Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hamptons Real Estate Blog Moved to Wordpress

the Hamptons Real Estate Blog has moved to
Beachamptons Blog

Monday, November 13, 2006

All the Discussion That's Worth Discussing..

...about Zillow, Intermediation and the Purity of Real Estate is here:

The Bloodhound Blog


Sellsius Real Estate Blog

Check them out. If you are a true real-estate-issues junkie (like me), you won't be disappointed. md

Builders & Agents: Know Your Customer

As much of a pain as it is to post on Blogger Beta, this one was worth it!

"When you were born says a lot about your idea of the perfect house. Here's a review of the features that appeal most to boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, plus tips on how to sell to homebuyers in each generation."
By Christopher Solomon,
"Observers say attitudes about homes do change as people enter different stages of their lives: Witness the Gen X-ers who want high-end kitchens now that they're nesting, just like their boomer parents before them."
More Here :'Dream homes' vary by generation

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Someone out here, please help me...I began the Hamptons Real Estate Blog nearly a year ago on Blogger. Sure, I read all the comments that Blogger was inferior, but I just figured that was feedback from "techno-snobs" who wanted greater functionality and didn't mind paying for their blog hosting.

After all, I began developing relationships with my blog, made blogfriends, even got linked by colleagues whom I respect greatly. Gosh, one of my new fav blogbuddies even brought Barbara and me a couple dozen fresh, delicious clams (thanks again, Joe). My ranking on technorati was climbing, not exponentially, but consistently. I was just about to break the 100,000 ranking.

Then, as I was posting sometime in September, my eye caught the invitation to switch to Blogger Beta.
BETTER (they said),
IMPROVED (they promised),
BLAH, BLAH, BLAH (they tantalized).
Well, I might just as well have clicked on a porn site that is in partnership with a Viagra'd dating community. I'm stuck, bombarded, and can't get out.

I have been sending email to the Blogger Help gROUP, hELP AT bLOGGER bETA, ANYONE i CAN. aLL i WANTED TO DO WAS GO BACK TO THE original bLOGGER (look I'm so upset, I'm not even paying attention to my caps button). But there are NO INSTRUCTIONS on Blogger or Blogger Beta whatsoever to do this!!!








I just want out of Blogger and Blogger Beta.

If anyone can suggest how to transfer my Hamptons Real Estate Blog to another blog host, I'm all ears. I'd prefer not to join a pay service, because I'm now up to about $2,000 per month with all the $39.99 services that have been adding up in today's "pay-for-what-used-to-be-free-or-things-that-you-don't-need-that-didn't-previously-exist" world.

Any ideas? I'm fading, folks...really. md

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Say It IS So!

The parade of real estate agents to Gosman's Dock over the years, sitting before "the family" (or parts of it, anyway), has been legendary. Many a broker has gone asking for the listing and has gotten it, only for it to be rescinded a day, a week, a month later.

Maybe it's for real this time?

The Gosman's Dock property is a great compilation of resources that, with the right touch and investment, will be a world-class destination and change the face of Montauk - The End.

Montauk Landmark Up For Sale

Don't Just Sit There - DO SOMETHING!!!

As discussed here, in Hamptons Deer In The National News Headlights, so many agents and brokers are paralyzed by the softening of business this past year. Matt Carter, the newest member of Inman News, has brought a refreshing, solution-oriented and "call-it-like-it-is" approach to the Inman Blog, and he posts on a recent panel discussion at the NAR convention in New Orleans. Thanks, Matt. md
Click Your Heels and Repeat After Me - Inman Blog

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cha-Ching! Hamptons Real Estate Open For Business

The news has not been very good as of late. Nationally, real estate sales are down and values are dropping. The press loves the sensational, the dramatic. Good news isn't a draw. Who slows down on the highway to look at a car on the side of the road when there hasn't been an accident, right? Add some twisted metal and a few emergency vehicles and cars line up for miles to catch a peek. Sad, but true.

Here in the Hamptons, the news has not been all bad. Sure, there are stories of motivated sellers, price drops and more inventory than we have experienced in recent "high-flying" years, and there are data reports showing the number of sales are down from 2005, but the median and average sales prices are up. That's not bad news.

Well, the Wall Street bonuses are coming.
"For a fourth consecutive year, year-end bonuses are forecast to be highly lucrative, with the payouts rising 10 percent to 15 percent from 2005, according to Alan Johnson Associates, a leading executive compensation consultant."

And the Hamptons spring real estate market is right around the corner.

Read more below:

New York Times - Big Bonuses Seen Again For Wall Street

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hamptons Real Estate Blog

Interesting, when I did a search for my Hamptons Real Estate Blog on Google, the results showed several other sites that have referred to this blog, and links to post comments on the blog with no way to actually get to it...but it did not come up with a link to the blog itself!?! What's the deal? Gotta figure that one out. md

Heard it all before - Brad Inman, Inman Blog

About Zillow having a complaint filed against them with the FTC, Brad Inman, founder of HomeGain writes the following in the Inman blog:

Zillow gets zinged, surprise, surprise. When HomeGain launched its home valuation tool in 1999, most consumers loved us but many hated us. We were estimating the value of an expensive and emotional asset: peoples' homes.
The service also scared Realtors, brokers and appraisers. It was new. Even new fashions make people mildly nervous, but new technology can send a sharp icy cold shiver up the spines of established companies.
The appraisers were particularly irked -- even though they had quietly become our power users ­ and a few of them went to state regulators to stop us. Two states came after me personally, threatening severe penalties. At the time, I said: "Bring it on, I cannot wait to stand on the courthouse steps and say that I will willingly go to jail for giving the public, public information."
-- Bradley Inman, Inman News

Yes, there are some similarities, but the differences are attitude and presentation.
You have always been one to challenge the industry to be better. They appear to be trying to "cripple" it, with a smile.
You presented your info for what it was, these guys claim that their info is more than it really is. You're assertive and aggressive, they are arrogant and sneaky. That the difference, and I've heard it all before, too! See my post Chicken and Real Estate. Maybe it's all about PR? Maybe not. Time will tell. md

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Former Cendant Chairman Found Guilty

The former chairman of Cendant Corporation, the old corporate parent of brokerages like the Corcoran Group and Sotheby's International Realty, was found guilty on Tuesday of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of making false statements. The verdict against Walter Forbes stemmed from a fraud that cost Cendant and its investors more than $3 billion. [NYT]

New Luxury Home Must-Haves

Question: Do you have an outdoor kitchen? My, my...better call the contractor. md

Forbes - What's Important to Have in Your Home Today

Steve Alpert Artwork at RE/MAX Beach Properties, Southampton

We are very fortunate to have the Hamptons landscape oil paintings of artist Steve Alpert displayed on our office walls at RE/MAX Beach Properties.

