Saunders, Real Estate, Hamptons

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Feb 9, 2010 6:57 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

CPF revenues pick up over last six months of 2009, but are still below total yearly levels for 2008

Feb 9, 2010 6:57 PM

Revenues from the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund, or CPF, continued to climb in December 2009, closing the year on an upward trajectory.

The $5.66 million generated in December marked the eighth consecutive month of ascending revenue and the highest monthly amount since May 2008, before the global economic meltdown, according to a press release issued Monday by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

As revenue levels gradually catch up, they still lag behind previous years’ totals, however.

The CPF, which is fed by a 2-percent tax on most real estate transfers in the five East End towns—Southampton, East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island and Southold, each of which manages its own individual CPF fund—is used to purchase and preserve open space and farmland. It is often seen as a bellwether for the East End real estate market and, by extension, the larger regional economy. While the yearly total of $40.3 million for 2009 represents a 28.8-percent decline from the $56.6 million collected the previous year, the final six months of 2009 generated 23.9 percent more than the same period in 2008.

The number of transactions for the past year also fell, from 6,295 to 5,187, or 17.6 percent. On a smaller scale, the market saw 600 transactions in December 2009, an increase of 26.9 percent over 473 in the last month of 2008.

Of the $40.3 million total for 2009, East Hampton Town contributed $10.18 million, its lowest yearly total since 2001, and Southampton Town contributed $24.77 million, its lowest annual amount since 2002.

“An increase in CPF revenues is always a positive sign for Southampton Town,” stated Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. “Not only does it mean more opportunities to protect our most environmentally sensitive lands, it also means our real estate industry is on the upswing—which generally means good things for our local economy.”

Mr. Thiele attributed the escalation of CPF revenue to the stabilization of Wall Street, the positive trend of stock indicators and the generally improving health of the financial markets spilling over to the local real estate market. He also credited the federal government’s credits for first-time homebuyers last spring with reenergizing the housing market.

While optimistic about the latest tallies, Mr. Thiele is hesitant to forecast continuing favorable predictions for the CPF in 2010. “I still think it’s very volatile. The national economy is uncertain as to where it’s headed,” he said, adding that national unemployment rates remain intractably high with no real relief in sight.

In addition to the slight real estate recovery, Mr. Thiele pointed out that changes to state law have contributed tighter controls and greater transparency to the CPF after certain abuses in local towns where funds were being transferred from the CPF and redirected toward other uses.

Since its inception in 1999, the CPF has generated $604.8 million in the region and protected nearly 10,000 acres of land. The fund is set to expire in 2030.

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This appears to be a very up lifting story but I wonder if the facts don't fit the optimism. If you ride down any road in any town you see unsold houses. If you speak to any honest real estate agent its all gloom.Speak to any carpenter its hand to mouth jobs if there is one at all. This story masks a hidden reality. In fact the increase in transactions is a reflection of increased foreclosers not good times ahead. CPF gets its cut weather your a jobless builder or a busted broker.
By facts man (148), east hampton on Feb 15, 10 10:03 AM
CPF funds should be used to offset high school taxes in all districts
By LUVSH (28), Southampton on Feb 18, 10 6:34 PM