Welcome to 2019, everyone. Many of us are glad to see the back of 2018 for many reasons. Numerous agents have told us that they were disappointed that big sales didn’t happen, despite a robust stock market. There seems to be a lack of confidence here, no feeling of positive momentum, and the most exciting part of the market seems to the lower end, while so many midpriced (say $3 to $5 million) properties languished.
With that in mind, we’ve adapted some popular New Year’s resolutions for the East End market.
Let’s lose the dead weight: overly large spec houses no one seems to want or need. These overblown, overpriced houses area dead weight dragging down the market. Time and again, we’ve seen as an observer, really well done flips or new construction that clearly prize quality (quirky, interesting features; good looking architectural elements rather than the same ol’ same ol’) sell quickly, even in a down market.
Drink more water.
The East End is lucky enough, because of our geography, to have quite possibly the nicest, most interesting waterfront housing stock in the country. Between majestic oceanfront, sunlit bays, serene ponds, sweet creeks and wetlands filled with wildlife, we’ve got it all. And of course, waterfront land commands a premium. We as citizens and homeowners are getting much better about protecting our precious water (some of us can remember Montauk ponds with piles of soap suds on the shoreline back in the 70s) but it’s not good enough. For example, Georgica Pond boasts a unique ecosystem. But in recent years, the pond has suffered from toxic algal blooms, which not only kill wildlife but also present a human health threat. We can do better.
Spend less money.
Let’s stop overpricing houses, both as agents and sellers. Let’s be realistic about what properties are worth: which is only what anyone else is willing to pay for them. We need to acknowledge that the market is currently in a correction and that the go-go years of the early and mid teens are over for now.
Let’s get better tools for buying and selling real estate. Buyers today almost always do all their preliminary work via the Internet. There are a number of sites out there for checking out the market, but in our opinion none of them are good enough. Out East was introduced this year to much fanfare as a successor to HREO, but we’re disappointed in it. It offers less information than HREO! Zillow (the parent company of Out East) offers more information but still lacks critical features, and Trulia is the same–useful for some things, not so much in others. And of course each agency offers their listings on their own site, but many of them are simply not updated often enough to be useful.
Fortunately, most newer buildings in the area are at a low risk for fire, but older buildings seem more vulnerable. We still don’t know what caused the beloved Sag Harbor Cinema to burn down in 2016, nor do we know what cause the fire at the beautiful, historic Creeks estate in East Hampton a few months ago. Making sure older homes and buildings are code-compliant when it comes to smoke alarms, sprinklers, and so on is important to preserving these irreplaceable parts of our history.
Here’s to a great 2019, everyone. Happy New Year!