Steve came in a few weeks ago with his dog, Ray (for whom our Zoe is still pining), and proceeded to transform our empty walls into a warm, inviting place to call home and do great business, surrounded by beautiful things. As Steve says, "Art is one of the few things we leave behind. To me, there is something sacred about making art, working with one's hands, especially in this fast-moving era of technology. The images art-makers create are the signposts of the times in which we live and records of the very personal moments we deem worthy of recording in paint."

Here's a small tease. Come see his work. We're there between 10am - 5pm every day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Need Another House or Two, Ed?

In the last several years, Warner Music Group's chairman and chief executive has listed a number of properties in New York's Hamptons, including a 6,800-square-foot house on 3.2 acres in Amagansett, priced at $9.5 million, and a five-bedroom home in Amagansett for which he asked $10.25 million. In late 2005, he bought a 4.5-acre Bridgehampton spread for $31 million.

Currently on the market: his 8,000-square-foot home on Indian Wells Lane in Amagansett. Bronfman, 51, bought the three-lot spread, formerly the site of the grass tennis court Namagansett Club, for $12.5 million in the spring of 2005. He is hoping to find a buyer willing to pay nearly $15.8 million for the property, which was gut renovated by a previous owner in 2000.

In addition to six bedrooms and seven-and-a-half bathrooms, the shingled estate features wrap-around porches, a gourmet eat-in kitchen with marble countertops, a full basement with a media/billiard room, a guest cottage, a 42-foot gunite pool, pool house and gardens by award-winning designer Deborah Nevins.


...from the frying pan into the fire....

....without checking out RE/MAX BEACH PROPERTIES in Southampton.

1- Build your own business. Teams welcomed and supported.
2- Industry-leading training and ongoing professional development for experienced associates.
3- Sell anywhere your license allows. No required referrals to Manhattan or other parts of New York.
4- Keep 95% of what you earn. Other programs available to meet your needs.
5- Worldwide direct referrals. No relocation departments sharing the referrals.
6- State-of-the-art technology including wireless in our office, dedicated phone lines, RealNet, MLS and support for home office associates.
7- Partnerships and affiliations with North Fork Bank, UBS, Marin Corporate Risk Associates and other to help you manage your money, secure proper health, personal and business insurance and properly structure your business for maximum profitability and sound retirement.

And there is much, much more to it.

We understand that many of you are not familiar with the RE/MAX brand because, until now, it has not had a presence in the Hamptons luxury market and has just recently started expanding in Manhattan.

I have been looking at developing the Hamptons with RE/MAX since 2004 and now believe that the time is right and have bought the rights to develop offices in Southampton, Sag Harbor and East Hampton. Many agents who I have worked with since 1999 at Prudential and Corcoran, are familiar with my business philosophies creating high-performing teams, and conducting business with honesty, integrity and professionalism. You know that I will only align myself with a company or a brand that will be successful in this market.

Change is not easy. It's no secret that many agents in this market are considering changing companies or getting out of the business entirely.

Do yourself justice by finding out all of what's available to you. Once you see why RE/MAX is the most successful real estate brokerage in the world, you'll then have the information needed to compare your options. Then decide for yourself.

Available when you are. All inquiries strictly confidential.

Michael Daly
Direct 631.702.1600
Mobile 631.525.6000

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

RE/MAX Beach Properties, Southampton - The Sign is Up!!!!

...and so is the door stenciling...

...and the interior sign...along with Steve Alpert's incredible works of art...

Stop by for a visit!
241 County Road 39A (Route 27) Suite 4
at intersection of North Main Street
Southampton, NY 11968

What's Good for the Zoose...

You've gotta love these Sellsius guys. They call it like it is. Realtors have been hanging their caps on the fact that is the largest, most often visited real estate website in the US, with listings from nearly every MLS in the country.(Not that that helps us here in the Hamptons much, because less than 10% of the total listings in the Hamptons are on the Long Island MLS, therefore Same issue for Manhattan, but we'll tackle that NYC/Hamptons MLS issue another time.)

So Alan Dalton is the president of and has been running around the country bashing the new-tech guys (zillow, willow, dillow, squillow, trulia, blulia, glulia, etceteria) and fact of the matter is, if met the needs of the consumer, these newbies wouldn't have a chance.

As my dear Irish Grandmother would say when we started to criticize each other at the dinner table: "PUT YER NOSE ON YER OWN PLATE!"

"sellsius° real estate blog" -Top 10 Complaints with

The REAL Trends E-mail Update - Particularly Insightful... the Resort and Second Home Market today.

The REAL Trends E-mail Update is a service of
REAL Trends, Inc. --

Steve Murray is one of the most respected real estate consultants in the business. Many of the largest companies in the industry are on his client list and he has brokered several large mergers and acquistions in recent years.

Some exerpts from todays Real Trends Email Update #849:

===Luxury Homeowners looking to purchase additional residences in the next two years===
In its latest consumer-trend study, Architectural Digest has united with Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates, Inc. to find that affluent homeowners are planning to acquire additional residences in the near future. The study, "Seeking a Luxury Lifestyle," discovers that one in three Architectural Digest subscribers (36%) intend to acquire a secondary/additional home in the next two years. The study further reveals:

* Of those Architectural Digest subscribers who already own three or more homes, 49 percent plan to acquire an additional home within two years;
* Of those who already own a second home, 35 percent plan to acquire a third home within two years; and
* In an indication that young affluent consumers are in the market for second homes, 44 percent of those under age 45 stated that they may acquire a second home in the near future.

