Tag Archive | "Real Estate"

Sag Harbor School District Seeks Appraisal for Stella Maris Property

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The building that formerly housed the Stella Maris Regional School on Division Street in Sag Harbor. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

The building that formerly housed the Stella Maris Regional School on Division Street in Sag Harbor. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Tessa Raebeck

Four months after it was disclosed that the former Stella Maris Regional School on Division Street in Sag Harbor was on the market, the Sag Harbor School District has announced that it is seeking an appraisal of the site.

The board of education and district administrators have discussed the property at a number of executive sessions that are closed to the public since the property’s availability was announced, and are now taking the first step toward a public discussion of a possible purchase.

“At this point, we aren’t making any decisions of how we would utilize the property,” said Superintendent Katy Graves. “This is just a first, very initial step to take a look at the property and gather information about the property.”

The .74-acre property is listed for $3.5 million. It is zoned for offices or classrooms and owned by St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church, a parish of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The one-story building is 32,234 square feet. The site is less than a mile from both Pierson Middle/High School and the Sag Harbor Elementary School.

“The Board of Education is in the process of engaging the services of appraisal firms for the purpose of gathering data. Once the firms have been hired and all of the facts, figures and use viability of the building have been gathered, the board will share the information with the Sag Harbor community for their full participation. Any decision regarding the property will involve strategic engagement with all stakeholders in the community,” the district said in a press release Tuesday.

Ms. Graves said the ultimate decision of whether or not to purchase the property “would really have to go to a vote” for district residents.

Although the purchase is far from a sure thing, the superintendent floated some ideas of how the property could be used.

“We do send children out for services elsewhere—some of our student population goes elsewhere at a very high cost to be serviced in other areas, so we’re always interested in keeping our children as close as possible,” she said, adding, “Those are all things we want to kind of analyze and share, but we don’t want to get our hopes up—this would only be if it really worked best for the community and it worked best for the school district.”

Specifically, some of Sag Harbor’s special needs students must travel to schools up-island to get the services they need, and students enrolled in career and technical education courses must go to BOCES facilities up-island. Ms. Graves said that in addition to the financial burden of transporting students to other schools and enrolling them elsewhere, not having those services in the district comes with the added cost of not having all of Sag Harbor’s schoolchildren close to home.

While technical education would likely remain at BOCES, special needs services could potentially be provided in-house if the district acquires more land. Other schools in the area are also sending special education students to far away schools, and Ms. Graves suggested that the acquisition of the Stella Maris property could be a way to explore sharing services with other districts—and thus saving costs.

“This is the initial, initial stage, but New York State is demanding of us now that we secure every opportunity for sharing services, that we find every opportunity under the tax cap to explore sharing personnel, explore every opportunity for cost saving,” said Ms. Graves. “In our community, we’re going to garner the services of appraisal firms to look at that property and get feedback that we can share with our community.”

“We aren’t making any moves as far as education without—we’re doing it hand in hand with the community and our stakeholders,” she added.

With an influx of students who pay tuition to attend Sag Harbor schools and a student population that has grown steadily over the past six years, the school district now has over 1,000 students, as well as over half a million dollars in revenue from tuition paying students.

In operation as a school for 134 years, Stella Maris was Long Island’s oldest Catholic school when it closed its doors in 2011 due to a $480,000 deficit. Parents at the school tried to fundraise to keep the school open, but were unsuccessful. Since the school closed, its building has been used occasionally for fundraisers and village police training, and has seen two unsuccessful attempts to open preschools on the property.

Many Possibilities for Stella Maris Property in Sag Harbor

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The building that formerly housed Stella Maris Catholic School on Division Street in Sag Harbor.

The building that formerly housed Stella Maris RegionalA  School on Division Street in Sag Harbor.

By Tessa Raebeck

A week after the Division Street property of the former Stella Maris Regional School was put on the market, Sag Harbor Village is awash with ideas and discussion about how to use the space.

