For Mala Sander, an associate broker at Corcoran, the call of the Hamptons proved too strong to resist. “It became apparent to me that jetting around the world was less appealing than staying out here on the water,” Sander says of her decision more than 15 years ago to leave New York City for the East End.
Before the move, Sander, her husband and daughter were spending an increasing amount of time at their home on North Haven, a quiet residential peninsula that juts out north of Sag Harbor and south of Shelter Island.
At the time, Sander led a team supporting small business sales around the world for IBM. After a downsizing, she took the opportunity to move to the East End full time and hasn’t looked back. Volunteering for Sag Harbor’s Baystreet Theater led her to Corcoran on the recommendation of a board member.
Now more than 15 years into her second career, Sander is consistently one of the top five Corcoran agents on the East End specializing in waterfront properties, and she regularly places in the top 200 agents in the U.S., according to REAL Trends, a ranking created with The Wall Street Journal.
Sander shares her insights about real estate — and living full-time — in the Hamptons:
INHABIT: What’s your expertise in the Hamptons market?
MS: I understand what the value is, where the bargains are, where the growth will be, what can be done from Southhampton to Amagansett. I think the opportunity in waterfront is best seen in the rearview mirror. Waterfront properties always set records, but when you look at it in the rearview mirror, you always think, ‘I can’t believe it went for that’—shoulda, woulda, coulda.
INHABIT: What’s your advice for anyone looking to buy in the Hamptons?
MS: I think for any buyer it’s important to consider all the options. Don’t be locked into a neighborhood or community. A lot of times buyers come in thinking they want a neighborhood, but may not consider others because they don’t know the options. Be open to different areas.
And realize that no matter your price point, there’s always going to be a compromise whether you’re spending a million dollars or $10 million. Prioritizing your wants and needs is a good idea because that way you can be flexible. And finally, when you see what you want, and you like it, go for it. Believe in yourself, trust your broker and go for it.
INHABIT: Can you share your top three tips for buying a waterfront home?
MS: Location, location, location—that’s always the No. 1 rule of anything in real estate. Second, look for a home that has the potential to be something in the future. And third, be cognizant where you are vis a vis elevation and the floodplain.
INHABIT: What do you love most about your own home?
MS: The setting is pretty amazing. I always knew I was going to buy the house even before it was available. It’s sheltered from all the storms, but it’s got this expansive view. It’s remote and quiet, yet it’s a mile from Sag Harbor village.
INHABIT: You and your husband are boating enthusiasts — what are some of your favorite boating spots?
MS: There are so many boating destinations out here it’s almost impossible to hit them all in a summer. Once a summer, we’ll head over to Greenport for brunch and the restaurant at Sunset Beach on Shelter Island is always a great spot for a drink. We also enjoy taking our 31-foot Formula all over Long Island Sound and further.
We go out to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Newport and Block Island for overnights. Newport is only two-and-a-half hours by boat, so that’s always a great trip. Or we’ll just head out in Shelter Island Sound and drop anchor in West Neck or Major’s Harbor on Shelter Island and have a picnic or go out for a sunset cruise.
INHABIT: Where do you like to go for dinner in Sag Harbor?
MS: In summer—The Beacon. It’s on the water, and I love the food and the vibe. You’re looking at boats in the marina, amazing sunsets, and it has really fresh, local seafood. In the winter, American Hotel, for sure. It’s the center of the universe in terms of Hamptons dining. It has a classic, old-world vibe. The service is great, and the food is really quite good.
INHABIT: Your home wouldn’t be home without…
MS: …my husband and my dogs. We have two rescue dogs: a 9-year-old Goldendoodle, Jake, and a 5-year-old dog we think is a Wauzer, Barney.
Photography by Erik Melvin.