Although geography is the primary driver when it comes to searching for a secondary residence, lifestyle amenities are becoming increasingly critical. Approximately one in three (32%) of the Architectural Digest subscribers measured know the characteristics and amenities they desire and would search in a number of geographic locations to find the home that matches what they want, rather than looking purely by location. Subscribers with household incomes under $400,000 (38%) are more likely than their wealthier counterparts to indicate they would search in a number of locations to find the house that meets their amenity checklist.

The study finds that waterfront property (75%) is the most sought-after amenity when buying a secondary residence. Surprisingly, gourmet kitchens (10%) and swimming pools (5%) were among the least significant amenities.

===New-home buyers want high-tech options===
Home builders could be missing the boat if they donĂ¢€™t offer high-tech options.

A recent survey by the Consumer Electronics Association found 38 percent of recent home buyers and 61 percent of those planning to buy indicated that they were in the market for monitored security, but only 29 percent of the builders surveyed were offering that option.

The study also found:

* 86 percent of builders said technology is a significant factor in marketing new homes, compared with 66 percent two years ago.
* 33 percent of builders said revenue from home-technology products had increased, up from 24 percent in 2004.
* 32 percent of new home buyers said they did not buy structured wiring because the builder did not offer it.
* 36 percent of all households had home theaters, up from 28 percent in 2003.

===Places where Americans would love to live===
North Carolina and Virginia top the charts as places where American most want to live, while California and Florida received the top votes of foreign respondents in a recent study, the Anholt State Brands Index. The Index analyzes the brand strengths and weaknesses of all U.S. states.

The survey polled more than 9,000 U.S. citizens and 12,000 people in 15 other countries on their attitudes and perceptions of all 50 states. Questions regarding physical aspects of each state, economic and educational opportunities, lifestyle appeal, people and basic qualities and infrastructure were designed to give state administrators and economic development offices insights into how their state is perceived within and outside of the United States.

The top five most desirable states to make a home, according to U.S. citizens are: North Carolina; Virginia; Florida; Colorado; and Oregon. North Carolina and Virginia also ranked highly as lifestyle destinations, and they consistently placed in the top 10 for climate, physical attractiveness, amenities, ease of finding employment, commercial opportunity and education.

Foreign rankings were based on parameters similar to those used for the domestic audience. For international respondents, the top five states are: California; Florida; Hawaii; New York; and Washington state.

===Second home ownership in Baby Boomers===
In 2004, 43 million American households aged 50 or older owned their main residence. Fifteen percent of this group, or 6.6 million households, also owned a second home. The second home market is relatively small, but there will be sustained future growth in second-home mortgage activity due to the sheer size of the Baby Boom cohort, not because baby boomers own these properties at a higher rate than older generations.

"Housing Trends Among Baby Boomers," a study conducted by Gary V. Engelhardt and jointly sponsored by Radian and the Research Institute for Housing America (RIHA), analyzes two trends. The first part of the report profiles second-home ownership and mortgage activity associated for homeowners aged 50 or older. The second portion of the study focuses on the mobility of older households, with a particular interest in quantifying suburban-urban migration. For older households, mobility is not determined by changes in employment, income, or broader labor-market conditions, but instead by changes in marital status, primarily widowhood, and health and functional status.

On second home ownership (based upon analysis from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data, they found that 6.6 million homeowners aged 50 and older own second homes. Second home purchases are geographically concentrated in well known vacation areas. As a result, local and regional economic conditions related to employment growth and migration will have important influences on the collateral value and credit risk of these properties.

Mortgage debt outstanding on second homes is estimated to total $126 billion. Only a small percentage of second homes owned by those 50 and over have outstanding mortgages. Second-home mortgage originations comprised only about four percent of overall mortgage market originations.

On mobility and suburban-urban migration (based upon analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) data), it was found that at the national level, empty-nest retirement-age suburban homeowners are not flocking to urban areas in great numbers. In particular, based on the last decade's experience, in a given five-year period, only two percent of all empty-nest retirement-age suburban homeowners can be expected to move to an urban area. Suburban empty-nesters are just as likely to move to a non-metropolitan area as they are to an urban area.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Another Reason To Head East... as to not be spending too much time in an exurb. Sure, I can see the charm and even the pleasure at spending time in an exurb, but I think I'd rather live at the beach.

As part of their Living Cities Census Series, The Brookings Institute has conducted a study that will either fascinate you or put you to sleep. Let me know how it affects you, eh? md

This study defines exurbs as communities located on the urban fringe that have at least 20 percent of their workers commuting to jobs in an urbanized area, exhibit low housing density, and have relatively high population growth.

Finding Exurbia: America’s Fast-Growing Communities at the Metropolitan Fringe

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Serial Designer in Sarasota, the Hamptons, New York and Europe

"Being Hungarian, I am accused of being a nomad," she said in an interview. "My husband, who is totally Milanese and is rooted for three generations in the same home, he finds this very disturbing, but I find homes very disposable. I fall in love with them, I do them, and I'm on to the next project."

Well, better with houses than spouses, eh?

Her name is spoken with reverence here in the Hamptons. She has done some beautiful projects and only gets better with each one.

Vittadini's latest creation comes on the market

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Field Guide to Mold

Yup, M-O-L-D : the new dirty word (unless, of course, you're talking about a great Stilton cheese).
Remember R-A-D-O-N? Well, there are still areas of the country that DO, in fact, have real issues with radon. I can't exactly tell you what they are - this post is about mold.

More and more people are discovering how much of a role mold (or the lack of it) plays in one's health. More and more home inspectors are including mold testing in the home inspection services. So read up on it a little. Along with underground oil tanks, it can be a deal breaker.

Caution: also be careful whom you hire for mold remediation. It's become a "get rich quick" scheme for some - the same guys that were installing thousand-dollar water filters in homes in the late 1980's. Not all are evil, but deal with someone who's recommended to you. md

There's quite a bit of information here:
NAR info Centers Field Guide to Mold and Health Issues

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Career Helping People Find A Place To Call Home

This is a pretty innocuous view of what a real estate career is. We need to remind ourselves of what the basics are every now and then. So much has gone into demonizing the industry and the people in it since the market explosion of the 00's.

