Behind The Hedges 21.09.2020 08:01 Hedges Index: Turning 30

News & Features

Sylvester Manor, Photo: Barbara Lassen
Hedges Index: Turning 30
August 06, 2020

While there will always be debate as to which are the most exciting years of a person's life, research has shown that  the 30s are more commonly considered to be the best decade. In numerology, the essence of the number 30 is that of strong creative energy and self-expression, and those born on the 30th of the month are likely to be exhibit those traits. People born on the 31st, on the other hand, are assumed to be more practical and disciplined. Whatever value you place on the the 30s, you'll find engaging iterations all over the Hamptons and North Fork.

Length of the North Fork 30 miles

Year the Town of Shelter Island was established 1730

Listing price of a three-bedroom Amagansett home in 1973 $30,000

Listing price of a three-bedroom East Quogue home in 1973 $35,000

Year the Sylvester Manor House was completed 1737

Number of Southampton Town housing units in 2000 35,836

Percent of Suffolk County land area defined as the East End 38.12%

The East End's average population density 139.29

Population of Riverhead Town in the most recent census 33,506

Year a royal patent gave Lion Gardiner the right to possess Gardiners Island forever 1639

[caption id="attachment_73977" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Photo: Oliver Peterson[/caption]

Width of Camp Hero's Air Force AN/FPS-35 radar 135 feet

Square mileage of Southampton Town 139.2

[caption id="attachment_73978" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Photo: Nicholas Chowske[/caption]

Wine tasting rooms on the North Fork 39

265 Mill Pond Lane, Water Mill, Photo: Courtesy Richard Keith Langham
Real Estate Roundtable: Amazing Amenities
August 05, 2020

More time being spent at home means finding more ways to enjoy and expand one's environs. From pools to porches, office spaces to outdoor entertaining areas, our gathering of East End real estate insiders and experts share their insights into what homeowners are looking for among the many amenities available on the North Fork and in the Hamptons.

Covered porches, living rooms with indoor/outdoor features, in-home gyms, home offices.--Dawn & Frank Bodenchak, Sotheby's International Realty

What are the key amenities buyers and homeowners are most desiring in a property right now? We're seeing a demand for multiple options for home offices, separate living spaces and outdoor amenities. Buyers are focusing more on the properties features, rather than where it's located.--Tim Morabito & Nicole Weiss, Compass Real Estate

The "amenity" people are asking for these days is "one more room." The world has turned. Demand for homes outside the metropolis is significant. People are telling us that they want a home with that extra room--for an office or just a getaway during an extended stay.--Keith Green & Ann Ciardullo, Sotheby's International Realty

I find the number one request is acreage. Buyers want space and options for their families, the ability to customize a house for their specific needs. If a home does not already have a separate guest house, buyers want the acreage to add one. Outdoor entertaining spaces have become as important as the main kitchen. To be honest, what people considered to be an amenity, such as a media room, is now considered essential. Buyers want everything now. Their weekend getaway now needs to be a true sanctuary.--Enzo Morabito, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

House designs, like clothing, change with the times. What was fashionable yesterday is just that--yesterday's news. Modern, flat roofs, floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the outside in, decks on the roof overlooking wide expanses. That is what many buyers are looking for in today's market. At the high end, recreational amenities both inside and out are in high demand. Gyms, movie theaters, gas fireplaces, pool rooms inside. For outside, infinity pools and spas, pool houses with outdoor TVs and a sunken tennis court, The list is neverending.--Alan Schnurman, Saunders & Associates

The trend of maximizing outdoor living with covered porches that include outdoor kitchens and living rooms has grown exponentially--especially now that we are being encouraged to dine outdoors and socialize outside. You can double the size of your entertaining space by smartly utilizing your outdoor living spaces.--Judi Desiderio, Town & Country Real Estate

Buyers looking now are focused on a stylish, comfortable and safe haven. A good kitchen with adjacent family room is very appealing and suits many for all those family dinners prepared and enjoyed at home. In addition, great outdoor space is very important to city dwellers. It offers a sense of freedom and relief to see the sky and green gardens to those otherwise confined to an apartment.--Pat Petrillo, Sotheby's International Real Estate

I have seen some changes in the post-NY Pause marketplace in what buyers are looking for. A pool was always on a wish list, but now it has become almost mandatory. Buyers are also considering houses with more bedrooms than before, with the idea of making a home office or two out of extra bedrooms. Open floorplans are still on most secondary homebuyers' wish lists.--Thomas McCloskey, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

At Home with Maria Baum
July 31, 2020

Maria Baum was trading derivatives and proprietary capital for a large bank when she and husband Larry decided to walk away from the intensity of Wall Street for Sag Harbor and "go enjoy life."

