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Hamptons mansions reportedly no longer lure high-end buyers

This 10,000-square-foot mansion with Chinese-inspired detailing is located

This 10,000-square-foot mansion with Chinese-inspired detailing is located in Bridgehampton. Photo Credit: Handout

The superwealthy appear to be losing their appetite for oversized Hamptons homes. At least that's what a report filed today by American Public Media would have you believe.

The piece centered on Jeffrey Colle, a high-end design builder in the Hamptons, who hypothesized that "conspicuous wealth" has fallen out of vogue. As a result, he tells APM's "Marketplace" that he plans to concentrate more on building homes that will be priced between $4 million and $6 million.

While the anecdotal evidence presented in the story is compelling, published market data make it difficult to see whether this trend is truly materializing. Brokerages don't distinguish sales by home size in their reports, so it's impossible to glean this information directly from them. But if you work under the assumption that sales price generally correlates to house size, much of the data does not reflect Colle's observations.

(Granted, size isn't the only indicator of a home's value, but it's standard for marketwide real estate costs to be measured on a price-per-square-foot basis.)

According to the latest Town and Country Real Estate's report that covers the first half of 2013, there was actually one more home sold for more than $10 million than there was during the same period a year ago. During that same time frame three fewer homes sold for between $5 million and $10 million.

Brown Harris Stevens' latest market report shows the number of homes sold for more than $8 million remained constant, at four, between the first quarter of this year and the first three months of 2012. Meanwhile, it reported the number of homes sold for between $4 million and $8 million fell by 50 percent, to eight, during that same period.

On the other hand, Douglas Elliman Real Estate's latest figures do more closely support the "Marketplace" story. While it doesn't breakdown the number of sales by price range, it does indicate that the median price of the top 2 percent of sales plummeted 17.2 percent year-over-year to $12.5 million, compared to just a 9.7 percent drop, to $6.975 million, for the next 2 percent of Hamptons sales.

It's certainly worth watching for the "Marketplace" trend, but keep in mind that it has yet to be conclusively reflected in sales data. In fact, nationwide, while there was a widely reported shift toward smaller homes in the immediate aftermath of the housing crash, the latest metrics indicate a return toward larger homes.  

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