Real Estate Roundtable: A Year Changed It All

The waterfront properties at 24, 28 and 32 Bittersweet Lane in Noyac are for sale through Nest Seekers for $10 million.
Courtesy of Nest Seekers

With the one year anniversary of COVID’s arrival here, it also marks one of the busiest times in Hamptons real estate as people fled New York City for more space to hunker down. That meant agents stayed busy, while a lot of us (healthcare workers excluded) slowed down. What was the last year like for you professionally and how has it changed your perspective?

“I have been a broker here for 36 years. During that span, I have conducted business through two crashes, some recessions and a few bull markets. I have learned ‘the only thing constant is change’… that’s a very important lesson for anyone, especially in real estate. Last year was like no other. The past 12 months swung business from one extreme (total shutdown of all business) to the other (frenetic buyer activity). We saw agents working feverishly without a day off for several months in order to take care of their clients. This business is not for the faint hearted. Professionally, I navigate through this time of extremes with a steadfast focus on moving forward and remaining fluid. As with all other trends, this too shall pass, and then we will be propelled to a new adventurous market. Change is constant. It is exhilarating. I always say, ‘I love that no two days are ever the same.'” – Judi Desiderio, Town & Country Real Estate

“With the arrival of COVID one year ago, as we know, everyone’s world dramatically changed. My professional life during this time took on a new frantic pace, beginning with immediate needs for rentals then translating into homes to sell or purchase. The pace was non-stop, both days and nights. As the result of this past year, I have become even more laser focused with my time, an approach with both buyers and sellers, ultimately being very direct on the process and moving a client to act quickly. By being honest, direct and focused, whether they are selling their home or looking for the right property to buy, is a more enhanced norm I plan to follow moving forward.” – Timothy O’Connor, Brown Harris Stevens

“COVID’s arrival changed our real estate market at a breakneck pace. All of a sudden the phone did not stop ringing and the market exploded with urgency. Amid the frenzy, I sold houses via FaceTime and sight unseen. The speed at which business can be done is a whole new world. My perspective shifted to understand that now, more than ever, my clients’ trust in me is paramount. It’s crucial to know the inventory, ensure my clients are informed with data and prepared to pull the trigger very quickly. While it was an unexpected year, what hasn’t surprised me is the incredible and enduring desirability of the Hamptons, as it’s the perfect place to live on so many levels.” – Rima Mardoyan Smyth, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

“One word immediately comes to mind when thinking about 2020: Unprecedented. I’ve been in the business for more than 25 years and have never experienced the Hamptons market quite like it was last year. Even the post-9/11 era migration paled in comparison to the influx of people wanting a lifestyle change this year. Many brokers have worked the hyper-competitive market around the clock day in and day out for the past 12 months. It’s been common to see multiple offers and bidding wars on properties and now we’re also dealing with a lack of inventory in both sales and rentals. Frothy market conditions aside, homes that are priced competitively generally still sell quickly, with plenty of interest, while those overpriced tend to sit on the market. The last 12 months certainly make me extremely grateful to all of my clients and customers, many of whom I’ve worked with on multiple deals over the years. My goal, as always, is to forge relationships that last. Honesty, integrity and determination are the traits that I pride myself on and they’ve sometimes become harder to find in our business and in today’s world. I hope that our collective experience of 2020 makes each and every one of us more aware of what really matters most; our family, our friends, our health and our homes.” – Dana Trotter, Sotheby’s International Real Estate

“I’ve always been an obsessively hard worker, but this past year took it to a new level. I’ve been working seven days a week nonstop. I’ve had a record year professionally for which I am grateful. I realize how fortunate I am and make a point of giving back to my community both through service and donations. Since COVID, there has been a fundamental paradigm shift. People have discovered that the Hamptons lifestyle can be enjoyed year-round and that they can work remotely. I think that shift is here to stay. I don’t see the market softening any time soon given the limited inventory. There’s never been a better time to sell or rent your home. On a personal note, my goal for 2021 is to find some balance and spend more time with friends and family. I’m hoping that with the vaccine more readily available, we can all enjoy a healthy summer together!” – Jackie Lowey, Saunders & Associates

“Being a part of the 2020 Hamptons real estate world really solidified a lot of the things I already knew about the Hamptons. I think the folks that initially came out here to rent, during the first wave of the virus, realized quickly that this was a very special place and a safe haven in certain ways. As we know, a lot of those initial renters became purchasers during the back end of Q2 and through late summer. There’s one underlying word that comes to mind — control. Instead of being at the mercy of an extremely dense population in NYC and some of the restrictive ways of life there, instead of having to scramble to overpay on homes they do not own out here, individuals finally realized the intrinsic value to owning in the Hamptons. Whether that meant securing a safe haven for them and their families in case a pandemic like the coronavirus were to happen again, whether that meant enhancing their quality of life by ways of outdoor activities and fresh air, or making a solid asset investment play for the future, so many forward thinking individuals finally realized the importance and blessing that is owning a piece of the Hamptons. I feel lucky and privileged to have been able to help so many different buyers/sellers/investors/renters find some peace of mind in a very chaotic and tumultuous time for the world.” – J.B. Andreassi, Nest Seekers International 

“The comfort of home security is priceless. With the world in chaos many people had similar goals, a home in the country where everything is under one roof, a quiet space to work from home near a quaint town with great food, the ability to walk along the ocean or sit by the bay. Even the most secure people felt desperate for this. For me 2020 was a year of evolution, quick pivoting and compromise. I was grateful we had just formed the Sarraf + Hoffman + Beck Team. Through our dedicated teamwork and fully focused guidance to our clients we were able to find more than 100 families a safe place to call home.” – Caroline Sarraf, Compass

This article appeared in the March issue of Behind The Hedges. 

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