"It was a career I enjoyed immensely," Baum says, "But I had also just given birth to my third child and was finding it increasingly difficult to balance both worlds. Pre-COVID, it was just not acceptable to have a job like that and work from home. We came very close to moving to Italy then, but were also drawn to the beauty and small-town feel of the Hamptons." In the end, she says. "Sag Harbor won our hearts, as it felt like the perfect place to raise our children year-round. We did, eventually, buy a home in Italy as well, but having our kids--now four of them--grow up here on the East End has been such a joy. We are very grateful that we made that crazy decision over a decade ago!"

But it proved not to be a complete retirement for the soon-to-be restaurateur. "It took less than a week for me to realize that I was too young to simply retire," she says. "Larry and I are both entrepreneurs at heart, so it wasn't long before we started building some businesses."

The first business was a boutique capital markets recruiting firm they founded together, Bay Street Advisors, and eventually opened their first restaurant, Tutto Il Giorno. "We built three of those before eventually selling the business to our other partners. Larry and I kept the Sag Harbor space and opened a new restaurant there, Dopo La Spiaggia with Maurizio Marfoglia, our then-chef/GM who is now a partner in all of our new restaurants."

Dopo in Sag Harbor was a hit, so they opened an East Hampton location, as well. And this summer they will introduce a sister restaurant, Argento, on Main Street in Southampton.

Aside from her own restaurants, some of Baum's favorite stops for food on the East End include picking up fresh mozzarella from Red Horse Market or Villa in East Hampton. She tries "to get it while still warm and 'squeeky.'"

"It sounds crazy to be opening a new restaurant during a pandemic, but we really believe in our staff and know that we have another hit on our hands," says Baum.

One of her latest endeavors is Splash Mixers, a line of better-for-you cocktail drink mixers. It's "the one I devote all of my efforts to now," says Baum. She conceived Splash Mixers after "noticing a void in an otherwise flooded consumer beverage industry...I found nothing that had the potential to become a truly ubiquitous category killer, so I invented one!" Splash Mixers are "low calorie, low sugar, natural, non-GMO" and, of course, tasty. It also needed to be in a glass bottle, to avoid plastic, and "be pretty enough to go anywhere." The project hit a few snags thanks to COVID-19, but Baum, an experienced businesswoman, was able to pivot. "The good news is that we found that we have a product that brought some smiles during these difficult times," she says. "It helped people connect during isolation, as friends were sending Splash to one another and arranging to meet for virtual cocktails online."

While Baum and Larry both still work a great deal, she credits her move to the East End for giving them the "flexibility to be present whenever our kids need us...We love our nightly family dinners and especially love to cook together with fresh produce from our garden at this time of year."

The family lives in a traditional Hamptons-style home overlooking the bay in Sag Harbor. "I make the kids open their curtains and really see the view we are so blessed with each morning," she says. "I will never tire of it--the way the light changes the scenery so intensely each day. I still pinch myself when I have my morning coffee."

Baum's home is "beautiful, but very accessible, as we have a large family with dogs and tons of visitors. We want our dinner guests to feel as comfortable as our kids and their friends do. I think that's what defines Hamptons style--that beachy, casual elegance that revolves around nature, those views and the light."

Time spent at home has created more time together with her family over the past few months. "Since our three eldest children now either work or go away to school, [the quarantine] provided us the opportunity to have everyone together here again for an extended time, which has been just amazing," she says. "I am reminded of how lucky we are to have a home base like this that they always love to come back to. It's hard to say there has been an upside to COVID-19, but it did cause us to renew that feeling we had when we first chose to move here. We are all reminded of what matters most as we seek to pack as much joy and appreciation into each day as we can."

Baum also works with Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) and created "Paddle & Party for Pink" nine years ago. While Baum was going through her own treatment for breast cancer, she found it to be a positive outlet for her. "Paddleboarding on these beautiful bays really helped heal me when I was going through chemo and that was the impetus for this big idea to give back," she says. "The Hamptons community really embraced the event in a huge way and I am very proud to say that together, we have raised over $12 million to fund research." This year, the event is on pause, and Baum is going through her own treatment for breast cancer again. "I do hope we can bring the event back next summer," she says.

In the present, East End continues to bring peace and comfort. "We really love it here," Baum says. "And we know how lucky we are to call his magical place our home."

