Emmy-winning lifestyle host Sara Gore is one of America’s most recognized television personalities, especially when it comes to the world of real estate. She hosts the ever-popular Open House, a nationally syndicated real estate, architecture and design show celebrating its 15th season this fall. The show features some of the country’s most beautiful homes and offers inspiration from the industry’s top designers and most in-demand brokers.
In addition, the New York native hosts NBC 4 New York’s popular daily lifestyle series, New York Live, where Gore explores the best of what New York has to offer from fashion trends to top food and restaurant choices. Gore has also hosted NBC’s 1st Look, Live on the Red Carpet specials for the Golden Globes, Primetime Emmy Awards and other specials produced for LXTV, and has appeared regularly on The Today Show, Beat Bobby Flay and Worst Cooks in America.
On top of all that, Gore joined Million Dollar Listing New York’s Ryan Serhant at his eponymous brokerage in 2021. While based in Manhattan, SERHANT. has a satellite post here in the Hamptons.
Congratulations on the 15th anniversary of Open House. Such a long-running show is quite an accomplishment. Why do you think it has resonated so much with viewers over the years?
Thank you! I think people find comfort in watching our show – cuddling up, grabbing a cup of coffee, watching some amazing design and getting some inspiration for their own home. Our show is aspirational. It’s an escape. It’s a moment of zen and a great way to ease into your Sunday. And I’m happy to be a part of that. I love when people tell me that their Sunday mornings start with a cup of coffee and Open House.
Can you give us a taste of what you have planned for this season’s shows?
This season we are continuing to seek out and feature the best of the best not only in the city and the tri-state area, but also all over the country for our national version of Open House. Plus, we’re going international! We’ll be highlighting more celeb homes and distinctive properties. I am personally hoping for more travel episodes because I love when we get out and explore architecture and the culture in different parts of the country.
How did you first get involved with the show?
I have been involved with the show since its inception in 2007. I was working with a then-broadband network first called Code TV which was then changed to LXTV. I was mostly covering food and restaurants to begin with because of my cooking background, and moved on to more general lifestyle coverage. One day, Morgan Hertzan (who started LXTV with Joseph Varet) sent me to George Oliphant’s apartment at the time on Minetta to record what would be the “sizzle” for a real estate show. A sizzle is like an abbreviated version of a show. It’s a proof of concept to help sell it. We recorded in a kitchen corner! It didn’t seem like much and I had very little knowledge of what we were going for. Some short time later, I was filming our premiere episode. At the time I thought who wants to watch a show about real estate? (Because I don’t believe there were any outside of HGTV at the time.) Now I realize… apparently a lot of people! Here we are 15 years later.
Speaking of milestones, you just celebrated the 13th anniversary of New York Live, as well. What has been your
recipe for success on the show?
What I love about having done both New York Live and Open House for so long is that they are completely different animals. Different energy. Different audience. One is live and one is taped. If you told me 13 years ago that I would still be live on TV every day for the next 13 years…I wouldn’t have been able to mentally get a hold of that! Now, it’s just a fun thing I get to do. In the beginning, we worried about staying on the air and there was stress in that. Time has allowed me to settle in and just enjoy it. There are no nerves. I just go in prepared, and after that, it’s just gravy. Each day is different.
How are the homes on Open House selected?
We have a talented team of producers who are always on the hunt for not only super high-end luxury, but also places with a unique or interesting history. Now, we have brokers, designers, even homeowners reaching out to us. Having done this for so long, we have established great relationships within the business.
Is there anything that you’ve learned from Open House that you have taken back to your own home design projects?
Absolutely! I am constantly inspired to take ideas from the show and incorporate them into my own home. It’s actually a dangerous show to be a part of. I always want to change something. I redid my entire dining room during the pandemic… learned how to wallpaper and did my laundry room, two bathrooms, and a bedroom. I have reupholstered furniture because I’ll see something I like and want to try it myself. I have painted large canvases after seeing something I like on the show or at a listing. I chalk-paint furniture to match a theme or a trend I’ve seen. I just love a DIY moment and I love to redecorate!