“There’s a lot of interest, actually,” Robert Evjen, a broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Sag Harbor, said Wednesday of the .74-acre property, which is listed at $3.5 million.

The building is 32,234 square feet and is a pre-existing, non-conforming commercial space in a residential zone. It is essentially zoned for offices or classrooms, Mr. Evjen said, “so any change in use would have to go in front of the board… I think that the best use would be probably what it’s zoned for right now.”

Although parking at the site is limited, Mr. Evjen said the building itself is in “good shape.” The school has a full gymnasium, a kitchen and “a great space for a community center,” he said. It would require “some upgrading” in terms of bringing in high-speed cable and other technical improvements, he said.

“There’s so many uses,” said Mr. Evjen, adding there’s a population in the village that needs affordable housing and over 20 local not-for-profits that are “looking for a home.”

“There’s been several suggestions by so many people—maybe the school should buy it, maybe the village should buy it, maybe it could become an incubator where our business community and artists and writers community would be in there, and also help our kids work with them on their interests—it’s got a lot of opportunities,” said Mr. Evjen.

“The majority of people would like to see the village play a part in either ownership or leasing,” he continued. “I think it would be in the best interest of Sag Harbor to have the village play some part in it, whether it’s the school or it’s the not-for-profits, that would probably be the best use.”

Sag Harbor’s Board of Education President Theresa Samot said Sunday that the school district had not “begun a process of review or analysis of this property.” However, on Monday, the board did discuss real estate during an executive session.

“The board of education is discussing it,” Superintendent Katy Graves said on Tuesday, although she would provide no specifics.

“There’s always concerns” about additional space in the district, Ms. Graves said. “We’ve seen a steady increase in our population over the last six or seven years that we are now over 1,000 students here in the district. So, that’s definitely a concern for the district.”

The superintendent added that Sag Harbor currently pays for students who require special education to be placed elsewhere, due to a lack of space in the district. Another financial consideration, Ms. Graves said, is the prevalence of out-of-district families who pay tuition to send their students to Sag Harbor.

“We have over a half a million dollars in revenue that comes in from parents that…select Sag Harbor as their school district,” she added. “So, that’s a fairly substantial revenue stream that Sag Harbor would never want to do without because we don’t have room for them.”

While a purchase does not appear to be off the table for the school district, the village appears to be uninterested in the listing. Sag Harbor resident and Harbor Committee member Jeffrey Peters asked the village board last week whether it had considered purchasing the property, saying it could be used as a village meeting place or community center.

The board did not express any desire to look into the property and Mayor Brian Gilbride confirmed last Wednesday he has no interest in purchasing it.

“We’re optimistic that it will be beneficial to the village and the community, whatever it winds up being,” Mr. Evjen said. “Of course, we get our difficult developers in there that always look for some sort of development.”

David Kronman, a spokesman for Cape Advisors, the development firm responsible for the projects at the Watchcase Factory and Baron’s Cove, said Tuesday that his firm has not looked into the Stella Maris property.

“I think it’s unlikely that we’re going to consider it,” Mr. Kronman said. “I just think between finishing up Watchcase and Baron’s Cove—we’re going to focus on executing and finishing those projects, and if other opportunities exist we’ll probably take a look at that, but I don’t know if Stella Maris fits with what we’re trying to do.”

St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church, a parish of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, owns the Division Street property. Stella Maris was the oldest Catholic school on Long Island, having operated for 134 years when the diocese closed it at the end of the 2011 school year due to a $480,000 deficit. Parents tried to drum up support to keep the school open, but enrollment declined in reaction to the financial difficulties and Stella Maris’s doors remained shut.

In the two-and-a-half years since Stella Maris closed, there have been two unsuccessful attempts to open pre-schools in the building and it has occasionally been used for fundraisers and village police training.

When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, the Reverend Peter Deveraj of St. Andrew’s, said he had no comment about the church’s decision to list the property at this time. Sean Dolan, communications director for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, has not returned requests for comment.

