Monday, July 31, 2006

Matrix-The Real Estate Economy Keeps Churning And It Doesn't Care About Your Opinion

Matrix The Real Estate Economy Keeps Churning

Tips for Getting Your Home Sold

For most of the last four to five years, pricing properties was easy: see what the highest-priced home in the area sold for, add 20%, then add the cost of that trip to Europe, and VOILA! If lightning didn't strike right away, it would eventually sell because the market will rise to meet the price.

In the current market, it's still happening in The Hamptons for unique homes and properties, but not for everyone. The key for motivated sellers is to do your homework and to dot the i's and cross the t's on the following:

*Mechanicals - make sure plumbing, electric, etc., are in good working order. It's not a bad idea to have a home inspection done to identify the things buyers might object to before signing the contract. As many as 25% of deals fall apart after the buyer's home inspection because of what is revealed, and the parties can't come to agreement on who will pay for it. It's sad to see a $2.5MM sale fall apart over a $10,000 repair, but it happens.

*Certificate of Occupancy - Yeah, I know you were going to get that final inspection on the deck that was put in three years ago, but you never got around to it. Unless it's a cash deal and the buyer is savvy enough to deal with it after the closing (and that will cost you), be a big boy (or girl) and get the CO. Another 14% or so deals fall apart over CO issues. Ironically, sometimes the deal falls apart because the exact structure that the buyer found most attractive about the property, like a deck, patio, dock, pool or addition, was built illegally and has to be torn down in order for the closing to take place. Oy!!!

*Taxes - What will be your capital gains liability on the sale? Is it an investment property and can you 1031 the income? How does the sale affect your estate? Meeting with your accountant and attorney before you list is important. I've handled numerous estate sales where the family has been torn apart over the sale of a homestead that was deeply imbedded in their hearts, but they couldn't afford to pay the inheritance taxes on it because the elder had his or her head in the sand and was not aware of (or was intimidated or distrustful of) estate planning. Uncle Sam loves those folks. Also know that the Peconic Tax is 2% to the buyer over $250,000 for homes and $150,000 for land, and if the agent bringing the buyer didn't tell that poor, unsuspecting soul, keep an ear out for the distant screams. Another “tax” is the Mansion Tax. Any sale over $1MM is taxed 1% on the total sales price. That’s $10,000 on a $1MM sale, $50,000 on a $5MM sale and $250,000 on a $25MM sale. And that is in addition to the 2% Peconic Tax.

*Environmental - Have a buried oil tank? Any tank over 10 years old will probably be tested for leaks. Any leaks will require digging and remediation of the surrounding soil and reporting to the government. How close are the wetlands? Know and understand the implications and regulations around these issues.

*Appraisal - Know what your house will appraise for. If your buyer is looking for a mortgage, he or she won't be able to get one if the house doesn't appraise for the selling price (or close to it). Additionally, you might be under-pricing your home if you don't know what its appraised value is. I have experienced some elderly clients who did not realize how much their property value had appreciated. It’s difficult for some people to believe how much their property is worth. On the other hand, it’s difficult for others to accept that their property is not worth what they’d expected (or hoped, more likely). Many people have deep emotional attachments to their property and believe that it has a significantly higher value that the market will dictate. An appraisal should provide some objectivity to the situation.

*Listing Agent - This is not shameless self-promotion, but for goodness sakes - hire an agent that has his/her act together and can address these issues intelligently and be a resource to all parties in the deal when the proverbial speed bumps arise. I understand that your former business partner has a daughter who simply could not stand the subway commute any longer and brought her area-code-646 cell phone out to The Hamptons for a better life and got her real estate license, but your home sale is big business here. Have her over for a weenie roast if you want to make a donation to the cause.

With a median price in The Hamptons of nearly $850,000 and an average sales price of over $1MM, we’re not talking small potatoes here. Proper planning and an intelligent business approach with an experienced and professional agent who can facilitate all negotiations and coordinate all related professional services should lead to a successful home sale. md

RealEstateJournal | Five Tips for Getting Your Home Appraised Before Selling

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sold at First Sight - New York Times

Sold at First Sight - New York Times

Home Staging May Make The Difference In This Market

Leslie Tarbell Donovan and English Crystal Designer, William
Yeoward, at his Southampton Village Event.

Leslie Tarbell Donovan is not only good at what she does, she's funny and a pleasure to be around. Staging a home is making a difference in more and more sales as this market swings toward a buyer's market.

We've been so conditioned by House Beautiful and Country Living and all the glossies to seeing "quintessentiality" (I think I just made that up), that not seeing attention to the finer points in a house can be a real turn-off for buyers fantasizing about a home in the country.

I know, it sounds all so complicated, but professionals like Leslie can actually help simplify our lives. After all, remember the goal...sell the house! md
Hamptons Online - Home Staging for Maximum Profits

The Green Monkeys

Michael and Betty Paraskevas are, hands down, my favorite artists. I feel like I have grown up with the mother and son team who have been collaborating on books, cartoons, comic strips and television shows for as long as I can remember.

