The Multilingual Pitch

by Marcelle S. Fischler

Published: April 12, 2012

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A YEAR and a half ago, receiving ever more inquiries from overseas clients, Shawn Elliott, the broker/owner of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes and Estates of Woodbury, added a “translate” tab to his Web site,shawnelliott.com, enabling visitors to view his listings in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Polish, French, Italian and German.

“We had a lot of foreign interest from different countries,” Mr. Elliott said, “and we needed to be able to communicate at every level.”

Recently he went even further, installing a separate phone line for Chinese callers. Next week he will be speaking at a real estate conference in China about luxury homes in New York; he will also sit on a panel discussing $10 million-plus homes. For the occasion, he produced a Chinese translation of his listings magazine showcasing properties from $2 million to $20 million.

An influx of foreign-born and non-English-speaking buyers has encouragedLong Island real estate companies and the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island in various efforts to accommodate them — not least in the enlisting of more multilingual agents. The real estate market may not have rebounded, but that hasn’t kept deep-pocketed global buyers — lately from Russia as well as China — from pumping up sales beyond the East End, particularly in prime areas of Nassau County like the Brookvilles, Old Westbury, Syosset and Jericho, which are known for stellar schools.

One multilingual agent is Maria Babaev, the managing director of the luxury portfolio international division of Laffey.com in Greenvale, who positions her listings on worldproperties.com and tracks visits and currency reports from Russia, China, Canada, Brazil, India and Britain. Thirty to 35 percent of her business is with overseas clients, she said.

Ms. Babaev was born in Moscow, and by default a hefty portion of those overseas clients are from Russia. She recently sold three parcels totaling 11 acres in Old Westbury to a “prominent Russian businessman” who plans to finish the property’s partially completed main house, which has 18,000 square feet and a modern design, and build a compound including homes on the other parcels for his family and business partners. She said another Russian entrepreneur had recently closed on a $2.65 million home in Old Brookville that he plans to live in while looking for land to build what he really wants.

“My international exposure is what brings me to the table,” Ms. Babaev said. With the trust factor of utmost importance, her fluency in Russian provides a comfort level. She hosts networking events and is active in groups like the Russian Nobility Association and the Russian Gift of Life.

For foreigners, she said, the buying experience “is not just a real estate transaction,” but a full-service introduction to the country and the community. She helps provide information about immigration lawyers, financial advisers, accountants, schools, summer programs and physicians.

In the last two years, Ms. Babaev says, she closed on seven deals with Russian buyers in the $3 million to $5 million range, tallying a total $35 million in sales with $50 million in contract. She expects business to ramp up in the next 18 to 36 months.

Her countrymen previously visited Manhattan to shop and perhaps invest in an apartment for use six weeks a year, but now “because they are moving their families out of Russia,” she said, “the suburbs are coming into play.”

Similarly, Andrew Wu, an agent in the Port Washington office of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s, and who grew up in Sands Point and speaks Cantonese, said: “A lot of Japanese, Korean or Thai or Indian, they all seem to gravitate toward an Asian or Chinese agent. We have similar likes and dislikes.”

Mr. Wu and Ting Wang, an agent fluent in Mandarin who often partners with him, advertise in The Chinese World Journal as well as on Zillow and Yahoo.

“There are too many agents on Long Island in general,” Mr. Wu said, “but when it comes to Asian agents, it is underrepresented. I can attract more buyers because they will feel more comfortable with me.”

As for Mr. Elliott, he has been videoconferencing with agents and buyers in China. “Instead of waiting for the Chinese to come to us,” he said, he has “taken the initiative to go to them.”

In the last year, he added, more than 50 percent of his showings in the range of $4 million and up were to Chinese buyers. His percentage of Chinese clients rose to 60 in the price range of $7 million and up, and to 75 for homes costing $10 million and up.

Jim Retz, the senior vice president for marketing and technology of Daniel Gale, estimated that overseas buyers accounted for as many as 10 percent of the company’s transactions, and “even higher at the top end of the market.” Some buy in Manhattan in addition to Long Island, he said.

To accommodate non-English-speaking clients, Daniel Gale lists 24 languages spoken by its 600 sales agents, from Arabic to Serbian to Russian to Mandarin and Turkish. Its site also offers translations for its listing information into 13 languages and video tours in 5.

