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2019 Fire Island Real Estate Market Report

Prepared By: Abigail Medvin Mago, Licensed Associate Broker

February 28, 2020

ISLAND WIDE DATA

Coming off of 2018’s record performance in terms of average and median sale prices, the 2019 Fire Island real estate market saw a moderate slow down.  While the island wide average and median sale prices decreased year over year, transaction volume was up 6% year over year, suggesting continued market strength despite the average and median price declines. The average sale price island wide declined from 2018’s all-time high of $907,042 to $804,441 in 2019, representing an 11% year over year decline.  To provide some historical context, the average sale price over the last 14 years has been $778,050, which is 3% lower than 2019’s average.

While the average sale price did decrease from 2018 to 2019, the number of homes sold increased by 9%.  145 Fire Island homes were sold in 2019, as compared to 133 in 2018.  Over the last 14 years, on average 105 homes have changed hands in a given year. With 145 transactions in 2019, that represents transaction volume of 38% greater than average.  Since I began data collection in 2006, only 2016 and 2017 saw a larger number of transactions than 2019, with 157 and 147 sales taking place, respectively.

The lowest priced Fire Island property sold in 2019 was $150,000, as compared to 2018’s lowest priced sale of $100,000. The most expensive property sold in 2019 traded for $2,200,000, which is 42% lower than the most expensive sale closed in 2018 of $3,800,000, and 15% lower than the 14-year average high price paid of $2,596,643.  While it should be noted that 2018’s $3,800,000 sale was of a commercial property, not a residence, the high end of the market was significantly less active in 2019 than is commonly seen, with only 6 sales occurring above the $1.5M mark, and only 2 of which breaking the $2M mark.  By comparison, in 2018 15 sales occurring at or above the $1.5 million mark and 7 sales occurring at or above the $2 million mark.

An additional indicator of stronger market activity in the middle segment rather than the high end can be seen when comparing the average and median sales prices.  The median sale price in 2019 was $750,000, a 2% year over year decrease from 2018’s median sale price of $765,000.  2019’s average sale price was 7% higher than its median sale price, while 2018’s average sale price was 16% higher than its median sale price.  In 2017, a year which also saw unusually little activity at the high end of the market, the average sale price was only 6% higher than the median sale price.  The higher the average sale price relative to the median sale price, the greater the activity at the high end of the market, causing the average to skew upwards.  The graph below compares the average and median sale prices from 2016 – 2019.

To put the 2019 market data into perspective, it is helpful to look at sales figures relative to the entire period of data collection in addition to comparing to the previous year’s performance.

PRICE SEGMENT ANALYSIS

The 2019 market was largely driven by the middle segment of the market, with more than a third of the year’s total sales occurring in the $750,000 – $1,000,000 price bracket.  Because the total market size is relatively small, outlier high end sales can have a relatively large influence on the average sale prices, making the average metric not the best indicator of market performance.  When breaking down each year’s sales into price segments, some interesting trends can be observed.  The chart below shows sale count by year, broken down by $500,000 sale price increments.

The proportion of home sales under $500,000 has been steadily decreasing since 2013 when it topped out at 42% after Hurricane Sandy.  In 2019, only 12% of homes sold at a price below $500,0000.  Since 2006, the under $500k price segment has represented, on average, 24% of sales.  The vast majority of 2019 home sales fell in the $500,000 – $1 million price segment, representing 72% of sales, as compared to 62% in 2018 and an average proportion of 58%.  12% of homes sold were between $1 million and $1.5 million, which was the same in 2018, and slightly above the average proportion of 11% of sales.  3% of 2019 sales were between $1.5M and $2M, which is just under the typical average of 4%.  Only 1% of sales were in the $2M – $2.5M price segment, whereas typically 2% of sales fall into that segment.

TOWN BY TOWN ANALYSIS

In addition to looking at the island’s overall market performance, it is useful to examine the data on a town by town basis.

ATLANTIQUE

Atlantique saw no sales activity in 2019.  A small community, Atlantique usually sees 1 sale per year.  The average sale price over the past 12 years in Atlantique is $589,323.

CHERRY GROVE

Cherry Grove saw weaker market performance in 2019, with 10 homes trading, as compared to 16 homes in 2018 and a historical average of 13 per year.  The average Cherry Grove sale price in 2019 was $485,000, which was down 23% from $628,933 in 2018, and down 9% from the 13-year average sale price of $535,573.  The least expensive Cherry Grove property to trade in 2019 was $150,000, down 55% from 2018’s lowest price of $335,000.

