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Wading River duck pond (Photo Credit: David Benthal)

For house hunters looking for a property on the North Fork, bidding wars and all-cash offers accepted well beyond ask can test the steeliest of nerves. “The North Fork housing market has been very difficult for buyers to navigate,” says Kristy Naddell, licensed associate real estate broker, Douglas Elliman. “With such high demand, and all-time low inventory levels, many buyers are finding they have been priced out of areas from Aquebogue to Orient.” 

The result? Some potential buyers are being shown homes on the western edges of the North Fork, where they may find many of the same amenities for a more affordable price.

“I have started to expand my search for buyers into other areas such as Baiting Hollow, Wading River and Hampton Bays, says Naddell. “While these towns aren’t ‘North Fork,’ they are close enough — only about twenty to thirty minutes away — and people can still feel like they are getting away from the city life.”

Last month, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1800-square foot home in Baiting Hollow sold for $590,000, or $327 a square foot. The home on a quiet residential street steps to the water features a covered porch, hardwood floors, a formal dining room and eat-in-kitchen, and a private backyard.

It’s a similar story in Wading River. A sprawling four-bedroom, three-bathroom move-in-ready Colonial on a private one-acre lot sold for $667,000 this month, or $238 a square foot.

Mariah Mills, real estate salesperson, Daniel Gale, has been directing clients whose budgets don’t allow them to buy a home east of Laurel to areas west such as Jamesport, South Jamesport and Riverhead.

“These towns typically have larger and more move–in ready homes with lower list prices,” she says. “If you’re a second home buyer coming from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens or even New Jersey, further west on the North Fork might be the most ideal location for you anyway, as it will be a shorter drive and allow for easier access on and off the fork.”

Mills says that those living in these areas get to enjoy much of what makes the North Fork special such as a quieter way of life, open space, quaint farm stands, beautiful beaches, wineries and top-notch restaurants.

“Downtown Riverhead is nearby,” she adds, “and you would only be a hop, skip, and jump away from a day at an ocean beach on the South Fork.”

Still, for house hunters who might have spent years researching North Fork hamlets, reorienting themselves to a new area can be time-consuming.

Mills recommends looking in several areas known for their unique amenities.

“Several wonderful neighborhoods come to mind in these towns,” she says. “Soundview Meadows and Reeves Park in Riverhead are both positioned on the L.I. Sound side and come with deeded beach rights. If you’re a golfer, there are great neighborhoods on different courses as well and a lot of them come with facilities such as a pool, clubhouse, fitness, and/or tennis. The Vineyards and The Highlands are two golf communities that come to mind.”

For those interested in turn-key properties they don’t have to worry about upkeeping, “Maidstone Landing is a gorgeous waterfront condominium community positioned on the L.I. Sound and bordered by a nature preserve,” she says. “Maidstone truly feels like a world of its own and comes with direct access to the beach, pool, tennis, and a clubhouse with fitness, a gathering room and a kitchen.”

Of course, as they do, these hidden gems might not stay that way if the current state of the real estate market continues.

“For year-round residents that that are selling their homes on the North Fork, I am seeing them look in these areas as well,” says Naddell. “Those looking to cash in on their homes are finding they can’t afford to downsize in Southold township, so we are looking further west.”