Behind The Hedges It's Time for the 9th Annual Southampton House Tour

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It's Time for the 9th Annual Southampton House Tour
May 21, 2018
Anyone reading this blog must enjoy peeking inside other people's houses. If you've never gone on a house tour, you really should this year. Saturday, June 2, is the 9th Annual Southampton House Tour, which will allow you to take a gander inside a number of extraordinary Southampton homes. You'll see inside houses that illustrate Southampton's fascinating architectural heritage, from colonial times right up to the present, as well as the the 1648 Thomas Halsey Homestead and Saint Andrew's Dune Church. After your tour, relax with a champagne reception hosted by Sant Ambroeus Restaurant at the Rogers Mansion. (See the details below.) Houses on the tour include the following. [caption id="attachment_68219" align="alignnone" width="667"] Photo by Tom Edmonds[/caption] This handsome home sits on nearly an acre property where Captain E. Halsey, after his last voyage on the whaleship Franklin, built a home in 1848. Today's house and grounds boast all the amenities of modern times, while giving a nod to the property's rich history. Photo by Tom Edmonds This gabled home, with its soft-grey exterior palette and pebbled circular drive, makes an understated impression on the approach. What you don't see until you stroll to the back is its exquisite setting, with an unrivaled view across Lake Agawam. Built in 1927, this village house has been updated while respecting its original details, including built-in cabinetry and a pantry. [caption id="attachment_68222" align="alignnone" width="695"] Photo by Tom Edmonds[/caption] The creative owners of this woodland retreat enlarged a relatively modest-sized house, raised the ceiling in the master bedroom, and added beams in the family room to achieve the airy look they were aiming for. Photo by Suzanne Caldwell Above, this recently built pink house is filled with whimsical details (notice the swans on the gateposts). No surface has been left unadorned, from the two-story foyer with its wallpaper featuring huge palm leaves to the custom-tile fireplace surround, which was hand-copied to match the swag wallpaper border. [caption id="attachment_68224" align="alignnone" width="750"] Photo by Tom Edmonds[/caption] One of Southampton's foremost estates, Linden, designed by the renowned New York architect Grosvenor Atterbury, has lost none of its early 20th-century grandeur. Atterbury, who designed some of the most beautiful houses, clubs, and buildings in America, was a summer resident of Southampton where his most familiar legacy is the beautiful building he designed for the original Parrish Art Museum. [caption id="attachment_68225" align="alignnone" width="750"] Photo by Jeff Heatly[/caption] The Thomas Halsey Homestead is New York State's oldest English-style house. Thomas Halsey, one of Southampton's original settlers, established his farm in 1648. Today Halsey House is managed as a historic house museum by the Southampton Historical Museum. It provides an authentic setting to exhibit furnishings and tools that would have been used by a prosperous farming family during America's colonial period. St. Andrew's Dune Church (main pic) is located at the foot of Lake Agawam and is one of Southampton's most picturesque landmarks. Originally built as a life-saving station, it was acquired by Dr. T. Gaillard Thomas and donated as a church in 1879. A local carpenter was hired to create its beautiful rustic interior, which is filled with treasures, not the least of which are its 11 Tiffany widows. In 1938, the church was nearly destroyed by that year's terrible hurricane. It was restored and has twice been moved back from the sea. Here are the deets: Saturday, June 2; 1-4PM is the house tour, 4:30 PM-6:00 PM is the champagne reception. Costs are $95 in advance, $110 day of tour. Call with a credit card (631) 283-2494 or use PayPal at Tickets may be picked up or purchased, on the day of the tour, as early as 10:30AM at the Thomas Halsey House, 249 South Main Street, Southampton.