CORNEILLE ESTATES

Corneille Estates saw a dramatic increase in activity in 2019, with 5 homes trading, whereas 2 sales per year is average for the community.  While number of transactions was up 150%, the average sale price declined significantly year over year.  The 2019 average sale price was $846,950 which is 26% lower than 2018’s average sale price of $1,142,000, but still 14% higher than the last 14 year’s average sale price of $739,890.  2019’s lowest price Corneille Estates sale of $644,200 was 36% lower than 2018’s lowest price sale of $999,000.  The highest price paid for a Corneille Estates home in 2019 was $983,000, down 24% from 2018’s high price of $1,285,000, but still 24% higher than the 14-year average high price of $794,654.

DAVIS PARK

Ten sales took place in Davis Park in 2019, which was down from 2018’s record high of 16, but still 67% higher than the average year which sees only 6 sales.  The average sale price dipped by 7% from $588,725 in 2018 to $546,980 in 2019, but was still 5% higher than an average year.  The highest price paid for a home in Davis Park in 2019 was $999,000 which was an 18% decrease over the previous year, but still 28% higher than the average highest price paid in the last 14 years.

DUNEWOOD

 Dunewood had 2 home sales in 2019, which is typical for the community, but down from 3 sales in 2018. The average sale price in 2019 was $1,245,000 which is 26% lower than 2018’s average sale price of $1,678,335, but still 42% higher than the 14-year average of $879,685.  The highest price paid for a home in Dunewood in 2019 was $1,550,000 which is 39% higher than the 14-year average high price paid of $1,116,667.

FAIR HARBOR

Fair Harbor had 13 sales in 2019, which is down slightly from 2018’s 14 sales but still 44% higher than the 14-year average of 9 sales per year.  The average sale price was down 22% year over year, to $724,869 in 2019 from $926,946 in 2018, but still 6% above the historical average sale price of $682,318.  The highest price paid in Fair Harbor in 2019 was $1,300,000, which is 35% lower than the highest price paid in 2018 but still 15% higher than the highest price paid in an average year.  The lowest price paid in Fair Harbor in 2019 of $510,000 is 3% lower than the lowest price paid in Fair Harbor in 2018 of $525,000.

FIRE ISLAND PINES

The Pines saw 25 sales in 2019, down from 29 homes sold in 2018. An average year sees 20 Pines homes trade hands. The average sale price declined 15% from $1,008,792 in 2018 to $858,202 in 2019, which is 14% lower than the historical average of $1,002,166.  The highest price paid in the Pines in 2019 was $2,200,000, which was tied with a sale in Ocean Bay Park for the most expensive home sale on the island in 2019. This figure is down from $2,485,018 in 2018, and 3% less than the 14-year average high sale price of $2,257,894.

KISMET

 Kismet saw market improvement from 2018 to 2019 with 7 home sales in 2019 as compared to 4 in 2018.  The historic average for the community is 5 sales per year.  The average sale price also increased by 3%, from $671,250 in 2018 to $688,500 in 2019.   The lowest price paid for a Kismet home was 81% higher in 2019 than in 2018, and 39% higher than in an average year.  The highest price paid in Kismet in 2019 was $900,000 which is a 10% decline from 2018’s high price paid of $995,000.

LONELYVILLE

 Lonelyville saw no market activity in 2019, with no homes trading hands.  A small community, on average over the last 14 years, only 1 home sells per year.  Lonelyville’s 14-year average sale price is $748,198.

OCEAN BAY PARK

 Ocean Bay Park saw a dramatic increase in transaction volume, with 19 sales taking place in 2019, as compared to 10 in 2018, and 8 in a typical year.  While sale count was way up, the average sale price did decline by 15% from 2018’s record high of $973,745 to $827,907 in 2019.  Despite the year over year drop, 2019’s average sale price is still 46% above the average sale price over the last 14 years, which is $565,194.  The lowest price paid for an Ocean Bay Park home in 2019 was $500,000, down 9% from 2018’s lowest price paid of $550,000, but still 76% higher than the average lowest price paid over the last 14 years of $283,607.  The highest price paid for a home in Ocean Bay Park in 2019 was $2,200,000 which, tied with another $2.2M sale in the Fire Island Pines, was the priciest sale of the year, island-wide, as well as the highest price paid in Ocean Bay Park to date.  This is 10% higher than 2018’s high price paid of $2,000,000, (which was the previous record high sale for Ocean Bay Park) and 110% higher than the 14-year average high price paid of $1,046,714.

