No one would dispute that the Hamptons are the cr‚me de la cr‚me of New York City summering spots. But in these trying economic times, not everyone has the financial wherewithal to drop $100 for a pound of lobster salad or $1.1 million (the average price of a Hamptons home in the first quarter of 2009, according to Prudential Douglas Elliman) on an oceanfront spread.
Still, just because you can’t afford to buy anything on Further Lane doesn’t mean you have to abandon your sand-castle dreams. With more than 1,000 miles of coastline, Long Island offers all manner of waterfront refuge.
Here are a few places where beach bargains can still be found.
Beach houses are typically summer spots, but tourist season can extend well into autumn in North Fork towns such as Greenport. That’s when the area’s many farms and wineries begin to harvest their bounty, with tastings and fall festivals giving vacationers a reason to linger even after the weather turns cool. Those same farms and wineries also provide Greenport with a dining scene.
“We get lots of foodies out here,” says the Corcoran Group‘s Sheri Winter Clarry, citing spots like The Frisky Oyster, Scrimshaw and a forthcoming hotel/restaurant from Manhattan and Southamptonrestaurateur Nello Balan. “The restaurant quality is on the same level as the Hamptons.”
Home prices, however, are a bit more modest.
Although you can certainly find properties listed in the multiple-millions if that’s your thing, there are also waterfront houses available in Greenport for under $500,000. At the town’s Breezy Shoresdevelopment — an 82-acre community with a beach and marina — one-bedroom bungalows with enclosed sun porches are $349,000.
And while area home values have declined along with the rest of the island, they’ve shown more resilience than on the South Fork. According to Prudential Douglas Elliman, the median sales price in the Hamptons was 23.5 percent lower in the first quarter of 2009 than in the first quarter of 2008. The drop in the North Fork over the same period was 13.6 percent.
“Things have come down, but we didn’t depreciate like the Hamptons because prices here never really got out of control,” Clarry says.
Technically, the village of Flanders is part of the larger town of Southampton. In terms of prices and state of mind, though, this sleepy hamlet bordering the Peconic Bay is a world away.
With its working-class reputation, the spot probably won’t be hosting an A-list White Party anytime soon (although “Raging Bull” star Cathy Moriarty owns a house in the area). But with prices for single-family waterfront homes starting under $300,000, it’s a place the budget-conscious can buy into.
“If someone is looking for waterfront, Flanders can definitely be attractive because of the lower prices,” says Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Andrew Benners.
And with its location next to Hampton Bays, the village stands to benefit from an overflow of buyers who are priced out of neighbors to the east.
“It’s a good long-term hold,” says Clarry. “The Hamptons has continued to spread out, which is part of what gives this area potential.”
One drawback: The village lacks a formal downtown, which means no quaint strolls along boutique-lined streets. However, the Riverside Hamlet Center — a nearby 60-plus-acre development proposed by the Town of Southampton — will bring pedestrian-friendly retail, housing and a village green to the area when built.
And besides, you’re supposed to be getting away from it all, right?
As Agawam Realty’s Kathleen Pratz says, “It’s a little more bohemian. The kind of person who comes to Flanders isn’t interested in impressing someone with their address.
“You’re in the woods by the water — what could be better than that?”
Sure, you could dash to your car, race out to the Shinnecock Canal and then spend the next few hours sucking exhaust fumes on Route 27. Then again, it might be nice to try somewhere a bit closer to home for a change. Long Beach, for instance.
An hour away on the LIRR, it’s arguably easier to get to this Nassau County beach community than toConey Island. And with Long Beach’s large stock of lower-priced waterfront co-ops and condos, you can afford to stay awhile.
Studios in the town’s oceanfront co-ops start around $200,000. One-bedrooms start in the high $200,000s, and two-bedrooms start in the low $300,000s. Single-family homes along the bay can be found in the low $500,000s.
Higher-end offerings have also moved into the area. The Aqua on the Ocean, a new 36-unit condo building, has prices for one-bedrooms starting at $1.3 million. Just down the boardwalk, the Allegria Hotel & Spa will feature a new Atlantica restaurant from Westhampton chef Todd Jacobs when it opens this July.
“Long Beach has seen tremendous revitalization,” says Sharon Cronin of Century 21 Laffey Associates. “As long as it’s not snowing, you see people out. People are surfing with wetsuits on in the dead of winter. Where else on Long Island can you get that kind of lifestyle without driving two or three hours?”
One note, though, to those looking to buy. According to Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Joyce Coletti, prices for Long Beach waterfront are down off their peak roughly 15 to 20 percent. But, she says, they probably still have further to fall.
“Our sellers are still in 2006,” she says, “And our buyers are in 2009.”
Shirley wouldn’t make many (if any) lists of Long Island’s top vacation spots, but this town just across the Smith Point Bridge from Fire Island has most everything a water lover could want.
Sun and sand? Spread out your blanket on Shirley Beach along the Great South Bay or in Smith PointCounty Park — a camping, swimming, surfing and birding destination that also happens to be the largest oceanfront park in Suffolk County. Good fishing? Nearby Moriches Bay boasts some of the best on Long Island. A place to put your boat? Waterfront homes with bulkhead can be found starting in the mid-$300,000s.
And while prices on larger properties can reach into the $700,000s, the town’s smaller two- and three-bedroom homes typically run in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, says Audrey Brandt of Century 21 Rustic, who has lived on the town’s waterfront for 11 years.
If it’s a sprawling estate you’re after, though, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Paul Peluso, an agent with Coldwell Banker M&D Good Life, says one thing that keeps Shirley’s waterfront relatively cheap is the small size (typically 50 by 100 feet to 150 by 125 feet) of the town’s lots.
“The town was developed in the 1950s, and they cut the land up into smaller lots,” he says. “So they built small houses.”
But hey, do you really need a McMansion?