North Haven Home on the Market

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60 Forest Rd, Sag Harbor, North Haven, NY

Photo courtesy of Brown Harris Stevens

Nestled in North Haven, a spacious, modern house with over 200 feet of waterfront is currently on the market.

Owned by a New York City art dealer, this stone and glass home is minutes away from Sag Harbor Village, but is tucked away on a private gated 3-acre property. The 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom house is located on the Shelter Island Sound and has an unobstructed view across the bay to the Mashomack Preserve, with a private deck for the master bedroom.

The house also boasts a spacious living room, a dining room with a sunroom, a study and a kitchen with stainless steel appliances. A gunite pool is located between the main residence and the studio, and the property is landscaped with flower gardens and specimen trees.

The house is on the market for $16.5 million. For more information, contact Edward Haugevik at Brown Harris Stevens. He can be reached at (631) 725-5568 or at ehaugevik@bhshamptons.com.


Douglas Elliman Expands to Greenport

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Douglas Elliman Real Estate has announced that it will open its second North Fork office, in downtown Greenport. The new office is located at 124 Front Street, which is across from Mitchell Park, a popular attraction for both residents and tourists with its antique carousel and Greenport Marina.

Karla Dennehy, the current manager of Elliman’s other North Fork office, in Mattituck, will manage the Greenport office.

The new Greenport location is housed in the former office of Lloyd’s Real Estate. Kathy Lloyd Rosenbaum, who headed operations at Lloyd, and her team have joined Elliman and will be among the first agents in the new Greenport location.

“The North Fork is in the midst of a big resurgence, and we needed to grow along with the success of the region,” Elliman President & CEO Dottie Herman said in a release. “Greenport is a beautiful community that attracts both year-round and seasonal buyers and renters. We go where our clients are, and Greenport simply makes sense for strategic growth in the North Fork.”

Douglas Elliman Real Estate has over 70 offices in New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Putnam counties, Los Angeles and South Florida. For more information, visit its website at elliman.com.

Byrne Joins Town & Country

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Christine M. Byrne has joined Town & Country Hamptons Real Estate (1TownandCountry.com) at its Westhampton Beach Office.

Town & Country represents properties in Westhampton, Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Montauk, Mattituck and Southold. It is the largest real estate firm exclusive to the East End, according to its website.

Ms. Byrne can be contacted at (516) 314-3206 or at cbyrne@1TownandCountry.com.

North Haven To Discuss Potential For “Sign Ban”

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By Claire Walla

Should they stay or should they go?

For North Haven Village Trustees, signage has been a big topic of interest. Not only has it recently prompted trustees to entertain the notion of amending village code to more clearly delineate what does and does not constitute a sign, but the topic has also caused trustees to wonder whether the village could eliminate signage altogether.

At the next trustees’ meeting on Tuesday, March 6, village board members will meet with the village’s attorney, Anthony Tohill, to discuss the various options before them. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 5 p.m.

The idea of barring signs was first brought up by Trustee Jeff Sander during the village’s last meeting in February.

“I don’t think signs add anything to the environment and the beauty of the community,” he said in an interview this week.

Village Clerk Georgia Welch said the village hears numerous complaints from people in the community regarding what they apparently perceive to be excessive signage. In 26 years on the board, she added that she’s heard this complaint year after year.

“We keep trying to wrestle with [zoning] regulations and [sign] size, that takes a lot of time and thought,” Sander continued. “And enforcing whatever you pass is very difficult. I just think the community would be better served if we eliminated them.”

Sander clarified that any proposed ban would not include necessary signs, like street names and home addresses. It would be aimed more at curbing the excess of real estate and construction advertisements.

According to Welch, the village has long struggled with these structures.

“They just get too heavy,” she said. “Especially when you have a large project on a county road — that’s highly visible. [Residents] think it looks ugly.”

She then added, “When you already have a construction project going on, you don’t need signs peppered up and down the dirt hills.”

