Creekfront Modern in Springs, Negotiable

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I HAVE IT ON GOOD, IF THIRD-HAND, AUTHORITY — from the friend of a friend of a friend — that the 1970s modernist gem, above, on Hog Creek in Springs, N.Y. is highly, highly negotiable. I think the place is pretty fabulous in a Hamptons kind of way, harking back to the boom building years of the 1970s and ’80s.

Cube-like, cedar-sided houses with expansive decks like this one are more common near the ocean, in the former potato fields south of Montauk Highway, than they are here, five miles north of said highway, where the beaches are those of unspoiled and uncrowded Gardiner’s Bay.

So I was sitting at one of those beaches the other evening, watching the sun set and running my mouth to a friend about how I’d still love to trade in my cute ’40s cottage for either an old farmhouse or a place with some kind, any kind, of water view.

My friend said she knew of a house nearby that was still on the market after a year, and that the owner, now elderly and fed up with it all, was very eager to sell. She put in a call to her friend — the friend of the owner — who gave us the address. “It’s a square box,” he said dismissively, and we went off to look at it with low hopes.

In fact, I found the house — on 2/3 of a wooded acre, with frontage and a boat launch on Hog Creek, above, which leads into Gardiner’s Bay — very attractive. I have no objection at all to the architecture. I like its symmetry, proportions, and wraparound decks. We couldn’t access the upper deck, which would have provided a better view of the creek, but peered into the windows of the three bedrooms on the lower level.

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Pay no attention to the original ask of 825K. I’m given to understand an offer of 500K would not be unreasonable under the circumstances. The house is part of the Lion’s Head neighborhood association, with its own bayfront marina and beach, a mile or so north of Maidstone.

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The house is not for me, after all; I’d still rather have a 19th century farmhouse. But I can’t help fantasizing furniture from Design Within Reach (or its ilk), rya rugs, super-graphics on the walls, great modern lighting.

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For those who embrace such a vision, the listing, with interior photos, is here.

By the Sea Under 200K

MASTIC BEACH AND SHIRLEY, twin communities 90 minutes east of New York City on Long Island’s South Shore, have the same superb, white-sand beach as Fire Island or the Hamptons, the same mighty ocean and glorious sunsets, but they can’t seem to catch a break. Right next to tony Bellport, with its golf course and yacht club, Mastic and Shirley have struggled for years with social issues. Housing prices, never very high, have taken a beating in the recent downtown.

On April 3, The New York Times Real Estate section ran a “Living in…” column that laid out the area’s pros and cons quite clearly. (In years past, Mastic Beach was a Suffolk County dumping ground for sex offenders, and lax regulations on absentee landlords sometimes resulted in three immigrant families sharing a house.) But many people say they live there happily and without a problem.

The classic 1945 beach cottage, below, is on a large lot with mature trees. It has been reduced to 180K from the low 200’s. It’s not winterized, but it’s a short walk to a fine bay beach.

For more info, go here and search on listing #2151013.

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I looked in Mastic Beach and Shirley in December ’07, at the start of my beach-cottage quest. I was curious, and enthused enough by the proximity to the ocean and the availability of inexpensive WWII-era cottages that I talked to a couple of local residents — a teacher and an artist, both of whom love living there. I even tried to drum up interest among some of my Brooklyn buddies, hoping to create a movement (I failed).

Ultimately, I decided the area was too downscale, realized there’s not much of a summer rental market, and moved my search farther east, to Quogue, Hampton Bays, and the North Fork. But I believe that, 10 or 20 years from now, things will be much improved, and I suspect that the area’s reputation is more a problem than the reality.

For those with a pioneering spirit and the patience to wait for the turnaround, Mastic Beach and Shirley are worth a look.

If I were looking today, I might check out this creekfront property for 199K, with a cottage built in 1939. For more info, go to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island and search on listing #2137081.

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This one, built in 1930, apparently needs a lot of work, but it’s got the look that I love. They’re asking 100K cash. For more info, go here and search on listing #2097229.

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There are many other intriguing possibilities. You might have to look past a few rusting cars and major appliances on unmowed lawns here and there.

On the other hand, Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, owns an estate in Mastic Beach — 9 acres behind a gate, but still!