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Hamptons home prices jump 8 percent

East Hampton shortly after sunrise. (June 21, 2010)

East Hampton shortly after sunrise. (June 21, 2010) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The East End housing market heated up this spring.

Hamptons home prices jumped year-over-year by 8 percent, to a median of $920,000, according to a second-quarter report released Thursday by the appraiser Miller Samuel and the brokerage Douglas Elliman. The number of sales spiked by 25 percent, to 675.

The market was especially strong for properties in the $1- million to $5-million range, which in the Hamptons count as "starter homes," said Paul Brennan, Hamptons regional manager for Douglas Elliman. Rising mortgage interest rates -- and fears that they will rise further -- prompted buyers to act, he said.

"People in that category are really interest-rate sensitive, so if you're going to do it, you might as well jump in now," he said.

The average rate for a 30- year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.31 percent, Freddie Mac reported Thursday. The record low was 3.31 percent in November 2012.

The market also benefited from a handful of megadeals, such as the sale of a $60-million oceanfront property in East Hampton, Brennan said. The property was reportedly purchased in March by hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen. Cohen's firm, SAC Capital Advisors LP, faces criminal charges of insider trading, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Home prices in the North Fork market also were on the rise this spring, with the median price increasing year-over-year by 11 percent, to $459,750, according to Thursday's real estate report. The number of sales jumped by 17 percent, to 160.

Across the rest of Long Island, excluding the East End, the median home price of $355,000 marked a 1.4 percent gain over the same April-through-June period last year, and the number of home sales increased by 15 percent, to 5,281, the report found.

The market's strength is due to the relative dearth of homes for sale, as well as the rise in interest rates, said Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Miller Samuel. "The people who have been holding back, or pausing, are taking action."

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