Long Island is a colorful place, with different regions giving off distinctly different vibes.
There's an all-business attitude pumping through the well-developed middle of the island that begins to taper off as you branch out toward the coasts: The North Shore's natural landscape is pensive and peaceful, the South Shore's beach and bustle are warm and lively - and those feelings only intensify as you progress east, to the serene reaches of the North Fork and the sunny, playful Hamptons.
Each region's real estate market has its own temperament as well. Read on for a sampling of the many personalities of the Long Island's housing market.
THE VIBE: Buyers gobbled up discounted inventory in Nassau, according to Miller Samuel. First-quarter sales hit 1,324 - a 31.7 percent jump from 1,005 homes in the same quarter last year.
The first-quarter median slid 2.6 percent, from $380,000 last year to $370,000 in 2010, and 3.9 percent, from $385,000, in the last quarter of 2009. Average first-quarter sales price sagged - down 6.8 percent from $436,070 in 2009 to $406,200 this year.
In Suffolk, first-quarter sales rose 22.5 percent, from 316 in 2009 to 387 this year - down by 29 percent, from 543 sales, in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to Multiple Listing Service of Long Island data.
There was an uptick in first-quarter prices - the median went up 3 percent, from $310,775 in 2009 to $320,000 this year, and the average rose 1.3 percent, from $351,362 to $356,086 in the same periods.
THE HIGH: A three-bedroom custom contemporary with two bathrooms and two half-bathrooms on nearly seven acres in the pine barrens area of Manorville, is on the market for $1.35 million.
Listing agents: Diana Fasano and Robert Normandin, Coach Realtors, 631-360-1900.
THE LOW: There's a two-bedroom ranch with one bathroom in Roosevelt listed for $159,000.
Listing agent: Teddy Livingstone, Century 21 Annettes, 516-564-4480.
GROOVY HOME THEATER AWARD: This five-bedroom Colonial in Dix Hills gets the prize for its main-level entertainment wing featuring a sports bar and home theater with all the bells and whistles - surround sound, a drop-down screen and blackout shades. The walls are painted with a playful film motif. It's listed for $2.3 million.
Listing agent: Rita Bender, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 631-673-6800.
The number of sales across both counties rose by 33.9 percent, from 513 to 687 compared with last year - although that number is down by 34.6 percent from 1,051 in the previous quarter, according to the Miller Samuel report, which was commissioned by Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
The median sales price for the first quarter of 2010 dropped 3.2 percent from the first quarter of 2009, from $310,000 to $300,000, and saw a 5.4 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2009.
Average sales price slipped - the first quarter average was $332,505, down 4.2 percent from $347,119 the prior year quarter.
THE HIGH: A bayfront Colonial on a private cul-de-sac in Lido Beach with six bedrooms and 3½ bathrooms is listed for $3.2 million. Listing agent: Joyce Coletti of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 516-313-2700
THE LOW: A one-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage in Patchogue is listed as a short sale for $189,000.
Listing agent: Jennifer Goldberg, Gateway to the Hamptons Real Estate, 631-325-3449.
UNEXPECTEDLY MODERN INTERIOR AWARD: A 1910 Colonial in East Moriches retains its exterior charm and its original stairs - but everything else, from the moldings to the floors, has been restored or remodeled. It's listed for $390,900.
Listing agent: Veronica McMahon, Gateway to the Hamptons, 516-848-6372.
THE VIBE: It's a good year in wine country, which enjoyed a boost in both prices and sales. The median sales price in the area east of Riverhead for the first quarter climbed 16.3 percent, to $516,000, compared with $443,500 in 2009's first quarter.
The same trend was evident in average sales price, which rose to $749,057, a 35.9 percent increase from $550,994.
The number of first-quarter sales showed a 60.7 percent increase year over year, rising from 56 to 90, though it dipped from 155 in the fourth quarter of 2009.
THE HIGH: A Mediterranean-style home in Mattituck with six bedrooms and 8 1/2 bathrooms is listed for $9.75 million - and it comes with all the furniture, including an antique pool table and a fully equipped gym, plus a 26-foot Sea Ray cruiser and a 2008 Mercedes S550.
Listing agent: Sheri Clarry, The Corcoran Group, 631-765-1300.
WHIMSICAL GARDEN AWARD: A trickling waterfall, rich greenery and peeking gnomes earn this Wading River property the prize. Listed for $324,850, the ranch has two bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms.
Listing agents: Matthew and Margaret Kochman, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 631-474-4242.
THE VIBE: In an apparent frenzy of activity in the hedonistic Hamptons, the number of first-quarter sales made a 173.1 percent leap, from 145 to 396 - the biggest gain over a one-year period since the group began tracking it six years ago.
But don't get too excited - sales were abnormally depressed when fickle would-be Hamptonites fled the beach scene during the stormy economic conditions at the beginning of last year, making the rebound look deceptively dramatic by comparison, the report says.
First quarter 2010 sales tapered off by 3.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2009. First-quarter prices paint a sunny picture, thanks to activity in the slow luxury market: The median sales price rose 34.6 percent, from $675,000 to $908,500, and the average went up 33.5 percent, from $1,313,735 to $1,753,608 compared with the prior year quarter.
THE HIGH: This $9.9-million postmodern in Westhampton Beach has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and two half-baths.
Listing agents: Traci Clinton and Lynn November, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate,
THE LOW: In Hampton Bays, a two-bedroom, one-bathroom cedar shake farmhouse with Andersen windows is listed for $264,000. Listing agent: Anthony Lubrano, Compass East Realty Ltd., 631-728-1116
BEST-BUY AWARD: This three-bedroom, three-bathroom ranch on a three-quarter-acre lot lists for $1.29 million - that's a bargain for property south of Montauk Highway in pricey Quogue, says listing agent Judi Riccardi of Town & Country Real Estate. Add a second story and you'll have water views, she adds. Contact: 631-288-3030.
THE VIBE: Sales were up in both counties along the Gold Coast, where mature trees and rocky beaches seem undisturbed by mortal matters such as market fluctuations. From Nassau's Kings Point to Laurel Hollow, prices made no dramatic moves, yet the number of sales nearly doubled - from 216 to 416 - in the first quarter of 2010, compared with the first quarter of 2009, according to Miller Samuel. The average sales price rose 1.1 percent, from $861,260 to $870,689, while the median dipped 2.4 percent, from $653,000 to $637,500.
In Suffolk, sales activity increased by 62 percent, according to data from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island: Some 390 homes sold in the first quarter of 2010, compared to just 242 in the same quarter of 2009. The median sales price slipped 2.4 percent, from $410,000 to $400,000, while the average price dropped 6.5 percent, from $478,447 to $447,214.
THE HIGH: A custom-furnished, six-bedroom Mediterranean-style home with six bathrooms and five half-baths is on the market for $17.5 million in Sands Point.
Listing agent: Patricia Shroyer, Harding Real Estate Inc., 516-944-3870.
THE LOW: A cottage with two bedrooms and two bathrooms is on the market in Greenlawn for $279,000.
Listing agent: Nancy Kelly Fauser, Coach Realtors, 631-757-4000.
COLORFUL KITCHEN AWARD: Pink and blue cabinets and dollhouse charm earn this two-bedroom, two-bathroom Colonial in Cold Spring Harbor the prize. It's listed for $599,000.
Listing agent: Peggy Moriarty, Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty, 631-692-6770.
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