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A waterfront listing in Mattituck. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

If you’ve been seeing less “For Sale” signs along the North Fork there’s a reason for that. 

The third quarter of 2021 saw fewer sales, with purchases dropping 18.8 percent year-over-year. Total dollar volume also fell, by 7.9 percent, but at $182 million, it’s still the second-highest recorded third-quarter amount, according to the Brown Harris Stevens 3Q21 Hamptons Market Report.  

What went up? Prices.

The average sale price was up 20.6 percent compared with the third quarter 2021. In Jamesport the average sale price rose to $759,233, up from $407,188. It’s similar story in Mattituck ($1,132,272 v. $695,484), and Southold ($1,102,723 v. 694,401.) 

“The Q3 reports showed fewer sales at higher prices,” said Marianne Collins, licensed real estate salesperson, Brown Harris Stevens.  “Low inventory is a big factor in that. There was some of the usual seasonal slowdown, but we are still seeing strong demand and low inventory.”

What does this portend for the 2022 North Fork real estate market?  

“I currently see an immense pent-up buyer demand flowing into 2022,” said Susan Orioli, owner and licensed real estate broker, NoFo Real Estate. “Many buyers this summer and early fall were outbid on the minute inventory available.  Bidding wars did cool slightly because of buyer frustration, however the North Fork market pricing has remained solid.”

She said that the North Fork real estate market is typically robust come January since many buyers want to be in contract by February and close by April so they can make any changes to the home before the summer season kicks off. 

This year may be more frothy.

“There are many buyers that have taken a break for now, but will be out in full force after the New Year and into 2022,” Orioli said. “The question will remain, will there be more inventory to meet buyer demand next year?  Buyers have had to adjust their criteria often to conform to the limited selection of homes if they want immediacy on a home purchase.  This will most likely continue into 2022, as buyers that are more flexible will secure a home faster and be able to start enjoying North Fork life.”

Sellers should make their homes as move-in ready as possible so prospective buyers don’t have a long list of improvements to tackle upon taking ownership, experts say. This might include painting, repairing cooling and heating systems, and plumbing, having the interior and exterior deep-cleaned and fixing broken appliances.

“For sellers in the upcoming market, they need to understand if their home is not move-in ready or lacks other features like being waterfront, it will need to be properly prepared and staged to elicit a premium return,” Orioli said. “Buyers don’t want to do any work — not even paint —  and want to feel they can move right in.”

This is especially important to keep in mind if inventory increases.

“If our inventory remains low, I foresee a similar trend as these last two quarters,” said Gayle Marriner-Smith, real estate salesperson, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. “If the inventory starts to rise, as sellers feel safe to travel and explore where their next move might be, we could start to experience a more even market for both buyers and sellers.”

She said this makes preparing your home to sell even more important.

“Sellers can always maintain an edge by seriously prepping their house and property for market,” Marriner-Smith said. “It is well worth spending the $10,000-plus to stage if your furnishings are dated and cluttered. You will see that expense come back to you at least five-fold. A good agent with staging expertise can assist you in these matters. A good agent will also make sure that your professional photographs and virtual tour are superior, truthful, and eye-catching and that your ad copy evokes a positive emotional response.”

Collins predicts 2022 will continue to be a seller’s market – if their properties line up to buyer expectations.

“Buyers will continue to look at the fundamentals:  location, condition, appropriate pricing,” she said. “When those factors align, deals are being made quickly, often with multiple offers.”