Property of the Week: 2055 Albertson Lane, Greenport
July 30, 2020
With its rich land that has allowed for vineyards and farms to thrive, it was only a matter of time before the North Fork became a destination for new homeowners. "The North Fork has been discovered," says Thomas McCloskey of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, "and is no longer 'off the beaten path.' However, our pricing remains a great value when compared to the South Fork." The 2055 Albertson Lane, Greenport property, listed at $2.75 million, exemplifies this value. 2055 Albertson Lane, Greenport, The Numbers:
  • Listed at $2.75 million
  • 4 beds and 4 bathrooms
  • 6.6 acres of land
  • Built in 2020
"This is a great location for someone looking for privacy and views," says McCloskey. "The home has been strategically placed on the 6.6-acre lot to maximize the views of the undisturbed meadow. Incorporating an open floor plan into a modern farmhouse with oversized windows, all of the living spaces have lots of natural light and scenery. Combine all of that with a heated saltwater pool and elaborate deck, this home has been designed for entertaining year-round." [caption id="attachment_73966" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 2055 Albertson Lane, Greenport, Photo: Courtesy Douglas Elliman Real Estate[/caption] While the home is a new construction, the land is part of North Fork history. "The current owner fell in love with the view of the property from Albertson Lane and has been intent on maintaining as much of that view and meadow as possible post-construction," says McCloskey. "The previous owner called it Anthony's Ranch, as a reference to St. Anthony. A colleague of mine had an opportunity to purchase this lot decades ago and recalls it had been utilized by a local dairy farm for some of its cows. It had been separated from some of the adjacent property surrounding it in the late 1960s." [caption id="attachment_73967" align="aligncenter" width="600"] "Anthony's Ranch," Photo: Courtesy Douglas Elliman Real Estate[/caption] McCloskey emphasizes the North Fork location as a plum buying opportunity. "The North Fork is more vibrant and active in the off-season than the Hamptons, making it more attractive the buyer that wants to use the property year-round rather than just the high season," he says. "Lastly, the value-conscience buyer or investor has more upside potential with less downside risk than any other area on Long Island."
High-End Community Living at Country Pointe Meadows
July 29, 2020

Steven Dubb, principal at The Beechwood Organization, talks about the new Yaphank development Country Pointe Meadows and why it's a great fit for homeowners looking for a high-end community with close proximity to the East End, how the group is handling social distancing and more.

Tell us about the development of Country Pointe Meadows and how you approached designing this community. We have a lot of experience on Long Island designing active adult--or 55-plus--lifestyle communities and are known for it. We've developed over 60 communities since my father, Michael Dubb, established Beechwood in 1985.

Though we are now seeing increased interest from New Yorkers wanting to move east, most of our buyers are Long Islanders. They are "rightsizing" from their big family, house but want to remain on the island near friends and family. They are typically empty nesters, couples or singles, who want a new home at great value with low real estate taxes. They also want care-free living, no more shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, leaky roofs or basements. They want brand new homes with airy open floor plans, not too far from friends and family and close to highways, shopping, beaches and recreation. That was what was so attractive about this location.

At Country Pointe Meadows in Yaphank, we're building 400 new condominium homes. This is the for-sale component of The Boulevard, a master plan village, located on the former site of Yaphank's Parr Meadows Racetrack. It's adjacent to greenbelt trails and dedicated open space in Suffolk County's Town of Brookhaven, just off the Long Island Expressway at exit 68N and the William Floyd Parkway. The development is hailed for its traditional neighborhood design and smart growth principles. Residents can walk, bike or drive to nearby offices, shops, restaurants, hospitality, public parks and open space across the entire 322 acres.

The grounds our homes are built on are spacious and sprawling, beautifully landscaped and include a gazebo, ponds and dog parks. The 11,000-square-foot clubhouse is a centerpiece where homeowners can socialize but also exercise.

There are townhomes and villas. What was the thinking behind making these distinct styles? We have villas--spacious apartment style homes for single floor living--on the ground floor or second floor. We also have townhomes with living space spanning two or three levels.

Homes range from 1,470 to over 2,100 square feet of living space with two bedrooms and two or two-and-a-half baths, a loft, a den, a full-basement with the option for it to be finished, and one- or two-car garages. Buyers also get to personalize their homes working with our Design Center to choose their own designer fittings and finishes for the kitchen and bathrooms.

[caption id="attachment_73955" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Country Pointe Meadows, Yaphank, Photo: Courtesy Beechwood Homes[/caption]

What makes Country Pointe Meadows special and unique in the real estate market? For those who work, play or want to visit friends or family in the Hamptons, North Fork or parts west, they may not realize how close Yaphank really is. Exit 68 off the LIE is under 20 minutes east to Riverhead and 25 minutes west to Route 110. So it's about location for sure but also the cost of living, in a quality constructed home with great quality of life.

Community living is more affordable than one may realize at first. Many are surprised to learn the move to a 55-plus community will actually save them money. If you make a line-by-line cost comparison of monthly carrying costs, between owning one's existing family home and a new home in one of our communities, there are savings to be made on landscaping, pool maintenance, snow and refuse removal, homeowner insurance, security systems and gym/club memberships. Taxes are also comparatively less in community life. So our owners spend less and worry less with great quality of life. I like to refer to Country Pointe Meadows as a hidden gem.

Prices start in the upper-$400,000s for single-level living villas and the low $500,000s for townhomes with ground-floor master suites. Taxes start at around $3,700 for homeowners who qualify for the NY STAR program.

[caption id="attachment_73956" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Country Pointe Meadows, Yaphank, Photo: Courtesy Beechwood Homes[/caption]

Talk about the importance of the Clubhouse and its features and amenities. At the center of the community is a state-of-the-art 11,000-square-foot community clubhouse with a ballroom, card rooms, sports lounge with bar, fitness room, treatment room, concierge, activities director, two outdoor heated swimming pools plus tennis and bocce ball courts. Right now we're all socially distancing so we've moved many of the features outside from exercise equipment to seating areas. When we can get back, residents will be meeting their neighbors at the bar for cocktails, playing cards, watching a football game or taking an exercise class.

