Real Realty

Diane Saatchi Of Saunders Offers City Know-How To Hamptons Real Estate

Sister team Diane Saatchi and Elaine Stimmel partner on key listings and are Saunders & Associates superstars in their own right. Independent/Courtesy Saunders & Associates

Pivoting to the East End in 1984 from New York City, Diane Saatchi went to work at ET Dayton, where she would become a partner. After Dayton merged with Halstead in 1994, Saatchi integrated much of her city know-how in the use of advertising, public relations, and technology to grow Dayton-Halstead’s three-person office into a three-office, 60-licensee operation with more than $133 million in sales. Saatchi offered her decades of experience to The Independent for invaluable insight into the Hamptons luxury real estate market.

You grew up in Queens. How did you find yourself in the Hamptons?

My family moved to Forest Hills when I was nine. I moved to Manhattan for college and like many young professionals, stayed there and summered in the Hamptons.

Why did you decide to join the Saunders team?

I was immediately impressed with Colleen and Andrew Saunders and I liked the idea of working with a locally owned and managed agency.

You graduated from Columbia and taught there as well as at NYU and SUNY. What did you teach?

I studied and practiced Occupational Therapy with a specialty in psychiatric rehabilitation. I was also on the faculties of SUNY-Downstate, NYU, and Cornell.

Your background is in mental health care, and you were director of therapeutic services at New York Hospital. Has this given you an edge with clients? Do you miss the medical profession?

Learning to listen has been enormously helpful. And, having seen upfront the utter sadness of severe and chronic illnesses has helped me to put and keep things in perspective.

I don’t miss the medical field but I do miss the pace and the intellectual collegiality of an academic environment.

Care to tell us of any interesting building or interior/landscape trends you’ve noticed?

In the 1980s, the “typical” Hamptons second home was labeled contemporary and had one large living/dining/kitchen space with smallish bedrooms. By 2000, traditional style homes were popular, the living room and dining rooms became “formal,” kitchens got smaller, folks hung out in family rooms, and bedrooms all had large closets and “en suite” baths. Soon thereafter basements became lower levels and, in general, homes got larger and larger.

Those two diverse layouts/sizes found a balance in what is now known as “transitional style.” From the exterior, the look is traditional but inside the spaces are open and the materials and trim are more akin to what would be at home in a modern house.

For someone looking to sell their Hamptons home, what should they do so that it sells quickly and efficiently?

The short answer is price it correctly. Two factors, price and location, account for a sale and just one of them is within our control.

What marketing do you implement to secure a luxury exclusive?

I find social media and online advertising websites effective for capturing buyer interest. Ironically, home sellers who are not also home buyers do not notice those ads and, as such, measure agent effort by the frequency of placement and size of print ads.

How have you differentiated yourself through digital marketing?

Early on I wanted to distinguish myself and Dayton-Halstead, the agency I co-owned and managed, by offering information. We were the first in the Hamptons to compile sales data and prepare a market report. We also were the first to engage advertising and public relations agencies.

Our messaging was informational, not self-promotion; we thought through the flow of information about the market, we would become known. I still use that model in my monthly blogs, on my website, and on social media.

What are some areas of the East End that you consider up-and-coming?

The neighborhoods popular in the 1970-1990s are coming back, largely offering tear downs on lovely properties with mature landscaping. The Georgica section of East Hampton and the areas just outside of historic Sag Harbor Village are two such examples. Those 1980s contemporaries described above are today’s tear downs.

How did the Hamptons home-sales market fare in 2018?

It started strong and then an increase in inventory morphed us into a buyers’ market. I don’t remember any other time when the stock market soared and our market was not in lockstep. Yet, as last year came to a close, the volatile stock market seems to have had no effect on a recent uptick in deals. Go figure!

Do you have a favorite building in the Hamptons, architecturally or otherwise?

That’s a hard question to answer. I fall deeply, madly in love with homes/properties until the next one I love comes along. Most are original old classics that have been restored, but I also love some new and modern ones.

As a big part of the community, are you involved with any organizations?

I am between volunteer gigs right now, taking a break from what seemed like full time involvement in politics. In prior years, I served as co-chair of the board of what is now the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Learning Center and when there was an active real estate board, I served as chair of the Grievance Committee. I am not sure what is next.

Do you ever miss living in New York City?

I never stopped missing New York City. My husband and I have always had an apartment there. We try to get in most weeks.

What’s your elevator pitch?

I know the market, I understand people, and while the ultimate goal of my work is a real estate deal, I believe deals come about because of and through relationships with the principals, real estate colleagues, and the other professionals involved in the transactions.

To reach Diane Saatchi or inquire about her properties, call 631-375-6900 or email ds@saunders.com.