For many New Yorkers, Montauk represents a summer escape tailor-made for long weekends, beach days, and a much-needed break from city life. For Corcoran’s Helen Stubbmann, though, the historic waterfront village is more than a seasonal retreat—it’s a year-round oasis she has called home for more than 40 years.
The broker describes Montauk as a community “like no other”—one rich in natural beauty and protected lands. Stubbmann and her family relish taking in the splendor of the area’s many flora-filled hiking trails and famously photogenic stretches of beach.
Helen came to Corcoran’s Montauk office by way of a custom home-building business she operated with her husband for nearly four decades. Drawing on her deep knowledge of construction, zoning laws, and the nuances of Montauk’s neighborhoods, the Long Island native has established herself as a bonafide Hamptons real-estate authority over the course of her nearly two decades in the business.
Stubbmann talks about her deep ties to Montauk, her insights for the local real-estate market and what’s happily kept her on the East End through so many sun-drenched summers—and snow-covered winters.
INHABIT: Where are you from originally, and how did you come to live in Montauk?
Stubbmann: I grew up in Westbury, Long Island, and I started coming to Montauk in my college days to work the summers and have some fun. After falling in love with Montauk, building a home with my husband and having our daughter made it easy to want to stay.
INHABIT: Can you discuss the career path that led you to real estate?
Stubbmann: My husband and I ran a custom home-building business for 38 years. We had projects mostly in Montauk, but also Amagansett, East Hampton, and Sagaponack. Having a collaborative business dealing with aspects of construction, sub-contractors, town codes and zoning made the transition easy. In addition, it helped my having a good understanding of the Montauk neighborhoods.
INHABIT: What are some of your favorite aspects of life in Montauk?
Stubbmann: Since we were able to design our own home and build it 30 years ago, we have always felt comfortable here. The community of Montauk is like no other. I have many friends and can enjoy the many things Montauk offers, like horseback riding, in some of the most beautiful scenic areas that many people never get to see. There are numerous hiking paths all over the pristine preserved areas of Montauk that I love to take advantage of in the off-season. I love the outdoors even in winter, so this is the place to be.
INHABIT: Tell us about some of your favorite shops, restaurants and local attractions?
Stubbmann: Year round, Harvest on Fort Pond is, by far, my favorite restaurant, with some of the best food and a great staff. I’m also crazy about Inlet Seafood for sushi, and in the summertime, outdoor dining at Duryea’s Lobster Deck is wonderful. If it is a cool or rainy day, there is nothing more comforting than The Dock. During the height of summer, The Crow’s Nest never disappoints.
INHABIT: How would you describe the vibe in Montauk?
Stubbmann: Montauk goes through a fairly radical transition from season to off-season. For the most part, I do believe Montauk is pretty laid-back and friendly. Real estate only gets quiet during November and December when the holidays take over people’s lives, but the rest of the year real estate is consistently busy.
INHABIT: Can you speak a little bit about the current Montauk real estate market?
Stubbmann: I always include in initial conversations with buyers that you pay a preservation tax at closing. These funds buy land for preservation, which has made Montauk almost 70-percent preserved. This is a great fact about Montauk and investing in Montauk, but it does limit our inventory.
INHABIT: Is there a common misstep that you see buyers make in Montauk?
Stubbmann: When buyers drag their feet, they’re likely to miss out. Once you find the property you love, you have to move on it—if it is a great property, it won’t be around long.
INHABIT: Do you have a motto or mantra that helps guide your interactions with buyers?
Stubbmann: Be honest and you will be trusted. This is something many of my clients appreciate about me. When you are selling houses, honesty is the most important quality in an agent.
Stubbmann: My gardens in summer and the warming stone fireplace in winter.