“They can pick a sales associate based on their language capability,” Mr. Retz said. Listings channeled to 20 Web sites worldwide make it even easier to search for a home in Old Westbury from Moscow or Beijing.

While pundits banter about a trend toward renting, said Seth Foreman, the chief planner for the Long Island Regional Planning Council, “one of the groups attracted to homeownership, still, are immigrants.”

In Nassau County, the number of Asian-owner-occupied homes jumped to 22,121 in 2010, from 7,588 in 1990. In Suffolk, there were 9,972 Asian-owner-occupied homes in the latest census, compared with 3,911 in 1990.

The Multilingual Pitch

ON THE MARKET

OYSTER BAY COVE COLONIAL

$1,695,000

NASSAU: 205 Foxhunt Crescent

A six-bedroom four-and-a-half-bath stone-and-wood colonial on two acres with a heated pool, a hot tub, a cabana and a two-car garage on a cul-de-sac. Barbara Tomko

(516) 528-7281, Sharyn Hyman (516) 662-9696, Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes and Estates; http://www.shawnelliott.com

TAXES: $46,152.17 a year

PROS: The house has lots of space for entertaining. The two-story entryway has a marble floor and a floating curved staircase. The upstairs study has a balcony overlooking the backyard. The kitchen has granite countertops and wood cabinetry; it connects to a butler’s pantry and a dining area.

CONS: The four family bedrooms upstairs share a hall bath.

ON THE MARKET

A Long Winter Awaits Some Sellers

OCT. 8, 2010

Margaret Trautmann reduced the price of her Upper Brookville ranch by $100,000 and plans to cut it again.CreditKirk Condyles for The New York Times

THE five-bedroom four-bath farm ranch on more than 2.5 acres that Margaret Trautmann owns in Upper Brookville has been on the market for nine months. Originally listed at $1.695 million, the 51-year-old slate-roofed house has since had its price cut by $100,000.

Ms. Trautmann has received four offers, but none for what she hoped to get for the 3,000-square-foot home where she reared three children and lived for 25 years.

Even so, with 75 other homes in the same price range on the market in theLocust Valley Central School District, and the peak house selling season winding down, she intends to cut the price again this month to attract more buyers. As the weather cools, Ms. Trautmann, an associate director at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, is applying the advice she gives her clients.

“You have to stay in the game,” goes the advice — which translates as, plan to keep the listing active through the winter. “The houses today are at least a year on the market,” Ms. Trautmann said of the homes priced from $1 million to $2.5 million in her well-to-do neighborhood.

The house has been on the market for nine months. CreditKirk Condyles for The New York Times

In years past, said Liz English, an associate broker with Netter Real Estate in West Islip and the president-elect of the Long Island Board of Realtors, the perception was that a house for sale would benefit from being taken off the market close to Thanksgiving and relisted at a higher price, with “a fresh approach,” in early spring. “That was because we were going up and up and up,” Ms. English said.

Four years after housing prices peaked, there is no sign that prices will be higher next spring.

In any case there is now a glut of luxury homes, particularly between $1 million and $2.5 million, and in some areas $5 million and above, on the North Shore market and in pricey South Shore areas like Woodsburgh, Hewlett Harbor, Hewlett Bay Park, Hewlett Neck and Back Lawrence.

Over all, in Nassau County, there are 1,590 residences listed at $1 million or more, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island; in Suffolk in that range there are 1,058. Listing service data indicate that over the last five years, contracted sales typically peaked in July and August. The slowest months for closing sales are January and February.

“People want to close and be in before the holidays,” said Tricia Chirco, a spokeswoman for the service.

Even so, in the last two weeks, eight new homes came onto the market in Woodsburgh, which brought the total number of listings in this 0.4-square-mile Five Towns village of 257 households to 15, said Barry Pugatch, a broker and co-owner of a company in Woodmere.

In the Five Towns, Mr. Pugatch said, fall sales pick up in October, after the Jewish holidays. “December is my best month,” he said. “The people who come out in May and June and want to be chauffeured to eight or nine houses, they are all looking; they are not buying yet.” But by December, he said, 75 percent of lookers buy. “They are out looking in the rain and the snow,” he said. “Those are the best buyers you can get.”

