Gurney's Inn
April 25, 2007

Realty Takes

Slings and Arrows, More Market Views, New Guys on the Block

I had asked for market comments, got some, then from an anonymous broker got the real questions he said I should have been asking. We sent them out by e-mail and got a lot of people very, very upset. Moral: Be careful what you ask for, Virginia!

Prudential Douglas Elliman's top producer, Lori Barbaria writes: "As to the market, it's all about the weather. Spring has not sprung. Everything that has always rented will rent, and everything that is good will sell, as usual. When the buds pop, the money will drop . . ."

"March appeared to be a spike in sales," writes the legendary Paul Brennan, Bridgehampton's native son and Prudential Douglas Elliman honcho. "April has tailed off . . ." [Maybe it's the weather as his colleague above suggests?] . . . "Big Wall Street bonus money making a difference not in overall market, but in very high end and especially Southampton. Yet, NYC is supposedly hot? We are up 40 percent from last year at this time."

Paul has always told this columnist there is a lag time between the East End and New York markets. If it goes down, we follow later. If it goes up, same thing. So maybe hot-hot is on its way East.

East Hampton's Prudential Elliman Manager/Broker, Tom MacNiven has this advice for both landlords and tenants. To landlords: "We rent many houses every year. In a good year we rent 80-90 percent of our available inventory. In a bad year it may be 50-60 percent. If you price your house correctly you will ALWAYS be in that first 50 percent." To potential renters: "If the HOUSE is important: come in January. . . If the DEAL is important: come in May."

Mr. MacNiven also chimes in on the state of the market and of the press at the same time: "Agents are telling you it is a hot market because, relative to the last six months of 2006, IT IS. Agents who used that time, when no buyers were about, to solicit and properly price quality listings and to get price reductions from real sellers have reaped the benefits over the past quarter. When the buyers started showing up late last year, including the Wall Street bonus crowd, they came with the expectation that there were deals to be had. We can thank a bloodthirsty and sensationalist real estate press (the bubble bandwagon) for that.

"The truth is, there were, and still are great deals to be had. But the deals WERE NOT at 60 percent of the unrealistic asking prices the media likes to magnify. Rather they were at 90 to 100 percent of the properly priced (and re-priced) askings of realistic sellers . . . traffic in the market flows slowly, smoothly and consistently: slightly below the speed limit. Good agents, like good drivers always arrive home safely . . ."

Found something benign from The Corcoran Group: Joshua Horton (a former two term Southold Town Supervisor, by the way) was named Senior Managing Director, North Fork and Shelter Island offices. So there is life after politics, after all. We are told that Mr. Horton, a 12th generation North Fork native, "will report to Corcoran Group's East End Regional Senior Vice President, Rick Hoffman."

"This is an exciting opportunity to work with a dynamic team of real estate professionals," said Josh. "I look forward to leveraging Corcoran's tremendous resources and our collective knowledge of the East End to strengthen Corcoran's share of the North Fork and Shelter Island markets."

"The Corcoran Group is privileged to have Josh come on board to lead," said Hoffman. "Not only does Josh bring his wealth of knowledge, presence and experience within the region, but his enthusiasm will prove invaluable in driving the Corcoran Group forward as the Real Estate leader on Eastern Long Island."

Okay, whew, no attack I have to ellipsis (. . .) out of that release.

Friendly information as well from veteran broker Barbara Weinman who, with Hampton Homes' Jan Robinson, branched out on their own recently as Hampton Homes: "Jan and I are very busy, having a very hot rental season, working through the Internet and our strong referral business established over the years. Sales are down . . . rental season great and we can hardly handle the load but we are managing. We are small but doing well."

There is a new manager at the Corcoran Group's Bridgehampton office, Ernie Cervi, whom we will write about next week. New agents at the Prudential Elliman's Bridgehampton office, Russ Fierman and Andrea Cowell and the company has a new "technology guy: Matt Austin."

In any case, while dodging the arrows, East End real estate remains a very strange business from wherever you are sitting.

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The New Listing of the Week is offered free to brokers on a rotating basis. Please submit a JPEG photo of the property along with a WORD document with the listing information to, attn: Rick. There is no charge for the placement.

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