With Wall Street on an historic ride, Shelter Island real estate professionals are hoping to cash in by convincing investors to buy property here.
A happy Dow could translate into a turnaround, since the Island experienced a decline in sales during much of the first three quarters of 2017. It was a “really tough year, said Melina Wein of M. Wein Realty.
But the fourth quarter of 2017 picked up, she said, ending “on a high note,” although by the time some sales close, numbers will be reflected in the first quarter of 2018.
Christine Beckwith of Douglas Elliman Real Estate said the Shelter Island market definitely showed a pickup at the end of last year. Janalyn Travis-Messer of Griffing & Collins has been showing a lot of properties but said she hasn’t had any potential buyers comment on the volatility of the stock market.
“If you want to sell your house, price it properly and it will sell,” Ms. Wein said. “It’s a matter of being reasonable.”
There were some large late sales at year’s end, associate real estate broker Penelope Moore of Saunders said.
People assume real estate is busy during the summer, and while it’s true that summers are busy, they’re not always productive, Ms. Moore said. Many vacationers on the Island think about purchasing, but this past summer there wasn’t a lot of inventory on the market, she said.
Georgiana Ketcham of Georgiana B. Ketcham Real Estate agrees with that analysis, saying the Island needs new properties for sale. At the same time, she’s expecting that when December numbers roll in, she will be pleased.
“Shelter Island is perking along,” Ms. Ketcham said. “It’s a happening place.”
Angelo Piccozzi at Dering Harbor Real Estate sees no shortage of potential buyers, but said sales in the past year have been at the lower end of the market, which he sets at under $1 million.
“We’ve run out of high end inventory,” he said. “We’ve run out of waterfront.”
Most of his colleagues agree, seeing properties under $1 million pulling in buyers, with less action as price tags increase.
For Ms. Wein, properties up to $1.5 million are still selling, but those in the $3- to $5-million range are scarce. There are some folks willing to buy properties that need renovation, while others want turnkeys, Ms. Moore said.
Susan Cincotta of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty has seen a lot of sales on Shelter Island during 2017 and prices have been stable. One advantage the Island market has is taxes, Ms. Cincotta said, as in low. Potential buyers “are thinking long and hard about taxes,” Ms. Cincotta said.
Shelter Island local property taxes are the lowest on the East End. Still, those in the market are going to pause if they own first homes elsewhere and a purchase here would represent a vacation home. They want to know what the new tax law will mean to them wherever their first homes are located, she said.
Nonetheless, real estate has always been “a very good investment,” Ms. Cincotta said.
“It’s another part of the equation,” Ms. Wein said, noting that the possibility of higher interest rates can enter into the decision for some potential buyers.
Fashion may change with the season, Ms. Cincotta said, but style is ageless and that’s what buyers find on Shelter Island. Ms. Ketcham called it “a whole world wrapped into a tight little ball” while Ms. Moore called it “a very special market.”
“You can never hang a hammock on a stock,” Ms. Cincotta said.
Attention being given to improving the quality of water on the Island by replacing aged cesspools and septics with nitrogen-reducing systems is attractive to potential buyers who think of a second home becoming a retirement house. They see a community looking to protect the environment and that matters, Ms. Cincotta said.