Buyer vs. seller: Who’s on top in Island real estate?

REPORTER FILE PHOTO The Island real estate market is on the upswing.
The Island real estate market is on the upswing.

If the real estate market lagged behind the stock market in recovering, its rebound on Shelter Island began to flourish in the final quarter of 2014. Now the challenge is to find enough properties to meet buyers’ demands.

That’s the general take among real estate professionals here who are knocking on doors to convince homeowners to list their properties.

“We definitely have a smaller inventory,” broker Melina Wein said.

Georgiana Ketcham agreed that finding inventory could be a challenge for 2015.

“I’m telling my agents now is the time to be a realtor and go out there and make inventory,” Corcoran Group Manager Joseph DeSane said.

He expects prices to go up between 6 and 12 percent — a plus for sellers — but with continued low mortgage rates for buyers. Of course, that could change as Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen has hinted in recent statements.

On the high end, there are more cash deals so mortgage rates don’t matter, Ms. Wein said. But it likely could have an impact on houses selling for $1.5 million or less, she said.

It’s a good time for buyers to get into the market before rates go up, said Dering Harbor Real Estate associate broker Angelo Piccozzi.

But buyers these days are smart and won’t pay a premium unless a property is really special, Mr. Piccozzi said, such as a waterfront location with a lot of land and a solidly built house.

At the same time, with Wall Street bonuses coming back, people with deep pockets are looking for a place to park their money and real estate is a solid “livable investment,” Mr. DeSane said.

Saunders’ Penelope Moore sees “a steadily rising year in favor of sellers” as people feel more confident about making changes, she said.

“Things take a little longer on Shelter Island,” she added about a market that lagged the rest of the East End until the fourth quarter of last year. But she’s anticipating a very strong selling season.

“The smart money is coming to real estate,” said Susan Cincotta of Daniel Gale/Sotheby’s International. “A lot of serious buyers are coming out.”

The key for sellers, all agree, is proper pricing. If a property is on the market for more than six months, it’s likely to be because the owners are asking more than it’s worth, said Griffing & Collins broker Janalyn Travis-Messer.

“All I can do is show them comparables,” or prices of similar properties that are selling, she said. “Sellers have to believe the professionals when they say it’s the wrong price,”

“If you’re realistic, you’ll sell,” Ms. Cincotta said. Sellers can try to test the market at a higher price than recommended by a real estate professional, but if the seller gets no calls within 30 days, it’s time to “adjust expectations,” she said.

As for those unique, high end homes, buyers shouldn’t turn away from them thinking they’d rather build something specific to their dreams, Ms. Wein said, since there aren’t that many water view lots with substantial land to be had.

As for the rental market, various real estate professionals part company on the outlook for this year.

A lot of houses have new owners who don’t want to open their properties to renters, Ms. Moore said.

But Ms. Ketcham said she’s already finding a lot of rentals and making arrangements for those spring and summer folks who flock here to live, whether it’s for a few weeks or the whole summer.

“It’s a little bit like a seesaw,” Ms. Wein said about the rental market. Renters who once came for a month or two or even longer are sometimes seeking just a two-week stay. Not every homeowner wants the bother of cleaning and preparing the house for each new set of renters, turning the house over several times during the season, Ms. Wein added.

Mr. DeSane sees a tighter rental market here this year, but said it’s cyclical and there will always be properties available for rent here.