Old-School Montauk Charm in This Classic Beach House
May 18, 2018
The listing for this property ends, "This is a one of a kind property in a one of a kind location" and it's true. Built in 1949, this is the kind of beach house you just don't see any more. Of course it's nestled in the dunes, closer to the ocean than you're allowed to build now, but sturdy and safe. And yes, it's not huge at just 2200 square feet, with three bedrooms and three baths, but there are beamed vaulted ceilings and lots of large windows and French doors for ocean viewing. [caption id="attachment_68205" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos via Saunders[/caption] We think the living room with its fireplace and built-ins is particularly cozy. Outside is nicely landscaped with hydrangeas and ornamental grasses. The stairs to the ocean beach lead to a private cabana, so you don't have to lug down beach chairs and umbrellas. The property size is 0.89 acre; there isn't a pool but there is room for one. There's also a guest apartment over the garage. This property was for sale back in 2014 asking $8.75 million, but a price cut to $8 million resulted in a sale in 2015. Alas, agent Kieran Brew told us, the owners just don't use the place enough, so back on the market it goes. It's repped by Kieran, Jennifer Brew, and Chris Coleman at Saunders, at a realistic price of $8.3 million. We think it's pretty special. For more, click here. 644 Old Montauk Highway, Montauk
Bethenny Frankel Flips Bridgehampton Home on the Highway
May 17, 2018
Back in December, when the news broke that Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel had purchased a second house in Bridgehampton, we couldn't quite figure out what Bethenny planned for the space. Morning Glory House, for which she paid $2.037 million, had formerly been a B&B. Was this what Bethenny was planning? Well, we're still not sure, because the property is back on the market asking $3 million. It's been beautifully staged, but very little actual work has been done that we can tell--new siding and a couple of bathrooms redone. So why does Bethenny think she's going to get almost a million more for it? [caption id="attachment_68195" align="alignnone" width="750"] All images via Compass[/caption] The property, now represented by Caroline Sarraf at Compass, still has one giant, ineradicable mark against it: it's right on Montauk Highway, in the unpleasant part where the traffic stops dead (pretty much any time of year, really). You can walk to town, but there aren't sidewalks on the south side of the road, and the property is going to suffer from a lot of street noise. So as a house, we can't see this place selling for $3 million, no matter how nicely staged. The best thing to do with it in our opinion would be to stage it and sell it as a B&B, in which case proximity to the highway wouldn't be such a negative. What say you? For more, click here. 2623 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton
10 Keys to East End Real Estate in 2018
May 17, 2018
How new laws affect buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants Buyers Offer and Acceptance When your offer is accepted by the seller, you have no rights. Instead, within the State of New York, a seller is not bound to you until there is a fully executed contract of sale. So stop saying it wasn't right or unethical for the seller to keep showing the property to other buyers after they accepted your offer. You sound foolish. The only thing that wasn't right or ethical was your presumption that anyone owed you anything in the first place. Credits on Purchase Stop asking for $100 credits for defective property conditions (overgrown lawn, missing outlet cover, dirty pool). Get some perspective. You are buying a house worth hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Items of this scale need to be disregarded when making your purchasing decision. Yes, they come up in your home inspection report, but the focus of the report should be on big ticket items like the home's systems (boiler, AC, hot water tank) and its structure (roof, foundation, moisture levels), not these petty items. You need to ask yourself when attempting to renegotiate the purchase price: am I willing to kill this deal over this item? If not, get over it. If so, it's advisable to first get an estimate for the repair before demanding a reduced sales price. Sellers Breach Fears Hurt Ears Your buyer is not going to breach the deal. Stop your panic attack. Yes, it's possible that they don't close the deal, but they are motivated to close by the down payment that your attorney is holding in escrow. Stop calling your broker every day and complaining that