Featured Story

Shelter Island real estate pros banking on bright first quarter


Look for an upturn in the Shelter Island real estate market in the first quarter of 2016.

That’s the consensus from Island professionals who have weathered what most have termed a frustrating 2015.
Saunders’ Penelope Moore summed it up, saying she’s always looking at trends, and 2015 was “a very unusual year” compared to others.

Perhaps it was a prolonged winter marked by storm after storm that had people weary and not in the mood for house hunting. In any event it was a poor summer for closings or putting deals into pipelines, Ms. Moore said.

But by October, people were taking a second look at the housing market and business began percolating, she said. Properties that had been on the market for four or more years were moving toward closings.

But it was too late to see the numbers reflected in the Community Preservation Fund revenues that are based on a 2-percent tax property buyers pay on their purchases. Those figures reflected a 10 percent decline from 2014, bringing in $1.98 million in 2015 compared with $2.2 million the previous year.

Still, as Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) pointed out, the 2015 figures were second only to those of 2014, a boom year racking up the highest CPF revenues of any year since 1999, when legislation created the fund.

“There’s so much money coming in during the first quarter,” Georgiana Ketcham, a licensed real estate broker with her own firm, said about deals she began to see developing toward the end of 2015 that she expects will close early this year.

It may not be a huge amount of money, but for Shelter Island, it’s solid, Ms. Ketcham added.

Melina Wein at M. Wein Realty agreed that money would flow in the first quarter of 2016 for deals that were done at the end of 2015.

“Ultimately, we’ll be okay,” she said. But potential buyers have been wary about the economy, concerned about what’s going on the world, she said.

“People will find a way” to buy properties they love, but they’re concerned and will spend cautiously, Ms. Wein said.
Sales of inland properties have been more steady than waterfront properties, she said.

Susan Cincotta of Daniel Gale/Sotheby’s International Realty characterized 2015 as “steady and stable,” calling the 10 percent drop in CPF revenues not significant. Investment in real estate here is still a safe bet, Ms. Cincotta said.

Jocelyn Haas, the Corcoran Group’s senior managing director, also echoed Ms. Cincotta, terming the Island market as “stable.”

But inventory remains a challenge for the current year.

“Inventory across the board is very low,” said Ms. Haas, who oversees sales on the Island, the North Fork and Westhampton Beach.

Inventory of waterfront properties is low, said Angelo Piccozzi of Dering Harbor Real Estate. If you’re looking to sell waterfront property, this is a good time to bring it to market when there are many potential buyers and interest rates are still relatively low, he said.

There’s also a call for lower end properties at $500,000 or less, he said.

Janalyn Travis-Messer, principal broker at Griffing & Collins, said “inventory is constantly fluctuating,”

While Ms. Moore saw a number of people during the summer who were not serious about buying, Ms. Travis-Messer said familiarizing people with all that’s special about Shelter Island is part of her job.

They may not have found the right property yet, but they’re still looking, she added.