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!

Kardashian Schadenfreude and Summer Rental Warnings from the PeanutGallery… Volume 3!

If nobody wants them can we put them on Petfinder.com?

In case you were wondering, that giant retching sound you’ve been hearing lately isn’t from a new wave of salmonella poisoning on the East End it’s the reaction to reports there are new residents coming to town.  Yes, the buzz on social media this week is all about the Kardashians!!   Which is also  spawning something I’m calling “Kardashian Schadenfreude.”    Sorry Kortney, Kim and Klanapin the buzz for your impending arrival is not so good.     East Hampton resident’s are cheering they’re “going to Southampton” and Southampton residents are saying “uh-uh, they’re going to East.”   Either way, it could be a Katastrophe for Kourtney and Kompany.  So while only time will tell where they’re actually going, I would like to offer the ladies some advice: learn to spell your names Korrectly and see if Snooki has a share available in her house… you’ll be much happier

So, we are coming down to the wire for the summer rental season.  In spite of the snow this week, Memorial Day is still coming.    So in addition to my warnings for all potential renters about the danger of becoming Earhardt’s (HC  6/6/11)…. and making sure to use a camera or I Phone to record the condition of their house… I have a few more items they may want to double check before signing on the dotted line and sending that wire transfer!  So, why revisit this topic?  Because everyone is a critic.   So after reading a few,  “You forgot to mention, this, this and this.”   So being the professional whiner listen to-er I am, I decided to mention a few more.   Here are some of the top summer rental disasters than can easily be avoided!    And if the peanut gallery isn’t happy, go write your own blog!  (insert a mental happy face emoticon here!)

 

This is not a pool heater!

1) Hot, Hot, Hot!  – In case you weren’t aware, many times the agents who rent your home are not the agents who put the house into the listing system.  Mistakes happen and unfortunately when an agent rents a home saying there is central air when there isn’t (this one happens more often than you think) it get’s uglier than a “Mama’s Family” reunion movie!  For renters, look around for the vents for central air, check the thermostats and do a quick scan for window units.  If you’re a landlord, make sure you go online to the agency that’s renting your home and check the information they have on their website.    While I can’t say how it works at other companies, at Elliman.com, it’s as easy as writing your address on the search bar.  It’s also not a bad idea to make sure the heat is functioning for those early and late summer nights.  Come to think of it.. you may have rented house with a heated pool but it’s not such a bad idea to make sure there is an actual heater.  Sorry but coffee warmers do not constitute a pool heater.

2)  Tour Groups – Now I’ve been on every side of this equation and it really isn’t much fun for anyone involved.   The house is rented and a listing agent has to show it! Many of these tenants have paid top dollar to spend their summer out here sitting on Route 27…errrrr.. I mean enjoying the beach and fresh air of the Hamptons.  Imagine how they feel having truck loads of people coming in and out of their homes while trying to recover from the night before at Pink Elephant!   In fact, I showed a listing last year where my customers were contemplating a purchase only to be told by tenants, “the house stinks!”   It’s only too bad the listing agent wasn’t there to run interference.    So get an agreement before hand, it could prevent everyone from being perceived as nasty tenants, mean real estate agents, nosey buyers or crazy landlords.    Speaking of landlords, you may also want to make an agreement about when they can stop by as well to get that jacket out of the storage locker or their kids bike pump.   It’s good to keep everyone happy… happy… happy…. like that Pharrell song!

Sweaty summer sittin’

3)   Sittin’ and Grillin’ – Once again, it’s a good idea to have your agent get a list of what lawn furniture is included in the seasonal rental and if an outdoor grill is part of the deal.   Some leases include all of this others don’t… read your lease and find out!    In fact, if the furniture is yet to be purchased, I suggest making sure it’s indicated in writing what type of furniture will be made available.  I couldn’t think of anything worse than thinking of a nice teak set which instead turns into a strip nylon folding chair.    Landlords have been known to do it… and it’s a no-no…  an ounce of prevention!   Also, It would be a disaster if you had our daughter’s wedding at the house and there was only one lawn chair not as described! *
*obscure 80’s reference, if you get it let me know and I’ll owe you one!  No googleing!

4)  “Dah Plane Boss Dah Plane” – Yes, we know you come to the Hamptons for peace and quiet but we also have highways here and airports… and a train too!    Here’s two simple words I can tell everyone “Google Earth.”   Yep, check the address out and look at the aerials.  If you’re near an airport or a train or a highway, you know you’re going to hear things.    But remember, it’s not Queens so it’s probably not going to be as bad as you think but it doesn’t hurt to be forewarned.

Now, hopefully this is my last dire warning rental blogs.   I’m starting to feel like Chicken Little!

 

5 Big Reasons Your House Hasn’t Rented… Plus, News from the 31 Flavors!

So we’ve come to that time of the year when homeowners far and wide start calling real estate offices and saying, “How come nobody has rented OUR house?!”   Well, it’s never easy getting to the bottom of the issue but there are 5 points that seem to be the do or die of Hamptons rentals.    I’ve spoken to agents all over the east end and the common responses seem to be the following….

From badmlsphotos.com MESSY AND DATED!

1) Dated Interiors – Does your home look like a chic clean hotel room or your great aunts house that hasn’t been updated since after the Eisenhower administration?! Think about who the people are that rent for the summer season.  It’s mostly successful urban professionals who  want clean, modern and easy to maintain interiors.   Expensive rugs, white sofas and antique end tables may all look great but they scare the heck out of potential tenants who fear losing money (security deposits).   Just think about it this way, if you were checking into a hotel and it looked like your house, would you wan to stay there?    If not, go to Pottery Barn and get yourself some new digs.    It may not be everyone’s bag but it’s what rents!

