Summer ’15… few takers?

As we come to the end of the summer of ’15, there seems to be a reoccurring topic of conversation among home owners, agents and pretty much everyone.    “Was it a good rental season?”   Well the answer in a nutshell is “no.”    In fact, I have had a number of homeowners ask me, why their home didn’t
rent.   If you’re one of the many who’ve uttered those words you’re not alone.   I’m not sure if it was because of all of those short term rental sites or more folks are buying and building.  I’ve heard both theories.  What I do know… in the opinion of this humble agent was it was not as active as years past.   But it wasn’t just me.  In fact, I meet monthly with a group of about 25 top agents from a cross section of all the real estate companies and regions.   At our last get together someone raised the question, “who thought this was a good rental season?” Unfortunately not one person raised their hand.   What I think this means is next year, look for an adjustment in some prices and landlords being a bit more accommodating in cutting a deal.   If you found otherwise, feel free to let me know.

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to hit the beach in the early evening with some friends and enjoy the sand, the fresh air and the surf… and I don’t mean on your smartphone.   You only have a few weeks left of Summer ’15 so here’s one way to make it special.     But before you lug your blankets, food and friends Wiborg or Fowler, make sure your know the rules.   Hello?!  Like you didn’t think there were rules…. it’s the Hamptons, there are rules for everything.

There better be a container under there!?

In case you haven’t been paying attention, new laws went into effect that require beach fires in East Hampton town be lit in a metal container, similar laws were already in effect for Southampton and East Hampton village.   In Southampton Village, you need a permit  to light a bonfire.   For the most part no permits are necessary on the other beaches but as I said, you need to clean up… keep it contained… and have some buckets of water handy.   You’re of course responsible for putting out the fire and cleaning up afterwards.   Also, don’t try to light that fire before 6pm, it’s a no-no.

As for a little Rose for that perfect summer beach dinner party, you’ll need a permit if you’re inviting over 50 people.    Also, open containers of alcohol are prohibited across the board but you can get a special permit for catered events and parties.   Pets are also allowed after 6pm at most beaches.   If you want more information for each local town… check out the links below and have fun.   But remember, not too much fun it’s the Hamptons.



One of the great things about owning a home in the Hamptons is your ability to rent it out.    Yes, for some it’s a cash cow and can help off set most of your yearly expenses in just 3 short months.    But you better know what you’re doing.   If you rent to the wrong tenant or your house isn’t ready, you could end up making less than money than a romantic comedy with Katherine Heigl and Nicholas Cage.

So what do you need to know and how do you get the most money possible for your rental?  Well luckily Hamptons Chatter is here to tell you.

Price it Right – This is my rule of thumb…  if you just bought your house and it’s decorated and well maintained, you can expect about 4-5% the cost of the property for the Memorial Day to Labor Day period.   50% of that should be counted for the August rental.   For example, your Restoration Hardware decorated home you just bought for $1,000,000 should rent MD-LD for $50k or $25K for August.   This is not a hard and fast rule.  If your house is a few years old, ask an agent what they think would be a good rental price. It’s also not a science so adjusting the price as you get close to the season may be needed.

List your property properly –  First off, keep it as an open listing.  Unless you’re renting your home for $250k or more, most companies won’t even take an exclusive rental and that’s not a bad thing.   Agents are no different than anyone else and they’re looking to earn a living.   So if it’s between a $100k rental that’s an exclusive rental where the agent will have to give a chunk to the listing agent or an open listing where they get the lions share, which one do you think they’re going to show?   Most rental listings in the Hamptons are open listings, so keep yourself competitive.   But also know, unless you tell your agent to share the listing you’ll need to make sure every company has your home and at the right (same) price!

Busy, busy, busy!!  www.uglyhousephotos.com

Get the house ready to go – If agents are starting to show your house,  it should look like your tenants are moving in tomorrow.     Reduce the clutter around the house, make sure all of your photos and personal Nick-knacks are stored away and please, please, please keep it neat and clean.    Also, less is more…. if the house is overloaded with furniture that’s not a plus for most tenants, it will only make the property feel crowded and full.
your house if there are dirty dishes are in the sink and pet hair on all of the sofas (nobody wants to live in someone else’s dirt).   “Clean” is also a key word when it comes to decor.   Busy patterns or tons of floral bed spreads, pillow cushions or curtains will overwhelm some potential tenants.   While you’re taste may be good, it might not be for everyone.   That’s why   Do not show Baskin and Robbins has 31 flavors but you don’t need that many colors!

Make it and easy show – While I don’t suggest leaving a key under the mat (that’s a really bad idea for a number of reasons).   You have to make sure agents have easy access to your property.   Customers run late… HELLO, IF THINK YOU’RE IN THE HAMPTONS AND YOU DIDNT HIT TRAFFIC YOU’RE ONLY IN SHIRLEY…. and sometimes agents run late too so if it becomes to difficult to coordinate they’ll move on.  The best way to control access and make sure you get shown is to drop a key off with your local broker.  They’ll keep the key locked up and log who borrows and uses the key.   You could also buy a lock box or better yet buy a digital remote system where you can grant access to your home via your cell phone.  My personal favorite is the KEVO system, which you can buy easily enough on Amazon.