One of my fondest memories growing up as a summer kid in Westhampton is seeing Mickey's cartoon beach paintings portraying all the "real" people at the beach on the cover of Dan's Papers and on the living room walls of well-heeled residents. While Sven and Margo were at LaRonde Beach Club in his speedo banana hammock and her string bikini (respectively, of course), the rest of us were at the town beach in our Korvetts bathing suits and Banlons and ALL the moms had their bathing caps on. Ahhhhh, memories. See what I mean:

To see more creative collaborations of Mickey and Betty, go to: The Green Monkeys

Friday, July 28, 2006

Shelter Island Hits The Big-Time!

This property, developed by Jack and Gusty Folks, experienced developers of several communities and homes on the South Fork, is done to the nines. Barbara and I just drove past it by boat this week and it is a beautiful home from evey angle. md

ESTATE WITH A BUZZ. Nestled between the North and South Forks, Shelter Island has historically been a refuge from Hamptons hype and prices. Well, at least the former may still be true. But the $35-million Bumblebee Manor is setting a new record for asking prices on the reclusive-turned-exclusive island, which is accessible only by ferry, private boat or seaplane. (The community's premium on privacy apparently extends to the manor's owners, who put the property in a corporate name. The corporation's lawyer declined to say who the owners are.)

Broker Ingrid Brownyard of Brown Harris Stevens describes the nearly new, waterfront estate as "Gatsby-esque," and it does indeed go beyond the East End's everyday luxuries. Sure, the tycoon next door might have six bedrooms, a guest house and a chef-caliber kitchen, but does he have an elevator? A "banquet-sized" dining room? A water view from the master bathtub? Multiple wine refrigerators? Seven custom fireplaces? A dock that can fit a 50-foot yacht? A pool designed to look like it dissolves into Coecles Harbor? A glass cupola on his "St. Barth's-style" pool house?

Thought not.


see it here: Bumblebee Manor Digital

Consumer Advocate Releases �Homeownership Crystal Ball�

Sounds a little wacky to me.
I recoil at the catastrophic, "let's all run from the monster" speak, because I am a believer in the power of consumer confidence (and consumer fear). I consider some of these "chicken littles" who are predicting the implosion of the market to be economic terrorists. That being said, interest rates have been rising and perhaps we're better off knowing than not.
It might be worth a

Consumer Advocate Releases �Homeownership Crystal Ball�

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Meeting House Restaurant - Amagansett

We've enjoyed our time there, for sure. Link below will bring you to reviews for TMHR and other Hamptons and NYC spots. I like this md

CODE.TV Hamptons

Guess Who's Coming To The Party...


I guess this is a gratifying moment for all of us who are seeking to contribute to the conversation of business and life. Thanks, Newsday. md


Sunday, July 09, 2006

A much broader Scope -

In its second go-around, Scope Hamptons will take over Wainscott's East Hampton Studios, a former airplane hangar, and much of the tony beach community, with its lineup of benefits and chic after-hour shindigs, Friday through next Sunday.

Scope Hamptons, Friday July 14 through next Sunday July 16 at East Hampton Studios, 75 Industrial Road, Wainscott, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, call 212-268-1522 or go to

A much broader Scope -

Friday, July 07, 2006

2006 New York State Legislative Session a Success for Consumers and Realtors
The 2006 legislative session came to a close late into the evening on Friday, June 23. Several NYSAR-supported bills passed both houses of the Legislature.

The Commission Protection Act, which previously was approved by the Senate, passed the Assembly for the first time. The bill, which now goes to Gov. George Pataki for his consideration, would place disputed real estate commissions into an escrow account held by county clerks if an affidavit to commission has been previously filed and the proper parties have been notified. This is great news for Realtors, since we have been operating with no leverage when sellers arbitrarily refuse to pay earned commissions. This is also good news for buyers, because it will help keep deals from falling apart over commission issues caused by disingenuous sellers.

The real estate education enhancement bill passed in both houses. If signed by the governor, the bill will increase the classroom hours required to obtain a salesperson's license from 45 to 75 hours passed both houses during the last two weeks of the legislative session. The proposal also increases from one year to two the number of years of supervision to be eligible for a broker's license, requires office managers to hold a broker's license, eliminates the so-called "grandfather clause" exemption for continuing education (applies only to those licensed after the enactment of the bill into law), and the creation of new photo pocket identification cards. This is terrific news for everyone! This will raise the bar for entry into the field of real estate sales and brokerage. It will now take nearly twice the time, and presumably twice the cost of current licensing courses to get started. It will also result in more education for all members.