And for those homes that are “priced right, if you are not in real-estate-denial mode, you can sell in 30 days.”

Mollie Grossman, an associate broker and director of the North Shore sales group for Prudential Fine Homes International, said competition was fierce and advised sellers not to take their homes off the market over the winter. “The summer months are for bargain hunters,” she said. “Luxury buyers in the spring and summer are off to their second homes, Little League, playing golf and tennis. Fall and winter months is when luxury buyers have more time and actively search for homes.”

But Nava Mitnick, an associate broker with Daniel Gale, takes a different approach. Ms. Mitnick has multiple listings in Sands Point, where 64 homes (about 7 percent of the housing stock) are on the market, at a price range of $999,000 to $30 million. She suggested that sellers not “initiate a listing in November or December,” saying: “You won’t get the proper attention because people are otherwise occupied. It is not starting off on the right foot.”

Shawn Elliott, a broker who owns his own firm, based in Woodbury, advised sellers “to keep the pool open as long as humanly possible” — or at least until Nov. 1 — because “the houses show better than when the pools have their covers on.”

He also predicted that buyers would be “out this winter taking advantage of low interest rates.”

To increase curb appeal, Ms. English of Netter Real Estate recommended that fall sellers plant pansies, which look pretty “peeking out of the snow,” and brighten up interiors with orchids and poinsettias. For winter showings, clean windows more often, add exterior lights on walkways and put spotlights or twinkle lights on trees and decks. Having an outdoor fire pit burning during a showing makes the backyard look inviting even off-season.

Inside, Ms. English advises sellers to display photographs of the garden with impatiens in bloom and the pool open, “so buyers can see what the backyard looks like.”

To make the house brighter on gloomy days, she suggests increasing the wattage on bulbs and turning on all the lights. Her final suggestion: “It is nice if you have music playing, but not Muzak.”

A Long Winter Awaits Some Sellers

Over-the-Top Open Houses

by Marcelle S. Fischler

Published: July 30, 2010

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ON a recent Thursday evening, music pulsed and LED lights blinked from lime green to electric blue to magenta at Peter Petrakis’s newly renovated shingle and stone farm ranch on 2.29 acres here. The house was the setting for an event called “Studio 54 Open House.”

More than 100 real estate agents boogied on the dance floor and sipped wine by the 24-foot onyx bar in the lower-level nightclub. Male dancers standing on illuminated pedestals swiveled their hips. Hanging from the two-story-high ceiling, in a wrought-iron cage adorned with crystals and surrounded by chunky candles, a dancing woman gyrated seductively.

Watching the action from a balcony in the foyer, Mr. Petrakis, 38, a commercial property developer, said his goal was to show off what buyers “can enjoy in this house.” He had removed the living-room floor to create the disco — a permanent installation in the house. It also included a D.J. booth, a fog machine, a 1,200-bottle wine cellar, a dancing pole, a lounge with two powder rooms and, for those who didn’t want to dance, an eight-seat home theater.

“I tried to bring the party to me instead of going to the party,” he said, adding that he frequently had gatherings of 30 to 40, and threw parties with 250 guests, at his “ultimate entertainment pad for a divorced dad.”

The five-bedroom home — which Mr. Petrakis has lived in for the last six months while giving it a million-dollar makeover, including the kitchen and baths as well as the nightclub — is on the market for $2.995 million.

But the “Studio 54” event, sponsored by his real estate agency, Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes and Estates, had two purposes. Besides using the wow of a party to help sell the house, Mr. Petrakis was trying to drum up business for his passion, building nightclubs in homes. A sign indicated that work on the bar had been done by the Karas Contracting Corporation of Amityville. House surveys and brochures were stacked in the dining room.

Increasingly, over-the-top open houses are about strategic alliances and collaborations as well as selling the house. In March, for instance, at an open house that drew 500 guests to a $12 million Upper Brookville mansion, Shawn Elliott teamed up with local Ferrari and Rolls-Royce dealers to display cars in the courtyard. Inside, a local billiards dealer had placed several pool tables for guests to play on. (A Rolls-Royce and a Ferrari sold. The house didn’t.)

“Luxury feeds luxury,” Mr. Elliott said. “We all have the same customers, and the talent is hooking everybody up with everybody. At the end of the day, everyone benefits.”

