The average price of a home sold on the South Fork in the first quarter of 2011 fell 21 percent from the same period last year, according to the recent market report put out by .
The decline was echoed by the report issued by , which has sales in the Hamptons down 28.4 percent. Only , which also issues quarterly reports, said the average sale price was up, albeit by only 5 percent.
Each company had an explanation for the decline. Brown Harris Stevens said increased taxes in 2011 forced clients to sell their houses under the wire.
"Due to the tax benefits that sellers thought they might be losing at the end of 2010, high-end closings that would likely have taken place in the first quarter of 2011 instead closed in the last quarter of 2010, thus accounting for the decline seen in the first quarter of this year," said Cia Comnas, the executive managing director of Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons, in a press release. "In recent weeks, however, the high-end has continued to be active and we expect those transactions to be reflected in next quarter’s numbers.”
Over at Prudential, taxes were also cited for the decrease in sale price, but movement, they said, was stable.
“The high-end market took a breath as market activity shifted to low and mid-priced property,” the company said in a statement.
Also to blame, said a representative of Brown Harris Stevens, was the weather. Snowfall in New York City and out on Long Island reached record levels, inhibiting home shopping, he said.
The Corcoran report, which breaks the numbers down according to town or village, found that Southampton Village had the biggest increase in average price, moving from $2.6 million to $4.1 million. Prices in Westhampton-Remsenberg, Water Mill, Southampton Town, Amagansett and Sag Harbor-North Haven increased by double-digit percentages, while East Hampton Village and East Quogue-Hampton Bays were found to have double-digit declines in the average price of homes sold during the first quarter.
Lower housing prices also affect the amount of money flowing into the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund, a program for preserving land and buying development rights, which is funded through a 2 percent real estate transfer tax.
First quarter revenues are 19.2 percent below 2010, according to a release from state Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., I-Sag Harbor. The number of first quarter transactions was 1,381 compared with 1,509 a year ago.
"Anecdotally, professionals in the real estate industry have reported that severe winter weather had a chilling affect on the real estate market," Thiele said. "This could be the explanation for lagging revenues in February and March. Towns should monitor CPF revenues carefully over the next few months to determine whether the current downturn is truly a weather driven anomaly or the reflection of some deeper economic trend in the real estate market.”
Thiele noted that the decline in CPF revenues could be attributed almost exclusively to the decline in real estate activity in East Hampton Town.
Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund Q1 Revenue
Increase East Hampton $5.71m $2.66m -53.40% Riverhead $0.39m $0.54m 38.50% Shelter Island $0.42m $0.19m -54.80% Southampton $8.37m $8.36m -- Southold $0.70m $0.85m 21.40%