When did real estate first pique your interest? How did it become such a central theme in your life?
It started young! My mother always had an interest in design and in building homes. She was basically the acting general contractor on any home we lived in growing up. She was a fan of designing a home and building it from scratch as opposed to buying one. She loved the process. I grew up always looking at design and home improvement shows and magazines, filling my head with ideas. We even painted murals on walls together. On the real estate side… I worked in property management in college and had intended to get my license early on. Acting, cooking, and hosting put that on the side burner until the pandemic hit and I finally had the time to take the course and get my license.
How did you make the jump into selling real estate?
After having hosted this show for so many years and loving being a part of the world of luxury real estate, I was ready to take that next step. As I mentioned, I had wanted to for some time, but just couldn’t find the time. Now, I could take everything I learned about marketing a property, about staging, about the attention to detail required in this field and apply it to this whole other side of the business. I enjoy being a part of this pivotal moment for homeowners or buyers. It feels like a fresh start… a new chapter. And change is good! So I always like to see it as a positive. Being a real estate agent is somewhat like being a matchmaker, but in this case we’re helping to find the right home for the right owner.
What sets SERHANT. apart?
SERHANT. was just the right fit for me. It is the future of selling real estate. They understand the importance of branding yourself and connecting with clients by organically showing them what you have to offer, especially through social media. It’s flush with resources to help make you and your properties shine. We have access to designer staging, high-end photography, film-quality media and content capabilities. It’s a one-stop shop.
Why did you choose to become a SERHANT. Signature agent?
For me it was a no-brainer. I’ve known Ryan Serhant through the years. When he told me he was starting his own agency and his vision for it… it just made sense. SERHANT. is at the crossroad of media and real estate, which is clearly my lane. I also liked being able to join in its early years (that’s my sweet spot and has proven beneficial for me in the past)!
You must have toured hundreds of luxury homes between Open House and your position at SERHANT. Are there any particular homes that stand out as your favorites?
Ah! That’s like picking a favorite child. And very often it’s the child you are caring for at the time you are asked. Ha! So… I have to say I LOVE my duplex at One57 overlooking Central Park right now. It’s stunning and has such a positive energy. You know how you can just feel a home’s energy when you walk in? This is a happy place. And it makes me happy whenever I’m in it. Which is why it’s where we hosted the 15th anniversary press event for Open House on September 15. The solarium alone is unparalleled — that’s what I love about NY real estate! One place is better than the next for completely different reasons. It’s about finding the one that makes you happiest and meets your needs at that time in your life.
Particularly from Manhattan to Montauk?
Well, I think what clients are looking for in the city is the complete opposite of what they are looking for in the Hamptons. I think anything on the water is going to be prime real estate. To me… it’s the reason for having a home there.
Or are there any features that particularly come to mind?
If I’m in the city it’s all about the views and the outdoor space. I grew up in upstate New York where there was space, greenery, and land, but it certainly did not have the world at its feet like the city does. So after moving here at 17 for college… I knew this was home, but I still crave the outdoors. So I covet a NYC pad with views and outdoor space. I have to say though I might be willing to lose some outdoor space for a basement level pool, spa, and wellness studio. I think that was a home on Open House from last year. What a showstopper. Some homes I have been in have been the ultimate playground. Two homes that stick out are from two designers I love: Lela Rose and Cynthia Rowley. They are both playful while being stunning and whimsical, functional and fun. I remember swinging on the swing that hangs over the end of the dining room table that opens up from the floor. So when they aren’t using that 20-seat table, it’s a dance floor! Cynthia’s home is as she describes it… The Royal Tenenbaums on acid. The gold piano that she uses as an oversized ice bucket for parties… genius.
Speaking of Manhattan real estate, how do you think city real estate is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic?