you feel like they are going to back out. This does nothing besides make everyone nuts. The best solution to your fears is to demand a high enough down payment in the first place. That number should be enough that you are happy to keep the money and relist the house should the buyer default. If it's not enough and that ship has sailed, then you need to stop demanding that the buyer meets every deadline (home inspection, clearing title, fixing structures, and closing date) and instead be as accommodating as possible, rather than annoying, to enable the buyer to close. Selling Costs Money Incident to your sale, you may need to update your property into a sellable condition (updated survey, CO reflecting the existing structure, certificate of abandonment on oil tank). While you are likely angry about this fact, realize you can't sell your property without spending this money. Don't look at it as an extra cost of the sale, but instead a fundamental cost of ownership. Further, you probably should have been maintaining these issues throughout the course of your ownership. Tenants You Have the Right to Live in Legal Property When you rent a property, you have a statutory right to be notified by the landlord whether the property is legal (that is, if there is a currently valid certificate of occupancy for the dwelling unit). This means that properties with illegal conversions need to disclose such illegality to you incident to the rental. Interestingly, case law provides that a landlord without a proper CO will have a difficult time enforcing their lease against you in court. Further, a tenant has a right to call code enforcement, which will ticket the landlord when the property doesn't have a CO. Leases Can't Waive Rights The State of New York provides many rights to tenants that are non-waivable regardless of the terms of a lease (such as right to assign / sublet, landlord's liability for negligence, receipts for rent, security deposits). When you get into a dispute with your landlord, simply reading the lease is not enough. Instead, you need to consult with an attorney to ascertain whether a lease provision is void as against public policy and you have a non-waivable right. Landlords Brokers Should NOT Draft Your Lease Pursuant to what is known as the Duncan and Hill Standard, real estate brokers may not draft a lease. In fact, brokers who wrongfully draft a lease are violating license laws from the Department of State. Besides, why would any landlord with a brain want their real estate broker to draft a lease on a multimillion dollar property? Talk about being penny wise and dollar foolish. Any landlord who has been involved in an eviction proceeding will tell you that spending the money on an attorney, who has the legal capacity to draft a lease, is worth every penny. Stop Discriminating There is no reason whatsoever that you need to meet the prospective tenants or learn about their demographics besides a desire to stereotype and discriminate. Assuming you disagree, how are you planning on proving that you had a legitimate, non-discriminatory, business rationale (the defense standard for a Fair Housing violation) for obtaining the demographics? Instead, the best tenant for your property is the one who makes the best financial offer. Remember, you should utilize an attorney to draft your lease and s/he will have many suggestions, beyond base rent, to maximize your financial reward from the lease (pre-payment of rent, security deposit notices and inclusions, added rent, holdover provision, late payment penalties, bounced check penalties, and so on). Neighbors Right of Way / Easement Just because you have a right of way or an easement over your neighbor's property (you have a dominant estate over your neighbor's servient estate) doesn't mean that you can do whatever you want on that property. More and more, disrespectful neighbors are getting sued for trespass when they overstep their dominant estate rights. Keep an open dialogue between neighbors concerning expectations on shared property (common driveway, docks). This is the best way to avoid court and payments to your litigation attorney. Municipal Tickets The most common reason that you are receiving a zoning violation ticket from your town or village is because you got into an argument with your neighbor. However, before you complain about your neighbor's violation (fence, garbage, noise, parking, construction), remember that your neighbor can also complain about you next. They say that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar--so, why not invite the neighbor over for a BBQ and talk it over before you escalate the fight to include fines and legal bills.
