It’s an interesting fact that three fifths of the Incorporated Village of Sag Harbor is located in Southampton while two fifths of the Village is part of East Hampton. True to its name, Division Street is the dividing line between the two Hamptons towns each with their own sensibility, real estate markets, and tourist attractions. A former whaling village, Sag Harbor is on the National Register of Historic Places with a vibrant history dating back to the 1700’s. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of approximately two thousand people. For a bit of insight into the ever-changing Hamptons real estate market in the Village I spoke to three noted Sag Harbor real estate agents.
“Sag Harbor attracts a different kind of buyer than East Hampton and Southampton,” says Sag Harbor resident John Christopher, Associate Broker, Brown Harris Stevens and voice of “Real Life” of Peconic Public Broadcasting radio. “Its deep-water harbor affords easy access to the custom luxury yachts of the power brokers and celebrities, while still retaining the charm of the Mom and Pop stores of a bygone era. There are no iconic fashion plate stores, only fine dining restaurants that offer some of the best cuisine in the Hamptons. Because buyers are attracted to its quaintness and idiosyncrasy, inventory is at extremely low levels, and homes priced correctly are going into contract as quickly as they’re listed.”
Christopher, a former resident of Shelter Island, compared the two very distinct communities as he reminisced a bit about his move from Shelter Island to Sag Harbor. “I commuted by ferry from Shelter Island to work on Sag Harbor for a number of years. Shelter Island is in a league all its own. It’s an idyllic and special place but not for everyone. My biggest concern was the irrational thought that I was trapped once the ferries stopped running. I said to my wife, ‘What happens if we need milk at 3 a.m.? There’s no 7-11!’ Of course, since I’ve lived in Sag Harbor, I have never gotten up at 3 a.m. to get milk. In fact, the ferries add charm and safety. Crime is extremely low. If someone did a dastardly deed and thought of escaping into the night, the police would be waiting at the ferries…provided they’re running.”
Sandy Morell, Associate Broker, Corcoran Group, Sag Harbor Top Producer, Platinum Council, and Multi-Million Dollar Club, explains to Hamptons.com, “I’m confident the Sag Harbor market will continue to be strong, both for rentals and sales. The more realistic and competitive the price, the faster the sales, often with multiple bids which we already have started to see this year. I have seen well-priced, unique and desirable properties go into contract in a week or two after hitting the market. New construction is particularly in high demand as are Village and waterfront homes. There is always a long list of buyers waiting for a Village renovation opportunity. The economy is good, interest rates are low, and all this trickles down to the Hamptons market, so I am quite optimistic about the future.”
Sound too good to be true? It might be. Morrell went on to add, “A problem we are facing is a shortage of good inventory [in Sag Harbor], particularly on the lower end. Even with the January and February arctic weather and mountains of snow, buyers and renters continued to make the trip out here. This is a very good indication of the strength of the market in Sag Harbor as well as the rest of the Hamptons.”
“I bought an 1800’s cottage in the Sag Harbor Historic District in 1984 after leaving New York City, and joined Allan Schneider Associates Sag Harbor office in 1990,” says Susan Sprott, Associate Broker with Sotheby’s International. “I have been in the Sotheby’s office in Bridgehampton since 2007. Having spent 25 years in real estate, mainly focused on Sag Harbor, I am thrilled to be returning to Sag Harbor Village when Sotheby’s opens our new office on Main Street. Sag Harbor has been a haven for artists and writers, poets and dreamers who valued its authentic beauty and character – the charming lanes, the beautiful harbor, the intimacy of a walking village, all the reminders of a busy past as a key whaling port that has always looked outward and welcomed newcomers. It’s a full-time community. Many buyers have purchased weekend homes and make them their main homes. Increasingly, families choose Sag Harbor so their children can attend its schools and grow up experiencing the pleasures of the East End. Europeans are attracted to Sag Harbor for its waterfront setting, historic character and charming scale.”
Sag Harbor real estate is not without its moments of drama. As the dilapidated Bulova factory space began its transformation into a chic community within Sag Harbor Village, known as the Watchcase Factory, back in April 2014 I spoke with Corcoran Associate Broker Cee Brown. He reports now that, “We have already closed on two units and sixteen more are slated for closing by April 15th. Developers are saying it will be fully operational for the Summer Season.”
Sounds like the business of real estate in Sag Harbor is ticking right along.