March 01, 2009

State of the Estate

Round about President?s Day, every year, the Hamptons summer rentals are locked up tight as a chastity belt.  Typically, the best of these resort-centric lush, plush estates, on offer from Memorial Day through Labor Day, are snatched up by New Year.  Everything rents. And, ordinarily, for a tidy fortune.

Grimly, there is nothing ordinary these days. You can?t rent, sell or give away your blasted property. A formerly unheard of flood has seeped into an enclave oft considered untouchable.

?The phones are not ringing,? a realtor reveals.

Agents and homeowners alike expose a shocking new trend. The usually easy-to-move under $100,000 listings are down 80 percent to 90 percent. The high-end market from $100,000 to $1 million has vanished entirely.

Think of the summer vacations foregone. Pity the surplus incomes denied.

?Buy a house?, a neighborhood newspaper touts in a column titled: ?Things to do in the Hamptons?.

?There are plenty of bargains,? a village broker assures, with endearingly faux cheer.

?Ha!? Responds a local naysayer, stomping the notion to smithereens. ?These same “experts” who claim that NOW is the time to buy a home on LI. are morons. Let’s see how vocal they are in a few weeks when towns introduce yet more tax hikes!? 

Desperate to close a deal an agent recently resorted to negotiating payment of the homeowner?s outstanding medical expenses as part of the transaction.

Cataclysmic for some. But not for all.

Overheard at a drugstore, a cashier chuckled, ?I?m glad to see these dumb bloated prices come down. Now maybe normal people can afford to live around here.?

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