In Montauk, Tschüss to Zum Schneider, Bonjour to Sel Rrose
May 16, 2018
It's been a nice few years with Zum Schneider in Montauk--we loved its beers and wursts. There's still time to catch one final party there this weekend in honor of the Montauk Music Festival. The owners say, "Lots of Bavarian bier, champagne, signature cocktails and many different bands (no food, sorry). Join us for a goodbye beer and a welcome cocktail by the beach, with lots of fun and dancing." Stop by Friday at 5 PM and Saturday at 12PM till late. You can also meet the new owners: the restaurant will be an outpost of Sel Rrose ("pink salt") on Delancey Street in the Big Smoke. That means oysters, cocktails, and what looks like pretty reasonably priced plates, all of which are French accented. And yes, for you fellow art nerds, the name is an homage to Marcel Duchamp's famous female alter ego, Rrose Sélavy ("Eros, c'est la vie"). The double R is supposed to be rolled. (This picture was taken by Man Ray. Real name Emmanuel Radnitzky. Those crazy Surrealists!) 4 South Elmwood Ave, Montauk
Get More for Your Money with a Handsome Shelter Island New Build
May 15, 2018
One of these days Shelter Island is going to be the next Sag Harbor or Montauk, we know it. It has all the charm, it's off the beaten path (although apparently people who've never been there think it's a long ferry ride, sheesh), and probably most importantly, offers much lower prices than the mainland. There are bargains to be had. We couldn't call this new build a bargain, exactly, because it is $4 million. However, compared to the same thing in Bridgehampton? Bargain. If you can even find a new build on 3.25 acres there, it will be at least $3 million more. It's represented by James Peyton, Seth Madore, and Rebecca Shafer at Corcoran. [caption id="attachment_67967" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos courtesy Corcoran[/caption] Generous acreage is just the start of this property, along with "extensive outdoor entertaining areas". The exterior is pleasing--it's nice to see a house that's Federal in style rather than the ubiquitous semi-shingle-style or modern. (We suggest the buyer remove the odd gingerbread bits in the middle dormer.) Indoors, there's 5500 square feet of living space, including a living room that is three stories tall, with abundant light from tall windows. There are five bedrooms and 5.5 baths. The interiors are the usual nice Hamptons new-build stuff: all white, nice millwork and built-ins, and marble kitchen and baths. We do like the expansive upstairs landing for an additional sitting area. The basement offers a full bath with backyard egress and an additional 2,800 square feet that could be finished for rec rooms, a media room and a gym. Out back, a large deck overlooks the gunite pool surrounded with bluestone patio. There's also a pool cabana with pergola and outdoor shower. For more, click here. 1 Dering Woods Lane, Shelter Island
Scaramucci Is Selling His Unfinished Hamptons Home
May 14, 2018
Oh well, so much for seeing the Mooch in the Hamptons soon. This is the property that former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and wife Deirdre Ball purchased in the Hamptons. The house is not even finished, but the Scaramuccis have listed it. The deal to sell SkyBridge, a network of hedge funds that Scaramucci founded in 2005, to a Chinese conglomerate failed a couple of weeks ago. Federal regulators refused to sign off on the sale, so the Mooch has returned to SkyBridge as co-managing partner. Update: grrr, apparently the New York Post beat us to the story last night. According to them, he wants something closer to the water. [caption id="attachment_67953" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos via Douglas Elliman[/caption] The property, off Mecox Road in Water Mill, comprises a 7000 square foot house (including lower level), pool and spa. There are seven bedrooms and seven baths, and the finished lower level will boast "gym, sauna, recreational rooms, media room, pair of staff suites and powder room." This is set on 0.92 of an acre of land. The property is expected to ask about $9 million when it goes on sale. For more, click here 30 Lawrence Court, Water Mill
horse farm
Stable Your Steeds (And Yourself) in Style in Sagaponack
May 11, 2018
