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COMMISSION AS A GOOD GIFT

At a time when homeowners are trying to get every last penny in this down real estate market, one Long Island seller and her broker say they plan to give away some of their profits to charity.

Local media personality Donna Drake just listed her five-bedroom, 31 / 2-bath Melville home for $599,000 with Cori Kaplan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, who says she will donate 10 percent of her commission to brain cancer research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Drake says she also will donate some of the proceeds from the sale of her home, though she has not yet determined the amount she will give or what charity will receive it.

She has chosen several Long Island charities as recipients of profits from an April 30 garage sale. The event will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 15 Elderwood Lane.

Why would anyone donate so much to charity in this economy? "My husband passed away in 2004 from colon cancer, and my mom, Judi, was 45 when she died from breast cancer," Drake says.

As for Kaplan, being charitable is also personal. "I have a family member who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer," Kaplan says. "Donna asked me to donate to charity as part of this event."


GETTING AHEAD OF RATE HIKES

The continued turmoil in the Middle East could lead to significant upticks in the U.S. real estate market for both prices and interest rates, says one New York real estate attorney.

"Any time you have serious instability in places such as the Middle East, or places where our oil comes from, there is a political and economic impact," says Edward Mermelstein, a partner at the international real estate law firm of Rheem Bell & Mermelstein Llp. "Usually what happens is that high net worth individuals from countries such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia want to move their funds and shift their assets to a place they feel is safe, like Switzerland, London and New York."

Mermelstein, whose family has either owned or rented in the Hamptons for almost nine years, says although Manhattan will bear the brunt of the current unrest, Long Island also will be affected.

"Long Island has always, to some degree, reflected what's happening in the Manhattan market, and the impact of what happens in Manhattan is felt on Long Island. I see the Middle East turmoil impacting Manhattan pricing, and I see the spillover heading toward Long Island, especially to the parts that are considered just as prestigious as Manhattan."

Mermelstein advises Long Islanders who might be ready to refinance to consider doing so now. "I am a big advocate for the fact that our market is turning around, and Long Island is a part of that," he says. "If anyone is looking to refinance and solidify a low interest rate to protect themselves against inflation, this is a good time to do that because it's not just real estate prices that will increase. It's also interest rates." -- LARA EWEN

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