Did the Pandemic Break Hamptons Real Estate?

Things are a little different this year

Sag Harbor, 1984
Harbor with boats on July 7, 1984 in Sag Harbor, New York.
Santi Visalli/Getty Images

If you’ve followed the real estate industry since the beginning of 2020, you might well be experiencing a case of whiplash right now. As the pandemic set in and more and more jobs went remote, the housing market changed dramatically — including a number of people moving out of cities and into regions where they might be able to find more space or an idyllic setting.

The Hamptons, for understandable reasons, checked off a lot of boxes for prospective buyers — which led to some trouble when towns’ infrastructure had to reckon with a significantly larger year-round population. Now, as an older status quo reasserts itself, some recent Hamptons homebuyers are wrestling with a complex new reality.

The latest participant in Curbed’s “Realtor Diaries” section is Kieran Brew, who recounted his own experiences with how the last few years — especially an influx of buyers — have changed the region.

“A lot of people bought out east in COVID times with the presumption that they could rent for tons and tons of money — that’s how they justified their investment,” Brew told Curbed’s Alyssa Shelasky. “During peak COVID time, you could easily rent your (big, nice) house for $400,000 a month.” Now, he said, that figure is closer to $55,000.

As Brew pointed out, this is a relatively normal aspect of Hamptons real estate. “[H]e new owners just aren’t accustomed to it,” he said. “They’ve only done business in a COVID environment.”

That’s not the only thing that he’s noticed has changed. With international travel opening back up, some prospective renters are looking elsewhere. “It seems like half my prior clients are going to Paris in August,” Brew told Curbed. “People have other choices now.”

Will more normal cycles eventually return? It seems likely — but if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the unexpected can still crop up when you least expect.

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