The New York Times

The North Fork Has Its Own Market Moment

By: C.J. Hughes
Published: 5/14/2021Source: The New York Times

Featuring Sheri Winter Parker

The North Fork Has Its Own Market Moment
A steady stream of buyers intent on finding good deals and open spaces during the pandemic has meant record sales and rising prices.
Home prices have been climbing on the North Fork for years now, but the market went into overdrive when the pandemic hit, and the impact could be long-term.
The market, which is usually quiet in the months after Christmas, has instead been bustling this year, as home sales hit numbers not seen since the mid-2000s. Renters, who have been testing the sales market since the start of the pandemic, are still snapping up properties, while longtime weekenders are making the jump to full-time residents.
Whether the strong interest is sustainable is unclear. As urban life creaks back to normal, and bosses summon workers back to offices, some North Forkers are packing their bags to return to New York. But for now, a place often overshadowed by the showier Hamptons seems to be reveling in newfound attention.
“It’s all very exciting,” said Angela Oliveri, a 35-year resident whose home-décor shop, Sweet Indulgences, in Greenport, had one of its busiest-ever winters. “It’s been wonderful to see people appreciate our area and realize how unique it is.”
Offering 30 miles of farm stands, wineries, pebbly beaches and calm coves nestled between Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay, the North Fork is a less populated and more agricultural version of the South Fork, otherwise known as the Hamptons.
Made up of part of the town of Riverhead, and the entire town of Southold — including the hamlets of Mattituck, Cutchogue, Southold and Orient, and the village of Greenport — the North Fork is also usually more affordable than the South Fork, with an average home price of about $1 million, about half that of the Hamptons. A short ferry ride from both the North and South Forks, Shelter Island is its own town between Peconic Bay and Gardiners Bay.
But in recent years, there has been a bit of an evolution. More buyers now view the North Fork not as a consolation prize after being shut out of other enclaves, but as a destination in its own right. And the Covid crisis, according to brokers, business owners and longtime residents, has seemed to only amplify that interest.
In the early months of the pandemic, when low-density vacation areas suddenly seemed all the rage, New Yorkers scurried to the North Fork and snapped up rentals, even if they had never spent much time there before.
Yet many came to like the area and decided to stay, often by buying the properties they had rented after their leases ended, which has fueled record-setting waves in the sales market.
Between July and September of 2020, after officials lifted restrictions on house showings, the North Fork saw 236 residential sales (mostly single-family houses) at an average price of $875,000, according to a report by the appraisal company Miller Samuel for Douglas Elliman Real Estate. It was the largest number of deals since the mid-2000s.
More than a year into the pandemic, panic no longer seems to be the main motivator for buyers, and activity has cooled. But high-water marks are still being achieved.
From January to March, there were 181 residential sales at an average price of $1 million, according to the Elliman report, making it the most active winter since 2006. Last winter, in comparison, there were 114 sales at an average of $816,000, according to the report, while winter 2019 saw 110 sales at $741,000.
Some of the deals, which had their closings delayed because of the high volume of transactions, reflect an earlier market. But even current demand is still intense.
On April 30, a house in Southold built in the 1970s with vaulted ceilings, which looked like it needed a little T.L.C., hit the market at $895,000 and quickly attracted 28 showings and 12 bids, said Sheri Winter-Parker of the Corcoran Group, the property’s listing agent. In early May, the house, which has four bedrooms and more than an acre, was poised to go into contract for “hundreds of thousands over ask,” said Ms. Winter-Parker, who added, “It’s been crazy.”
What differentiates the current market from last year’s partly is that the buying spree of the last few months has put a major dent in supply. Further tightening inventory, brokers say, is the fact that people who might have otherwise put their homes up for sale before the pandemic decided not to do so.
Copyright © 2021 The New York Times Company. Reprinted with Permission. C.J. Hughes/The New York Times.