[caption id="attachment_73958" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Country Pointe Meadows, Yaphank, Photo: Courtesy Beechwood Homes[/caption]

Why is Country Pointe Meadows a great fit for someone 55 and up? Our homeowners enjoy making new friends and keeping busy. Their new carefree lifestyle is almost like being on vacation, free of the burden of home maintenance. They also enjoy living in brand new homes at this stage in their lives.

[caption id="attachment_73960" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Country Pointe Meadows, Yaphank, Photo: Courtesy Beechwood Homes[/caption]

For more information, visit

Hedges Index: Lucky Number Seven
July 24, 2020
The number seven is widely regarded as the luckiest number of all. There are seven days of the week, seven colors in the rainbow, seven notes in a music scale, seven continents on Earth with seven seas to be sailed--the list goes on. As we head into the final week of the seventh month of the year, we celebrate this double Mersenne prime number in the Hamptons and on the North Fork, and hope it brings us all a bit of good fortune.

Number of New York State park beaches on the East End 7

Number of incorporated villages in Southampton Town 7

Number of wineries in Peconic 7

Number of Westhampton Dunes households reported in the 2000 census 7 (now 28)

Miles of shoreline in East Hampton Town 70

Estimated number of Shelter Island Heights cottages built in the 1970s 70

Estimated time to drive from Rogers Beach in Westhampton Beach to Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett 70 minutes

[caption id="attachment_73944" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Indian Wells beach, Photo: Rob Liebowitz[/caption]

Rate of Southampton Town owner-occupied housing units from 2014-2018 77.7%

Miles to drive from Montauk Point Lighthouse to Orient Point Lighthouse without the ferry 77 (45 miles with ferry)

[caption id="attachment_73946" align="aligncenter" width="400"] The Orient Point Lighthouse, Photo: David Wood/123RF[/caption]

Number of 7th Streets on the East End 4

Listing price of a seven-bedroom Bridgehampton home on Montauk Highway in 1977 $150,000

Year that Margot at the Wedding, filmed in Hampton Bays, was released 2007

[caption id="attachment_73945" align="aligncenter" width="337"] "Margot at the Wedding," Photo: BLT Communications, LLC[/caption]
Mansions of the Gilded Age: Opulence Finds a New Home
July 23, 2020

Vanderbilt. Hearst. Astor. Names that conjure images of a kind of wealth and opulence that could have only existed in another era. The time period they defined, or that defined them, derived its own name from the satirical The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, and today the era offers a powerful point of reflection on a time of vast social and economic change. But it is also remembered for the magnificent homes that rose along with fortunes and those famous, sometimes infamous, family legacies. Many have been destroyed over time, yet in the heart of a local architect whose passion for the past and embrace of that most "today" of technologies, they remain more vibrant than ever.

"Mansions of the Gilded Age" social media accounts, which are thriving on various platforms, aim to transport the viewer to another time with an array of historic mansions on display. The project, helmed by Stony Brook architect Gary Lawrance, all started back in 2007 when he was doing publicity for his book Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930 with co-author Anne Surchin.

It began with a Facebook page. "Little by little, I discovered and joined Facebook groups about old houses and mansions," Lawrance recalls. After a while he decided to create a group of his own, which "focused only on the estates and mansions built during the Gilded Age, the time of great wealth and opulent living from 1870 to 1930.

"It all ended right after the stock market crash of 1929," Lawrance continues. "In the beginning of the Gilded Age, families such as Vanderbilt, Whitney, Astor and Frick could claim to be worth over $100 million, which would be billions today."

Magnificent estates and mansions went up all over the country, including here on the East End and along Long Island's Gold Coast on the North Shore. With a large archive of material, it "was easy to post new information about these mansions, most of it never seen before by social media audiences," says Lawrance. The Facebook group started with a few hundred members and today has more than 100,000.

The Instagram account followed a few years later. "At first, I was concerned that being so busy on Facebook, I wouldn't have time. However, it required less time sharing the same information, since Instagram is more about images with smaller captions." There are now some 83,000 followers.

"Since I can remember, I have always wanted to be an architect," says Lawrance. In the early 1960s, he says, "All my LEGO creations were of mansions and castles, never spaceships." He became very good at the craft, creating LEGO mansions of the Lyndhurst in Tarrytown that took over half of his parent's two-car garage.

Lawrance's interest in the houses of the Gilded Age era started at a young age, making it easy to populate the social media realm (in addition to the @mansionsofthegildedage Instagram, he also manages @thegildedagesociety, @gildedagebooks and @garylawrancearchitect) with new information. "I have a large book collection, news clippings, photos and postcards of mansions from Long Island's Gold Coast, Newport, Rhode Island, Fifth Avenue, New York City, and many other areas throughout the country.