A Career Helping People Find a Place to Call Home

By Aja Carmichael

From The Wall Street Journal Online

The job: A residential real-estate agent

The pay: Agents are paid by commission. The median annual pay for a real-estate sales agent is $37,600, according to the National Association of Realtors. In New York, an agent who's starting out can make as much as $70,000 a year -- if successful -- while in Washington, an agent could earn $80,000. Some also receive year-end bonuses.

The hours: Agents who handle the sales of luxury homes in popular markets say they sometimes work as many as 70 hours a week.

Benefits: Independent-contract agents don't receive benefits, though many pay for medical coverage through a trade group, such as the National Association of Realtors.

Related Links

Five Almost Painless Ways To Make a Career Change

Pay Table: What residential real-estate professionals earn

Other incentives: Vary -- some top-selling agents can receive complimentary trips to exotic destinations, while some offices offer treats like weekly massage services. Agents with high-profile clients may also receive invitations to exclusive events.

Career path: Many agents say starting as an assistant to another agent helped them learn the industry from the ground up. Agents, who are licensed by state, need to have strong negotiating skills and know their local housing market as well as the past of buildings they're selling. "When you're selling a home you're literally selling a piece of history," says John T. Mahshie, an associate at Tutt, Taylor & Rankin, an affiliate of Sotheby's International Realty in Washington.

Best part of the job: Helping people find a home, and making friends. "The American dream is to own a house," says Anthony Abdalla, a real-estate agent at Coldwell Banker's Town & Country Property in Clarks Summit, Pa. "It's so rewarding to help people reach their dreams."

"The nature of what I do is so personal," says Joan Sacks, an associate broker at Stribling & Associates in New York. "My business relationships with these total strangers end up as friendships. They become part of my social circle and to me that's a perk."

Worst part of the job: When a deal falls through. "It's frustrating not being able to have [complete] control of a deal," says Wendy J. Sarasohn, a real-estate broker at Corcoran Group Real Estate in New York. "Sometimes things do not work out, so I've learned to be more resilient and to find my clients better deals."

"Most people's homes are their primary assets, so some tend to be emotional about selling," notes Drew Kern, a real-estate agent at Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors in Coral Gables, Fla., a subsidiary of HomeServices of America. "To help them sell, you have to make sure their personal and financial goals are met."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

HAMPTONS REAL ESTATE SEPTEMBER SNAPSHOP - Number of Sales Down, Average Sales Price Up

What do you hear about Hamptons real estate these days? Are You Listening To The Right People?

If you're hearing that things are slow, that's right, for many agents: those who have not established themselves as a trusted advisor to their clients and customers.

If you're hearing that business is brisk, that's right, for some agents: the top agents in the market are busy. Listings are selling and customers are out buying. Those who know how to broker deals are doing fine.

In this type of a market where the "foam" settles down, instead of an 80/20 rule, it becomes a 90/10 rule. Veteran agents know how to create business and how to roll with the ebb and flow of the markets. While many newer agents are feeling the blues, the top 10% are making deals.

Some info worth noting:
Reported Closed Sales for Southampton and East Hampton Townships
September 2005......229 sales......$280,000,000.....Avg of $1,223,000
September 2006......195 sales.......$285,000,000.....Avg of $1,462,000
Preliminary Reports from Suffolk Profiles, Brightwaters, NY.

So, while the number of sales is down 15% '06 vs '05, the average sales price is up 16%, very similar to '05 vs '04 where the number of sales was down and the average sales price was up.

Adding-up the rosters of the four largest brokerages out here, Corcoran, Brown Harris Stevens, Prudential and Sotheby's, there is a total of about 1,000 agents. Add to that all the other small and mid-sized agencies and the "lone rangers" running around, and we probably have about 1,500-1,600 licensees. Last year there were 3,451 transactions in the Hamptons - not all of them had a broker involved.

If the top 10% of the agents average 10 transactions a year, that doesn't leave a whole lot to go around for the rest.

So find yourself someone to work with who's doing business, and leave the whiners at their own pity parties.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New Picture of My Favorite Listing In the Hamptons

Remember my post about that Verrrry Sexy Little Noyac Path listing in Water Mill? Well, believe it or not, that house is still available for sale!

It's a terrific spot, with 2 acres and, at $1.595M, I still think it's the best buy in the market. There are other properties valued at $5M+ in the area, so it's amazing to me that this one is still around. md

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tomorrow is Here - Today.

This Turn Here video shows how the VREO Real Estate Dashboard can change the whole "docu-drag" experience in the listing and selling process. Watch the video: Tomorrow is here Today - VREO

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ahhhh, The Changing of the Light...Happy Columbus Day

The tweaking-down of the amount of sunlight we experience as we roll into fall is getting more obvious by the day. I remember when living in New England that this weekend was the height of the "leaf peaking season".

Here in the Hamptons, the leaves are just starting to turn, but the trajectory of the sun has changed noticeably. Just yesterday, the morning sun arrived at an angle where it shines through the window of my study at 7am, something I haven't seen in months.

As a boy, I would help my father take down the screens and put up the storm windows each Columbus Day weekend at our family home in Westhampton. When I was younger, my job was the screens. As I got older, my job became the much heavier storms. The windows were all different in this 1890's house, so each storm and screen had to be labeled (Den-L or Kit-W) and even then, the last storm window didn't fit the last empty window and we'd have to go through a game of swapping-out until we found the right match. Each fall, the quality of the sunlight changed, not only with the angle of the sun, but with the removal of the screens from the windows, just as it does today. AKIKO BUSCH writes a piece on that rite of passage for the NYTimes:
NYTimes - The Value of Transparency, Measured in Glass

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hamptons Deer In The National News Headlights

It's not just skittish buyers and sellers who are impacted by the drone of "the sky is falling" news reports about real estate sales dropping in New Jersey, Miami and San Diego. Many of the agents I run across are walking around with zombie-like stares, buying into the "end is near" scenario.
At the first annual Home and Building Fair, sponsored by Corcoran and put together by the dynamic team of Allison Barwick and Joseph Naas,we visited table after table of agents displaying their listings. If you read my piece on The Three C's of Real Estate, you'd see that #1 is Confidence.

While some agents are running around, wringing their hands about how "the phones aren't ringing", there are others who don't wait for the phone to ring, they just keep doing business, day in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out.


While it may be true that you "can't buy me love", witness truth to the fact that you can buy me agents!

