It's a really good year to be a landlord in the Hamptons.
President's Day weekend in February traditionally marks the time when renters start looking in earnest for that perfect vacation home out East, but this season's influx of summer hopefuls started several months early.
"November and December were incredibly busy months," says Judi Desiderio, president of Town & Country Real Estate in East Hampton. That presented its own set of problems, says Jane Gill, vice president at Saunders & Associates in Bridgehampton. They came "even in two feet of snow -- I had to make sure that homeowners had their driveways cleared . . . in some cases, I could not get in the back door. It was crazy," Gill says.
Rental inventory, brokers say, is already low in some locales and nearly gone in some price ranges. By early March, Desiderio says, about half of all rentals had already been spoken for; the percentage is even higher for oceanfront properties -- possibly 80 percent, she says. "Speaking for our company, rental volume is up about 30 percent since last year. . . . It's the best rental season we've had in years," she adds.
What is creating this rush to rent? Jonathan Miller, president and chief executive officer of Miller Samuel Inc., a Manhattan-based real estate appraisal and consulting firm, says it's fueled by financial industry executives, who make up a good portion of renters and buyers on the South Fork. "Although bonuses were down this year, overall compensation for Wall Street executives was up. I would not describe the market as a rental boom, but it is a much stronger market than last year, not just in the high end, but in the middle market as well," Miller says.
Desiderio says that rental volume may be up, but asking prices for rentals are not. "The difference this year is that owners are getting their asking prices and do not have to negotiate." She says the weak market over the past few years "educated" landlords, many updating their homes with paint jobs or new appliances to attract renters.
"Landlords are getting the same amounts for rentals but now have better homes to offer," she adds. Prices for full summer rentals listed on Hamptons Real Estate Online website can vary widely, depending on location and amenities, anywhere from about $875,000 for a 12-bedroom mansion in Southampton to $30,000 for a four-bedroom home in East Hampton.
Shorter leases also are popular in all price ranges. Beate Moore, senior vice president of Sotheby's International Realty in Bridgehampton, says she just brokered a rental in Wainscott for two weeks for $175,000. "Those who are renting short term are often very busy making money and want to visit other destinations, like Europe, but also not miss out on the Hamptons experience," Moore says.
LENGTH July through Labor Day
WHY YOU WANT IT This oceanfront home is south of Further Lane South in Amagansett, one of the most celebrity-studded neighborhoods in the Hamptons. Area residents include Jerry Seinfeld, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul McCartney, to name a few. The property has five bedrooms, 51 / 2 baths, a cabana with a fireplace, a 55-foot heated pool, parking for eight cars, a koi pond and a stream.
CONTACT Beate Moore, Sotheby's International Realty, Bridgehampton, 631-537-6000
Water Mill South
LENGTH Memorial Day through Labor Day
WHY YOU WANT IT This 3.2-acre compound includes three separate homes, a total of 12 bedrooms, 12 baths, three fireplaces and a two-car garage. The estate is owned by designer Thomas Britt, who is listed as one of Architectural Digest's top 100 architects and interior designers. "The interiors are amazing," says listing agent Jane Gill. The main house, designed by Britt, has seven bedrooms and 61 / 2 baths, an entrance gallery with a grand staircase and a double-height library. The property has parklike gardens, rolling lawns and a double allée of 45-year-old Japanese cherry trees. There are two gunite pools, a reflecting pool with three fountains and two guest cottages. The estate also is on the sales market for $12.5 million.
CONTACT Jane Gill, Saunders & Associates, Bridgehampton, 631-237-3924
LENGTH Memorial Day through Labor Day (it's also available for $255,000 for July to Labor Day)
WHY YOU WANT IT This seven-bedroom, 81 / 2-bath gambrel-style home, which is also for sale for $6.55 million, is on .91 acres and is close to ocean beaches and to Main Street. There's 9,000 square feet of living space on three levels. Amenities include central air-conditioning, a library, a gym, marble baths, a media room, a gunite pool and a pool house.
CONTACT Janet Hummel, Town & Country Real Estate, Bridgehampton, 631-537-3200
East Hampton Village
LENGTH July and August
WHY YOU WANT IT This six-bedroom, 61 / 2-bath traditional-style home has recently been renovated and includes a stainless-steel kitchen, a master bath with radiant-heat floors, a steam room and a Jacuzzi. There are two laundry rooms, high-speed Internet and flat-screen televisions in most bedrooms, a barbecue area and a heated gunite pool.
CONTACT Martha Gundersen, Brown Harris Stevens, East Hampton, 631-903-6131
LENGTH August to Labor Day
WHY YOU WANT IT This seven-bedroom, 61 / 2-bath postmodern offers views of the ocean and Quantuck bay. The 6,400-square-foot spread has a living area with a bar overlooking the water and two waterfront master suites. There's a bayfront heated pool, and the home has access to a private dock with a Jet Ski ramp. It's also for sale for $2.79 million.
CONTACT Mark Schindler, The Corcoran Group, Westhampton Beach, 631-723-4433
LENGTH For July, or June-July at a negotiated rate
WHY YOU WANT IT Situated on Old Montauk Highway, across the street from Hither Hills' private beaches, this three-bedroom, 21 / 2- bath home on .3 acres includes a fireplace in the living room, an outdoor shower and a roof deck with panoramic ocean views.
CONTACT Anne Maegli, Atlantic Beach Realty Group, Montauk, 917-887-6713