"I have always felt how nice it was to share my lifelong interest with others who did not know all about the era and the opulent mansions that were built," he says.

[caption id="attachment_73940" align="aligncenter" width="646"] Harbor Hill, Courtesy The Gary Lawrance Collection[/caption]

What are some of Lawrance's favorite mansions on Long Island? "Part of me likes those huge, rambling houses that are seen in the book and many of them are gone," he answers. "The best part of writing the book was finding all the wonderful mansions that once stood along the ocean and were either damaged and taken down during the 1938 hurricane, or those that have burned or been demolished for new houses."

In the Hamptons, he names Wooldon Manor as a favorite. The home was a Tudor style, 60-room mansion that once stood on the corner of Gin Lane and Lake Agawam in Southampton. It was demolished in the 1940s. He also favors Villa Millie Fiori, a towering stucco Italian Villa on Coopers Neck Lane in Southampton that was demolished in the 1960s. And there is also Four Fountains, which once stood on Halsey Neck Lane in Southampton and was demolished last year.

Among the North Shore Gold Coast mansions, reminiscent of all their former Gatsby grandeur, he's a fan of "the restored Otto Kahn mansion at Cold Spring Harbor, known as Oheka. It is currently used as a wedding and events venue and has amazing gardens which have been restored."

He also notes Inisfada, a 75-room brick Tudor mansion that stood in North Hills until 2013. It "was so big that its towers rose into the sky almost five stories high. Another, which is hardly known at all since it was destroyed in the 1950s, was the beautiful Shoremond estate on Centre Island," he says.

However, Lawrance's overall favorite was the Harbor Hill French Chateau at Roslyn, designed by legendary architect Stanford White. "The house sat on the highest hill of Long Island and you could see the Atlantic Ocean and the New York City skyline," he says. "With almost 100 rooms, it was the scene of many fabulous parties, including one in honor of the Prince of Wales in the 1920s, where over 1,000 of the North Shore elite attended. I am so in love with Harbor Hill, which was demolished in the late 1940s, that I recreated it as a 3D computer model."

After graduating from New York Institute of Technology in 1982, Lawrance went to work for the Spector Group architects and worked on the many modern office buildings in which the group was involved. "Most new architectural graduates also did models, which I especially enjoyed," he says.

[caption id="attachment_73941" align="aligncenter" width="667"] Ballyshear, from "Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930"[/caption]

In the early 1990s, he started his own business. It was around that time that larger classic shingle-style homes became popular on the East End. "Through recommendations and mailings, I started getting calls to build paper models," he says. Word spread that this unique art was Lawrance's specialty, and clients came to include Francis Fleetwood, Peter Cook, Frank Greenwald, John Laffey, Katherine McCoy, Peabody & Schulz, Preston Phillips and John David Rose.

In 2011, an exhibit of Lawrance's models was displayed at the Southampton History Museum, and he currently continues to build what he calls "classic paper models" as well as 3D computer models and renderings, through his company, Gary Lawrance Architect. He believes that both perform different aspects. "Nothing really takes the place of a model that you can put on a table and look at from all angles."

Gary Lawrance will be giving a webinar on the Houses and Gardens of the Hamptons in the Gilded Age on July 28. On July 22 he will host a webinar on the Long Island Gold Coast Estates and discuss Harbor Hill, The Shoremond estate, Oheka and others. The webinars are through the New York Adventure Club. Visit

Town & Country CEO Judi Desiderio Talks 2Q Numbers
July 22, 2020

"Considering we were locked down due to COVID-19 most of this quarter, the statistics show the resilience of the Hamptons Home Sales Market!"

Town & Country Real Estate CEO Judi Desiderio shares her insights for the Hamptons market after the second quarter. Despite a quarantine in which the market was forced to adapt to remote sales and closings, there were some strong numbers on the South Fork.

East Hampton Village had the highest Median Home Sales Price at $5,150 and the most expensive home sale according to the Town & Country 2nd Quarter Home Sales Report--32 Windmill Lane for $37 million. The increased activity on the high end (over $5 million) resulted in a spike in Total Home Sales Volume of +195%.

On the other end of the spectrum, Montauk took longer to thaw out. Year over year the Number of Home Sales sank 55% to only 9 for the entire second quarter and a Total Home Sales Volume drop of 39%.

Westhampton (which includes Remsenburg, Westhampton Beach, East Quogue, Quogue and Quiogue) saw the greatest statistical increase of 32% in the Number of Home Sales of all the 12 markets monitored by Town & Country.

Southampton Village had the second highest Median Home Sales Price at $3,825,000--a 7.75% increase year-over-year 2019 to 2020.

Sag Harbor Area (which includes Noyack and North Haven) enjoyed a nice 'sail' of home sales over $3 million, which popped the Median Home Sales Price up 52.5% to $1.475.

Sag Harbor Village Median Home Sales Price was $2,424,795--nearly 39% greater than last year but the Number of Home Sales tanked 60%.

Amagansett closed a $21 million home sale on the beach at 189 Marine Blvd--a new high watermark for the Dunes.