2) Smells – Everyone loves the smell of “home” but if that involves wet dog or cigarettes, I can guarantee you nobody is going to want to rent your house.    But that doesn’t mean if you’re a dog lover (like me) or a smoker (like my dog) your out of luck.    Call a local carpet cleaner and have both the rugs and furniture done.    It’s also not a bad idea to cook some cookies before showing the house.    It’s not about the smell, although it don’t hurt.  It’s really about the cookies.  Brokers and agents always like to eat and when they’re happy the potential renters are happy (Hint: Chocolate Chip)!

Man’s best and smelliest friend!

3) Access – Make it easy for agents to show your property.     Be ready to show your house at any time or any day.    Thursday’s between 1-4 while good for you might not work for most agents.    Renting a home is going to be a bit of a task, you’re going to have to keep it clean while showing and be ready at a moments notice.   There’s a reason why you’re getting that big check, nothing in life is that easy!    If your really want to promote your house, think about hosting a weekend open house to encourage easy showing.

4) Be A Fair Landlord – Here’s something you might not have thought of but agents in the Hamptons talk to each other!  Now, how is that going to effect your chances for renting?   Well if last season you involved the agent in a war over a $2000 deduction for a broken coffee cup, odds are you’re a marked man or woman!    As I said in a previous blog, document the condition of your home but don’t look for the deposit to be an income generator!   There are landlords who have a reputation for being unpleasant and difficult and agents avoid showing these homes like the plague.    So you want a few names?  You’ll have to buy me a drink first! HA!

5) Price – ahhhhh the last and most important item on the list.   As a builder once told me on the east end, “there’s a butt for every seat…. it just depends on how much they’re willing to pay for the chair.”
You’re house doesn’t have to look like something from Architectural Digest but then again don’t ask the same price of the house that really was in the magazine!   If you’re curious about what price to ask for a summer rental, my generic rule of thumb has always been 3.5% to 5% of the value of the home for Memorial Day to Labor Day with August garnering half of that amount.     Now, I know not every agent or broker will agree with the formula but I’ve always found it’s a fairly good place to start.

Finally, speaking of open houses… yes I mentioned them in paragraph 3…. My best friends sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who spoke to the broker at the 31 Flavors last night who told me they heard I really don’t give out the I-
Pads at my open houses.  Well I have news for you… yes I do!   I always say agents show what they know and it’s my job to get them there!  That’s my promise to my sellers.  One thing that I’ve found that works is a good “give away.”   So don’t believe me ask Peter Moore of Corcoran, Mary Slattery of Corcoran, Ann Ciardullo of Sotheby’s, Nancy Howell of Corcoran or Justin Agnello of Douglas Elliman among others…. It’s the real deal!   So as for the gossip monger at the 31 Flavors,  “You’re still here?  It’s over.. it’s over.  Go Home!”

A Brouhaha at the Beaches in Amagansett and a Cure for Round Swamp Farm’s Cinnamon Buns… well sort of!

VERBOTTEN!

Those oft over-the top folks in “Amagainsit” are at it again.  Fearing that the guest of a guest, share house, booze-swilling Saturday afternoon fedora crowd would drift east from Indian Wells due to parking lot restrictions and an increased police presence, the Beach Hampton homeowners association sent out an early summer warning to members.

That beach access would be restricted to members in good standing with the Dunes home owner’s association (i.e. residents and their tenants ).
OK. We’re good so far.  While we won’t consult our Hamptons Chatter legal department just yet about their legal right to restrict access they have begun stationing “monitors” at various beach access points.  (although when we googled “lawsuit beach public access” it appears the folks in Amagansett are walking a very shaky and fine line).

This summer, clipboard carrying Studio 54 type bouncers have been checking to make sure not only if beach goers are from the right part of town, they’re also making sure everyone is ponied up with his or her Homeowners Association Dues.    But what if you landlord has paid the dues… you want to go to beach but the bouncer says “no you didn’t.”   Well that’s exactly what has been happening.  Apparently this is becoming more and more of a problem with rental tenants lugging their wares to the beach only to be turned back!!! I don’t know the whole deal here but I’m just predicting this is going to blow up before the end of the summer.

Meanwhile here in the Hamptons we’ve got more than our fair share of famous culinary and home making genius’.      There’s of course Martha Stewart…. there’s Ina Garten (who I like even though she and Jeffrey have yet to invite me  over) … and now there’s ANKE.   In keeping with the  summer of healthy eating I want to tell you Anke’s Fit Bakery and her stuff is awesome.   I’ve also been discussing this around town, and I’m hearing similar stories from other agents whose summer tenants are being subjected to random shakedowns in The Dunes.    Perhaps this is just all a bunch of misunderstandings but bouncers on the beach?!!!   Stay tuned.

 

 

Shunning refined flour for her baked goods, Anke uses spelt flour, whole oats and other organic ingredients because, “Ingestion of refined flours elevates the potential for heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity.  The health risks can be reduced by using whole grain flours instead of refined flours.”  My personal favorite is Anke’s Chocolate Loaf cake make with coco and a bunch of good stuff.   But you would never know it, I would swear it’s Entenmann’s!    Marie Claire, Tracy Anderson, the East Hampton Star and a bunch of other publications will attest to the fact I speak the truth.   So check out the website or go visit Anke at the Sag Harbor Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning.  You and your gut wont’ regret it!!!  Now, back to the treadmill!