Our Town: Our year of confusion and uncertainty during COVID

Dr Tom Ferraro
Noted real estate attorney Matt Kasindorf comments on the impact COVID has had on the real estate market.

I have been wanting to interview a real estate expert to talk about real estate prices in Nassau County and how they have been impacted by COVID, so I asked around and finally found Matt Kasindorf, the well-known real estate attorney and senior partner at the Manhattan law firm of Meister, Seelig and Fein. Matt heads up their real estate group and we got together at Tam O’Shanter Golf Club last weekend to play golf and chat about real estate prices.

The drive through Brookville to get to Tam O’Shanter is marvelous to behold. You pass by horse farms, rolling hills and open meadows and then you see the course rising up a hillside to your right and the pulse quickens. Tam O’Shanter Golf Club is a perfect example of the way we golfers are all so spoiled on Long Island. Tam O’Shanter has all the wonderful amenities of a high-end country club with its David Postlethwait-designed, 18- hole championship golf course, its pristine tennis courts, pools, fitness room and chic dining.

The clubhouse was reconstructed high atop a hill overlooking the course after the first clubhouse burned down in 1971. This seemed eerily reminiscent of the famous 1790 poem “Tam O’Shanter” by Robert Burns. In the poem, Tam O’Shanter is a thoughtless husband who spends most of his evening hours drinking and carousing about the countryside as his poor wife sits at home fuming. On one fateful evening, Tam O’Shanter watches as some demons dance around a church as it burns down to the ground and he narrowly escapes capture by one of them. The demon manages to rip off his horse’s tail, but Tam O’Shanter gets home safe and sound. And we thought we had tough lives!

When I asked Matt about the general impact COVID has had on real estate development, he remarked, “ In the short term there has been confusion and uncertainty, but the long term fundamentals of the market remain sound. Entrepreneurs still have money to invest and aggressive ones will always find a way to invest wisely.”

Matt teaches graduate courses in real estate law and networking at NYU, and I wondered how he was able to network now that most Manhattan workers are sheltered in their home offices. He said that formerly he would schedule breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings as well as attend a variety of conferences and charity events to interact with clients old and new. However, he said “now face-to-face interactions are avoided and this is unfortunate. Face-to-face meetings benefit both parties since they are both able to assess veracity and legitimacy. You pick up minor cues when you interact and this helps the process of connection. We now must resort to Zoom meetings, which are better than phone calls or text messages but can’t beat face-to-face business.”

I also wondered about how COVID was affecting the real estate market here in Nassau County, and Matt said, “Clearly there is a temporary flight out of New York and home prices are strong on Long Island. Many companies are now experiencing what we call a ‘hub and spoke’ impact where they are renting spaces in their suburban satellite offices. This gives their employees an option to have a nearby office experience away from the distractions of working from home.”

And with that I missed my three-foot putt on 18, shook hands with him and made my way out of Brookville, the land of beauty. It is good to speak to experts on matters such as COVID.

As Robert Burns said in his “Tam O’Shanter” poem back in 1790:
“ Auld Ayr,wham ne’er a town surpasses
For honest men and bonnie lasses.”

Now on this day I did not spy any bonnie lasses roaming about nor witches in”cutty sarks” (short skirts), but I did get a chance to chat with one “honest man” named Matt Kasindorf who gave me reassuring advice. His conclusion was that these precious things like the Manhattan skyline and all of our pretty suburban homes will survive this heinous year of confusion and uncertainty quite well. Hallelujah. Hey, does anyone have an inside track on how to get that vaccine?

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