Gurney's Inn
October 03, 2007

Stop Penalizing the Year-Rounders

A reader questions George Simpson's (Suffolk Research) rosy appraisal of the real estate market in the Hamptons. (See last week's column on the market booming on the East End.)

He asks, doesn't George's median price figure point to what many brokers already know – namely that the reason the median price of home sales is up is because only the very expensive houses are moving and that lower and middle tier homes, the ones the rest of us buy, are not moving?

According to the reader's reasoning, this effect would cause the median house price to rise since you'd be eliminating the lower priced houses in the averaging. I'm not sure how George comes to a conclusion that real estate is booming simply by the median number. The number could just as easily point to something much more ominous. What does George, whom I respect, say on the volume of houses sold in the Hamptons? I'm sure that number is easily in line with what the rest of the nation is seeing, possibly even worse.

We talked about Gosman's not selling last week, but there is a new Montauk motel restaurant and nightclub on Fort Pond sent to us by Town and Country Real Estate. Stacey Barnds of their East Hampton office is the listing broker. It's commercial with nothing but water on three sides and the sun sets on 1.26 acres with 625' of water frontage. It's priced at $5 million.

In other news, Judi Desiderio gives her strong and passionate opinion on recent articles about Springs taxes.

"Why are they punishing the local year-rounders?" she asks. "If I read another article . . . on the pending tax increase in Springs, due to school/tuition, whereby someone justifies it with 'but you knew this was coming,' I think I'll scream!"

Ms. Desiderio went on to say, "Have they taken a look at who they are hurting by writing this stuff? Teachers, nurses, civil service personnel, contractors, lawyers, many East Hampton Town and Village employees, young families and senior citizens, that's who. This tax increase will no doubt, negatively impact property values at a time when the customer base for these homes is already being pummeled by rising mortgage rates, more stringent lending parameters, less job opportunities and those who are plain old trying to make ends meet."

She adds, "If they continue to penalize the year-rounders, our community will implode. We surely need infrastructure and those who are, and those who will become, our infrastructure, need to live somewhere. Springs residents serve our community beyond what anyone has acknowledged to date. Busing East Hampton Springs children to Bridgehampton where their extracurricular activities and support disappears along with their friends, teammates, cousins and neighbors, is not the answer.

"If there was $3M to buy an island that would have accommodated only ONE home (and remained on the tax rolls) then why can't you find the funds to keep our East Hampton community together and not devalue the property values of your local year-rounders? With all the brilliant minds here, we can't come up with a better solution? Springs is an intricate part of the fabric of our community. I implore you not to punish them, this tax increase will do just that."

Clearly the feelings are sincere. East End real estate? A very strange business.

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