Is $50 million the new $20 million?
Recent reports of the highest residential real estate sale in the country—$147 million for a 16-acre Further Lane property on the ocean in East Hampton—have jaws dropping. That number blows away the earlier record for the Hamptons, which was $109 million for 40 acres, also on Further Lane, back in 2007. Are ultra-high-priced sales random isolated events? Or is this a trend following what’s going on in Manhattan and London, where high-end buyers are dropping huge sums on properties in the quest for a safe investment for cash?
I checked in with a few top brokers to get their take on the Further Lane sale as well as the state of the ultra-high-end market in general.
Peter Turino, broker and principal of Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons, said: “The Further Lane sale is remarkable and sets a new price point for the top-echelon real estate. I sold this property to Chris Browne in 1996 for $13.385 million. It does not surprise me that it traded 18 years later for 11 times that amount. Anyone familiar with the three-lot compound knows it is without equal.”
Properties that stretch from Further Lane to the ocean do not come up often, and they are particularly desirable.
Gary DePersia, associate broker and top producer with the Corcoran Group, said he sees a growing trend.
“Since we have had several megawatt sales over the last five to six months, it’s inevitable that if economic conditions remain strong we are going to see other benchmark sales,” Mr. DePersia said. “We seem to be in that zone right now, where deals are happening at astonishing prices in all sectors of the market.”
He described bidding wars on many of his listings, including some that had just hit the market. One buyer even agreed to wait until after the summer to close, which is unusual, as most people looking in spring want to be in by Memorial Day, and giving up the summer months would normally be a deal-breaker.
“The high-end market is the strongest I have seen in the 24 years I have been a broker in the Hamptons!” said Susan Breitenbach, also a top broker with the Corcoran Group. “High-end rentals are very strong as well as sales.”
As of this week, in fact, Hamptons Real Estate Online was listing two properties for rent at $1 million for the month of July alone, each with 12 bedrooms and 12 baths south of the highway in Bridgehampton.
In ultra-high-end real estate deals, brokers tend to be tight-lipped and often must sign confidentiality agreements. But here are two properties that have reported sales deals.
In East Hampton, 20-30 West End Road, the home of philanthropist and school founder Courtney Ross, is in contract. The New York Post has reported Hollywood power broker David Geffen as the buyer. With an asking price of $67.5 million, this property offers 6 acres on Georgica Pond with a 7,500-square-foot traditional country house and charming three-bedroom guest cottage along with a barn. The houses are on separate lots and the asking price also includes two additional buildable lots. There is a dock for boating on the pond, 481 feet of waterfront, and west-facing sunset views. This prime spot is walking distance to Georgica Beach and can claim Steven Spielberg as a close neighbor. Despite the whopping price tag, this is really four properties in one of the most desirable locations in East Hampton, so it’s not such a bad deal! Many news outlets report a selling price is in the $50 million range, but the listing broker at Sotheby’s could not comment on the deal.
In Bridgehampton, 351 Bridge Lane has sold and closed, according to listing agent Debbie Loeffler at Corcoran. The last asking price was $55 million, which buys you an 11,000-square-foot house on 33 acres with pool, tennis, Sagg Pond frontage and ocean views. Bordered by a reserve, this property offers the utmost in privacy and natural surroundings. Last year the house was priced at $65 million, so lowering the price by $10 million in October may have helped the seller find a buyer. Although this house is not on the ocean or bay, 33 acres is a huge amount of land for the Hamptons.
High-end sales have not been limited to properties south of the highway and on the ocean, traditionally where the highest-priced transactions occur.
In North Haven, 19 Robertson Drive, a waterfront property on Noyac Bay, recently sold for $31 million. The 10,000-square-foot English country-style house is set on 5.6 private acres with pool, tennis court and dock. “The North Haven sale is further evidence that the very high-end market includes many destinations, such as Sag Harbor and Montauk,” Mr. Turino, the listing broker, said. “These newer places have always had the natural beauty to attract high-end buyers, but it is only more recently that buyers have felt comfortable investing major sums here.
“The Robertson Drive sale was a breakthrough sale because the property offered so much: western exposures over Noyac Bay, a beautiful large house, a major dock, a pool and tennis court, and total privacy on 6 acres,” he continued. “This package is rare and achievable only in a locale like North Haven.”
Ultra-high-priced homes require most of the following criteria: a prime location, substantial waterfront and acreage, a unique or gigantic home, possibly with historic pedigree, and of course all the amenities. According to Realnet, the listing database, there are 11 properties on the market between $50 million and $100 million, from Southampton to Montauk, and most have a combination of the above.
The highest-priced listing currently on the market is 16 Gin Lane in Southampton at $98 million. The buyer just purchased it for $75 million last year! Here you have all the requirements in one: prime oceanfront, a historic English Tudor-style estate house with all the amenities and 14.5 acres, which includes four adjoining buildable lots. So, like the house on Georgica Pond, this really offers several properties—five in this case—for the price of one. The property is co-listed by Corcoran and Sotheby’s.
The beautiful and historic Villa Maria on Mecox Bay, which was once a convent and is located at 51 and 56 Halsey Lane, is also still on the market for $69 million, despite rumors of a sale last fall. It offers a historic, restored and renovated limestone villa of 22,000 square feet on 11 acres of bayfront. When you drive through Water Mill you get a glimpse of the house’s beautiful water views. Again, this property is co-listed by Corcoran and Sotheby’s.
It will be interesting to see how the summer plays out and how many of these mega-listings find buyers. But let’s not forget that there is certainly more going on in the market than the headline-makers. According to the Brown Harris Stevens East End Single Family Market Report (available online), in the last quarter of 2013, the average price of a single-family home on the South Fork was $1,868,172, and the median was $915,000.
Not everyone has to be a billionaire to buy in the Hamptons!
Ann Rasmussen is a licensed real estate broker with Brown Harris Stevens, as well as a freelance writer and blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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