The notion of amending the village’s sign code has been discussed in this sense for years, but it was spurred in earnest at the beginning of this year when a North Haven resident complained of a homemade wooden sign that had been displayed at the corner of Route 114 and Maunakea.

“That precipitated the entire discussion,” Welch explained.

The structure, which has since been taken town, was a block of wood into which the address number, “144 Ferry Road,” was carved with big block letters. Though some trustees remarked at the size of the sign, at issue was its location.

“There was a question of whether or not it was on village property,” Welch added.

As for how this type of sign will be viewed by the village, Sander said at this point that will largely be contingent on what Tohill will bring to the table. At the trustees’ meeting last month, Tohill said he could not recall any other municipalities that had issued an all-out ban on signs, but he’s bringing his findings to the meeting on Tuesday.

“At this point, I think it’s going to be a legal question,” Sander continued. Based on some correspondences he said he had with some lawyers, Sander said there may be some issues of “freedom of speech” at hand.

“[Tohill] will have information for us about whether we can really do this, or not,” he added.

Village Market Drops by 67% Over Five Years

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By Marissa Maier

The Sag Harbor Village real estate market started the year off with a record bang. In January, Tara Newman of Saunders Real Estate and a broker from Brown, Harris, Stevens brokered a deal on an 8,000-square-foot waterfront home on Shaw Road for $13.75 million, the most a village house has ever fetched. But over the last few years, the village market hasn’t fared quite as well.

According to a five-year report of the East End property market, home sales in Sag Harbor Village dropped by 67 percent from 2005 through 2009. The report, compiled and published by Town & Country Real Estate, revealed that total home sales in the village shrank from $66.8 million in 2005 to $28.5 million last year. Out of the 11 markets studied for the report, Sag Harbor Village and the Southampton area, including North Sea, showed the highest decline in percentage of home sales.

Before the report was completed, CEO of Town & Country Judi Desiderio wanted to confirm her belief that the market peaked in 2005 and hit bottom in 2009. She pointed out one broker might have had a busy 2009 while another real estate agent might have been in a selling slump. The report shows the whole picture of the real estate market on the South Fork, noted Desiderio.

“The numbers don’t lie,” she remarked. “We noticed 2009 was saved by the fourth quarter. It shows me that the buyers are ready to pull the trigger. Everything is cyclical. [And] sometimes you have to swallow a correction [of the market].”

“We’ve seen the median price go up,” pointed out Charles Manger, vice president and executive director of eastern Long Island for Brown, Harris, Stevens Real Estate, and added “It is still higher than it was in 2005.”

He agreed, however, the rate of transfers had indeed decreased since 2005, and that “Sag Harbor definitely did drop off.”

Manger said his observation of the past three quarters showed a definite uptick in Sag Harbor.

“But I’m definitely a conservative, and I want to wait and see how we do the first quarter of 2010 before I believe there is a clear trend,” said Manger.

After gathering the data for the report, Desiderio noted she was surprised by the precipitous decline in Sag Harbor Village home sales. She explained real estate prices in Sag Harbor, and Montauk, skyrocketed in the last five years.

Sag Harbor was transformed from a “sleepy village to one of the hottest locales,” added Cee Scott Brown of Corcoran Real Estate, and thus the market had a long way to slide.

Whereas property owners in other markets might be desperate to sell today, Desiderio believes village owners are holding onto their digs until the market picks up. Montauk is experiencing a similar phenomenon, she added.

Sellers in the village may have to ride the waves a little while longer. In the new market, Brown believes buyers are looking for value over the cachet of a village home steeped in local history and old world charm.

“If a buyer is going to spend X amount of dollars, they now want to have land. The value connotation doesn’t translate in a buyer’s eyes to a small lot and house size [which is typical of the village],” said Brown. “New constructions have been selling. A lot of developers were able to take a sharp pencil to their bottom lines. Most new constructions are on at least half an acre.”

The buyers on the hunt for the historical qualities of village homes are few and far between in this market, said Brown. He added this type of buying “plays into the emotional side of purchasing.”

