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August 1-15, 2006


REAL ESTATE

Deeds and Don'ts
By Heather Buchanan, Ellen Sherman and Andrew McNair

INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA REAL ESTATE DEALS

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Smart Money
Billionaire Ron Lauder of Estee Lauder fame has been a savvy investor in Hamptons real estate for decades. About 18 months ago, he sold a 20-acre lot in Sagaponack to the town of Southampton for the bargain price of $5 million to preserve the spot. Suffice it to say that was still far more than his initial purchase price. This year, he recently sold for $26 million the 40-acre farm field he had been leasing to local farmers. The buyer considered it a bargain—at today's prices. Lauder's cost? $5.5 million less than 10 years ago. Who says there's a better investment than Hamptons real estate?

The New Sweet Spot
It wasn't so long ago that a $5 million sale raised eyebrows around these parts. Suddenly, the number doubled. Now the "sweet spot" seems to be $20 million.

All this warm air seems to be keeping the high-end market aloft with several new listings for just under $20 million. Few seasonal visitors are likely to make impulse purchases at such prices, but they do get to view these pricey homes while still in their summer blooming glory. "Any time of year is the right time to buy," according to Matthias von Wrede of the Engel & Volkers real estate office in Southampton. He finds Europeans have no qualms about a quick jaunt to Southampton to check out a potential dream home-slash-investment.

His new exclusive at $18.5 million, "Gardenside," is a turn-of-the-century English-style mansion on Ox Pasture in Southampton cloistered by lush greenery of four-story-high trees and hedges, with a formal brick walled rose garden including over 100 fragrant varieties.

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