Compass agent sees herself as advisor for potential home buyers

Diane Shifman

Diane Shifman at Rowdy Hall. Independent/Ty Wenzel

Thinking outside the box has given realtor Diane Shifman an edge in selling and renting East End properties. Through creative angling and negotiation, she has managed to land deals and forged a fierce loyalty among her customers and clients.

What drew you to a real estate career?

I could never picture myself working 9 to 5 in a city cubicle, so the flexibility and varying schedule was very attractive. I also love architecture and home design, and I’m very curious about what’s behind the door of each home.

How did you wind up in the Hamptons?

My parents bought their first house in Amagansett in 1996, and after college in 2004, I got a job as the owner’s assistant at the Farmhouse Restaurant. It was supposed to last just one year, but I just kept putting off moving back to New York. I took a few waitressing jobs, started teaching at Springs school, and became increasingly involved with the community here.

When did you get your license?

My parents, grandparents, and uncles are all involved in investment properties and in 2005, they advised me that real estate might be something I could always fall back on. I didn’t think it would become my career.

How did you transition into that career?

Friends of mine were starting the real estate firm Rosehip Partners in 2008 and asked me to join as an agent. Shortly after I started, momentum began to build, so I decided to do it full time.

What was your first sale?

A regular customer at a restaurant I waitressed at heard I had gotten my license and told me her daughter had been looking for a house but wasn’t able to find anything she liked. I showed her only one listing and she fell in love with it. It happened to be south of the highway in Georgica, had a guesthouse and pool, and remarkably, was under a million dollars.

Your first big sale?

One summer morning I was at the LVIS fair, planning to take a day off and get some beach time, when I received a call from a couple who wanted to see a $6 million listing on Egypt Lane. I set up a showing that afternoon and they knew it was right as soon as they walked through the door. Now they are not just clients, but friends.

What is the best part of the business for you?

Finding the right fit for someone. I think of myself as a teacher and advisor to all of my clients and I can tell as soon as they walk into a house if it’s for them. I love that every day is different. I never know who will call, what house I will walk into, or where I’ll meet my next client.

Why did you move to Compass? 

Sometimes in life you need to change in order to grow. It was the right time and I moved along with my partner Kevin Flaherty. There are many things Compass has to offer, including great marketing and a network of agents across the country we can refer to.

With the summer season approaching, how is the market looking so far?

There are lots of monthly rather than full season rentals and prices have remained steady, but there are still deals to be had.

What is the worst thing that’s happened to you so far?

Many times, tenants and owners are at odds over what is needed in a house, and I often find it easiest just to buy it myself. One tenant needed a gas grill for his rental house but the landlord didn’t want to purchase one because the house already had a little charcoal grill, so I picked up what I thought was a good one. A few weeks later he sent me a text titled “grill tragedy’’! Apparently flames shot out of the holes and melted the knobs right off the grill. Luckily no one was hurt.

Another time I had an accepted offer on a $3 million sale in Georgica from an international buyer. There was an inspection and there were even signed contracts, but then the buyer claimed he couldn’t get mortgage approval, so the deal went south.

Your most exciting closing?

We had a listing in Springs for nine months, a house on Red Dirt Road for a million and a half, and on the very last day of our contract, we got two offers and wound up selling the house!

Are the transactions ever complicated?

Yes, every deal has a complication somewhere along the way, no matter how prepared you are. We represented a piece of land that the sellers had never seen and it turned out an abandoned road ran through it, and in order to make it buildable, we had to go through the legal process of acquiring that road.

What was your favorite deal?

It was only a little rental for $25,000, but I did the entire transaction while sitting on a beach in Cancun. Even though I should have been relaxing, it confirmed to me how easy it is to be mobile in this business. Another time a rental client fell in love with a house that was twice her budget but she was obsessed with it. I really wanted to get it for her and the owners wanted to sell at the end of the season, so I suggested a show clause and they agreed to rent it to her for half their asking price.

Do you have passions apart from real estate?

Yes, I picked up tennis when I moved out here and it’s become an addiction. It teaches you to focus and you can’t believe how many clients I’ve met on the court!

To reach Shifman or inquire about her properties, call 973-818-4392 or email