The rental market in the Hamptons is facing an unexpected chill this summer.
After two years of strong demand and soaring prices, the supply of rentals in the Hamptons is surging, leading to a wave of last-minute price cuts. Median rental prices in the first quarter fell 26%, according to Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel. Brokers say some owners are slashing prices by 30% or more just to fill their properties.
“There is a tremendous amount of inventory and people are not renting it,” said Enzo Morabito of Douglas Elliman. “And it’s across all segments, from the very low to the very top of the market.”
The weakness marks a dramatic and rapid reversal for one of the country’s highest-priced and most sought-after real-estate markets. In 2020 and 2021, renters were scrambling to find summer rentals and paying record prices months before the season for fear of missing out. Now, brokers say there are hundreds of rentals still available for the summer.
Morabito said he represented one waterfront rental that was asking $70,000 a month, but a potential renter offered just $45,000.
“We were hoping the renter would split the difference, but it’s a different market right now,” he said.
Brokers say weaker demand is partly the result of increased travel. Wealthy New Yorkers who spent the past two summers cloistered in the Hamptons are planning to travel to European and other countries this summer as Covid recedes. Europeans and other international renters, however, have not returned to the Hamptons.
The war in Ukraine, rising inflation and a falling stock market may also be weighing on the summer spending plans of the elite — especially since the Hamptons market is so closely tied to the fortunes of Wall Street.
“There are a lot of questions in the air, about the economy, both locally and nationally,” said Harald Grant with Sotheby’s International Realty. “It all effects the market.”
The Hamptons may also be feeling the flipside of recent price increases: Median rents for May were up 46% from May of 2019, before the pandemic. While the wealthy still have plenty of money to spend, they may be balking at the high rental prices, especially given the economic outlook.
“The assumption that rents would be sustainable at these elevated levels has been proven to be false,” Miller said.
And, strong home sales in the Hamptons during the pandemic may now be hurting rentals.
Vacationers who used to rent in the Hamptons wound up buying in 2020 and 2021 to have a more permanent getaway. The average sales price topped $2.6 million in the first quarter of this year, up 25% over the same quarter last year, according to Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. More buyers means fewer renters.
“The buyers removed themselves from the rental market,” Morabito said. “Now, all of the sudden the people who bought want to rent it and the renters aren’t there. So you have this huge surplus.”
Some brokers say they have seen signs of a pickup, as more last-minute renters start looking for deals.
“We had a lull from February to April, but now it’s picking up again,” said Gary DePersia of Corcoran. “The inventory we had is going.”
One of DePersia’s top rentals, however, is still on the market. The ultra-modern, 11,000-square-foot beachside property on Surfside Drive in Bridgehampton has nine bedrooms, a Gunite pool and spa, outdoor living room pavilion, pool house, gym and media room.
The roof deck features couches, a hot tub and retractable pergola. The rental price: $300,000 per week, or $1.25 million for the month of August.
“It’s a great house,” DePersia said. “We already have it rented for a week in June and we got what we needed to get.”