He's done it again. Mike Gaynor, the owner of this beautiful horse farm, is getting well known in the area for his gorgeous restorations of old buildings. Just as he did in the Benjamin Hope House in Sag Harbor, Mike (not forgetting wife Kerry) has taken an unloved property and turned it into something spectacular. Modern, yet true to history. This latest project is known as Heavy Horse Farm and it's where Mike and wife Kerry planned to stable their Clydesdales, right across from Wolffer Stable, as well as living there. So why are they selling? Mike tells us, "I'm addicted to dirt, and I'm itching to start another project with my wife." The property is represented by Dana Trotter at Sotheby's. [caption id="attachment_67413" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos via Sotheby's[/caption] Originally, these three acres were a potato farm. Now, a total of ten buildings is on the property, along with a fruit orchard and private vineyard. Possibly the most interesting old building is the "Marconi barn," which was the first telegraph station on Long Island, opening around 1902. It was located off Sagg Main Street, near the beach. Interestingly, it was probably one of the first stations in America to be informed that the Titanic was sinking in 1912. Around 1915, the station was closed and then dismantled; the previous owners of the farm transported the building there to use it for storage. This building, reconstructed, is now the pool house. There are five barns in all, as well as a main house, a restored 1920s farmhouse, a two-car barn style garage with an apartment and sunken terrace with hot tub (oh, we love this one). All of these spaces are connected by a tunnel connected to a wine cave. Mike told Behind the Hedges, "You've got to see the wine cave in person. It goes mostly super-cool and fun ...but also a little CIA Dark Site." Oooh! Two of the barns are built for entertaining. (Don't worry, there's a renovated potato barn with a groom's lounge and horse stalls. No one's forgotten about the horses.) The "Tavern on the Green" has a black interior color scheme, fireplace, and bar; the "Farm to Table" barn is for memorable dinner parties. In all, there are 7 bedrooms, 8 full and 6 partial baths, in about 12,000 square feet of living space. Price for all this is $12.5 million, and yes, it includes the furnishings. Also, Mike, Kerry, and Dana are partnering with a horse rescue organization named EQUUS Foundation to pilot a new program that aims to raise some grain for America's horses that are at risk. 1% of the final sale price will go to save horses. Mike adds, "Kerry and I do seem to really enjoy building houses. We lose sleep over these places and that honestly is a big part of the reward. Nothing good ever came about without someone feeling a bunch of pain. We're happy to take it on." For more, click here. 134 Narrow Lane, Sagaponack    
Mickey Drexler Loses At Least $2 Million on Sale of Wainscott Property
May 10, 2018
This property, which belonged to J. Crew chairman Mickey Drexler, has been on and off the market over the past few years and has finally sold and closed. It was asking $26.5 million about four years ago, but was relisted last autumn by Paul Brennan and Ronald White at Douglas Elliman.  Last asking price was $18 million. Drexler bought the property back in 2008 for $17 million and then built the present house. Since the property sold and closed for $15 million, Drexler lost at least $2 million, taking into consideration the building costs of the house. Why is over two acres of Wainscott oceanfront worth so comparatively little? [caption id="attachment_64367" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos courtesy Elliman[/caption] Simple. A buyer can't add on to the house, nor can they add a pool because of wetlands restrictions. At least that's what we've been told by people in the know. So while the house is adorable and cozy, at 3500 square feet with three bedrooms, that's it. That's all the room a buyer can have--no giant trophy megamansion possible here. Still, the property is quite appealing, with 315 feet of oceanfront and 2.3 acres of land. And the house is charming, with great views of the ocean and Wainscott Pond, beamed ceilings, and that funky egg-shaped fireplace. Plus, even if the land isn't buildable, there's plenty of it to ensure peace, quiet and privacy. Congrats to the new owner! For more, click here. 120 Beach Lane, Wainscott
Steal This Montauk Oceanfront Lot for $5.79 Million
May 09, 2018
Do we ever have a deal for you. This property appeals on several levels: location, price, and looks. First up, location. It is oceanfront in Montauk, and at an elevation of 35 feet, you can laugh (ha! ha! ha!) at sea level rise. "You're underwater?" you can say to other oceanfront homeowners. "Not me. Ha! Ha! Ha!" [caption id="attachment_66761" align="alignnone" width="750"] All photos via Saunders[/caption] Second, price. This is an acre for well under $6 million, when oceanfront acres in Montauk generally go for $7-8 million. (Originally, the lot was asking $8.75 million back in the palmy days of January 2016. Now the price is a stunning $3 million off.) 225 Old Montauk Highway, also repped by Chris Coleman at Saunders, is asking $8.5 million. Now granted, that price includes the building and this one doesn't, but 225 is on the north side of the highway and doesn't include ocean access. Third, looks. OK, granted, the proposed home doesn't actually exist yet and presumably a buyer could substitute a different plan, but we really like this house. (Especially given how ugly some modern Montauk new builds are.) This one is open and modern, yet homey and not too blocky. Some of the new modern houses look more like bunkers than homes. So what do you say? For more, click here. 5 Oceanview Terrace, Montauk
