Pool, Casual Water
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Real Estate Center

Deed Analysis, March 15

Publication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press
By Phelan Wolf, Esq.   Mar 12, 2012 12:22 PM
Mar 29, 2012 11:53 AM

48 Beach Lane, Westhampton Beach, $1,335,000

493 Dune Road, Westhampton Beach, $1,212,500

This week’s transfers include two interesting, but very different, properties in Westhampton Beach, which just happen to be located near one another.

48 Beach Lane is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest homes to sell in Westhampton Beach in some time. It is a turn-of-the-century classic, built around 1920, with lovely lines that are simultaneously simple and ornate and exemplify the classic shingled-cottage style.

The center of this home is a two-story colonial, but at each end of the gable is a wing, one parallel to the main gable and the other perpendicular to it. In the center, above the main entrance, a large hexagonal dormer pushes out of the façade, with a white chimney rising up alongside—like a large vine growing up and around it.

They just don’t make houses like this anymore, and one reason is size. This house is only about 2,000 square feet, with three bedrooms (all upstairs of course), three baths and lower ceilings than are typical today.

The house is well located on a good street in the estate area, which runs from the village center down across the bridge to the ocean beach on Dune Road along the barrier island. The lot is small, only .4 acre, and it is a flag lot but nicely landscaped with a patio and attractive gunite pool.

This type of historic house is not for everyone. Upkeep can be an issue, although many of these types of homes were built with heavier framing than is common today, particularly compared to builders who sometimes cut corners that buyers can’t easily see.

The best thing to do with these types of homes, although it is a big job, is to jack them up and pour a full-sized, modern foundation below them, to eliminate the slow crumbling of the brick or fieldstone partial basements which were common. This adds lots of extra space without ruining the looks of the houses.

This kind of house has been in demand, in good times and bad, for 100 years. There is every reason to believe, if a home like this is well cared for, that it will still be desirable 100 years from now.

The property at 493 Dune Road makes an interesting contrast. While it is almost the same price as 48 Beach Lane, and in the same neighborhood, it is very different.

This sale was a vacant lot, one of the last on the ocean side of the barrier beach in Westhampton Beach. It is .87 acre, but the buildable area, landward of the dune, is around .5 acre.

This lot last traded 10 years ago, when it was bought for $620,000. This sale represents a return rate of just under 7 percent. While it may not seem like an enormous return, it is important to remember that during the same time period, the stock market went up dramatically—and down just as much—taking investors on a road to nowhere and ending the decade around the same level as where it started.

So the history of this property is good, but what about the future? It always bears repeating that buying environmentally sensitive vacant land is inherently risky as the permitting process is long and complicated, and there are no guarantees. But beyond that, are there existential threats to properties such as this one?

The New York Times featured a lengthy story this week on the barrier beaches in North Carolina, where bridges are washing out with increasing frequency. According to scientists quoted in the story, the best case scenario by the end of the century is that the sea levels will rise around 2 feet! These scientists are already recommending that bridges to the barrier islands in North Carolina be abandoned because they are a “lost case,” and replaced by ferries. If they are right, 493 Dune Road is unlikely to last as long as 48 Beach Lane.

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