On Shelter Island last month, Michael Morris and Yoshiko Sato combined a cocktail party and an art show at an open house for their $4.195 million Japanese-inspired six-bedroom contemporary house, with a pool and guesthouse. Twenty-six paintings by the Spanish artist Antonio Murado were hanging on the walls.

“This house needs to be shown with art,” Mr. Morris said, pleased with a turnout of more than 50 people. “We had people who had just come to see the art and people who had just come to see the house.” Three paintings sold. Mr. Morris and Mr. Sato, who were also the architects for the house, received “some serious nibbles.”

Additionally, Mr. Morris said, the open house was a good opportunity to meet potential clients. He said his houses, built on speculation, were “designed to be calling cards” for the architectural practice. A handful of guests inquired about renovations, teardowns and new construction.

Gary DePersia, a broker at the Corcoran Group, sponsored the Morris open house. On July 24, at a $14.95 million 7-bedroom 10-bath house on two acres in Water Mill, he tried a different tack: the unveiling of the new 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost at a “ride-and-drive brunch.” Those who want to buy this kind of house might also want to buy this kind of car, Mr. DePersia said. Six cars, valued at $300,000 to $400,000 each, were available for test drives, while the house was open for lookers.

“Event planners and corporate sponsors are always looking for houses to do their events in,” Mr. DePersia said. Such events would include charity functions that bring in wealthy guests, who might be house-hunting themselves or might mention a certain home to friends. “It works for the event planner and for the corporate sponsor and for the homeowner because it gives exposure to the house,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest collaboration when it comes to selling a home is the case of the designer show house. Frank Bodenchak built the 11,200-square-foot postmodern spec house on five acres in Sag Harbor that is being used for this summer’s Hamptons Designer Showhouse. Scheduled through Sept. 5, the event is being sponsored by Traditional Home magazine; this is its 10th year. There is an entry fee of $30; proceeds benefit Southampton Hospital. The house is on the market with Edge Real Estate for $5.25 million.

Tony Manning, a spokesman for the annual event, which has in the last few years featured mainly houses built on speculation, said the house “will never look better than it does as a show house.”

“It’s a win-win,” Mr. Manning said, pointing out that such events ensure exposure for the builder and the designers, and provide design talent for the magazine, as well as a bounty for the hospital. Based on prior years’ proceeds, he said, the hospital stands to make “at least $100,000.”

Mr. Bodenchak said that because of the designers’ involvement he had been able to “substantially upgrade” the house with a 12-seat movie theater with cherry woodwork, a multilevel fire pit with a waterfall running through it, and blue ledge-work retaining walls and landscaping details.

The house used for last year’s showcase sold immediately, Mr. Manning said. The event also culminated in sales in other years.

Mr. Bodenchak is keeping his fingers crossed. “Our hope,” he said, “is the 7,000 people that come through will form an attractive base among themselves.”

Over-the-Top Open Houses

Your Snow Troubles Will Melt Away at These 3 Houses

March 10, 2010 12:57 PM
By Lisa Doll Bruno

ROSLYN4 Bayberry Ridge$1,095,000 to $1,199,000The owners of thisROSLYN

4 Bayberry Ridge

$1,095,000 to $1,199,000

The owners of this house get a reprieve when it comes to shoveling the driveway: That’s because it’s heated. The paving-stone driveway has a sensor-operated coil underneath. The homeowner says it worked “fabulously” this winter. The house – a renovated nine-room Colonial with five bedrooms, three bathrooms and two half-baths – has other amenities, including a new kitchen with granite floors, tumbled stone mosaic walls and high-end stainless-steel appliances. The living room sports a fireplace, while the family room is outfitted with sliding glass doors to the patio. The yard has an outdoor kitchen as well as perennial flowers and shrubs.

