“Land is exorbitant, because there is less of it available,” Ms. Cirillo said. “Builders are recycling the older home sites. It is almost more affordable to buy a built house, tear down the house and put up a structure.”
In East Hampton town, about 1,400 acres of agricultural land remain, with 1,020 protected and little productive farmland lost in the last decade, said Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisition. “We are going to try to preserve the balance,” Mr. Wilson said.
Since January 2015, more than 100 demolition permits for single-family homes have been issued by the town of East Hampton, according to town data. In Southampton town, 203 homes have been torn down.
While the open farmland makes it harder to find sites to build on and accelerates the pace of teardowns, some brokers and builders acknowledge that it adds to the value of the new houses.
“The vistas afforded by conserved open space are key to the Hamptons experience,” said Mr. DePersia, of the Corcoran Group. “The best of these new homes are designed in a way that respects the character of the property, its surroundings and the views seen from it.”
One of his listings, a $14,950,000 newly constructed house, borders a 34-acre reserve in Water Mill. The 10-bedroom, 12-bath house with a pool and a sunken tennis court on 2.6 acres, replaced a $6 million three-bedroom, three-bath house built in 1997.
Mr. Farrell said he has shied away from buying and subdividing farms. “I don’t want to be the guy chopping up farms — I am all for open space,” he said, adding that he prefers shovel-ready lots adjacent to agricultural preserves.
In the last year, he has knocked down nine houses to make room for bigger ones. Three years ago, he paid $8 million for a 6,500-square-foot farmhouse on 2.2 acres in Bridgehampton, which he bought from Luann de Lesseps of “The Real Housewives of New York City.” In its place, he built a 12,000-square-foot estate with 10 bedrooms, 12 baths, a 50-foot heated pool and spa, a sunken tennis court, a pool house and other bells and whistles. The price tag on the new manse: $16,995,000.
Some buyers, of course, just prefer new construction. . “They do not want to renovate,” Mr. DePersia said. Others, however, like the convenience of the new, but with the look of the old.
Dan Scotti, a lawyer turned builder and interior designer, is as willing to tear down old homes as any of his competitors. With vacant land so hard to come by in East Hampton village, where Mr. Scotti has built a home a year for the past 10 years, all but one of those homes replaced a teardown. But when Mr. Scotti razes a house, his goal is to replace it with something that looks “turn-of-the-century” and will blend with the older homes in the neighborhood.
Mr. Scotti replaced the author James Brady’s midcentury house, which “wasn’t very architecturally attractive,” he said, with a timeless-looking villa “that looks like it fits better on Further Lane than the previous house.” The new 5,000-square-foot house sold for just over $11 million in 2015.
Houses built on slabs without basements, or with eight-foot-high foundations that are “not super structurally sound,” Mr. Scotti said, are prime teardown candidates.