These three pros all sell under the Corcoran name, and are there because their firms were acquired by NRT in recent years. While marginal agents in the market are moping about, spending time reading about the real estate bubble, these folks are too busy to break stride.

Diane Saatchi, formerly Principal Broker of Dayton-Halstead Real Estate.
Diane has created a brokerage within a brokerage with "The Saatchi Team". She is a real estate machine and is considered by many to be the best broker in the Hamptons. Diane is well-connected and always calm and cool in a business where emotions can run amok.
Click here to read about her.

Jack Pearson, formerly of Allan Schneider Associates.
Jack is the quiet, unassuming broker who focuses on his business like a laser-beam. When Corcoran aquired the former Cook Pony Farm in 2004, they wanted their Manhattan agents to refer business to their new Hamptons counterparts. Reportedly, Robby Browne, king of Corcoran Manhattan, would have no part of it. He trusted Jack, and that was that. Well, if you can't beat 'em, BUY 'em. Jack is now part of the family with the recent acquisition of AMS by NRT.
Click here for Jacks profile

Gioia DiPaolo, formerly Cook Pony Farm Real Estate. Dare we say that Gioia is the East End's most well-put-together real estate professional. The art-collecting, multi-lingual diva has been the top-selling agent for Cook, now Corcoran, in the Sag Harbor market for six years running. Gioia has loyal clients and customers from all over the globe and truly knows the waterfront properties of the Sag Harbor and North Haven market better than anyone.
See more about Gioia here.

With all the recent organizational changes in the market, I'm sure these three are "feeling the love" from all directions, as agencies scurry to pick up the pieces that get broken during the dismantling of AMS, the house that Allan built.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Home Mortgage Rate Hits 7-Month Low

October 6, 2006; Page C4

NEW YORK -- Long-term home mortgage rates were stable to slightly lower in the past week, with the average 30-year fixed rate reaching a seven-month low, said housing-finance agency Freddie Mac.

The average for 30-year fixed mortgage rates in the week ended yesterday fell to 6.30% from 6.31% a week earlier. One year ago, the rate averaged 5.98%. It is the lowest the 30-year fixed rate has been since the week of March 2, 2006, when it averaged 6.24%.

The average for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages this week was 5.98%, unchanged from a week ago and up from the year-earlier 5.54%.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages were 6%, unchanged from the previous week and up from the year-ago 5.48%.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs fell to 5.46% from last week's average of 5.47%. The rate averaged 4.77% a year ago.

With mortgage rates having dropped sharply, "not surprisingly, home refinancing rose 18% last week, accounting for almost half of all mortgage applications," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. "This is due both to the recent decline in mortgage rates and to homeowners who are refinancing ARMs rather than waiting for them to reset in the future when rates may be higher."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Designing America -

Designing America

October 6, 2006; Page W1

Ask someone to name the most influential residential architects working in the U.S. today and the list is likely to include Frank Gehry, Robert Venturi or Richard Meier. But how many would have the name Aram Bassenian?

While homeowners may never have heard of Mr. Bassenian, they may well have seen some of his work. During his 36-year career, the Newport Beach, Calif., designer estimates that builders have used his designs to produce hundreds of thousands of homes from coast to coast.

Aram Bassenian, Chairman and chief executive officer, Bassenian/ Lagoni Architects, Newport Beach, Calif. ;No. of employees: 140; Signature designs: Stone turrets; Mea culpa: Front-loading garages; What's next: Circular rooms, green gadgets
Mr. Bassenian is a production architect, part of a small, largely unknown cadre of designers who specialize in the sort of mass-produced homes typically found in housing developments and subdivisions. Working as self-employed consultants for national builders like Centex Corp., Lennar Corp. and K. Hovnanian Homes as well as for some regional and local builders, these architects, and the hundreds of designers and draftsmen who work under them, churn out dozens of plans a year for everything from million-dollar luxury residences to midpriced townhouses. (By contrast, even the most prolific and high-profile custom architects design only a handful of homes a year; Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, averaged 10 annually over a 66-year career.) Though hardly household names, top production architects are the ones who decide what most American homes look like -- whether Craftsman or Colonial will be in this year, for example, or if floor plans will be single-level or multistory.

Of the 1,716,000 single-family homes built last year, 79% were production homes, up from about 60% in the early '90s, according to the National Association of Home Builders. That's in large part because smaller, custom builders are being bought up by big builders, which have better economies of scale with suppliers and construction workers.

But the result, some critics say, is often ubiquitous, cookie-cutter design. "It's formulaic and not very distinctive," says Jeremiah Eck, a Boston custom architect and former lecturer at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Indeed, the cost of design typically makes up about 15% of the budget in a custom home; in a production home, it's less than 2%.

William Sherman, chairman of the architecture department at the University of Virginia, says that too often, pressured by builders, production architects lavish too much attention and money on flashy features such as granite countertops and not enough on critical elements like framing and mechanical systems.

Quality is also an issue. A survey by J.D. Power & Associates released last month found that buyers reported an average of 14 problems with newly constructed homes, up 7% from 2005, with complaints ranging from cramped garages to cheap light fixtures.

Even so, production design has come a long way from the relentlessly homogenous subdivisions that sprang up in American suburbs in the '50s and '60s. "Over time, production architects began to promote the idea that people could live in exciting spaces even if they couldn't afford their own architect," says Barry Berkus, the venerable Santa Barbara, Calif., designer.

Though most production architects keep low profiles so they won't upstage their builder clients, a handful have achieved star status within the industry, winning design awards year after year. Here's a look at four of the most prominent:

Chris Lessard

Chris Lessard, Founder and CEO, Lessard Architectural Group, Vienna, Va.; No. of employees: 150; Signature designs: Angled floor plans, back stairways; Mea culpa: Synthetic stucco; What's next: Smaller homes, detached garages
When he was just starting to make a name for himself in the late 1980s, Chris Lessard was determined to break with the Georgian Colonial tradition then dominating mid-Atlantic production architecture. Every new house, it seemed, had the same gray asphalt roofs, brown brick facades and symmetrical groupings of front windows, known in the trade as "five, four and a door."