Listing agent: Diane Calderone, Prudential Douglas Elliman, Port Washington, 516-459-1814. Photo Credit: None/

Rapper 50 Cent isn’t the only Long Island property owner with a heated driveway. Here are two houses for sale with a heated driveway and another on the market that offers a heated walkway:

On the market for $1,095,000 to $1,199,000, this Roslyn house’s paving-stone driveway has a sensor-operated coil underneath. The homeowner says it worked “fabulously” this winter. The house — a renovated nine-room Colonial with five bedrooms, three baths and two half-baths — has other amenities, including a new kitchen with granite floors, tumbled stone mosaic walls and high-end stainless-steel appliances. The living room sports a fireplace, while the family room is outfitted with sliding glass doors to the patio. The yard has an outdoor kitchen as well as perennial flowers and shrubs.Listing agent: Diane Calderone, Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Port Washington, 516-459-1814

Set on a flat one-acre parcel, thisHuntington ranch has two new heating systems, including one for the driveway. The temperature-controlled heating unit is in the basement. The idea is to turn on the unit before a snowfall so the snow will melt as it hits the pavement. On the market for $550,000, the house also is equipped with an automatic generator. As for interior details, there are six rooms with wood floors. The layout includes an entrance hall, a living room, a dining room, an eat-in kitchen and three bedrooms, including a master suite. There are three bathrooms. Other features include central air-conditioning, a basement, an attached two-car garage, plus a detached two-car garage with electricity and a loft for storage. Listing agent: Jay Nociforo, Exit Realty Premier, Massapequa Park, 516-799-5074

The driveway may not be heated at thisLaurel Hollow house, but the paved walkway leading from the driveway to the front door is. The walkway — about 20 feet wide and 30 to 40 feet long — didn’t accumulate snow this season, says one of the listing agents. That is just one of the house’s amenities. Set on about three acres, this Southwestern-style ranch listed for $2,495,000 is about 9,500 square feet and boasts a game room, a wine-tasting room, spas, a sports court, an outdoor cabana and an in-ground pool. The 13-room house also features four fireplaces, five bedrooms and 61/2 bathrooms. Listing agent: Ben and Marion Matros, Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes & Estates, East Norwich, 516-647-7488

Your Snow Troubles Will Melt Away at These 3 Houses

Slow Sales on the Waterfront

Published: April 24, 2009

Kathy Kmonicek for The New York Times

DOLDRUMS The owners of this Amityville house have had it listed for six months to no avail.

SUSAN TANTILLO and her husband, Vincent, live in a five-bedroom farm ranch along a wide canal in Amityville, with views of the Amityville River and the Great South Bay beyond.

The setting is idyllic.

“Even after 20 years, I still feel like I’m on vacation every day,” said Ms. Tantillo, a secretary. Mr. Tantillo, a home improvement contractor, keeps a 31-foot sport fishing boat and a 16-foot Sea Ray moored in the backyard.

With their two children grown, the Tantillos would like to downsize to another waterfront property farther east. But after six months on the market, their home, listed at $799,000, hasn’t enticed a buyer.

Waterfront properties, coveted by boaters and beach lovers and those who just want to enjoy the view, have long fetched a premium in Long Island’s housing market. But even the spring selling season has done little to lift the pall on shoreline sales.

Forget the adage that waterfront real estate will always sell because they’re not making any more waterfront.

From palatial spreads with breathtaking views of the Long Island Sound in neighborhoods like Sands Point on the North Shore, to grand bay-front homes in Atlantic Beach with private docks, to more modest canal front ranches in Massapequa and Amityville, waterfront sales have stalled as much as less expensive ones farther inland. Some of the fanciest, in both year-round and vacation communities, are taking the longest to sell.

Gerald O’Neill, the owner-broker of Coldwell Banker Harbor Light in Amityville, sells shoreline properties in Massapequa, Amityville, Copiague, Lindenhurst and Babylon.

“It slowed down along with everything else through 2008,” Mr. O’Neill said. Prices have slipped about 20 percent since early 2007.

On the South Shore, homes in the $1 million to $2 million range on the Great South Bay have “suffered the worst,” Mr. O’Neill said. “That’s where things really stalled out.”

More affordable waterfront properties — 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot homes ranging from $500,000 to $800,000, often on canals with bulkheads for docking boats — are starting to have “more of the life come back.”

Along this stretch of the South Shore, homes in the less expensive range still command about 25 percent more than similar homes farther inland.

For boaters, “there is nothing better than walking out your back door to get on your boat, as opposed to getting in a car and driving to a marina,” said Mr. O’Neill, who has lived on the water in Amityville for 25 years.