Looking at All Hamptons Markets Combined and you can see the number of sales year-to-year are on par but the Median Home Sales Price increased by 26% to $1,325,000 in 2020 from $1,050,000 in 2019.

This 2nd Quarter Home Sales Report demonstrates a slight uptick, particularly at sales over $1 million--watching closely the existing activity and I can say with confidence the 3rd Q 2020 Home Sales Report will be even better.

Desiderio acknowledges that the COVID-19 lockdown did have a negative impact on the North Fork markets.

Mattituck (which includes Laurel and Cutchogue) experienced a surge of 23.2% increased Median Home Sales Price to $717,500 2nd Q 2020 from $582,500 same period 2019. But the Number of Home Sales dropped 25% year-over-year.

Southold (which includes New Suffolk and Peconic) also enjoyed an uptick in Median Home Sales Price of 16.3% to $700,00 from $601,750 for the 2nd Q 2020 from 2019.

Orient (which includes East Marion and Greenport) had only 1 less home sale compared to last year but with that sale being over $2 million it resulted in the Median Home Sales Volume slipping 21.7%

Jamesport (which includes Aquebogue, Baiting Hollow and South Jamesport) experienced a quarter of unremarkable difference 2nd Q 2020 from 2019.

Desiderio notes that while this 2nd Quarter looked like a pullback in activity, I can say with confidence that the activity level moving forward to the 3rd Q will be vastly different. "The North Fork is no longer the best kept secret on the East End--the word is out!"

At Home with Joey Wölffer
July 17, 2020

One thing became evident to Joey Wölffer over the past few months, and that is the importance of home.

"I've spent my life running from thing to thing being busy," says Wölffer, the co-owner of Wölffer Estate Vineyard, Joey Wölffer Boutique, Wölffer Stables and Wölffer Kitchen. Wölffer says that the past few months, as the world has dealt with the quarantine, have forced her to "stop and look at my life and home." She adds that this time spent at home has been a "blessing."

Her previous home was a "special little spot" in Redwood, Sag Harbor. As her family began expanding, they realized they needed more space. "We were living in this cute little house," she recalls. After outgrowing the home two years ago, she and her husband, two children and two dogs moved to a new home in North Haven.

"We slowly changed it and decorated it," she says of the North Haven home. "It's been really fun during this time, just getting really comfortable in our space. I think our attitude towards home life has completely changed with this. We feel safe at home. Home is really your safe zone. We have projects at night now, rather than just going to another dinner party. My husband is really into photography. We're just kind of diving into parts of ourselves that we shut down for years by saying that we're so busy."

Wölffer had been in Florida when the pandemic hit, and has recently closed her Palm Beach store, while her namesake boutique in Sag Harbor continues to offer a treasure trove of pieces by a mix of designers, vintage finds and her own creations. Ultimately, what was best for her family was to be on the East End.

"My life is here, my family is here, my vineyard is here," says Wölffer.

"At first, when this started, we felt completely immobilized. We were really scared," she says of the onset of the pandemic.

The furniture from her Palm Beach store was shipped to Sagaponack to decorate the Beach Shack, a new outdoor clothing boutique, which makes use of the deck space at the Wölffer Wine Stand.

[caption id="attachment_73930" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Photo: Courtesy Wölffer Estate Vineyard[/caption]

"It was really on a whim," she says, on the opening of Beach Shack. Wölffer launched the Styleliner Truck, a luxury accessories boutique on wheels, in 2010. The Beach Shack's merchandise is similar to what would be inside the truck, but outside.

"As a shopper, what an ideal way to shop--outside!" she says. As businesses begin to open, shoppers may be hesitant to jump back into stores, and shopping outdoors offers a way for them to feel safe.

"It's still going through our heads," she says of the store's reopening, and consumer confidence about shopping indoors. "You can't go from being locked up to being out and about and feeling comfortable. That's the struggle, getting back into society."

"I wont let anyone in my store without a mask," she asserts.

Over the past few months, businesses have had to get creative to drive business. When COVID-related closures first began, the vineyard set up a rosé drive-thru, so that East Enders could pick up Wölffer's famous rosé, without leaving the car. She credits her husband, Max Rohn, for coming up with the idea.

With the pandemic, the team was forced to be creative. Her main goal was to keep everyone employed. "We love our team. We worked really hard to get a team of people like that together," she says.

"My proudest moment of this whole thing is being able to keep employees on through a crisis and I hope we'll be able to continue to do that," says Wölffer.

With the reopening of the vineyard the goal is to keep customers and employees safe. "We've been extra careful," she says. "We are not taking advantage of the situation. We're in for the long haul."

Many East End businesses have taken a hit over the past few months. "We're never going to be able to match the numbers we're used to doing and we've come to terms with that," she says. "We'd rather the experience be great."

With social distancing regulations in place, all tables at the vineyard are situated outdoors, with stunning views of the vineyard. Visitors can enjoy food selections including small plates and seasonal specials, as well wine by the bottle or glass.

