Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lido Beach Real Estate Holds Its Own

Dune-front home sells for $3.3 million

By Joseph Kellard

Home sales in Lido Beach are up and inventory is down since the housing market crashed last year. Early last December there were 37 listings in Lido Beach, and as of last week there were 18, according to real estate agents who sell in the area.

Broker Thomas Tripodi said that his group of agents at Prudential Douglas Elliman, on West Park Avenue in Long Beach, closed 10 of the 20 homes sold in the past year, which ranged in price from $419,000 to $3.3 million. The biggest sale was a house on the dunes at Prescott Street, which sold for $300,000 less nearly three years ago, during a sellers’ market.

“The owner sold it for 10 percent more at the bottom of the market,” Tripodi said. “It wasn’t upgraded [with renovations] at all. It’s about location. There are only 12 houses directly on the ocean in Lido.”

Pat McDonnell, owner of Lido Beach Realty on Lido Boulevard, said that the homes for sale now range from $519,000 for a home on Lido Boulevard to $3.2 million for a house on Blackheath Road on Reynolds Channel.

Tripodi and McDonnell agreed that while the weak economy has hurt the local market, Lido Beach has not been hit as hard as other Long Island communities, which have seen many more foreclosures. They point to Lido’s well-maintained beaches, golf course, tennis courts and luxury condos, the Lido Towers, all of which help keep prices stable, giving brokers the luxury of being able to wait for buyers.

“I think, reflective of the economy, the market has been a little down, but I don’t think we will ever, ever be as affected as other areas are,” said McDonnell, who has worked in Lido Beach for 30 years.

The hamlet has about 860 homes and nearly 3,000 residents, and owners tend to be doctors, lawyers and financiers with similar incomes. Many of the people who have moved there in recent years have come from Manhattan, the North Shore and Garden City, but particularly from Atlantic Beach and the Hamptons.

Tripodi said that most buyers are people who otherwise would have bought homes in the Hamptons — including the buyer of the oceanfront home on Prescott — because they find the beaches comparable and like the fact that they are just 28 miles from Manhattan. And homes in the distant Hamptons or Montauk can cost many millions more.

McDonnell has seen the same trend. “Believe it or not, there are still people who say, ‘How did we not know Lido Beach was here?’” she said. “We’re getting people coming in from the East End who don’t want the commute [or are] deciding to give up the second home and make a permanent home here, where they can commute easily to Manhattan.”

Due to the interest in the dunes area, where there are 283 homes, Tripodi said, prices have seen the smallest declines there in the market downturn. Before last fall, sale prices were all $1 million and above, whereas now some are as low as $800,000. “Because it’s a special area and it has location, a lot of people buy it as a second home,” Tripodi said. “There weren’t a lot of desperation homes.”

McDonnell pointed out, however, that for the first time in years, there is a foreclosure in Lido Beach, on Luchon Street in the dunes, a house that she said is selling for $1.2 million.

In the neighborhoods north of Lido Boulevard, in between Lido Beach and Long Beach on the channel, colonials and split-levels are going for $650,000 to $1.2 million. Tripodi said that he recently sold one house on the bay for almost $2 million.

Miriam Gold, of Paul Gold Real Estate on West Beech Street in Long Beach, who has sold homes throughout the barrier island for 46 years, said that in a decades-long trend, residents have migrated from west to east — from the West End to Westholme, a neighborhood east of New York Avenue, and from the East End, east of Long Beach Boulevard, to Lido Beach.

“They’re still selling in the Canals neighborhood to move into Lido because that’s the next jump for a bigger home,” Gold said. “So there’s that bit of migration that has helped some business. But the prices aren’t as strong as they used to be. But any place that is in great condition and is in a spectacular location like Lido, it sells.”

Gold said that most sales on the barrier island this year have been in the lower price ranges, and she expects that some sellers will look for more expensive homes as in Lido, particularly now that the $8,000 Federal Housing Authority tax credit that once applied only to first-time home buyers has been extended. The extension not only increases the credit’s availability to single purchasers with a maximum income of $125,000, but it now also applies to people who have owned a home for at least five years and provides a $6,500 credit for a new home.

“The million-dollar price range, I feel, is going to open up in the coming year,” Gold said. Tripodi said he believes it is impossible for buyers not to find a good deal in the Lido market right now. But he tempers this confidence when he considers the future. “I think we’ve pretty much hit the bottom,” he said, “but I don’t know if it’s going to turn back right away.”

Tripodi believes the forecasters who say interest rates will have to climb back to 8 percent. “So if you take out a $1million mortgage,” he said, “it will be $30,000 extra for the same exact house.”

Photo by Arthur Findlay

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