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845 Maple Lane, Southold was the top North Fork sale of 2021, listed by Sheri Winter Parker of Corcoran. (Photo Credit: OneKeyMLS/Sheri Winter Parker)

If you thought the North Fork residential real estate market would cool in the new year, take a seat and digest this: It’s only gotten hotter.

Year-over-year (YOY) total sales rose 30.6% last quarter. The average sales price clocked in at $789,394, a whopping 26.8% higher than this time last year. The area’s median sales price grew 18.1% to $620,000, according to the First Quarter 2021 Residential Market Report for the Hamptons and North Fork from Brown Harris Stevens.

Across the board, the number of sales rose in each category except for those priced $500,000 and below. Homes priced over $1 million saw the largest YOY sales price increases. Properties between $500,000 and $750,000 made up just under 30% of all first-quarter sales.

Low inventory is one factor behind the rise, dropping 11% last quarter and 58.4% YOY, according to the Douglas Elliman Q1 2021 North Fork Sales Report.

In addition, the hot market is also a result of “the usual spring rush in addition to a continued desire to have a place with more space,” said Philip V. O’Connell, executive managing director at Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons. “This trend will most likely continue as the new work model seems to be a blend of working remotely with limited time in the office.”

Bridget Elkin, licensed real estate salesperson, Compass, agreed.

“Following the surge of demand created by residents leaving New York City during the pandemic, we continue to see huge numbers of motivated buyers in the market,” she said. “Many were simply unable to find a suitable property in 2020 so their search continues but with inventory so low, we’re still unable to fully meet that demand.”

This is pushing some buyers to search in areas previously overlooked.

“People are more willing to consider locations that are not quite as close to a beach, for example in between Route 25 and Route 48, though given the size of the North Fork, one is still only a few minutes’ drive from a beach,” O’Connell said. “Buyers are also looking at alternatives to the North Fork such as the gateway areas of Baiting Hollow and Wading River.”

Back in perennially popular areas such as Southold, prices are skyrocketing. There, the average home price jumped from $710,858 to $1,187,781 YOY, and the median home price reached $850,000 from $588,000, with four sales above $2 million.

The so-called “Bliss House” in Southold sold for $7 million in February, a record for the quarter, and $250,000 over asking with multiple bids offered. A five-bedroom, five-and-one-half bathroom, 4,565 square-foot waterfront home on five acres is indicative of what listing agent Sheri Winter Parker of Corcoran calls “special properties” that “will always have a buyer” — even with prices rising.

The $7 million sale price exceeds that of the most expensive home sold on the North Fork in 2020, a New Suffolk home also listed by Parker that sold for $5.95 million.

Greenport Village also saw significant movement. There the average price rose to $831,656 last quarter, up from $489,544 a year before, according to the Brown Harris Stevens report. The median price rose from $550,000 to $722,000. In March, Elkin’s sellers went into contract on a three-bedroom, one full and one half-bathroom 1,520 square-foot home in the Village’s West Dublin neighborhood. It was on the market for eight days. The price? $1.24 million.

“Greenport Village has always attracted a unique buyer pool, many of whom don’t start their search here,” she said, “but as they become more familiar with the North Fork, they are taken by the lifestyle the village affords.” 

With remote work continuing for many to be the norm, a hot stock market fueling wealth and summer approaching, sales growth is expected to continue on the North Fork.

“The demand we are seeing is people that have decided they need an escape,” said Parker. “We have now realized that most work can be accomplished virtually and where better than your vacation home?”