The picture in Atlantic Beach is similarly static in the higher ranges.

Year-round residents and summering families alike used to pounce as soon as properties came on the market. These days the houses priced from the $900,000s along a canal to $3.5 million on the Great South Bay are sitting longer.

“No one has an urgency to buy,” said Miriam Gold, a broker with Paul Gold Real Estate in Long Beach. “They still covet it. They still ‘oh and ah’ about it, but they are more cautious about spending money.”

On the North Shore, from Sands Point to Ashroken, 106 waterfront homes are available. Only 17 have gone into contract since September, said Margy Hargraves, an associate broker and vice president of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty’s Cold Spring Harbor office. Among them are a houseboat in Port Washington that sold for $50,000 last September, and a Sands Point house originally listed at $4.9 million a year ago that sold for $3.13 million two months ago.

Over all, listings are up, sales are down, days on the market are increasing and prices are lower by 10 to 15 percent — though waterfront properties still often have a substantial premium built into their price tags.

According to Patricia Shroyer, an owner-broker of Harding Real Estate in Port Washington, “the whole upper-end is not moving.” Among her listings is a $4.5 million contemporary on two and a half acres with a pool and dock facing directly west, with views across the sound to the New York City skyline — “what people used to be jumping for.”

The 6,000-square-foot house, one of five waterfront listings in Sands Point, came on the market in January 2008 at $6.5 million. The $2 million price reduction “isn’t generating any interest.”

The same house farther inland would cost only a third as much, Ms. Shroyer said, adding, “Waterfront always carried that premium and always went before anything else.” In boom times, she ventured, the listing might have sold in a weekend.

Nearby, Cynthia Magazine, a broker associate at Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Port Washington office, has had a listing since 2005 for a 14,500-square-foot contemporary beachfront mansion on nearly five acres. Originally listed at $24 million, it has 21-foot ceilings, a movie theater, a six-car garage, an elevator, an infinity-edge pool and a 3,000-square-foot guest cottage. The estate is still languishing at $19.95 million.

Its owners “do have a very special commodity,” Ms. Magazine said. But at the higher end, the market was fueled by hedge fund and Wall Street players — and they are no longer in the game.

Shawn Elliott, the owner of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes & Estates, predicted that despite these selling woes, waterfront properties would ultimately maintain a higher value than inland ones because of the limited supply. “When the real estate market surges,” he said, “they are the first to bounce back and the first to appreciate.”

Then there are the buyers like Oren and Yarden Ziv of Westbury, for whom the real estate doldrums may turn fantasy to reality. “It was a dream to live on the water,” said Mr. Ziv, 38, a civil engineer. “There are a lot of properties that used to be out of my range and now are in my range.”

A year ago, he added, waterfront property would have cost $150,000 to $200,000 more than it does today.

The couple are shopping in the $600,000 range in Massapequa, Amityville and Glen Cove. “I can find a lot of opportunities right now,” Mr. Ziv said.

Slow Sales on the Waterfront

A Developer Yells, ‘Fore’!

Published: September 24, 2006

Kirk Condyles for The New York Times

A developer is planning condominiums on the site of The Cold Spring Country Club in Huntington.

GOLF courses in the Town of Huntington are in limbo after a moratorium on building on the fairways was extended recently. But one developer says he will push ahead with his plans to buy a private course, in hopes of building condominiums on the site once the moratorium ends.

Last December, three of the eight golf courses in the Town of Huntington in Suffolk County were for sale or had been sold to developers planning to build homes on them.

When civic groups alerted officials in Huntington to the listings and sales, the town council quickly enacted a six-month moratorium on all golf course development.

The ban was intended to give the town time to study how to manage development of the privately owned courses — bastions of a dwindling commodity known as open space — which, under current regulations, allow building homes on half- or one-acre lots.

But six months passed and the town did not create a new zoning code for golf courses, as officials had planned. “I haven’t seen any recommendations yet” from the town planning board, Stuart Besen, a town councilman, said recently.

To buy more time, Mr. Besen sponsored a measure in June, which was approved by the town council, to extend the moratorium until February 2007.

Golf course preservation looms large in Huntington and most towns in Suffolk County, where the courses are plentiful, but costly to maintain.

