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A stage-struck Shelter Islander of many parts — Real estate pro  Susan Cincotta  

It was her own search for housing on Shelter Island that led to Susan Cincotta’s real estate career.

The independent real estate broker was living in Manhattan and she and her fiance, Gregory Fehrm, were summering here while living in the city. She’d first visited the Island with her college roommate, Marian Kaasik. That led to her doing films and theater with the Kaasik family.

Acting has always been a passion, from the time she was 5. She trained at the Performing Arts Foundation in Huntington when she was in high school and studied theater arts at Stony Brook University. Following were graduate courses and an internship with Lynne Meadow at the Manhattan Theatre Club and Jean Erdman at Theatre of the Open Eye, before going on to theatrical publishing as a production coordinator.

As with many seeking a future in the performing arts, Ms. Cincotta said she gained “lots of restaurant experience.”

She and Gregory eventually decided to move to the Island full time, but it took a year of searching to find a rental they could afford, while maintaining their city apartment. That happened just two weeks before their wedding. If the search was hard, it afforded her a lot of time to get to know many Islanders.

Looking back on her early days as a resident, she remembers getting the news from her doctor that she was pregnant. She was at the Post Office to pick up mail when she was congratulated by the postmaster. “I mumbled, “How do you know?” Everyone knows, she said. “Everyone? I said? I hadn’t even told my mother, but then she didn’t live on the Island. The Shelter Island gossip line is still faster than the internet,” Ms. Cincotta said.

Two years after renting on the Island, the couple was able to acquire a vacant lot through the Kaasik’s MVM Realty, and built a house. Her husband was a volunteer with the Shelter Island Fire Department, an EMT and he traded his work as a fisherman, pilot, plumbing apprentice, painter and carpenter for the services of others who would help in the construction process.

Sadly, in 2005, Gregory succumbed to a long illness. “Greg was the person who instilled a sense of volunteering in me,” Ms. Cincotta said about her late husband. “He believed in me and our family.”

When he died, she became a single mother to “two terrific kids “ and said it wouldn’t have been possible to manage without the support of many Islanders. “They know who they are and I hope I‘ve worked to repay all of their kindnesses,” she said.”This community is outstanding in its loyalty.”

Work on the Island has been a balance with her theater passion. She’s treasurer of the Shelter Island Players and was lead in the Players production of “Murder By Mistake.”

In 1985, she began her real estate career, signing on at Ferry Hills Associates in the Heights, which expanded to the North Fork. She opened a second office, Gardiner’s Bay Realty, for the company. Then in the 1990s, she began working for Allan M. Schneider Associates, opening an office on the Island. Years later, when her children were in high school, she worked for M. Wein Realty and later joined Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.

In 2020, she opened her own office, Susan C. Cincotta Real Estate Broker, LLC.

“Daniel Gale Sotheby’s was very good to me,” Ms. Cincotta said. With the onset of the pandemic, the company was downsizing to smaller office space that would be shared, yet the office was closed.

“I was slammed with hundreds of new calls for help with rentals and referrals during the pandemic’s early months,” she said. “I felt why go to the office on Grand Avenue when you already have a great office.”

Her advice to those thinking of a career in real estate is to recognize the importance of being fair, honest and bringing a sense of integrity to the work. “In this industry you are colleagues and competitors at the same time,” she said. It’s important to be accessible to clients and respond to phone calls, text messages and emails promptly.

“Tell the truth, and if you don’t know something it’s O.K. to say, ‘I’ll find a source for that information,’” Ms. Cincotta said. “Learn to let go of things that fall apart. I’m lucky, I learned so much about rejection as an actor that I move on quickly with no side effects — well, maybe too much chocolate.”

That said, there are frustrations. The real estate market that was soaring during the height of the pandemic has cooled, and on Shelter Island, there’s little inventory to satisfy the demand.

There are contracts on which a real estate professional works hard only to have deals fall through and sometimes a long time before a deal can be closed. You can’t view the job by any hourly pay for the work you put in to a deal, Ms. Cincotta said. “I value service above a paycheck,” she said.

But the satisfaction of closing a deal is worth everything, she said. “When you exceed the expectations of tough market conditions, your clients recommend you and you surprise yourself to go farther, higher, better, and for the most part nobody knows it other than you because everything’s confidential.”

She was with her granddaughter at the Shelter Island Pharmacy recently when she ran into a former client who told her how happy he and his family are in their house. Another couple showed up and told her they were grateful for her assistance in putting together lots to build their home.

On the way out of the pharmacy, she ran into another former client who said she’s redoing her kitchen and baths. The client’s parents had recommended Ms. Cincotta to their daughter.

“My granddaughter was proud of me and although I sell property and houses, the most satisfying feeling is sharing in the process of making a home.”

But she is still stage struck. “I’m the acting coach for the Shelter Island High School Drama Club, currently rehearsing for Lisa Shaw’s new play for the Historical Society, ‘The Prospect of Summer,’ which is a true adaptation of the hotel that burned down in the late 1930s,” Ms. Cincotta said.

Volunteerism is in her blood and she sings at Guild Hall and is a liturgical minister for her church. She loves board games, cards and gardening.

Beyond that, you would likely find her in the kitchen, cooking or baking. But her mind is always on what makes her life on the Island so special. She loves the “dedication to conservation-minded progress, and willingness to work out problems in a civilized and patient way,” she said.