A REPORT ON THE WAVE OF SUMMER RENTALS, HOME BUYING, AND HOME AND GARDEN IMPROVEMENT
Fueled by an ever-increasing wealthy population in Manhattan and relatively low interest rates, the real estate market in the Hamptons has been on fire for the last forty years. The days of the summer share-house have mostly passed, and in the last two decades summer rentals have gone for more a month than houses cost to purchase in other parts of the country. Lots with water views or on the beach sell for tens of millions. Although the 2008 recession slowed things down for a year or two, hedge funders have continued to drive prices through the roof over the last decade.
Now, Bedford and New Canaan are the new Hamptons! The extremely high cost of housing and education in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the relatively low and stagnant price of houses in leafy suburbs, started a demographic shift which has been catapulted by Covid. Families are fleeing the City for safer environs. Some looking for summer rentals, thinking it would be safe to return to New York in the Fall and that schools would be operational. More looking for a permanent change, whether seeking a weekend and summer retreat or a full-time residence and living solution.
And, because the traditional walk-through had all sorts of Covid complications, about half the renters at the start, and almost all the desperate ones in mid-May as all available supply was exhausted, were willing to rent based only on an online tour and no physical visit to the property.
888 Old Post Road
listed with Ginnel (Frank Geiger)
Rented for $50k/month for the summer, and now back on the market for $7,495,000
295 Crow Hill, Mount Kisco, NY | Listed with Ginnel (Muffin Dowdle)
Renovated 1931 5-bedroom Tudor home with a pool
270 Guard Hill Road, Bedford, NY (Tanrackin Farm) | Listed with Ginnel (Muffin Dowdle)
One notable exception to the must have pool rule, this house rented for almost $40k/month this summer, a steal given the offering... 50 acres, 6 beds, 6 baths, 2 half baths, 12,000 sqft
The home has multiple fireplaces, 3 levels, a covered porch, an elevator, sub zero appliances,
4 bay garage, spacious master suite with private porch and his/hers bathrooms, steam shower,
many bedrooms with adjoining sitting rooms, and radiant heat in the kitchen and master bath.
The property also boasts a 30 stall equestrian facility, direct access to BRLA, rolling lawns, fenced paddocks,
a fruit orchard with fig, peach, and apple trees, groomed walking trails, a gym, an outdoor kitchen and entertaining area, a pizza oven, gazebo with fountains, bocce court, 1 bedroom gate house, and 3 bedroom guest house.
The home was rented fully furnished and including all upkeep and twice weekly house cleaning by on site staff.
For the first time in a very long time, it’s a seller’s market!
There’s been a dramatic increase in the number of sales and the median prices of houses sold and, by Summer, the pre-existing glut in long-time-on-market supply was absorbed. In early August, a top Armonk agent was ‘shouting out’ on her Instagram about having 5 buyers between $800,000 and $2.4M and no listings to show, posting “Need Inventory!”.
The mood in the market has shifted. Even if a relatively small percentage of wealthy Manhattanites has now determined that a single family house, with separation from neighbors, and rooms to work-from-home, and some property, and a private pool, etc., seems all-of-a-sudden more attractive than their city dwelling, that’s more than enough families on the demand side of the curve to overwhelm the supply in our area. Armonk has about 1,500 houses, Katonah 650, Waccabuc only 350, and Bedford and New Canaan have only about 13,000 combined.
45 Ogden Road in New Canaan, went to contract in less than a week, and closed in July only 36 days from listing. This resort-like 2 acre property, 6 bedroom house, with a pool and spa, went to a NYC all-cash buyer looking for a Covid-retreat and weekend home, for $2.7M.
In what may be an extreme example of Covid-crazed and virus-impacted buying, but one which is no longer unheard of, 45 Heather Drive in New Canaan, sold in August for $2.12M to a buyer who had only toured the house virtually!
In New Canaan, there were 79 sales in June/July 2020, compared with 28 in June/July 2019. There were 10 sales at $3M+ in March through July 2020, and only 3 in the same period in 2019. The median sale price at the end of July 2020 was $1,730,000, up more than 20% over a year before. And, at the end of July 2020, there were 25% less houses on the market than at the same time in 2019.
At the end of July 2020, the median price in Armonk is up almost 40%, and the inventory is down 35%, over 2019! Bedford’s median price is up almost 20% and inventory is down 36%! Katonah’s inventory is down 40%. In North Salem and in Pound Ridge, there were more than twice as many sales in July 2020 as in July 2019. For the first time in a while, there are a half-dozen sales pending in the Bedford area at or above $3M.
300 Mt Holly Road, Katonah, NY. | Listed with Renwick (Cynthia Mas)
Ask: $3,750,000, closing at the end of September for well over ask
We could not be more pleased to see the tremendous influx of young families choosing to move to our area. Their energy will not only revitalize the the real estate market but the area in general!
“It’s really basic. We have low inventory and high demand. This is the strongest real estate market we’ve seen in decades, and it’s only going up.”
There’s a boom in home and garden renovation, repair, design, decorating, upgrade, improvement and additions. As interior designer Rona Chowenhill of RC Interiors by Design said: “In addition to the mass exodus from cities to more rural locales, sheltering in place has everyone reinventing their homes. Multi-functionality has become a necessity, and there’s a true craving for comfort. Dedicated spaces for home- office, gym, ‘school’, sanctuary, and even camp are being incorporated. Renovations and projects previously on the back-burner have become top priority.”
Wealthy new buyers and existing home owners are looking for every opportunity to add or upgrade luxury amenities, and the sky’s the limit. California Closets’ Director of IT and Marketing, Masha Alimova, offers:
“Working from home has become a fact of life. Although that used to mean working on the couch or on your bed, now people want to define a proper workstation. We’re building small office spaces, multi-purpose areas, and larger dedicated offices. People are more productive when they’re clutter-free and feel good about their workspace.”
With what now seems like fortuitous timing, the Adirondack Store moved forward through Covid to anyway open its new store on Elm Street in New Canaan. Owners Stephen Dori Shin and Christopher English, who are as much art and antique dealers as they are a home furnishings store, have returned to New Canaan, and this version is quite impressive! The new store showcases their rustic style home furnishings and makes it easy to connect for their decorating services. Christopher English remarked: “We’re thrilled to be back in New Canaan. The response has been tremendous. Old customers welcoming us back, and lots of new customers coming in - with masks on - to see what we have to offer.”
Like 20 years ago in the Hamptons, young couples are stalking the area and new builds and renovations are once again in play. Jeffrey White of the firm Ecology Architecture Urbanism (EAU) was hired by a couple from the city who just purchased a four-structure compound in Pound Ridge. White recounts: “Overlooking the largest of the three lakes on the property, the focus of renovating the 1950’s Lake House was to create a seamless connection to the outdoors and lake from this guest house / entertaining space. In addition to the unobstructed views of the spectacular property that can be enjoyed fireside in the winters, the simple introduction of openness brings the outside in.”