“The clubs aren’t making money, and land prices are increasing incredibly over the last few years,” Mr. Besen, the town councilman, said. “Clubs are saying ‘Why don’t we sell the land?’ ”

Local residents are concerned that more homes will crowd their open views and add traffic to their communities.

“We need to do something to make sure that we don’t lose the golf courses,” Mr. Besen said. “I would like to see a couple of recommendations and then make a final decision.”

Gary Melius, president of Cold Spring Hills Development LLC, said he still planned to buy a private course, the Cold Spring Country Club in Huntington, for around $90 million on the chance that he would be able to build condominiums on and around the club’s 18-hole golf course once the town decided how it would address the zoning issue.

Mr. Melius confirmed that the club’s board recently approved having members vote on the offer. The country club management declined to comment.

“We all take chances,” Mr. Melius said recently of his plans, though he would have an opportunity to back out of the deal if he did not like the outcome of the moratorium, he said.

Another developer, Shawn Hakimian of the Hakimian Organization in Manhattan, had bought the Hollow Hills Golf Course and applied for permits to build 30 single-family luxury homes on one-acre lots when the moratorium stalled his plans.

New zoning might further restrict the number of homes allowed on or near golf courses, affecting developers’ profits.

Mr. Hakimian has filed a lawsuit seeking to be excluded from the moratorium, said his lawyer, Bram Weber. Mr. Hakimian evicted the golf club from the 41-acre parcel in September 2005, Mr. Weber said, adding, “We weren’t a golf course for months before the moratorium was enacted” in February.

Initially, local groups opposed any development on the Cold Spring course. But Mr. Melius’s plan gained support after a private presentation for the groups in April.

The plan is still in its preliminary stages, but Mr. Melius said he would put about 250 condominiums on part of the country club property, but preserve the 18-hole golf course. The condos would be in several buildings, Mr. Melius said, adding that it was too early to say how many.

Next to the Cold Spring Country Club is the Oheka Castle, a 126-room French Chateau-style mansion built in 1921 by Otto Hermann Kahn, the financier, on his 443-acre estate. (The castle name is a string of the letters of his first, middle and last names.)

Mr. Melius owns 22 acres of the estate, including the mansion, which he has spent millions to restore since 1984 and now operates as a banquet hall, hotel and spa. “I have a 22-year relationship with this community,” he said.

The condo development would not be visible from existing roads and there would be an underground parking garage, Mr. Melius said.

The development would appear “like a little French village surrounding a castle with cobblestone streets and such,” Mr. Melius said. “Very, very European.”

He would give up development rights to the 18-hole golf course as part of the deal, and while “nothing is set up yet,” local residents might be allowed to use the course.

“He’s probably taking a calculated risk that he thinks he can get the zoning for the property in view of the fact that he’s preserving the golf course,” said Mark Cuthbertson, a town councilman who sponsored the first development moratorium.

An existing 306-home community of mostly high-end colonials, ranches and high ranches surrounding the castle was built in the 1950’s and 60’s on 256 acres of Kahn’s estate. His private 18-hole golf course, three cottages and a stable are now part of the 168-acre Cold Spring Country Club.

The entrance to the community is on Jericho Turnpike, a major shopping and business corridor that runs the length of the island’s north shore, in an area where many high-end gated communities have sprung up in the last 20 years.

The Cold Spring Hills Civic Association expressed support for Mr. Melius’s plan on their Web site after the developer’s presentation.

“We do not want to see the club sold,” the civic association stated. “However, if it is sold and developed, we prefer Gary to be the developer.”

In the 1980’s, a zoning exception was made especially for Mr. Melius’s Oheka Castle Hotel and Estate, according to Robert Hughes, the Huntington historian. The community “wanted him to succeed so that he would fix up the mansion and preserve it,” Mr. Hughes said.

The location of Mr. Melius’s condos, so close to the Nassau border, would be a selling point, according to Shawn Elliott, owner of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes and Estates, with offices including neighboring Woodbury and Syosset in Nassau and Dix Hills in Suffolk.

“This is so far west in Suffolk that it’s 100 feet away from the Nassau borderline,” Mr. Elliott said. “What do you have in golf course communities in Nassau? I can’t think of any.”

A Developer Yells, ‘Fore’!