Hamptons Real Estate During COVID: Navigating the Waters With the Atlantic Team


2020 was a year no one will soon forget. Every facet of life was touched by the global pandemic. Real estate, especially in New York, was one of the most impacted industries anywhere. Heading Out sought out the movers and shakers in the Hamptons to see how real estate on Long Island’s east end fared during a global pandemic. In this Q&A, Heading Out talks with Douglas Elliman’s Atlantic Team: Justin Agnello, Hara Kang, and James Keogh.

A Sag Harbor property at 110 Hillside Drive East, currently listed by the Atlantic Team for $9,799,000.

HEADING OUT: How did you get started in real estate?
James Keogh: We all came from New York. I grew up out here, Hara is from Queens, and Justin’s from Rochester. We’ve been with Elliman for 16 years as a team; we came together as equal partners, and really we’re one of the first teams that I know of in the industry.

What is it about the Hamptons that drew you to focus there?

Hara Kang: The three of us are very competitive. We saw opportunity out here. It was ready for the picking.

What’s the most unique or intriguing aspect of Hamptons real estate? 

JK: Preservation. It is so unique on Long Island to have thousands of acres of preserved land, with access to waterways and parks. It’s also preservation of lifestyle, and a small-town feel that is sought after by the local government. They work to protect it every day.

What’s different about selling during the pandemic versus prior years? Are sellers looking to strike while the iron is hot? 

JK: Everything’s different, really. But it’s mostly about showings and access to homes. The politics of COVID have been difficult on real estate. Some people don’t want to wear masks, some people have COVID disclosures, there’s a lot of things to move around. 

Justin Agnello: The people here don’t have to deal with a mortgage sometimes, especially now. It’s that kind of wealth. Cash has always been a huge part of our market, especially on the higher end.

douglas elliman the atlantic team

What are the must-haves buyers are looking for now versus 2019?

JK: Reliable internet service and a place to work from home.

JA: Honestly, a team and being available for clients. Just having the machine already set up was a huge benefit, because everything was so chaotic.

Have there been any experiences in the past year that really set it apart?

JK: When you price something to perfection, it’s really fun to watch. It’s amazing — you can sell a house in one day if you do it right. That frenzy is mind boggling.

What advice would you give first-time Hamptons buyers right now?

JA: Don’t try to do it yourself. In this type of market, and with how inflated prices are, you need someone who knows what they’re doing. Someone who knows what they’re talking about and can guide you.

Any predictions for the 2021 Hamptons market?

JK: The market looks to remain extremely strong. We have a perfect storm of low interest rates, a booming equities market, and sought after, low-density towns. The lifestyle has options for everyone. The Hamptons are the ultimate COVID stock. 

Inspired to find your next home on the East End? Search Out East for rental and sale properties in the Hamptons and North Fork.