“In this market we have so few emotional purchases,” noted Brown. “I don’t think we will see the same kind of feeding frenzy for a long time or ever again.”

Newman, however, points out that “people have very short term memories.” Although she admitted she cannot predict the future of the village real estate market, Newman did have this bit of advice for the village homeowner seriously looking to unload their property: “Marketing is going to be more important than ever.” Though it is only February, Newman pointed out the 2010 market is looking up.

Gioia diPaolo of Prudential Douglas Elliman agreed that Sag Harbor had “really been hit hard” in the past year or so, but added she had been tracking the past six months here and had noted a change.

“One property was recently bought on Bay Street by a real estate agent. That tells you something,” said diPaolo, and she pointed to at least seven or eight properties in the village that are currently in contract, ranging from a $400,000 condo to a $3.25 million colonial.

Commenting on the $28.5 million in transfers for 2009, she observed, for a recession, that still amounted to a lot of money changing hands.

“I don’t find that disconcerting,” she said.

Deals Up, Mortgages Down

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A recent figure out of the Southampton Town shows a 55 percent decrease over the last year in mortgage tax revenue. Based on this percentage, it would appear that the town’s real estate market is in dire straits.

But as the old saying goes, numbers can be deceiving. Jim Malone, chief fiscal director with the county clerk, argues that looking at this one slice of the local real estate pie glosses over a recent flurry of activity which rivals numbers from last summer. Comparing this data, Malone believes a more interesting trend is at play.

He contends that buyers’ appetite for property hasn’t waned, but their borrowing practices have adapted to the recession and changing economy. Instead of taking out a hefty mortgage, it appears that a large number of buyers are opting to pay with cash. And others, theorizes Malone, are choosing not to refinance their homes, which seems to have been a common practice in the last few years.

The ripple effect of the recession is felt throughout town hall, but has especially pinched the coffers of the Community Preservation Fund (CPF), the two percent East End real estate transfer tax that goes toward land preservation. However, in the last few months the CPF showed a dramatic upswing revealing an increase in local property deals. As Malone points out, there is a slight difference between the CPF revenues from June and July in 2008 compared to these months in 2009. In 2008, the CPF received $2.9 million in June and $2.4 million in July. Whereas in 2009, the CPF collected $2.5 million in June and $2.3 million in July.

But Southampton Town’s revenue from mortgage taxes experienced one of the sharpest declines in the county. As town comptroller Tamara Wright pointed out at a recent board meeting, neighboring towns, including Brookhaven and Southold, have been able to keep these revenues level from 2008 to 2009, but Southampton’s gains have been halved over the course of this year. Revenues from June 2008 to 2009 slid from $900,000 to just $425,000, while July figures went from $836,000 in 2008 to $374,000 this year.

These decreases signify a bust in the mortgage market not the real estate market, says Malone based on his analysis of the information. Malone references the ratio of the value of actual transactions to the value of mortgages from 2008 to 2009. In June of 2008, there was almost $147 million in real estate transfers, as shown in the CPF revenues. The revenues garnered from mortgage taxes that month painted a different picture, and showed almost $180 million worth of mortgages. However, Malone attributes many of these mortgages to refinancing.

“Just because you are taking out a mortgage doesn’t mean that you are buying a home,” explained Malone. “Maybe you refinance to get the kids through school, or to buy a boat or a pool or simply to get a better rate … [but] If you look at the $374,000 [in mortgage tax revenue for July 2009] that represents only $75 million worth of mortgages. Only $75 million was borrowed, but we know there was $126 million worth of transactions [for July 2009].”

These recent figures hint that buyers are using more cash on hand to make real estate purchases and perhaps show a new mindset of prudent borrowing practices. Some local real estate agents point to the fact that it has become increasingly difficult to obtain a mortgage and a potential buyer must put more money down than in the recent past.

