The hot market for rentals and beachfront properties normally observed only during late spring and summer is continuing into the fall and, in some cases, the rest of the year as the pandemic drags on, local real estate professionals said.
“Most people have completely secured themselves for September,” Angela Boyer-Stump, senior global real estate advisor with Sotheby’s International Realty’s Bridgehampton brokerage, told Inman. “October is now a little bit of a question mark for a lot of people because some of the schools have not gone back while others are delayed. But with that said, we’ve done more business for October than at any other time in the past that I can remember.”
When the coronavirus broke out in the U.S. in March, the summer season in the Hamptons got to an early start due to an influx of wealthy New Yorkers looking to flee the city. In some cases, renters paid exorbitant prices to live in the beachside enclave, with one man dropping nearly $2 million to rent a house from March until Labor Day.
But as the outbreak dragged on for longer than most could have ever anticipated, so has demand. Boyer-Stump said interest in renting in October jumped by more than 50 percent from previous years. While demand has cooled from the panic-induced soar in the spring, more people are seeking to stay in the area for the fall and winter than she has seen in more than 20 years as an agent.
A lot of the reasons that pushed people to rent Hamptons earlier in the year — uncertainty regarding the virus, the need for lower density and a newfound ability to work remotely — have not changed with the end of the summer. As a result, many are looking to extend their stay even if some others are forced to go back to city due to work, children’s schools or the high costs associated with living in the Hamptons.
“We have a system in the Hamptons that’s different than most places in that when you rent your luxury rental, you are also paying all of the costs,” Boyer-Stump said, adding that a $20,000-a-month rental could also add up to an additional $3,000 when you factor in bills for services like electricity and trash removal.
East Hampton Douglas Elliman agent James Keogh told Bloomberg that his agency received 100 requests for post-Labor Day rentals during the month of August. And there is not enough inventory to meet such demand — a situation that leads to lightning-speed turnarounds and even bidding wars, which are normally unusual for the area.
“We’re putting up new rentals now for periods that didn’t really exist before,” Keogh said. “A lot of times, the most beautiful houses can name their prices, so the high end is much more variable.”
Features that have made a home most attractive during the early days of the pandemic — larger size, a pool or proximity to the ocean — still make any given house a hot commodity now. But agents say that as those who normally only come in the Hamptons look to stay for longer, many are considering other options in homes that are farther away or by a highway.
Rental prices will vary greatly depending on the location — from $50,000 for a year to over $2 million for a few months as seen during the pandemic panic in March. But in general, renters are paid lower prices than they would in July and August. According to Pamela Liebman, president and chief executive officer of the Corcoran Group, a property in September will generally rent for 75 percent of what it would fetch in July or August.
“A house that rents for $100,000 a month in July, we’re seeing get $75,000,” she told Bloomberg. Some agents are also confident that inventory will also improve as demand inevitably goes down in the colder months.
Much of the uncertainty with the virus is seeping through onto the market. Are people going to stay year-round? Will inventory improve? That said, Boyer-Stump says that a new market of those looking to live in the Hamptons outside the summer is definitely emerging as more and more people consider making their annual summer holiday destination a year-long living arrangement.
“A lot of people are going to be really shocked by just how beautiful our fall is in the Hamptons,” Boyer-Stump said. “You can walk on the beach with a light sweater scarf and it’s a very different energy. I think what will happen is we’re going to see many of the winter tenants become buyers.”