She also believes that the vineyard can bring a new level of experience as time goes on. "We need to do this right," she says. "We're a family brand and we've been around forever, we'd like to continue to be around forever."

Wölffer Girls, a ready to wear tie-dye collection is also available, with a portion of sales from the collection going to benefit the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center. Each piece is hand tie-dyed with love by Joey, family and team. The concept was created at the beginning of the pandemic to help her teach her young daughters the importance of giving back.

"I was really, like a lot of people, really depressed when this all happened I was feeling really lost," says Wölffer.

She called on one of her friends, in tears. "I've gone from doing a million things to feeling completely lost," she recalls saying.

Her friend's advice was this: "It's okay to have one project you're working on."

"I've always survived on doing so many things at once," says Wölffer.

"I really took that and ran with it," she says. The tie-dye job became her one project. "I'm up all night sewing. I love it."

"My older daughter really liked it, because she could get covered in blue," she laughs. She also tells a story about her Jack Russell jumping into the dye, noting it was the "funniest thing ever."

How does she balance it all?

"I will never take credit for everything because that's not real. I have incredible people working for me in everything that I do and I'm surrounded by people who also have great ideas and people who want to work hard."

"You're able to be successful because of the people you surround yourself with. No one ever does it on their own," she says. "I think team work, especially during these times is the most important."

Property of the Week: The Water Street Shops, Sag Harbor
July 16, 2020

The Water Street Shops property in Sag Harbor is for sale. This significant and large commercial property comprises several retail units in a prime spot and is listed by Enzo Morabito at Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

22 Long Island Avenue, the Numbers Listed at $13.9 million Built in 1950 Features 8 retail units 15,188 square feet .67 acres

Ssg Harborites will no doubt recognize the property, which is currently home to 7-Eleven, Water Street Wine & Spirits and Sing City. There are 4 office suites on the upper level. The property is zoned Village Business and features a 15,188+/- square foot mixed use retail building and a 30+/- spot parking lot, accessible via two curb cuts, with 300+/- feet of frontage on West Water Street, panoramic water views and is adjacent to a high-end residential waterfront development. There is also a single-family living space with 1 full bathroom.

"We've had tremendous interest in 22 Long Island Avenue--the location is everything," says Morabito. "It overlooks what will be John Steinbeck's park, which was bought by the Community Preservation Fund. It has an open view to the harbor, with all of the boats in clear sight. The beauty of a commercial property in Sag Harbor is that it's a great location for a small business, which is exactly what the community needs and keeps the village thriving."

[caption id="attachment_73924" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 22 Long Island Avenue, Sag Harbor, Photo: Courtesy Douglas Elliman Photography[/caption]
Master Craftsman: John Wanag, Montauk Custom Rods
July 15, 2020

The East End has changed much over the centuries, but fishing remains a stalwart constant upon our shores. Long before robust homes laid lengthy shadows across the dunes, and long since, local men have cast net and line to pull their harvest from the sea. The traditions are time-honored and the tools and techniques largely unmodified.

John Wanag of Montauk Custom Rods in East Hampton continues this tradition, crafting fine fishing rods for customers throughout the Hamptons, North Fork and around the country. Using a wide range of materials, the artisan imbues unique character into each rod, combining his aesthetic sensibility with buyers' tastes and personalities to create a signature piece that's the envy of fellow anglers.

Wanag's keen eye and talent for making dream fishing rods real come from lifelong experience in the industry and a love of the sport.

[caption id="attachment_73919" align="aligncenter" width="375"] Photo: Courtesy Montauk Custom Rods[/caption]

"It started eons ago, when I was 12 or 13 years old. I lost my father when I was young, about 9, and these two guys from a tackle shop in the next town over, Westport, Connecticut, took me in," Wanag says, recalling the first step toward his future business. "I was hanging around there and they would put me to work, making the boxes for sandworms and counting them. I would sweep up the store or whatever, and one of the guys, Larry, was building a rod--he would do custom rods and I would watch him. He showed me."

Those men also dragged young Wanag to Montauk for charters, but by age 16 his interest turned from fishing to more enticing pursuits. "I found girls and cars," he admits, noting that he attended just one semester of college after high school before the fishing muse took hold again. "It wasn't for me, but I always had Montauk in the back of my head." As a young man, Wanag returned to the sea and worked sport fishing charters in Montauk and Florida. He later became a commercial fisherman, sailing aboard the Deliverance and Restless, tile fishing mostly. "But I did everything--I dragged, whatever I needed to do to make a buck."

Once he had a wife and children, Wanag became more attuned to the dangers of commercial fishing, and he eventually gave that up, too. "We were losing guys," he says. "A couple buddies of mine who had kids the same age as my daughter, they went down." By that time, Wanag already had vast experience on the water and continued to fish for fun. Even his next move, joining the restaurant industry, fittingly led him to the After Fishing Bar & Grill at Gone Fishing Marina and Montauk's Star Deck.