In 1989, when he was 34, the Washington, D.C.-born architect created his breakthrough floor plan -- the Grand Renoir, which dispensed with the convention that all rooms in a basic rectangular house must be boxy. Instead, Mr. Lessard designed a Y-shaped foyer that set the interior walls in most of the first-floor rooms at an angle and opened up two separate sight lines from the front of the house to the back. The innovative 4,100-square-foot plan quickly became so popular that it has been built more than 300 times in the D.C. metropolitan area alone, Mr. Lessard says, especially in tony Virginia suburbs such as Alexandria and Reston. Currently, WCI Communities is offering the Grand Renoir in Oak Creek Club in Upper Marlboro, Md., for $897,000.

The son of a home-builder, Mr. Lessard learned about budget constraints the hard way. His father sent him out to buy hardware for a project and Mr. Lessard bought the most expensive kind -- solid brass. His father upbraided him and said that if any of his competitors used solid brass knobs and hinges, he'd install them -- if not, Chris would have to return them. (All used plated brass, he learned in a tour of the area's new homes.) It was an important lesson for the young architect: Everyone wants the best of everything but not everyone can afford it. The value of the production process, he says, is that experts have edited everything in the house with an eye to limiting costs.

As with all production architects, Mr. Lessard must stay atuned to shifting demographics. Now, with downsizing boomers and first-time home buyers poised to dominate the housing market for the next decade, he is looking for ways to eliminate wasted space. "I want to make houses that are as efficient as a boat," he says. That means getting rid of two-story foyers and vaulted ceilings and resurrecting ideas from small, efficient homes from the '20s through the '50s, like pop-out dormers, galley-style pantries, built-in bookcases and closets tucked under the eaves. Those are some of the features found in his Craftsman-style "1920s" collection currently for sale in the community of Brambleton in Ashburn, Va. The 2,500- to 3,400-square-foot homes with detached garages in the rear are being built by Miller & Smith Homes, McLean, Va.

Aram Bassenian

If Southern California sometimes looks like Tuscany, that's partly because of Aram Bassenian. In his 36 years as a production architect, Mr. Bassenian has borrowed plenty from that rural Italian style, inspired by frequent trips overseas, and has popularized stacked stone turrets, rough-hewn beams and waxed fieldstone floors in attached and detached homes. "I was trying to get away from that vague 'California look,'" says Mr. Bassenian of the red-roofed, sandy-colored villas that were prevalent throughout the Southwest.


Each year, the National Association of Home Builders surveys its members to see what the home of the future will look like. Here are some predictions from this year's survey:
• Ceilings will be flat, tray or coffered, and at least 9 feet tall.

• Living rooms will disappear, replaced by a den, parlor or library.

• Dual closets will be standard in the master bedroom.

• Entry doors will be at least six inches wider (3 feet, 6 inches) than they are today.

• Garages will be bigger, but some may have tandem parking -- front to back -- because lots are getting smaller.

• Average homes will have open floor plans, with spaces defined by ceiling treatments, floor coverings, arches, columns or pillars.

• Shower stalls will get bigger, with multiple shower heads in upscale homes.

• Outdoor kitchens and fireplaces will become common.

• Staircases will move from the front to the middle or rear of the house, where they're more functional. High-end homes will have two staircases.

• Rear walls will be mostly glass, opening to the outdoors.

The 64-year-old architect concentrates on the upper end of the market, and so can play with a broader palette than most of his peers; his homes currently sell for about $500,000 to $7 million, and are found in 20 states, from Washington to Georgia. One of the first production architects to venture into semicustom work, which allows buyers to "customize" their homes to some extent, Mr. Bassenian designed 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot homes for Westlake Trails in Westlake Village, Calif., built by J.M. Peters Co. in 1990, with such features as a "morning room" nook off the kitchen for reading the paper and drinking coffee, a library, secondary bedroom suites and four-car garages. They were among the first noncustom homes to break the $1 million barrier.

Trying to lure buyers who could afford a custom home forced him to expand his design repertoire, he says; it also helped raise expectations among lower-end buyers. "What starts in higher-end housing eventually moves into the rest of the market," he says. Pulte Homes, for instance, recently started offering morning rooms and libraries in Phoenixville, Pa., and an option for a four-car garage in Las Vegas, both in projects where the houses cost around $400,000.

With $2.8 million to spend on a new house, retired businessman George Beebe and his wife, Kathleen, could easily have afforded a custom home. Instead, last November they bought the "Formal Italian Plan 3," a 4,800-square-foot semicustom home at the Cortile Collection development in Rancho Sante Fe, Calif. "They thought about all the little details so we wouldn't have to," says Mr. Beebe, referring to his five fireplaces, 400-square-foot detached casita and travertine floors -- all included in the price.

Of course, buying production also means making trade-offs. Mr. Beebe had to spend an additional $15,000 to put in extra wiring for his 11 televisions, including a 32-inch high-definition screen in his bathroom and another television in his closet. He faults the design for not taking this into account. "The sort of people who buy these houses love technology," he says.

Mr. Bassenian says it's a challenge to keep a step ahead of the tastes and interests of his upscale buyers. With such high energy prices, he says that buyers are becoming more interested in customizing their houses with green and energy-efficient features. At Portico, a community he designed in San Diego where houses start at $750,000, buyers have the option of adding bamboo or palm wood flooring, carpet from recycled materials, speed-cook ovens and solar cells on the roof. He plans to build more informal designs with circular rooms to take advantage of views, master bathrooms that are bigger than master bedrooms and two-person showers.

Carson Looney

Carson Looney's designs are as rooted in the South as his thick Memphis drawl. The architect came to prominence in 1989 for his revival of the classic Charleston shotgun house in a much-lauded development called Harbor Town, near downtown Memphis. One of the earliest "new urbanist" communities, Harbor Town featured sidewalks, front porches and shallow front yards -- commonplace in older neighborhoods but unusual for new developments at the time. All were designed to encourage conversation and connections among neighbors.

Carson Looney, Co-founder and principal, Looney Ricks Kiss Architects, Memphis, Tenn.; No. of employees: 250; Signature designs: Double porches, "friend's entry" off the kitchen; Mea culpa: Round window in every gable; What's next: A shower for Fido
A self-described "Air Force brat," Mr. Looney grew up in cramped, spare military housing, an experience that later led him to think about how to design efficient, modestly priced homes that families could live in without feeling confined. He revived some practical ideas of the past such as open rooms, where families could socialize, combined with small "retreats" such as nooks, built-in benches and window seats.