OCEAN BEACH

Ocean Beach transaction volume was strong in 2019 with 26 homes trading, up 24% from 21 sales in 2018.  Over the last 14 years, an average of 21 homes change hands in a given year, making 2019’s sale count 25% greater than is typical.  While sale count was up 24% year over year, the average sale price declined by 9%, from $894,230 in 2018 to $809,908 in 2019, which is 18% higher than the historical average sale price of $686,510.  The highest price paid in Ocean Beach in 2019 was $1,730,000, which is a record for residential property in Ocean Beach. In 2018, the most expensive property to sell was a $3,800,000 commercial property.  The highest price paid for an Ocean Beach residence in 2018 was $1,185,000, representing a 46% year over year increase in the highest price paid for a residence.  The lowest price paid for an Ocean Beach home in 2019 was $375,000, down 3% from 2018’s low price of $385,000.

ROBBINS REST

After no home sales in 2018, one home changed hands in Robbins Rest in 2019 which is typical for the small community.  2019’s average sale price was $985,000, up 26% from the historic average sale price of $782,204.

SALTAIRE

Coming off of an extremely weak year in 2018, the Saltaire market improved both in terms of sale count and average sale price.  Sale count was up 150% year over year, from 2 sales in 2018 to 5 in 2019.  Traditionally considered one of the most desirable communities on Fire Island, Saltaire usually sees 10 homes trade a year with some of the highest price points island wide.  The average sale price was up 37% from $775,250 in 2018 to $1,065,000 in 2019.

The lowest price paid for a Saltaire property in 2019 was $500,000, which was 22% lower than the 2018 low price paid of $645,000, and 11% higher than the 14-year average low price.  The highest price paid was up 55% from only $905,500 in 2018 to $1,400,000 in 2019, which is 24% below the 14-year average high price paid of $1,838,500.

SEAVIEW

17 homes changed hands in Seaview in 2019, which is a 55% increase over 2018’s 11 sales and 70% more than the 14-year average sale count of 10.  Despite the spike in transaction volume, the average sale price declined by 12% from $1,081,591 in 2018 to $947,309 in 2019, which is 9% below the 14-year historical average of $1,037,795.

The lowest price paid in Seaview in 2019 was $531,248 which is 26% less than 2018’s low price of $715,000, and 6% below the historical average low price of $564,196.  The highest price paid in Seaview in 2019 was $1,400,000, down 41% from 2018’s high price of $2,372,500.  The 14-year average high price paid in Seaview is $1,955,464, which is 28% higher than 2019’s high price paid.

SUMMER CLUB

Sales count doubled in the Summer Club from 2 sales in 2018 to 4 sales in 2019.  An average year sees 3 homes change hands in the small community.  2019’s average Summer Club sale price was $849,875, which is a 24% decline from 2018’s average sale price of $1,123,750, but 9% higher than the historical average sale price of $779,219.  The lowest price paid in the Summer Club in 2019 was $550,000 as compared to $1,100,000, in 2018, although it should be noted that the 2019 sale was of vacant land.  The highest price paid was up by 13% to $1,300,000, which is 31% higher than the 14-year average high price paid of $995,722.

WATER ISLAND

Only one home sold in Water Island in 2019, for a sale price of $1,300,000.  2018 also saw only one home sale in Water Island, at a price point of $1,500,000, representing a 13% year over year decrease, and a 3% premium over the 14-year average sales price of $1,267,042.

CONCLUSION

With both the average and median sale prices reaching record levels in 2018, the Fire Island real estate market saw prices leveling off in 2019.  However, the increased number of transactions is indicative of the continued streak of strong performance that we’ve been experiencing since 2016.  The market was largely driven by activity in the $750,000 – $1 million price point, which is a departure from 2018’s market dynamics being driven principally by the high end.

Because the Fire Island real estate market does not function like a traditional real estate market with a centralized multiple listing service, reliable market data is not readily available to the public. Our annual market reports are published in an effort to address that.  Both buyers and sellers are served by being fully informed about the market in which they are considering transacting.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at abigail@fireislandrealestate.com if I can provide any further information, or if I can be of help to you in the sale or purchase of your Fire Island home.

METHODOLOGY

Please note that all information herein is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.  The information is sourced from public real estate transaction records.  Sales data reporting has a lag of approximately 90 days.  Due to this lag, there may be some outstanding sales that closed late in 2019 but have not yet been reported and are therefore not reflected in this report.  All historic data refers to the period between 2006 and 2019.