North Fork:  "Ask Zen." A Real Life NF Real Estate Story

North Fork: "Ask Zen." A Real Life NF Real Estate Story

Episode 4 continues where we left off in our conversation with Barry Novick,  a leading NF realtor.  Last time, Barry promised us an anecdote from his North Fork real estate career.  He says he has a million of them.  Here is one of his favorites.  "Ask Zen" is a series about Real Estate on the North Fork of Long Island. Links to the first three episodes are below. 

HB:  Last time we spoke, you said that you would think about a true North Fork real estate story that you thought our Hummingbird Readers would appreciate.  We're ready!

ZEN:  Before I get into the story that I've been mulling over, I would like to preface it with this-- everything that happens in a real estate "transaction"--both from the purchase and sell sides--has a "veil" of emotion that most times is exposed.  The emotional aspects of this purchase are many, and we spoke about some of the reasons last time.  Also, there is a lot at stake.  Not only wanting to own or sell the property, but it is usually one of the largest financial transactions that buyers and sellers experience during their lifetimes.  Needless to say, there are many factors at play.

As such, while we remember some of the great real estate experiences, many brokers have "war stories" and "wounds" as well, including having been threatened, lied to, and disrespected.  

Usually, real estate purchases go "fine."  The process includes the negotiation and transaction of course, and many involve spending time with both our buyers and selling clients as we evaluate the market and make decisions.  In the case of buyers we often show several homes as buyer and broker come to the understanding of pretty much "exactly" what they want in their soon to be home.

But sometimes, as a broker, you have an experience that leaves you with a great feeling.  That you've actually helped an individual or family grab their "gold ring" on this merry-go-round, and perhaps fulfill a dream that they've had for some time.  It's pretty special.  Here is one of those--from the perspective of the seller.

First off, this was one very special property.  It sits on an unusually high point for the North Fork, having panoramic views of both the Long Island Sound and the Peconic Bay.  The property is sound front.  In addition, the home dates back to the 1800s.  It is spacious, gracious and has lovely porches on two sides of the house.  The home has been meticulously and lovingly maintained.  Plumbing and electric upgrades were made over the years, while maintaining the original integrity of the structure.

The owners/sellers were eccentric to say the least.  They wanted their house shown as much as possible but abhorred the thought of people physically being in their beautiful home.  It was. …. .challenging!

As we began to know each other a little, I figured out how to schedule with the minimum of upset, and how to work around this and some of their other idiosyncratic behavior and demands that were also evidencing themselves.

One day, I noticed that the binoculars that were always on the front table were missing during a showing.  On a hunch, I went to one of the highest windows and looked out into the distance.  Sure enough, perched on top of their car at a neighboring property were my clients, spying on the entire showing through their high-powered binoculars.  When they returned, they peppered me with the usual questions including asking me to describe the prospective buyers.  Without missing a beat, I answered, “Why are you asking me?  I saw you watching the whole showing through the binoculars.  I hope you put them back.”  For a moment-- dead silence, then a fleeting look of consternation crossed the wife’s face, and then they –we all—burst out laughing.  That broke the feeling of suspicion and pretense they were struggling with, and from that moment on, we became friends with a common goal and also respect for each other.

Not too long after, the house went to contract and they left the area.  The closing went well and we parted with real, heartfelt hugs, and maybe a tear or two.  A few weeks later, I received a lovely note from them.  I still have it, and think of them often and fondly.  There was a trust between us.  I knew that they needed to sell their home successfully for them to move onto the next chapter they planned;  they depended on me to protect their "treasure" when other people were there, and they were not, and to always watch out for their best interests.  They were each one of a kind, as was the beautiful property that passed hands.

The above interview is the fourth in a series.  If you have specific questions you would like to see answered in upcoming interviews, please let us know by clicking here.

Catch up on Previous Episodes:

"Ask Zen." An Insider's Look at the NF Real Estate Market--Episode 1, North Fork Home Values

"Ask Zen," Episode 2: Residential Land Values on the North Fork

"Ask Zen," Episode 3:  Why do People Buy What They Buy?

Note from HB:  This interview is intended to give an insider’s view of the North Fork real estate market, and is not intended to provide investment advice.


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