REAL ESTATE: Under $500K Strongest Sector

First quarter reports issued from two local real estate companies show an increase in sales for the first quarter of 2012

    First quarter reports issued from two local real estate companies — Town and Country and Brown Harris Stevens — show an increase in sales for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period last year, contradicting a report from Suffolk Research Services that showed a flat market or a marked decline.
    Brown Harris Stevens stated that the number of single family sales rose 32 percent on the South Fork compared to the first quarter of last year, but also acknowledged that 2011’s first quarter was lower than normal due to the pending expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which led many owners of expensive properties to put their homes on the market before the end of 2010.
    Also, according to Brown Harris Stevens, the median sales price of houses on the South Fork rose 5 percent to $815,000.
    Town and Country showed a similar increase in its release, with a median sales price of $817,500 for all the South Fork markets combined.
    The Town and Country report said that sales of single-family homes under $500,000 showed the largest jump over first quarter of 2011, up from 49 sales last year to 73 this year, a 49-percent up-tick. Sales up to $1 million increased by only 2 percent. In the $1 million to $2 million range, the increase was more marked, at 17 percent. The $2 million to $3.49 million range showed no increase at all, with 22 sales being measured in both first quarters. The biggest gain was in the $3.5 million to $5 million category, with a 67-percent increase over the first three months of last year, up from 9 sales to 15. The above $5 million group was up 10 percent, which was reflected by only one additional sale. 
    The report from Suffolk Research Services, which tracks all real estate transfers in the county and draws conclusions based on those transactions, compared first quarters for the past five years. For example, in Southampton Town, the first few months of 2008 saw a median sale price of $800,000 and sales volume in the amount of $506 million from 255 sales. In 2012, the median price was $650,000, with a total volume of $319 million from 224 sales.
    East Hampton Town fared slightly better. The first quarter of 2008 brought 100 sales generating $174 million, with a median price of $975,000. There were 111 sales this quarter, with a median price of $895,000 and a total sales amount of $150 million.
    A simple year-to-year comparison between the first quarters of 2011 and 2012 by Suffolk Research Services showed 224 sales in Southampton Town in both years, with no change, and a drop from 115 sales to 111 sales in East Hampton Town from 2011 to 2012.
    Brown Harris Stevens and Town and Country Real Estate both base their statements on numbers provided by the Long Island Real Estate Report.