are working for.
Note that the commissions on any transaction are paid to the Brokerage the agent works for. The Brokerage keeps their share and pays out the split to the agent who did the work on the transaction. Most agents start out at 50% (although we hear that one major Brokerage out here has started a new 45% tier) and as they gain experience and increase their gross commissions to the Brokerage, their split increases to, say 70% or greater in some cases. See an interesting chat on Hamptons Brokerage splits here.
4- Was the customer or a client a Referral or are you working on a Team?
It is not uncommon for big clients or customers to be referred by their family members or best friends who have a real estate license. And the referral fee is usually 20 – 25% of the commission your Brokerage earns on the deal. Many are very justifiable and from hard working professionals that have been working with these clients for years, but don’t have the local expertise or connections needed to complete the transaction in an area outside their own market (common with second homes), but when they are “just the result of a phone call”, they can sting a bit.
Regarding teams, with the 24-7 nature of the real estate business today, many professionals have formed teams so someone can always be available to their clients. Often team members share in all commissions that come into the team.
5- Our Dear Uncle Sam
Most Agents are 1099 contractors and pay their own taxes.
Now for the reality
So, take a $50,000,000 sale and apply the above reduction mechanisms to it and I bet the number that spits out is less than you thought it would be!
Best case scenario:
One agent @ 5% commission: $2, 500,000
@ 70% split w Broker: $1,750,000
- 35% US taxes: $1,137,500
Not a bad take!
Listing agent and Selling agent @ 4% comission; $1,000,000 each
@ 65% split w Broker: $650,000
- 35% US Taxes : $422,500
Still enough for a one-bedroom in The Springs, but…
add a referral fee of $25% and split it with a team member and the final commission on that $50M sale is about $160,000.
STILL A GREAT PAYDAY, but less than your imagination led you to believe.
And remember, there were approximately 10 sales of this magnitude in the US in 2008 and there are approximately 1.3M agents in the US.
It ain’t easy folks and I admire any agent who gets the opportunity to be part of a deal of this size. It’s rarely “dumb luck” and often the result of years of hard work, building relationships, planting seeds and weeding the gardens of their business that results in this good fortune.
2010 reported Sales Figures for the first week in May are up from 2009 and down from 2008 and still way down from 2007.
Looks like this next 3-6 months, with values down 25-35% and interest rates still low, will be the time that buyers look back on and say either:
“I’m glad I bought when I did”, or ” I wish I bought in 2010″.
I’m not saying we are going to see a “v” shaped recovery by any means, but take a look at a mortgage table and see what a one point increase in interest rates does to your monthly payments. One point could offset another 10-15% or greater drop in values, and do you think that both values will continue to drop AND interest rates will stay this low? Sure, the Greece debacle and the fat fingered Wall Street trader dinged rates this week, but it’s conventional wisdom that rates can only go up. For may people, it makes quite a difference in affordability. If you are a cash buyer, it looks like values are stabilizing.
If you’ve read this blog in the past, you know that I am a reformed bull. I didn’t believe that what happened here ever could or would. I also believed that Manhattan and the fabulous Humptons were immune to the events that took place in more ordinary and mundane places. Well that was nothing that a gigantic kick in the ass and a swift 4×4 across the bridge of the nose, courtesy of the 2008 real estate market, couldn’t cure.
Much of the posts here the last two plus years have been reporting what was happening in the East End real estate market and about news that might impact our market. No gossip, no unsubstantiated claims of “the market is back”. Some colleagues have accused us of “spreading bad news”. Well, the news is the news and there hasn’t been much good news to spread. Even today, when the headlines read “Sales up over 100%!”, the fact of the matter is that sales are still down nearly that same amount from 2006 and 2007 and all the denial and attempts at hiding the facts won’t change that. Through the relationships I have developed in the industry as well as my time working with Redfin on Long Island, even this Hamptons broker has come to understand and appreciate the difference between transparency – showing all the facts- versus marketing – showing only the good stuff that you hope will compel people to do what you want them to do.
