Real estate transactions are a compilation of many moving parts working together to close on a deal. It’s a high stakes game in which the players work toward the greater goal, rather than against, in favor of the client. Brokers, lawyers, land and title surveyors, accountants and engineers, to name a few, are all involved in East End real estate transactions. Understanding the complexity of navigating these waters and the value of communicative partnerships, real estate law firm Adam Miller Group has expanded with a new office in Sag Harbor, helmed by Dennis Downes, who joined the firm this year, to accommodate clients in one of the busiest real estate markets in the Hamptons.
Adam Miller, who opened his Bridgehampton firm in 2007, finds the stakes are higher in the Hamptons in terms of real estate and the need for specialists is greater than ever. Many second homes in the Hamptons are owned by second homeowners, and the firm is set up to serve as a legal bridge for property owners that do not call the South Fork home 12 months a year. Maintaining strong local relationships is essential, says Miller, as is communication with clients, brokers, lenders, and all other parties involved in real estate transactions.
Local laws in towns and villages vary, with Sag Harbor being especially unique with its proximity to the water and its maritime history. “It feels more like a natural evolution than a transition,” Miller says of the new office at 34 Bay Street. “With Brian DeSesa and Dennis Downes on our team, opening in Sag Harbor made sense. They’re both experts in zoning and lands in the area, and have strong, decades-long ties to the community.”
Specializing in land use, residential and commercial real estate, wills and trusts and estates, Downes also holds a unique position serving as special counsel to Town of Southampton, the Town of Shelter Island, the Village of Southampton and the Village of Westhampton Beach. The knowledge and experience garnered from representing municipal clients has become an invaluable offer to private clients, says Downes.
Over the past 40 years working on the East End, one of the most significant changes Downes has noticed in the Sag Harbor real estate market is the cost of housing. Many sales today also involve some permitting processes after closing, which can be time consuming and costly. Efficiency in the process is something Downes aims to add to the firm led by friends that became colleagues.
“I have been friends with Adam and Brian for many years,” Downes shares, adding that Adam Miller Group was a complementary fit for him after deciding to reduce his own workload last December. “Many of my clients have New York and Florida homes. Having an office in Miami is a benefit to our clients. I trust and respect Adam and Brian and am already enjoying collaborating with them.”
Surprises can be an unfortunate byproduct in real estate. On the East End, there are many zoning and permitting issues that may come into play, especially with laws in place to prevent overdevelopment, protect wetlands and conserve open space. The five East End towns are subject to a special 2 percent real estate transfer tax that supports the Community Preservation Fund, which new buyers may not necessarily be aware of at first. Responsiveness, particularly when dealing in a multi-million-dollar transaction, is a key to Adam Miller Group clients.
As a vice chair of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, DeSesa, who joined Adam Miller Group in 2015, also has a distinctive insight into land use. “I have a unique understanding of what it takes to make both sides of any transaction come together so that progress can be made,” he explains of one of his main focuses in real estate law. “I’m so grateful to have served on that board and to have been able to serve the community, and the experience I gained was invaluable to my clients.”
Adam Miller Group represents and advises clients in all aspects of real estate transactions, including acquisitions, planning, zoning, financing, sales and leasing of residential and commercial properties. The firm, which also practices criminal law, has experience in New York City, the East End, and Miami.
Learn more at adammillergroup.com.