A few days ago, I looked at the calendar and realized that the 4th of July was coming up quickly. The weather has been undependable; May had eighteen rainy days and many days that did not have rain, were overcast or windy. After a couple of sunny days, the foliage then seemed to burst through with full-canopied trees and colorful flowers all around, but only the fittest survived the constant rain; Peonies and rhododendrons bloomed and went quickly because their petals could not dry out.
There are some parallels between the weather and change of seasons, and the real estate market. Some sellers delayed pool opening, lawn cleanup and spring cleaning because of the weather. Some homeowners who were considering selling postponed making a decision because “it doesn’t feel like spring yet”. And some customers who were in the market scheduled house-hunting according to the forecast. But despite the weather, listed homes got offers, and agreements were made.
Memorial Day was a break-through weekend for real estate on Shelter Island. Suddenly there were tours that spanned over days, one customer saw 18 houses in two 4-hour appointments. Another new customer had selected ten houses to tour and worried they would become inundated, but I reassured them that most people know within the first five minutes if a house will work for them. They returned for a tour of their short list and made an offer on a home that seemed to check off all of the boxes they had initially described.
These days, there are many positive things for both sellers and buyers to celebrate: there are a lot of offers being made on a wide range of properties, in a few cases multiple offers on one home, the interest rates are as one customer said, “ridiculously low”, and within each price category there are good listings to choose from. Current interest rates on a 30 year conventional mortgage are 3% +/-. Listings that have been on the market for over a year are getting new attention and going into contract.
On the rental circuit, there have been stops and starts. Right after Memorial Day, customers who had not yet made a decision began a renewed search. In the last several weeks, high end rentals have been popular, mostly for August, as have been shorter term rentals with odd dates.
The news of Shelter Island Town voting in favor of keeping in place the short term rental regulation with modifications has resulted in strong opinions from all quarters. Many feel that tourism is a fundamental part of a resort community like Shelter Island, and that instituting what they feel is a complex and overly restrictive set of regulations infringes on homeowners’ rights and property values, which will ultimately affect the Town’s economy.
Many feel that there are other ways to address the concerns of those who do not want their neighbors renting for fewer than thirteen nights. One person commented that if noise is a real problem, the Town should examine the details surrounding noise complaints reported to the Police Department, but the Town Board did not request to review these statistics. Another commented that the Town indicated an awareness of of only a handful of homeowners who have registered for a rental permit, but in since the regulation has been in effect, the Town has not notified those homeowners of their lack of compliance.
On the other hand, many believe that the Town Code provides zones within residential areas where a homeowners can conduct business, but many homeowners doing short term rentals are turning their homes into businesses, and in many cases are doing this in strictly residential areas that do not allow for a home-based business at all.
Many municipalities are instituting rental regulations, as a client commented, “but none are as complicated as Shelter Island, which forces the owner to disclose their income tax returns and hand out leaflets to tenants and neighbors. Did you see the Design Within Reach June catalog? Shelter Island is described as ‘notoriously difficult’. That’s not what our island is really about, but the Town Board in its myopia is giving us a bad rep that’s even mentioned in a home design catalog!”
The 4th of July is when many of us on Shelter Island enjoy the company of friends and family on vacation with a barbecue, a dip and a splash, and create indelible memories of summertime. It is also a day to cherish the freedoms we enjoy as individuals and as a country. Have a great weekend, everyone!