[caption id="attachment_73920" align="aligncenter" width="375"] Photo: Courtesy Montauk Custom Rods[/caption]

Wanag's destiny finally took hold after his newly divorced wife threw away all his best fishing gear. What felt like a great loss, put him back on course to his calling. A friend gave Wanag a couple of old rods to get him back in action, and his instinct as a craftsman took over. "I fixed them up," Wanag says, noting that his buddy couldn't believe what he was able to do with the worse-for-wear castoffs. "That's how it really all got started."

After impressing everyone with his remarkable talent for rod building and repair, friends and acquaintances began requesting Wanag for small jobs here and there, and he did them well. "I ended up buying and building a couple of custom rods for myself, and somebody asked me, could I build them one?" He agreed and then took more custom orders. At a certain point, Wanag ended up building some rods for a customer who never paid or picked them up, but once again, his loss brought even greater prosperity and clarity of vision. "Somebody suggested I put them on eBay...within about an hour they both sold." So Wanag built and sold more rods. "It slowly grew," he says, explaining how Montauk Custom Rods took shape.

In time, Wanag built a website, began attending shows and selling his creations to fishermen all over the United States, especially the West Coast, and even far-flung locales like Australia and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Though he could live off Montauk Custom Rods alone, he also works at a local lumber yard, remaining an active member of the Teamsters Union for the benefits.

Wanag's designs go from traditional to highly customized, with everything from his second wife and fellow fishing maven Helen McGuire's pink "Fishing Diva" rods and hats to a one-of-a-kind Avengers-themed rod, plus custom gaffs and even tackle and fly-fishing rods. Materials include handmade blanks, cork or foam grips, carbon fiber, real rattlesnake and copperhead skin, graphite, abalone shell, psychedelic hydro-dipped paintjobs, airbrushing, camouflage patterns, Zirconia (or Zirconium) guides and ring inserts, team logos, band names and just about any graphic one could imagine--as long as it works on a cylindrical shape.

"I'll work with just about anything that I can get on a rod. I'm always experimenting, always trying to figure out something different--something you haven't seen yet," Wanag says, acknowledging that his rods are always on his mind. He's now considering trying to replicate vintage wooden rod butts with a duplicating lathe and is adding a "Tiffany Blue" rod to the Fishing Diva line. "It's endless," Wanag explains. "It's endless when you start to think about some of this stuff."

Real Estate Roundtable: Inquiring Minds
July 10, 2020

Questions. They are everywhere around us, and new ones keep popping up all the time. At certain moments, it can even feel that the more we know, the more answers we seek. With that in mind, we turned to real estate experts and insiders on the East End to learn what essential questions buyers and sellers need to be asking in the current market and climate.

As we work through unprecedented times, I counsel both sellers and buyers in a similar manner discussing the immediate life style needs of the family and how the potential transaction fits their overall financial portfolio. For buyers the market is still offering plenty of opportunity at every price point from Southampton to East Hampton and for sellers that have been on the sidelines the time is now to come to market.--James Peyton, The Corcoran Group

In today's world, safe and secure is on every buyer's list. The weekend/summer home is now an alternative full-time living space. Buyers and renters want to know the health status of the prior occupants. This is the first time I have heard "We want the house to be sterilized before we move in." I had to actually had to look up what sterilization meant in reference to a home. Sellers want assurance that the potential buyers are and had been COVID-19-free. It is a new world with new norms. Will we ever be the same?--Alan Schnurman, Saunders & Associates

Sellers need to be asking 1) How long will demand like this last? 2) How long will interest rates remain this low? Buyers should be asking 1) How long will interest rates remain this low and will the bank make the borrowing requirements more stringent? 2) With inventory on the North Fork so low, what am I willing to live without in the home that I eventually purchase?--Thomas McCloskey, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

With buyers looking to spend more time out east, the question they need to ask is, If the home is not everything they want, "Can I get permits to do what I want here?" Sellers should make sure their buyer is qualified and can close the transaction, because the wave we're on right now, like everything else, will eventually come to an end. Do not accept a deal with back doors out of the contract.--Judi Desiderio, Town & Country Real Estate

What will the housing landscape look like in five years. Where will houses and properties appreciate, versus what fits and solves as problem right now.--Frank and Dawn Bodenchak, Sotheby's International Realty

Buyers need to ask if properties have offers currently on them, and sellers need to ask if they're priced appropriately. Homes are selling across all price points when they're within striking distance of market value.--Tim Morabito and Nicole Weiss, Compass Real Estate

Buyers should be speaking to their lender and inquiring about taking full advantage of the incredibly low interest rates. Sellers should be speaking to their brokers and inquiring about how to get the most out of their investment in this extraordinary market.--Todd Bourgard, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

The most frequently asked question by sellers is "Is this the right time to sell my house?" For the first time, in a long time, the answer is resolutely "Yes." We are not suggesting home prices are going to soar in this new market. They have been too high for too long. What we know for sure is that homes that are priced responsibly are going to get sold.--Keith Green & Ann Ciardullo, Sotheby's International Realty