hamptons primary home

The renewed allure of New York’s tony Hamptons for primary residences


In a unique phenomenon born of the pandemic, buyers from across the United States and beyond are buying homes in their favorite vacation markets – but not as secondary homes.

Instead, these properties are acting as primary or co-primary residences as affluent consumers split their time between seclusion and city living. The Hamptons, a string of tony towns in the South Fork of New York’s Long Island, has been one of the most notable examples of this trend.

“The Hamptons used to be thought of as a strictly weekend destination where there were lots of celebrity sightings,” said Jennifer Friedberg, a real estate agent at Brown Harris Stevens focusing on the Hamptons. “Now, people are finding it to be a great place for extended stays, weekends, summer, and full-time living.”

Given the now-mainstream popularity of work from home during the last year, the affluent are seriously rethinking where to make their primary residence.

Without proximity to the office acting as a crucial decision-making factor, buyers are freed up to decide the locale of their dream home to match their lifestyles.

Class of its own

It is not just the Hamptons. Lake Tahoe, Nevada; Naples, Florida; and Whistler, a ski resort in Canada’s British Columbia province all report a similar rise in full-time populations.

Notably, most of these locations are seeing younger buyers, particularly families, who are favoring single-family homes over condos.

Further proving this observation is the rising number of school students within the Hamptons, for example.

hamptons view
The rising school registrations signify the growth of the primary real estate market in The Hamptons.

“Local schools are increasing registration and options are expanding,” Ms. Friedberg said. “This is evidenced by Avenues, a for-profit private school [from Manhattan] that is new to the Hamptons.

“The school has recently expanded its offerings and will be opening a second campus here,” she said.

By design

Regardless of whether buyers are purchasing a new primary residence or a co-primary home for extended stays, they are requiring more from their new home.

Space, for one, is in high demand and one of the draws of vacation markets: the ability to have more acreage and square footage, as well as the privacy such space provides.

The rise in large homes and compounds is particularly outstanding when considering the years-long trend of downsizing and previously dwindling popularity of large homes.

finished home
Buyers expect finished homes – or discounts for properties that need work.

Moreover, it is not just space that buyers are requesting more of – design and amenities are also key players.

In the Hamptons, buyers want finished homes and expect discounts for properties that need work.

Design is also an essential factor for homes in Whistler and the Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean.

This emphasis on design is not universal, however. While important in Lake Tahoe, inventory is so low in that market that it is not always a key consideration.

Smart location

With extended time spent within these homes, the usual amenities are to be expected – stunning kitchens with high-end appliances, a personal gym and large walk-in closets.

More specific to work and play, a home office or two, wine cellars and outdoor kitchens are also popular picks.

Smart-home amenities, too, are becoming increasingly popular.

Expectations include full home automation, as well as charging stations for Tesla cars and other electric vehicles.

Of course, for many vacation homes, location is all-important, particularly proximity to natural amenities such as beaches and other gorgeous sights.

In the Hamptons, south of the highway is the most coveted position, as the homes there are closest to the ocean.

THE FLUX TOWARDS vacation markets is all about lifestyle – better space, greater privacy, remarkable views, local amenities and an all-around tranquility that often cannot be found in urban markets.

For the Hamptons, these benefits exist and are compounded because they are still within reach of New York.

Ms. Friedberg perfectly summarizes all of the Hampton’s advantages.

“It offers the perfect mix of gorgeous beaches, great art scenes, beautiful homes – both new and historic – with unmatched space and beauty, and abundant restaurants,” she said. “It’s also a short distance to New York City and the airports.”

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