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Hamptons real estate sales slump 21 percent

The number of real estate transactions in the Hamptons fell 21 percent during the second quarter, adding to evidence that the high end of the housing market is faltering.

Sales volume in these wealthy beach communities fell to 561 during the three-month period, from 706 in the second quarter last year, according to a report from Douglas Elliman Real Estate and Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants. The average sale price also declined, slipping 0.3 percent to $1.68 million.

The softness in the Hamptons mirrors declines in high-end real estate across the country, from Manhattan penthouses and Miami condos to L.A. mansions. While the broader real estate market is strengthening nationwide, wealthy buyers have been spooked by volatile stock markets, election uncertainty and money-laundering investigations.

Yet Jonathan Miller, president and CEO Miller Samuel, said the decrease is no reason for panic. Instead, the market is simply returning to normal after unusually elevated levels in 2013, 2014 and 2015, he said.

"Those three years were an anomaly," Miller said. "Even though we are down from those levels, we are still above long-term sales norms."

The top end of the market is struggling the most. In the Hamptons, sales of luxury properties (the top 10 percent of the market) fell more than twice as much as the broader single-family home market.

And while overall inventory fell in the Hamptons, it jumped 12 percent in the area's luxury sector. There is now a 14 months supply of luxury homes in the Hamptons, up from 10 months during the same period last year.

Miller said he doesn't expect much improvement in the market the rest of this year.

"I think we'll continue to see more of the same," he said.