Your Real Estate Agent Isn’t as Important as You Thought! Plus, a FRESH success in Bridgehampton.


My friend, agent and former co-manager Tom MacNiven likes to quote George McGovern who  proclaimed: “the longer the title the less important the job. ”   Somehow, I always knew they were both right.
Well, now  when it comes to the real estate sharks swimming the waters of the Hamptons, (and the entire state) the State of New York agrees! At the end of this month licensed New York State agents
will no longer be able to display those cheesy fabricated self-anointed monikers that do nothing but take up space on business cards and email signatures.   So, sadly I have now abdicated my crown and will no longer be known as Patrick Mclaughlin, Senior Czar of Hamptons House Hunting and Associate Broker.  Soon, there will be no more Semi-Senior Co-Directors of Whichamacallit or Executive Vice Presidents of the Supply Closets.    I’m happy with this, as long as nobody can one up me!!
Now, there are only two designations are acceptable:  LSA: Licensed Sales Associate and LBA: Licensed Broker Associate.   The latter requires a little more experience and sales transactions but it is NOT an MBA or even a certificate from University of Pheonix.   If you ain’t one, you gotta be the other.   I’ve also just been informed that at the end of this month I must “surrender” my old, titled business cards.    So, if I can’t have a title can I have a raise?

Well the big review is in and Fresh in Bridgehampton must be breathing a big sigh of relief or at least doing a small dance of celebration.  Scoring a “VERY GOOD” review, Fresh has managed what very

few have managed to do;  create a restaurant with good food and good service that won’t break the bank.   I think it’s everything the former home of “Southfork Kitchen,” would have loved to accomplish.   It’s just a shame that the old owner was too busy blogging instead of watching the restaurant.  Blogging is such a waste!!

In fact, The New York Times said, “Fresh is an exciting restaurant with innovative portion options and creative, good-for-you food that is also delicious.”   So good for them and when they’re done if they could give some cooking lessons to the folks at a few restaurants out here, the world would be a better place!

The weird and wonderful world of Hamptons Real Estate!!! Part 1,324,9897… and some potentially grate I mean GREAT news for Southfork Kitchen!

It boggles my mind sometimes how people think the Hamptons market works and what the agents actually do out here.   The following tales have no particular theme, thread or commonality other than they both make me scratch my head with a big WTF?!    The first hilarious tale I have this week involves an e-mail I received earlier this week.  I think it’s kind of a perennial here on the east end and I call it….

Fast Times and Hamptons High!

Here’s what it said: 
Hey my friends and I are having trouble finding a house available for rent for the weekend of the 20th to 22nd of June and were wondering if you had any eligible houses. It would be around 40 people for two nights. You can reach me at (516) 996-xxxx!


Ok, 40 people for 2 nights at the end of June?  Now, I’m not exactly a rocket scientist but something tells me this is a graduation party.   Besides, does anyone really want to stay in a house for two days with 40 people.   I can barely stand when there’s more than 4 in my house and I have plenty of space.    Also there is the part about, “my friends and I are having trouble finding a house.”  REALLY!?!?!?  I’m shocked, doesn’t everyone want 40 people to rent their house for 2 days!?  What could go wrong? By the way, I really wanted to correct the grammatical errors and send it back to the sender, “are you really sure you’re ready to graduate?”

Bad Ideas… 40 people for a two day rental!

War of the Roses – Hamptons Style
A while back I was handling the sale of a property where the owners were going through …. shall I say… a bitter and nasty divorce.   To give you some idea, if they had a baby Solomon would’ve had to cut the kid in two.  There was no middle ground!   But wait, it gets better they were living in the house together until it sold!!!   Yep, it was fun.   Well, one day, we had scheduled an open house and I spoke to the husband and left the wife a message.     I assumed all was well until I arrived and found the wife’s boyfriend parading around the house naked.   As I was putting out my wrap sandwiches for the fellow brokers and prospective buyers said boyfriend informed me “I fell off my bike and scraped my butt, so I can’t wear any pants.”  Hmmmm.   What about a blanket?  Nope, that won’t do it either, the fabric would be irritating.     Can you go into a room and I’ll keep people out of that one?  Sure, that sounds liek a good idea.  Well despite my best warnings a neighbor who was “curious” didn’t listen to me and went into the room!   OMG…SCREEECH!   If only I had foresight to sell tickets!!

Therapy and Miscellaneous Sightings!  
Your broker knows more about you than you think.   Especially if you’re the type that likes to leave everything out in the open.     Some of the things I’ve come across  (I don’t particularly like this part of the job) range from the weird to the gross and the down right crazy.   Now, some were former listings of mine and some were left in the open of houses I have shown for rent and for sale.    Once agin here are some of the wackiest things, in no particular order: condoms new and used (ewwwww), humongous bongs, the book “Toxic Parents,” weird porn dvd’s,  half eaten sandwiches with 3″of mold, phallic toys, lice shampoo (ewwwwwwwwww again),  self portraits on velvet, labeled urns with an entire family on the fireplace mantel, court appearance notices and my personal favorite a geek shrine to C3P0 and R2D2 (literally A SHRINE!).    I really can’t make this stuff up.