Although Mr. Looney's designs haven't been as widely reproduced during his 23-year career as those of some of his peers, they have appeared in such high-profile communities as Celebration, the "small town" built by Walt Disney Co. near Orlando, Fla. "I've always been impressed with his attention to design detail, even when he's doing affordable housing," says Deb Bassert, who oversees the design committee of the National Association of Home Builders.

Mr. Looney declined to disclose his annual income, as did the others interviewed for this article. But according to the 2005 compensation survey by the American Institute of Architects, the average salary of top production architects -- principals of firms with more than 100 employees -- is $275,600 a year. Those with smaller firms, including most custom architects, average $180,300 a year.

While best known for his 19th-century revivals, Mr. Looney had a short flirtation early in his career with '80s postmodernism, where the emphasis was on over-the-top, attention-getting details. He put round windows in every gable and specified vast baths that he now scornfully refers to as "Texas tubs." It was pretentious and gimmicky, he says.

These days, he's tossing out useless exterior ornamentation and rooms that few people use, like the living room. Instead, he is focusing on informal parts of the house that he feels have been neglected. Currently on the drawing board: an updated version of the mudroom that includes cabinets for pet-food storage, a pet shower and a nook where pets can sleep, with Dutch doors that can be partially opened so they won't feel lonely. "Everyone needs a place for stuff," Mr. Looney says.

Doug Sharp

Doug Sharp, Managing partner and president, Bloodgood Sharp Buster Architects and Planners, Des Moines, Iowa; No. of employess: 290; Signature designs: Great room; Mea culpa: Porches too small for a chair; What's next: Back to the ranch house
In 1979, Doug Sharp designed a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch house with a new idea at the time -- a "great room" that did away with the family room's walls. Nearly three decades later, that 1,600-square-foot plan is still selling and the great room has become a fixture in almost every new home in America.

Best known for helping to popularize open floor plans, Mr. Sharp's firm was one of the first to sell books of its architectural plans to the public. The service upped the ante on design for homeowners, who have become more discerning, says Katherine Lee Schwennsen, president of the AIA. Before, many builders without any design experience would simply take generic plans out of an old pattern book, available through entities like Sears that may not have been created by an architect. "Mr. Sharp brought real design to the process," she says.

Mr. Sharp has always tailored his work to regional tastes and climates. But for the homes at Harbor Island in Tampa, Fla., in 1989, he went a step further and arranged rooms in a C-shape around a central courtyard, as many Latin American homes do -- a look that's widely imitated throughout the Sunbelt today. Currently he is adapting the feature to colder climates. In Astor Place, a development in Rocky River, Ohio, that fits townhouses together like puzzle pieces at 10 to 12 units per acre, he included tiny courtyards screened by ironwork and landscaping. They aren't big enough for much more than a bistro table and a couple of chairs, but they do give owners a little breathing room.

Mr. Sharp says it's difficult to design for today's smaller lots, but he's trying to overcome mistakes he made in the past, such as making porches that were too shallow to hold a chair. Currently, he is reviving Art Deco and mid-'50s contemporary styles, though with higher ceilings and green materials. "The ranch house is back," he says of the Eisenhower-era icon, perfect for downsizing boomers. (Indeed, a survey of 500 residential architects by the AIA shows that demand for single-level homes has increased 10% in the first quarter of this year, to 39%, over the same period a year before.) To keep the homes from feeling confining, Mr. Sharp is making ceilings taller -- up to 13 feet, while eliminating little-used spaces like the living room.

There are trade-offs, of course. Marleen Korkik, 52, a sales and marketing administrator, paid $300,000 for a two-bedroom ranch that Mr. Sharp designed for Lowry West, a new development in Denver. She likes some of the homey details like shutters and flowerboxes. But Mr. Sharp put the master bedroom in the front of the long narrow lot and the garage in the rear so it doesn't dominate the streetscape. That's a problem for Ms. Kordik, who now has to listen to folks chatting on the sidewalk, which is just 20 feet away from her bedroom.


You've GOT to appreciate this. Congrats to the CAR. Now let's get ALL MLS's NATIONWIDE to follow suit. md
REALTOR® Magazine - Daily News

Hamptons Online Real Estate

Yes, I do admit that I am a contributer to this section. That being said, there are many other useful and tasty articles and real estate bits to enjoy. md
Hamptons Online - Guide to the Hamptons and East End of Long Island

Inman News - Are these Regulations or Suggestions on Mortgage Banking?

Nice going to Matt Carter of Inman News for calling 'em as he sees 'em on several issues. This one is about the federal regulators' nebulous wording on new underwriting and disclosure guidelines for "exotic" mortgages.

The word "should" appears in the guidelines 102 times, Guttentag notes. Because they only say banks SHOULD do this and SHOULD do that, the guidelines are "essentially a theological document" Guttentag says, "designed to shield the agencies from the wrath of God (Congress) if the flood should come by demonstrating that the agencies did all in their power to stop the sinful behavior that brought it on."

Here in the Hamptons, a great majority of mortgages are "exotic", although not usually taken-out by people who can't afford them. See:
Inman News - Real Estate News and Advice for Buyers, Sellers & Investors

SHAME ON YOU- RealEstateJournal

This is another example of an editor passing-on a self-serving press release as fact in an attempt to get more "hits" on the website.

Watch the Chicken Littles run!
Oh, it's no surprise that these "researchers" have a website that is prominently displayed in their "research" article.

I'm keeping a salt shaker on my desk these days since nearly everything I read requires a grain of it. In no time I'll be going to the garage for that sack of rock salt.

Read the article in the link below and "run for the hills". I'm going to increase my credit line at the
RealEstateJournal | Prices in 100 U.S. Cities Expected To Decline for Next Few Years

Last Of The Clams at sellsius° Real Estate Blog

Last Of The Clams at sellsius° real estate blog

Monday, October 02, 2006

Here's Lookin' at You, Odysseus

This is our girl, Zoe. She's a 9-month-old Great Pyrenees who has stolen our hearts and totally moved in on the "cush" life that our older Samoyed, Luna, had.

