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High-end Hamptons market improves

A four-bedroom home in Amagansett, available for rent

A four-bedroom home in Amagansett, available for rent Memorial Day through Labor Day for $250,000, listed with Judi Desiderio of Town & Country Real Estate. Credit: Town & Country Real Estate

Midyear reports from Long Island's top real estate firm are in, and the news looks good for the luxury market.

Brown Harris Stevens reports that the average residential sales prices in the South Fork are up 30 percent, to $2,028,735, from the same period in 2010, and the median sales price rose 18 percent, to $1,095,000, when compared to the second quarter of 2010.

"This quarter marks the return of the high end in the Hamptons," said Greg Heym, the chief economist at Terra Holdings, the parent company of Brown Harris Stevens. "The high end has come back. But just because we show the average price is up 30 percent in the Hamptons doesn't mean every home is worth 30 percent more. It means buyers are buying more expensive houses."

That said, luxury sales are up across the board. Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate reported that median sales prices in the luxury market rose 15.6 percent, to $999,980, from the prior year quarter, while Town & Country Real Estate reported that the median home sales prices in seven of the 12 markets they monitor rose, with a 28 percent increase, year over year, in homes priced in the $3.5-million to $4.99-million category.

The Corcoran Group reported that residential luxury market volume for the South Fork and Shelter Island, an area that includes all of the Hamptons, is up 42 percent year over year, and  that the average price for that market is up 33 percent. "When people see that the high end is moving, it will give them confidence in the rest of the market," said Rick Hoffman, Corcoran's East End regional senior vice president.

Dottie Herman, Prudential's president and chief executive, agreed. "The high end is up in every market I'm in," she said. "You always want to have a high end, because if you have a strong luxury market, it brings everything around it up."

Lower-end sales are still slipping, according to the reports. Prudential Douglas Elliman reported that median prices and number of sales slipped in both the Long Island condo markets and one- to three-family markets year over year. Additionally, Town & Country reports that nine of the markets they monitor saw fewer closings in the first half of 2011 compared with 2010.

Still, a healthy luxury market may encourage consumer confidence, said Terra Holdings' Heym. "Having the luxury market come back helps the overall market, because people see it as a return to normal. This is the Hamptons, and you're supposed to see $10- and $20-million sales. I think it's encouraging for everybody to see a return to those types of sales."

To read more on the numbers, click here.

Above, an Amagansett home

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