The first 10 days of August on Shelter Island have been a real estate whirlwind. August 1st brought the final summer wave of tenants moving into summer rentals, and without a moment to spare, those tenants ventured out to explore homes for sale.
Listings in every price range were toured by both customers new to the market and those who have been searching for a while. Certain listings seemed to capture customers’ attention, and were shown multiple times a day: a renovation project priced in the mid $800Ks with four viewings; a stylish farmhouse new to the market priced in the low $1Ms with three back-to-back showings; a recently built 4600 + /- sq. ft. farmhouse priced in the mid $1Ms five times; and a vintage fisherman’s cottage on the harbor priced in the high $2Ms was toured five times. Multiple requests to see a particular listing is, of course, a positive sign which sellers hope lead to offers. Indeed, listings from low to high price categories were all toured by a receptive audience.
The 2017 rental market started in October 2016 with a bang, but fizzled earlier than anticipated. The one truism is that one never knows when a rental season starts or finishes, so the earlier a listing is placed online the better the chance of a positive outcome. The August “move-ins” were smooth and for the most part uneventful. Many fine rentals in all price brackets remained unrented this season. Many customers and landlords expressed confusion at the new Shelter Island Rental Regulation, thinking the minimum rental is thirteen nights; the regulation does not prohibit a rental of less than two weeks but does limit the number of rental opportunities per month to two, which could be as short as one night or as long as thirteen nights.
A former buyer of mine who renovated a spacious, beautifully decorated farmhouse near a beach made a decision to rent around Memorial Day. Without prospects wanting to rent for the time frame and price listed, she placed the home on a direct rental website. Within days, the property was rented for the entire time frame at higher rental rates than originally projected. I helped with the move in and move out of the tenants, who were delightful, respectful people just looking for a happy summer vacation. One tenant was a family having a reunion and visiting the island for the first time with grandchildren, a sharp contrast to what municipalities fear when writing short term rental laws.
This time of year, real estate agents on Shelter Island, though competitors, work harder to accommodate showings for one another. Most homes are occupied by sellers or tenants who leave the property for tours and allot a certain amount of time to return. During the summertime, off-island real estate agents bring customers to view listings they are often seeing for the first time themselves. They sometimes do not factor in the ferry ride or faulty GPS directions, which can have a ripple effect for everyone, if they are showing properties listed by different agencies. Over the first full weekend of August, through the chaos of scheduling, there was palpable harmony. Co-brokers showing my listings were punctual and customers I showed properties to were on time.
One tour I had consisted of fifteen properties the customers requested to see; the rule of thumb is that most customers cannot remember more than six houses shown on one visit. I described to my customers a time target of a half hour per house with a fifteen minute overlap and suggested that if there were any homes that caught their fancy we could return at another time. With a couple of minor hiccups we ended the tour on schedule. When shaking hands to say goodbye, customer asked if I was “part Swiss.”
The weekends in August now consist of Thursday afternoons through Monday, which can be roller coaster rides because of all of the components that must come together to have a positive and successful result. On Tuesday, I was able to take a few deep breaths and catch up on routine office tasks. During and in between appointments over the weekend, I shot a few photos at my listings of flowers and nature, one, a flower at 26 Margarets Drive is at the top of this column. In the evening when I stepped out on my deck, I had to smile when I heard the chaos of nature: katydids arguing “Katy did, Katy didn’t!” and the neighborhood owl interjecting “Who! Who!”