Trends in the FI Real Estate Market
By Grace Corradino

Buyers and tenants in every market want the same things. They want value. Finding the best house in the best location for the least amount of money—that is the aim in the real estate game.

The frenzy among Fire Island buyers seems to have slowed, especially on the high end. Although list prices are still high, selling prices have brought the market in line with reality. Demand far exceeds the supply of houses for sale, which is keeping prices more stable. Occasionally we have seen a rogue buyer appear in a community with subsequent list prices following the anomaly. In general, buyers look at comparable sales community wide before jumping into a purchase. There is no denying that the upward trend in prices continues but the leaps and bounds are smaller than they have been.

In all west-end communities, a three-bedroom, one-bath house in fair condition with no water views will sell for approximately $650,000 in today’s market. Finding anything for sale anywhere on Fire Island for less than $500,000 is virtually impossible.

When we analyze data from the Suffolk County sales reports, average sales prices among the west-end communities shows that in 2003 the average sale price was $422,750. In 2004, average sale price rose to $498,230; in 2005 the average sale price was $624,000.

Selected Sales Information:

• In 2005, a three-bedroom, two-level Fair Harbor house with ocean views sold in the $900,000’s.

• In 2006, a completely renovated, year-round house in Kismet sold for $850,000.

• In Saltaire, list prices continue to trend up into the $1.5-millionrange for larger houses or houses with water views.

• A Lonelyville oceanfront with two bedrooms and a den sold for $995,000 in 2005.

• Two Dunewood houses with bay views sold in the range of $900,000.

Location, Location, Location

Location is, as ever, the primary consideration for most buyers. Proximity to either the ocean or the bay, lot size and the condition of the house will dictate interest and price. Most of the sales are cash deals with few if any contingencies associated with contracts except for an inspection.

Smart sellers are signing listing agreements and insisting that their listing broker actively engage other Fire Island brokers to bring their buyers to the sale. Savvy sellers are improving the appearance of their properties to ensure that the house shows as well as possible.

Strong Rentals

The 2006 rental season has been very good. We see the continuation towards shorter term rentals with weekly rents for a decent, clean three-bedroom, one-bath cottage on an ocean block on average starting at $3,000 per week during July and August. This year in all the west-end communities, there was a build-up of July rental inventory. August continues to be the high demand rental period with the first and the last two weeks of August leading up to Labor Day being the most sought after rental period.

Owners understand more often than not what they need to do to make their houses attractive to the tenants they seek. Family-friendly features including satellite TV, VCR’s, and DVD’s are often requested. Outside living space is also a key selling feature for a rental. An oversized and private deck is more important to many tenants than interior space.

Ceiling fans, air conditioners, and high-speed internet access are among the most frequently requested amenities. Tenants want to be comfortable and they are willing to pay for the amenities they are requesting.

Renovations continue in all communities. Many owners realize that they have valuable assets and they are spending money to protect them. From new windows, decks, kitchens and baths to full scale and complete renovations, the days of the simple two- or three-bedroom, one-bath beach cottage seem to be falling away.

Grace Corradino, NYS Broker, owns Fire Island Living Real Estate. You can reach Grace at [email protected]