Sag Harbor real estate agent Gioia DiPaolo with Prudential Douglas Elliman has noticed a fair share of cash transfers taking place, but added that homeowner financing is also on the rise. While some agents say they haven’t noticed more cash transactions, others say cash transfers are a normal facet of the local real estate market.

“It has always been a big part of my business,” noted real estate agent Simon Harrison of cash only transactions. “The amount of cash deals hasn’t decreased anywhere near the level of finance deals. In 2006, I heard a story about a guy who got a million dollar mortgage with just a library card … I think that is indicative of the complete disarray of the mortgage business.”

Harrison also points out the inherent appeal of an all cash buyer — “The cash represents more value because it is not only immediate, but it involves a hard money deposit.”

He recently made a sale on a $1.6 million waterfront property where a mortgage contingent offer was pushed to second place after another person offered the same amount in cash.

The recent numbers showing substantial decreases in borrowing is the silver lining to the current recession for Malone.

“While it [the loss of mortgage tax revenue] is discouraging for the Town of Southampton, the reality is that people in our town are being more prudent rather than eating their equity,” remarked Malone. “It is encouraging to see the economy move and see folks being more responsible.”

Advertising in Real Estate

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With spring now in full swing, and summer fast approaching, the real estate market seems to be picking up according to local brokers. But the way real estate agents are spending their advertising dollars may have changed along with the recent shift in the economy.
Although the sale of homes are not nearly reaching the numbers they were just a year ago, that isn’t necessarily a sign for the future. With creative advertising and a combination of mediums, brokers believe summer may prove a profitable season, once again, for real estate.
Whether it’s reading the paper over a cup of Joe at a local café or relaxing at home with a laptop, real estate industry professionals are looking for the best way to spend their money — and using an array of advertising techniques seems to be the way to go.
Mala Sander, Senior Vice President and Associate Broker of Corcoran Real Estate in Sag Harbor, said she finds a lot of leads are coming from the Internet.
“Search optimization has increased and buyers are able to look at all the photography online,” said Sander who added that Internet is instant, and buyers are able to call agents after looking online at different properties.
“But I also advertise in print,” she said, “Some people just want to be able to look at the paper over a cup of coffee.”
Sander said with weekly newspapers and especially agency printed catalogues, which have longer lead times, it can be hard keep information about properties up to date. Sander said the success of a medium also depends on the circumstance and the buyer. She added that some people, for example, prefer seeing ads in print.
“You can only Blackberry so much.”
According to Sander, “the ante is up,” and real estate agents need to get more competitive in the way they are advertising.
When putting a home on the market, Sander said the number one thing to consider is that the home is priced correctly and the listing agent is using all the elements of a good marketing plan.
At Strough Real Estate Associates in Sag Harbor, managing broker Kathleen Zappola agrees that the Internet is a more popular selling tool for her these days.
“We are still doing print advertising, although not as much as we used to,” Zappola said.
When asked what she sees for the future of real estate advertising, Zappola said she believes all types of advertising “will certainly always be around. I don’t think people are going to stop doing it.”
“But everyone is computer friendly right now,” she said, adding that, for the time being anyway, it seems to be the most popular way to advertise.
Jane Holden is a licensed associate real estate broker for Town and Country Real Estate in Bridgehampton and she has found that putting signs in front of the home is still a good tool for her.
“I find signs are useful, and we only have to pay for the cost of the sign company,” she said. “But you do the print because it gets your name out there. I’ve cut back on print ads because of the cost, but it depends where you are spending it and how much.”
“But print is still important.”
Overall, Holden said sales are quiet, “Anyone who tells you it is not, is lying to you,” said Holden who added, however, that there seems to be a lift in showings and people are starting to look at houses again.
Robert Evjen, of Prudential Douglas Elliman in Sag Harbor, said “the most successful tool for advertising is a combination one-two punch of Internet advertising combined with print advertising.”
“Prudential has implemented an online program called ‘Super Open House Weekend’ which targets online search results for customers looking for properties in New York, Long Island and the Hampton,” explained Evjen who also said that banner ads — those appearing at the top of a webpage —play an important part in gaining clicks to drive traffic to a site.
“Also, print advertising compliments and re-enforces the message seen online,” he said.
“What is gaining results for some of the agents is ‘thinking outside the box,’” continued Evjen. “For example, we just ran the first ever online ‘auction’ for Hamptons properties which had successful results. That in turn started a buzz that the market is alive out here and now people are calling about buying homes.”
“My advice to other agents would be to work the hardest you can, think outside the box to make deals happen and of course, go the extra mile and service your clientele like never before! This is a great opportunity to stand out.”