Southfork Kitchen

Finally a little bit of news that’s a tad more normal.   A change of hands at the Southfork Kitchen in Bridgehampton.    A recent press release announced,  “Glad you made it through the winter of 2013, Southfork Kitchen did not.  We have passed the torch to the next chef, Todd Jacobs who will continue with local, season and sustainable cuisine.  We thank you for your patronage….”  I’m not sure if he’s the same Todd Jacobs but if he is the one I found in Google.. it sounds promising.  According to his bio of Atlantica Restaurant in Long Beach, “Todd Jacobs, chef/owner of Tierra Mar and Atlantica is a graducate of the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan.  He spent six years running the kitchen at the American Hotel which received the Di Rona Award while he was there.”   Sorry Southfork Kitchen but I found your menu, expensive odd and pretentious.   Here’s hoping for new and better things!

The hole truth on Bridgehampton Dunkin’??? Plus, why the Hamptons will enjoy a few more laughs this summer!

If you’ve been by the Bridgehampton commons say any time in the past year you probably saw the sight that the old Sneakerology (a great store now in East Hampton next to London jewelers) would soon become a Dunkin’ Donuts.  Well I’m tired of having to buy Keurig Donut Shop Coffee instead of the real thing!   Yes I love Dunkin’s coffee!  And YES, there’s one in Southampton but have you ever tried to get in and out of that parking lot!!?!?  Also, what is easier and cheaper to serve for desert at a dinner party than Munchkins!?  Oh, don’t be such a snob, you know you’ll happily pay a small fortune for the same stupid Munchkins at David Burke Kitchen downtown.  Anyway, if finally looks like that long faded sign wasn’t lying.  Southampton Town recently issued a building permit to convert the space to a real live Dunkin Donuts.  So attention all short fat men with dark mustaches, get your applications ready it’s time to make the donuts!In other stuff…. Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor has announced their schedule for the upcoming 2013 season.  Last year there was some talk that the theatre might be moving to a new location.   Well, I can tell you that Executive Director Tracy Mitchell has assured me they’re staying put for at least a few years.  Whew!   Not only that, they have some great upcoming events and more! So if you’re interested in what’s going on… See it below!

A few reasons why you won’t be getting top dollar for your house!

So, the news seems to keep improving for the housing market.  In fact the premier report of the Hamptons market from Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman (yeah, I’m a little biased but I’m pretty sure Douglas Elliman is the only firm that hires an outside appraiser Jonathan Miller to compile their report ) showed growth for the east end with all indicators pointing to this momentum continuing into 2013.   In fact, it appears to be the best market in about 5 or 6 years.     But even with all of this are you sure you’re still getting top dollar when selling your property?   Well there are a couple of mistakes I see sellers make over and over again and they can be affecting your bottom line.    Hopefully you’ll find my two cents worth more than a couple bucks.


A whole site dedicated to bad pics.  courtesy:

1) Lousy photos – remember the old days where real estate agents would have you primp and prime for that public open house.  Well, those open houses are important too but odds are this won’t be the first time the potential buyers will be seeing your house.   Most buyers begin their search on the web and when the photos stink, they’re not even going to take the time to see your house in person.     If your broker or agent isn’t spending the money to have a professional shoot your house, they’re not the agent for you.   It’s amazing to me how some properties even in  the 3, 4, 5 or higher range have photos their agent took with their own digital camera.    If you don’t believe me, go take a look on HREO.COM, some of those photos are just plain bad!

2) Cruddy Curb Appeal – We all know that updated kitchens and bathrooms will do a lot to help sell a house but if front of the house is a mess, odds are potential buyers won’t even take the time to cross the front door.   So, if the paints chipping off the front door , you can easily see the foundation and the ’69 GTO still on cinder blocks in the drive way you may want to reconsider putting your house on the market.

3) Buckets of Clutter – I know you know this and your listing broker probably does too.  So, why not listen to them and get rid of all the extra furniture, nick knacks and the piles of pictures.    If you’re having a hard time separating yourself from some of your beloved possessions try renting a storage space or one of those “PODS,”  and have it take away.

I don’t do previews and I’ll get to you when I do!!!







4) The Rock Star Broker – They’re #1 they have 99 listings and they have bigger fish to fry than your “shack”.    Now, don’t get me wrong and it’s not sour grapes, there are some really great top brokers out here.  They have teams and assistants that juggle all of the balls with team work and could cook a souffle at the same time.  The sad truth though is  they’re not as common as you think.   In fact, I hear it over and over again from other agents across the board, “they refused to let me preview” or “they never return my calls.”   Hmmm, even the greenest of agents sometimes hits a home run and sells that zillion dollar property.    It’s simple math, the more people that get easy access to your house the better offer.  If your broker uses the words “I” and “me” too often, that should be your first tip off.

5) Pathetic Pricing – time but they’re not  Don’t make it about you… when you’re pricing your home it’s about the facts and the stats!!!  How much will a qualified buyer be willing to pay for your house.   Buyers don’t care about home much you paid for it or how much money you’ll need to pocket at the end of transaction.  They also don’t care about the custom gilded tub or the fung shui designed rose garden odds are those improvements were done for you and mean little to the potential buyers.  I admit it’s not a science and brokers don’t ever really know at what price a home will sell.  But they should have a good idea based on recent comparable sales and what’s currently on the market.  Remember, sellers typically get the best prices for their property early in the game.  So, price it right from the start and avoid aggravation and frustration.   As I’ve said before,  If you’re friend thinks it’s such a steal at that price, why don’t they buy it??!

Finally, the folks over at Designing the Hamptons have identified the location of this years designer showcase house!!  So, where is it… you have to click on their link to find out.  It’s their scoop and more importantly, I’m so over this designer show houses.    You know it’s been done to death when they start doing these in Hackensack N.J. and they HAVE!!   I’d rather see someone build and decorate a house with stuff on a budget… say … from Sears…or Home Goods now that I’d pay to see…. MOVE THAT BUS!!!