I think Zoe's jealous that Greg Swan has a picture of his handsome Bloodhound, Odysseus on the Bloodhound Blog, so - here you go - fair's fair.

Just know, I'm not changing the name of this blog to The Zoe Blog (not yet, anyway).

Castles For Sale -

Me home is me castle...
Castles For Sale -

'02807' is sounding more like '90210'

'02807' is sounding more like '90210'

Block Island this year assumes an honor of sorts. It ranks among the nation's "Most Expensive Zip Codes 2006," according to Forbes Magazine.

Block Island's zip code, 02807, placed 367 in the top 500 priciest neighborhoods across the United States. The listing is based on real estate sales last year that created a median home price on the island of $730,500.

It is the first time Block Island has won a spot in the annual list.

Placed immediately above the island are some better-known locales, such as zips in Boston, and Monterey and Santa Cruz, Calif. Montauk, the old fishing port on the tip of Long Island from which vacationers can catch a ferry between the island and the Hamptons, is just a few places lower at 372.

Neighboring islands Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard scored mentions, too. The town of Nantucket placed 46th, with a median home price of $1.3 million and a median household income of $63,348; none of the island's other neighborhoods were in. Two towns on the Vineyard, Chilmark and Edgartown, placed 80 and 387 respectively.

The magazine also supplies a little information about each 'hood, mostly gathered from public data like the Census Bureau and Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report. The median household income on Block Island is $48,000, according to Forbes, above the national median of $44,389. The population was given as 1,105, with a median age of almost 44. The population has grown by 34 percent since 1990, says the listing, and the average household contains 2.1 people.

The crime rate here is very low. Forbes assigns a value of 100 to the national crime risk average. Block Island was given a value of 15, by far safer than average.

The island also scored high for schooling, which was measured by OnBoard, the same New York firm that worked out median home sales. According to the company, in a system in which "1" is low and "5" is high, Block Island got a "4" on the education index, which the magazine says is "a measure of socioeconomic status" that helps identify zip codes "with the best conditions for quality schools."

Nowhere else in Rhode Island made it into the Forbes ranking.

Half of the entire list was taken up by California zip codes, including, of course, Beverly Hills 90210. (It placed 22. For reality TV aficionados, Laguna Beach's 92651 also placed high, at 39.)

That being the case, it is not surprising that while the national median home price is $200,000, Forbes says that California's average is $600,000, making it the most expensive state to buy a home. Coastal areas in the Golden State took most of the spots in the top 10. But the priciest place of all is not far from

Block Island. Hamptons town Sagaponack won top honors as the most expensive place in the country, with median home sales of $2.8 million. In all, New York State took a generous 20 percent of the top 500, with zips on Long Island and in New York City (think Tribeca, the costliest NYC neighborhood at number 12) helping make it the second most expensive state.

Although California and New York zip codes took most of the top 10, Florida's Miami Beach made it as 10th most expensive. The crime index there isn't looking too good, though; it is listed at 431, putting residents at risk of crime at more than four times the national rate.

The place where people make the most money was Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego, Calif., where the median household income in 2005 was $333,014. It is also the second most expensive place to buy a house.

The safest place was Carlisle, Mass., with a crime index of two, followed by New Canaan, Conn., and a slew of other quiet Connecticut and Massachusetts towns.

'02807' is sounding more like '90210'

Realty Times - Real Estate News and Advice

I don't like government intervention; however it has been proven that there are enough gullible people and opportunistic mortgage brokers out there for this to be a good least for the time being. md

Realty Times - Real Estate News and Advice

UNREAL ESTATE - Nine-Figure Homes

"Honey!?! Are you going to the post office? I need to send in the mortgage payment today. Oh, ok - good, I'm writing it now!"

So, the mortgage scenario for Trump's house, at $125,000,000 looks like this:

10% down - $12,500,000
Closing costs - roughly $3,600,000
Loan balance of $112,500,000 at 6.25% for 30 years - $692,681.85 per month (not including real estate taxes and insurance escrow).
And get the payments in on time, because late fees on that monthly payment would cost as much as a new Honda Civic.
UNREAL ESTATE By JESSICA GRESK, AP - New York Post Online Edition:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Families Continue to Flee Florida

I know of several investors who didn't pursue Florida investment properties after discovering the property taxes involved. Perhaps this will help take some of the pressure off. md
RealEstateJournal | Even as Housing Prices Cool, Families Continue to Flee Florida

Can U.S. Curb the Mortgage Frenzy That Puts Homeowners at Risk? - MarketWatch

It really is unsettling to see how many people sign things that they don't understand. That's not vulnerability, that's ignorance and irresponsibility.
It's also scary when you realize how many people will tell you whatever you need to hear in order to get you to sign the contract. That's not sales, that's exploitation and dishonesty.

"Don't worry about it. Things will work out fine" doesn't cut it, when it comes to making the largest purchase of your lifetime and signing a piece of paper that will commit you to writing checks for hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of dollars over the next several years.

I hear people asking why their payments will change when their ARM expires. "Interest rates haven't gone up, why would mine?"
Oh, a tsunami coming?

Check out the link below: md

Can U.S. curb the mortgage frenzy that puts homeowners at risk? - MarketWatch

Trendsetting boomers ready for some 'me' time in their homes - MarketWatch

"The (baby boom) generation has always been considered selfish," said Frank Anton, Chief Executive Officer of Hanley Wood, a media and information company for the housing and construction industry. "This survey would indicate maybe they're more selfish than anyone knows."

Trendsetting boomers ready for some 'me' time in their homes - MarketWatch

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

International Property Buying Guide -

International Property Buying Guide - "Wish you could live on vacation, whether in the heart of Paris or on the beaches of the Caribbean? You can, if you play your real estate cards right. "

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Matrix » Location, Location, Location Becomes Housing, Housing, Housing

Insightful, thought-provoking, classic JM. The table about "traders" predicting real estate values is interesting. So many of our residences are owned by Wall Street traders; however, I have found that property and stock are like watermelons and navel oranges. Different reasons, different seasons. Still some of the most bullish Street traders have continued to be bearish on real estate in recent years, even as they have watched property values double and triple.

Matrix » Location, Location, Location Becomes Housing, Housing, Housing