Putting a Spin on Speed

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By Hope Harris

I was listening to NPR today about Speed Dating…. for Greenies! The gist of it was that those who claimed to care about the environment but hadn’t turned in their SUVs for Prius,’ didn’t get a date. It got tougher still; the list of dos and don’ts if you say you’re green, but don’t show proof, and don’t mean it, is long and you will be lonely.

The point is, these are hard times. Finding the right mate is hard, even for Greenies. Then I started thinking about…real estate…how finding the “right match” is more difficult than ever.

There’s so much inventory! Sellers are lowering their prices daily; sometimes even hourly. We have brokers begging other brokers to come to their open houses. Sellers are offering cars, trips abroad, Botox injections, gifts of wine and dinners at Nick and Tony’s….if ONLY someone will bring them a buyer!

(And here’s the rub; why waiting for the right house at the right price to come along might not happen… because… if buyers continue their stand-off, the inventory will eventually stop growing; sellers will get mad and stop lowering their prices; they’ll take their houses off the market; put them back on next year, and lo and behold, the prices won’t be lower than ever — they’ll be up there in the stratosphere again so sellers can re-coup their losses.)

So what to do? What to do? A lightbulb went off. The Greenies!! Speed Real Estate!  Get things moving again! Take a chance. Get lucky in real estate… Show up for a ONE-DAY REAL ESTATE MATCH-OFF! If it can work for Greenies — who are, after all — VERY finicky, then maybe it could work for home buyers. For home owners. It’s a great time to buy. Maybe owners and buyers can actually find one another and be happy.

But we have to act fast. Too much thinking and deliberating has gotten us where we are: nowhere. So here’s the idea:

Pick five houses from the web (keep in mind location is everything, but widen your net — don’t just relegate your search to an area where your friends are…years ago I couldn’t get anyone to go to Sag Harbor — now look how hot it is. I couldn’t mention Montauk without customers cringing. Now it’s Hollywood East and everyone wants a piece of it…) Take a chance. Look north of the highway, look at houses on the harbor. Open your mind to new encounters. Then commit to a day to find a house. One day. Not two. Not two weeks. Or a month. Or a year. One day. Tell yourself you’ll find a house in one day. The right house. Make it your mantra. Do it with an open heart and mind. Don’t pre-judge. Remember, good karma is everything — especially in love and real estate.

Then give yourself a half hour at each of the five houses. Be honest: could you really be happy with an ultra-modern house or, in your heart of hearts, do you know that without a center stair sooner or later you will be depressed and take it out on the house? Search your soul. Make a list of what you look for in a house and stick to it. Don’t be hood-winked by the seller’s décor, by the day, if it is particularly beautiful without a cloud in the sky: by the homeowner’s friends sitting around his pool, laughing, cosmos in hand. Choose two houses you think you could love. Long-term. Not trade in for some trophy house down the line, but two you could really  make a commitment to.  

At the end of the day, make an offer on both. Those two sellers, for all you know, could be pining for you. Waiting by the phone.  Make an offer you can afford. Don’t imagine living in a house you can’t afford. Live in one you can. Don’t play games. The days of Borrowing-To-Be-Someone-Else may actually be over, so let’s get real.

It might work. Time is money. If money isn’t working so well for us these days, let’s try time. Remember: ONE day to make a decision. By the end of that one day, by sunset, you might have found yourself a “match.”