60s ranch
Here's How to Update Stylishly a Dull 60s Ranch
May 08, 2018
As the Rolling Stones advised us back in 1966, paint it black. Or in this case, dark gray. (The same advice holds true for dated 80s contemporaries, by the way.) That's on the exterior. [caption id="attachment_66752" align="alignnone" width="750"] Photo by New York 90 Photography[/caption] On the interior, rip all the guts out (what probably would have been an attic here) to make tall ceilings, reconfigure the rooms as needed, and paint most of it white. Add a new kitchen and baths and bob's your uncle. Bonus points, as here, for finishing the basement lower level. [caption id="attachment_66745" align="alignnone" width="750"] Photo via Town & Country[/caption] [caption id="attachment_66750" align="alignnone" width="750"] Photo via Town & Country[/caption] Now add funky midcentury furniture and some contemporary accessories and bish bash bosh, you're ready for party time. In this case, this is a 1900 square foot house with four bedrooms and two baths, set on 0.19 of an acre. Pretty standard for the 60s. But everything has been redone and a saltwater pool with retractible cover added, so while the exterior still isn't the most appealing, the interiors are really well done. [caption id="attachment_66747" align="alignnone" width="750"] Photo by New York 90 Photography[/caption] [caption id="attachment_66748" align="alignnone" width="750"] Photo by New York 90 Photography[/caption] [caption id="attachment_66749" align="alignnone" width="750"] Photo via Town & Country[/caption] [caption id="attachment_66751" align="alignnone" width="750"] Photo via Town & Country[/caption] The property is located in the nice Baypoint section of Sag Harbor, close to the village and the beach, and considering there's nothing at all to do, we think the property is worth the $1.68 million being asked for it. (The property is listed in multiple spots at differing prices; obviously we like the lower price best. Most of these pics come from Linda Batiancela at Town & Country.) What say you? Worth it? For more, click here. 20 Windermere Drive, Sag Harbor
Gurney's Buys the Montauk Yacht Club
May 07, 2018
Built by Carl Fisher in 1929, the Montauk Yacht Club was an exclusive, private club for the likes of the Chryslers, Astors, Vanderbilts, and Fords. Back in the day, Charles Lindbergh used to land his seaplane in Lake Montauk and moor it at the club. Nearly 90 years later, Gurney's Resorts is adding a second property in Montauk with its acquisition of Gurney's Montauk Yacht Club & Resort--we can expect much of that prewar glamour to return. What's in store for the resort? Immediately, better food and beverage service led by LDV Hospitality (which is known especially in the Hamptons for Scarpetta Beach). And as the largest marina in the Hamptons (who knew?) the Yacht Club plans to deliver a full-service experience to the boating community. The property will close this winter for a $13 million upgrade to its 107 guestrooms, ballroom, meeting rooms, three restaurants, and 35-acre marina and grounds, complete in time for the 2019 season. Considering how gorgeous the revamped Gurney's Montauk Resort & Spa looks now, we'll be excited to see the new yacht club next year. President and Owner of Gurney's Resorts George Filopoulos told Behind the Hedges, "The Montauk Yacht Club is an iconic property in the Hamptons, and its marina location creates a prime spot for boaters and yachters, allowing us to extend the Gurney's experience to a broader audience. Although the property completed a $4,000,000 refresh over the winter, our further planned upgrades will ensure that the Yacht Club experience is consistent with the Gurney's brand ethos, including innovative design, service, ambiance and food and beverage." While we're in a Gurney's groove, the original Gurney's is debuting a completely new design of its famous Beach Club (gone are the yellow and white stripes!) this summer on its 2,000 ft private beach (see below). Additionally, the summer will welcome fashion and lifestyle pop-ups with The Fashion Collective at Gurney's, wellness pop-ups and retreats from the hottest names in fitness, and a partnership with infrared sauna Higher Dose. As lifelong Montauk people, we're just so delighted that these local institutions are getting world-class upgrades. See you there this summer!