Get professional photos – If you want a good laugh, go through one of those “home for rent -by owner” sites.  Would you rent some of these homes?   I didn’t think so.  Bad photos are a home owners biggest enemy.   My advice is hire a professional photographer (call any agency they’ll recommend who to call) and then share these photos to all the agencies.   You have to spend money to make money and this particular expense is a no brainer to me.

Finally a few last points about “Hamptons Summer Renting” – if you use an agent to rent your house you’ll need to pay the commission and in most cases it’s 10% of the term of the lease.     It might seem like a lot but most agents screen their customers or get them via referral.  You’ll be less likely to get a bad egg tenant.     Also, most leases require that tenants will maintain the property while in residency, so make sure they use the folks who know the house… your housekeeper, your lawn guy, your pool person, etc.

Also, if you live in Southampton Town make sure to get a rental permit.  It’s not easy to do but it will protect you in the long run if you have problems with the tenant.

Now remember, I couldn’t cover everything in this brief posting but I hope its a helpful start.   I also know not everyone will agree with my advice so feel free to post what you think.

Weekend Wrap-up; Renting Sight Unseen… Winter of Our Discontent Continues!

So, it was another snowy weekend here on the East End.    The snow, the ice, the frigid cold and the general lousy weather continues here in the Hamptons.     While internet activity for rentals and sales still remains strong and steady,  the number of people willing to trek through snow and frigid temps is dwindling.    This in turn has led to a number of rentals actually being rented sight unseen.

Rapid Rescue… lifesavers!  Yep, that’s my car!

One broker I spoke with “E” said it, “makes me very nervous.”    Renting from a picture which could have very well been photo-shopped is a bad idea.    Another agent “G” indicated that they’re seeing tenants from previous seasons going back to the house they rented last year so they don’t have to come back out and look again.    Speaking to my cadre (aren’t you impressed with my vocabulary?) of experienced brokers and agents, the weather continues to put somewhat of a damper on the Hamptons market.   That being said, once the snow melts they’re expecting an explosion of activity….  because phones are ringing and e-emails are being traded back and forth.  So the grade for this weekend was a C+. I really have to go to Florida soon! 

An offer at Guild Hall you can’t refuse!

If you want an example of how difficult it is to get around the Hamptons, look no further than yours truly.     I made the mistake of taking my “4 Wheel” car out last night to pick up some food.    But alas, after one gunning of the accelerator and a slippy driveway I ended up in a snow bank on my own driveway.   I mean with all of the ice, if you don’t see sharp you’ll be flat (read that again).   Anyway, thanks to RAPID RECOVERY and $135,  I finally got my car out this morning.    By the way, I also want to thank my lovely neighbor for trying to pretend he didn’t see.    I wasn’t going to ask for your help anyway!    So for the next few days, keep Rapid Recovery on speed dial, they were great and there in about an hour…(631) 728-7752.

Meanwhile, this week there’s an offer at Guild Hall you can’t refuse.  The East Hampton film society will be presenting a special screening this Thursday night at 7 p.m. of the 1972 classic, “The Godfather.”  Personally I liked the “Godfather II” better but still this flick glues me to the screen every time I catch it on TV.   Tickets are $8.00 for non members.  If you want more information  click here for the website and you can also buy tickets.  So, take it to the mattresses and go get a ticket…. otherwise you may find a horse in your bed!


How cold is it out there?  Well if you’re like me you’ve been glued to local news for “Snowpocalypse 15, The Blizzard of 15 and the This Winter Sucks 15” special coverage.   Yes, if all of those negative numbers on the screen are giving you flashbacks to your Calculus 101 class, you’re not alone.     While the media contuinues scaring the bejeezus out of everyone there is the reality of icy roads and un-shoveled walkways.   With that in mind, it’s no surprise that action on the East End was very quiet this past President’s Day Weekend.   In fact, even a Valentine’s Day over the weekend wasn’t enough to keep restaurant and business owners happy.   The real estate market was much the same this past weekend. A fair amount of action but it would have been better if it didn’t snow!   In spite of article after article about how “all the good Hamptons summer rentals are gone,”  renters and buyers still weren’t willing to put on their boots and trek through waist high drifts to see properties.     I also noticed a slight dip in web traffic this past week maybe due to nobody thinking “beach” when frost bite is imminent.   Maybe everyone was busy with Valentine’s Day or going to see “Fifty Shades of Grey.”     Either way, my cadre of brokers and agents gave this past weekend a solid “C.”  Here’s hoping for a big thaw and warmer temperatures soon.

Doppio…. Last spring


Meanwhile, rumors of the death of Doppio in Sag Harbor have been greatly exaggerated. I for one thought it was pretty much D.O.A. by the end of last summer.   But, according to very reliable sources, the Italian eatery which got off to a promising start last summer is coming back for a second season!     The windows which are currently covered with paper will be peeled back and service will continue for the handful of dedicated customers.   So where did Doppio go wrong last year and how can they make it this season?   The biggest complaint I heard was not about the food but rather the service was terrible.  I guess in my encounters, I always thought there is better food in town with better service… so why bother.    Here’s hoping they pull it together for next year.

Yep… the snow may be deep but you better start thinking about getting your beach permits before you’re stuck going to Asbury Park.   Below are the links you’ll need for enjoying fun in the sun this coming summer!

Beach Permit Links!

East Hampton Village Beach Permits

East Hampton Town Beaches

Southampton Town Beaches

Southampton Village Beach Permits