NYSAR-supported legislation that revises the current real estate agency disclosure form passed the state Senate on Thursday, June 22. The bill had previously passed the state Assembly and will go to Gov. George Pataki for his consideration. The legislation replaces the current form with two separate forms for sales and lease transactions. I'm thrilled at this one. Maybe there is a chance that the new form will be written in plain English that might even make sense! Let's hope so (fingers crossed).

All in all, a good year legislatively. I'm in favor of almost anything that will bring greater professionalism and reasonable accountability to the process of listing and selling real estate. md

Thursday, July 06, 2006

NPR : Behind the Ever-Expanding American Dream House

The Hamptons are among the most magical places on earth. Every year, the NYTimes, New York Magazine and numerous other publications come out with their "Hamptons Are Dying" article, where the author happens to be someone who knows someone who knows someone else who wears Gucci loafers and sold their house in the Hamptons (and made $500,000 in two years) because they went to Sullivan County and bought a 15-acre parcel for $125,000. Wow! Unbelievable! That's tooooo gooooood toooo beeee truuuuueee! Everyone's going to do that and that will be the end of the Hamptons!!!! Yeah, right. Hey, send me a postcard, will you? While former farmland and wooded sites continue to be developed, changing the vistas we have seen for generations, there is still a tremendous amount of open and preserved space. The Peconic Preservation Tax has worked! One of the most common complaints is that houses are getting bigger and bigger all the time. "It's starting to look like Syosset, where you can pass a cup of flour between houses", whined an acquaintance recently. "No", I said. "Flowers maybe, but not flour." Most of these people use their stoves as planters. Aside from our tastes becoming more upscale and desirous of more square footage, the price of land has appreciated even more greatly on the East End than the prices of homes. That means that in order for builders to justify the end price for the homes they put on these expensive lots, they need to make them larger and with more amenities. Many builders use the formula of thirds: land cost 1/3, building cost 1/3, profit 1/3. So, if a plot costs $500,000, the building cost might be $500,000 and the home should sell for $1.5MM. That builds-in a reasonable profit margin. Make that lot a $5MM purchase price and you end up with a $15MM home value, at least. With half-acre lots going for over $1MM in the villages these days and one-acre lots in the woods and fields going for the same, it drives the size of the houses larger in order to justify the end price. Now with energy costs going up significantly, I see a movement toward more efficiency but with super-high quality. We'll see how much bigger things go with fuel oil at $3.50 a gallon. Hey, can you spare a cup of oil?
NPR : Behind the Ever-Expanding American Dream House

Going Once, Going Twice...

According to Braden Keil, NYPost:

Raising the Eyre
The last remaining example of the famed architect Wilson Eyre's works on Long Island is going on the auction block. Eyre, the founder of House & Garden magazine, designed and built the Arts and Crafts-style mansion in Quiogue in 1904 for manufacturer Theodore Conklin (whose great-grandson Ted Conklin owns the famed American Hotel in Sag Harbor).
Sitting on 7 bayfront acres, the 15-room home, at more than 10,000 square feet, includes seven bedrooms, five full baths and two half-baths, a media room, a wine cellar/tasting room, a billiards room, a gym, a chef's kitchen and staff quarters with a separate entrance. The house, renovated and updated since the present owners, lawyers Lynn Krominga and Amnon Shiboleth, bought it in two 3 1/2-acre parcels in 2000 for a total of $4 million, features original woodwork, Tiffany lighting, stone fireplaces and century-old rhododendrons.
The auction is not absolute, which means the owners have imposed a minimum price. All sealed bids, which require a $250,000 certified or cashier's check, are due at the Sheldon Good & Co. office in Manhattan by 4 p.m. on July 13. The last available viewing of the property is Saturday. According to the rules, prospective buyers have to schedule at least two days in advance - which is today.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Long Island's East End Wine Country 3.0

Grape-growing and wine-making have become a cottage industry in the last 30 years on the North Fork of Long Island. Compared to our forefathers in California and our ancestors in France, we still have a long way to go. That being said, there are several wonderful wines, albeit expensive, being produced here. I believe the cabernet franc is the best.

Begun by the Hargraves in 1973, the winery business on the Nofo has exploded, especially in the last 10 years. Many a semi-retired executive has tried his or her hand at it, only to find out how difficult (and expensive) it can be. Now the business is entering its third level, and with that move, the stakes will rise, hopefully along with the quality of the juice. How lucky are we? md

Changing of the Guard on the East End - New York Times

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Say A Prayer for Bob

Robert Hughes, Managing Director of the Corcoran Group office in Southampton, New York, is reportedly in a coma after being found unconscious at his home last Saturday.

Bob spent years in advertising in Manhattan before coming to the Hamptons and selling real estate with Sotheby's. He then went on to manage the Southampton office for Prestigious Properties before joining Corcoran in 2004.

Bob is one of the most personable, well-liked and admired managing brokers in the business. We wish him the best and hope for a speedy and thorough recovery. md

How Refreshing! A Place That's More Eccentric Than The Hamptons

Paradise Bought in Los Angeles - New York Times