We all know the New York City real estate market has taken a hit. When the pandemic hit, real estate transactions slowed significantly. Deals didn’t close. People got cold feet, which is understandable as we were all living in such uncertainty.
Then there was a shift. The city started coming alive again. The market was really in a healthier place when people started to want change. Whether they were moving in or moving out, the fact is, there was movement. Obviously a lot of people were selling to move out of the city and into more suburban areas and people’s wants and needs changed with wanting outdoor space and home offices. Prices came down a little and gave buyers an opportunity to scoop things up. If things were priced correctly… they would sell relatively quickly.
Now that we are dealing with rising interest and mortgage rates, people are certainly showing some hesitation with when is the right time to buy; it’s the ageold question. As we speak now, the average mortgage rate is just over 6% for the first time since 2008. But you need to put these things into perspective: the average rate in the 80s was more than 12%, and just over 8% in the 90s. It will likely continue to rise, at least for the short term, so if you’re interested in buying now, but want to wait for rates to come down… you may be waiting for a while. My suggestion is to buy now, and once you find the place that’s right for you, don’t hesitate! Even with rising rates, homes are selling, averaging 135 days on the market in Q2 this year. That’s compared to 181 days in the same time last year. Down markets create buying opportunities – there is room for negotiation and you can find deals! That’s of course best done with a great agent. Take advantage!
We understand you work with clients from Manhattan to Montauk; do you have any favorite locations out east?
The Hamptons are a wonderland of spectacular homes, beachfront living, and the ultimate in luxury lifestyle. There’s culture, there’s shopping,there’s history, there’s beach clubs and of course swimming. The best thing about all its villages and towns is that each one kind of has its own personality. So it really depends on your personality and needs. I tend to gravitate toward Southampton, but of course I don’t want to hurt any of the other towns’ feelings. Water Mill is nice and just so happens to be the location of the new SERHANT. House Hamptons. Go on in and take a look!
Tell us a little bit about your other passion — food! We know you started out in the food industry as a personal chef and food columnist and were even a line cook for the internationally renowned chef/ restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Do you even have time to cook anymore? Are you planning any other television shows centered around cooking?
Honestly I love to cook and try to, as much as I can, at home. My husband always says, “Why go out if you cook as good as any restaurant?” He’s spoiled (though that certainly depends on the restaurant)! But, I really do love it. I also love to know what’s in the food I feed my family so the only way to do that is make it yourself. However… Mama also needs a break sometimes and it’s important to support your local restaurants! I cook dinners during the week (much simpler than my former Jean- Georges dishes!) and love to bake and make elaborate breakfasts on the weekends. And early Sunday dinners are a must. As for a cooking show… that’s never completely off my radar. I’ve started doing cooking segments in the kitchens of my listings for the SERHANT. Listed channel. That reminds me to plan the next one at One57. Stay tuned!
With your culinary background, do you find yourself especially drawn to the kitchens of the homes you get to show?
Oh… absolutely. I’m always drawn to a kitchen. If I see a beautiful apartment with a lousy kitchen I always think, “Ah… what a shame!” Years ago we started “Heart of the Home” episodes on Open House featuring chefs’ homes because of my love of kitchens! We need to do another one. Curtis Stone… expect a call.
With three kids and a husband, how do you balance it all? Any tips for working parents struggling to balance both career and family life?
Coffee? Ha! But seriously, although it’s a challenge, trying to focus on what’s happening in the moment while still planning for what’s on the horizon is a skill you learn as a parent. You have to be the ultimate multitasker. It’s just a parental job requirement. So I make my lists (personal and professional) and make sure I check them throughout the day. I’m focused at work and I try to be focused at home. But give yourself some grace. Putting down phones and focusing solely on kids and homelife is getting more and more challenging with work hours becoming more and more blurred with WFH options. It takes reminding yourself regularly that you deserve “you” time and family time. Allow yourself to take it.