The rush to close transactions in the fourth quarter of...

The rush to close transactions in the fourth quarter of 2012, before an anticipated rise in capital gains taxes, may have contributed to a soft housing market in the Hamptons in the first quarter 2013, multiple brokerages said. Credit: iStock

It turns out Sandy isn’t the only scapegoat for a rough first quarter for the Hamptons housing market. Two reports released today both indicate that a rush to close transactions before capital gains taxes were slated to rise after 2012 wreaked havoc on the first quarter housing market, especially at the high-end.

Real estate brokerage firm Brown Harris Stevens reported a 13 percent annual decline in both average sales price and the number of sales. The number of sales worth more than $4 million fell 40 percent year-over-year.

Those figures roughly correspond to housing market numbers reported earlier this week by East End brokerage Town and Country Real Estate, which blamed Sandy for the weaker market.

Douglas Elliman Real Estate’s report, prepared by Jonathan Miller, chief executive of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, actually found sales to have increased on an annual basis, but noted the reduced appetite for high-end homes that likely resulted from the fiscal cliff rush.

He told that 49 sales worth more than $5 million closed in the fourth quarter of 2012, the most in the seven years he’s recorded such data and more than double the quarterly average of 22.

Consequently, just eight such deals transacted in the first quarter of 2013. It's no surprise then, that the Douglas Elliman report found the average Hamptons sales price to have plummeted more than 29 percent year-over-year.

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