Property Shark, Zillow, Trulia, Street Easy, as imperfect as they are, still provide much of the information that brokers have, for generations, tried to keep private in hopes of keeping the buyers in the dark. The curtain has been pulled back, and agents need to stop stammering around like the befuddled little man who has just been exposed.
Buyers and even sellers are calling for the implementation of an MLS on the South Fork. More and more sellers are choosing real estate brokers who are Long Island MLS members to sell their homes because they realize that they will expose their listings to many more potential buyers, increasing the likelihood that it will be sold. I hear that a group of South Fork agents at one of the most established brokerages are putting together a petition to have their broker, who happens to be a member of MSL “west of the canal and on the North Fork” join the MLS in their “east of the canal offices” – Blasphemy!!! But what happens if those gum chewers with big hair from “up-island” come to sell our properties?!? Heaven forbid!
I guess you’ll just have to sell the property and fulfill your fiduciary responsibility to your seller.
So, glass half full? – or – glass half empty? Neither – just half a glass.
East End Sales Statistics
Week Ending 05/09/08
Number of Sales 66
Total Dollar Amount $97,638,609
Median Price $ 617,450
Average Price $ 1,479,373
Week Ending 05/08/09
Number of Sales 28
Total Dollar Amount $19,396,914
Median Price $ 489,050
Average Price $ 692,747
Week Ending 05/07/10
Number of Sales 41
Total Dollar Amount $44,854,933
Median Price $ 740,000
Average Price $ 1,094,023
The sales statistics for this particular week, from the last three years are below.
These sales represent “deals” that took place in the last quarter of the preceding year..
Notice that, for 2010, the number of sales and median price are both recovering slowly and the average sales price is back up to hey-day levels of over $1.7M, thanks to a couple of over $10M sales this week, namely Dennis Suskind’s sale of 9 Morgan Hill Way, Bridgehampton for $11,149,900. The original listing price for this home was $24M back in 2007. Also, one of my favorite Hamptons houses, 16 Windmill Lane sold for $12,500,000. The brainchild of real estate developer and broker Antonella Bertello, famed architect Francis Fleetwood and one of the Hamptons finest builders, Stanley Dalene of SDC Construction is a stunning manse with three master suites and several gathering rooms with large fireplaces. I dare say that $12.5M was a nice price for that property.
Without these two sales, average would have been around $1M.
East End Sales Statistics
Week Ending 03/19/10
Number of Sales 34
Total Dollar Amount $57,883,054
Median Price $ 660,000
Average Price $ 1,702,443
Week Ending 03/20/09
Number of Sales 29
Total Dollar Amount $40,781,459
Median Price $ 475,000
Average Price $ 1,406,257
Week Ending 03/21/08
Number of Sales 40
Total Dollar Amount $48,940,292
Median Price $ 685,000
Average Price $ 1,223,507
Regarding lis pendens, the first step towards foreclosure, these figures are steadily rising.
Not only are sub-prime loans ending up here, but the thousands of prime, interest -only 5/1 ARM’s that were taken, banking on steady appreciation are now coming in for a reset. These loans were used for homes up to $10M and many of the buyers, with the economy having tanked, don’t have the income to either make the new payments or to refinance the loans, especially since there really is virtually no market for jumbo refi’s today. Looks like this number may continue to grow, with “strategic default” becoming an option for more and more of these properties. This should make for some good buys out there this and next year, since some owners have the stomach for waiting out the bank and others don’t…
East End Lis Pendens Statistics
Week Ending 03/19/10
Number of Filings 22
Total Mortgage Amount $13,307,188
Median Mortgage $ 489,000
Average Mortgage $ 604,872
Week Ending 03/20/09
Number of Filings 18
Total Mortgage Amount $10,682,361
Median Mortgage $ 453,500
Average Mortgage $ 593,465
Week Ending 03/21/08
Number of Filings 12
Total Mortgage Amount $4,313,300
Median Mortgage $ 321,500
Average Mortgage $ 359,442