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Realtors forecast the 2017 Shelter Island market


Many Island real estate professionals are bullish about the market on Shelter Island.

But one calls it neither a buyers’ nor sellers’ market, but a “realistic” market. What Melina Wein of M Wein Realty Inc. sees is “a lot of fluid pieces,” not just here, but nationally and internationally, that have many buyers and sellers trying to figure out where the economy is going before they pull the trigger on a transaction.

There’s less money out there and more question marks, Ms. Wein said. Properties, she added, in the $500,000 to $600,000 range will sell, but those at the higher end are going to be judged by several factors: location, acreage, the amount of frontage on the water and the potential for expansion.

This time of year tends to be typically slower, so it will take until March or April to assess the traffic in terms of buyers seeking land and/or houses on the Island, Ms. Wein said.

She doesn’t see people arriving with check book in hand ready to make a deal and points out that banks are “not going out on a limb” with mortgages. “There are no bank freebies,” Ms. Wein said.

When the Island’s Community Preservation Fund (CPF) income — money collected from buyers through a 2 percent tax on the properties purchased — had lagged throughout 2016, it did take a positive turn at the end of November. The result was a little bit more than 2 percent above what it had been at the same point in 2015.

That raised a question whether the November increase was a blip or a sign of recovery that might be sustained in 2017.

The lag in CPF revenue doesn’t reflect the activity realtors were seeing, said Angelo Piccozzi of Dering Harbor Real Estate. There was a lot of action, but much of it was on sales of lower priced properties generating smaller amounts of CPF money, he said.

Of the 75 2016 sales listed by the assessors office through early November, 57 changed hands for less than $1 million and many of those for $500,000 or less.

Mr. Picozzi expects more activity in home sales this year. But he pointed out another way CPF numbers don’t tell the whole story. First time property buyers see an exemption on the first $250,000 they pay for a developed property or $100,000 for an undeveloped property.

Immediately after the November election, Penelope Moore of Saunders saw a slow down in people looking for houses on the Island. But that changed after Thanksgiving.

“People seemed to get a wake up call,” Mr. Moore said. “They bounded back into the market after New Year’s.

Ms. Moore said she’s seeing properties on sale here on the entire spectrum from below $1 million up through $8 million or more. Lower priced properties are going very fast, she said.

People returning to the market are finding that deals they could have had in past months are gone or priced higher now, she said.

“This is not a market where buyers can be so coy,” Ms. Moore said.

Many real estate professionals contacted by the Reporter agreed that part of what seems to be encouraging buyers is a recent hike in interest rates coupled with fear that it will begin to send mortgage rates up,

“We’re moving into a sellers market,” said Jocelyn Haas, senior managing director for the Corcoran Group. She oversees Shelter Island, but also sales on the North Fork and Westhampton Beach.

Although each market is unique, Ms. Haas is seeing similar trends in all three areas, with low inventory resulting in bidding wars for properties. “You have to come ready to buy,” Ms. Haas said. There isn’t even time in most cases to get appraisals before making a decision, she said. “My agents were slammed this past year,” Ms. Haas said about the increase in numbers of buyers seeking East End properties.

“The real estate market is alive and well on Shelter Island,” said broker Georgiana Ketcham. “I’m very positive about the year.”

Ms. Ketcham thinks low inventory is helping drive the market now as people begin to see that if they don’t move when they see something they like, it’s likely to be grabbed up by another buyer.

Janalyn Travis-Messer at Griffing & Collins walks a middle line. She is seeing a lot of first-time buyers, some serious, but others she describes as “tire kickers,” people who aren’t ready to move quickly no matter how good a deal might look.