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Michael Ardolino

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Gloria Rocchio, Kara Hahn, Michael Ardolino, Charlie Lefkowitz and Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright at the Three Village Chamber of Commerce awards dinner. Photo from Three Village Chamber of Commerce

At its recent awards dinner, the Three Village Chamber of Commerce honored a familiar face in the community and the real estate world.

Charlie Lefkowitz, chamber president, and Ardolino with his Member of the Year award. Photo from Three Village Chamber of Commerce

The chamber’s Member of the Year award was given to Michael Ardolino, founder and owner of Team Ardolino/Realty Connect USA. The award is given to members who “go above and beyond to support the chamber and its mission,” according to a press release from the TVCC.

“The Three Village Chamber of Commerce and the community are truly appreciative for everything that Michael continues to do to make Stony Brook, Setauket and Old Field a great place to live and work,” the chamber said in the release.

Ardolino, who lives in Setauket with his wife, said he was surprised and honored to receive the award.

“Being in the chamber as long as I have, enjoying everything I’ve been doing with the chamber for many years, to get that award was really special,” he said.

Ardolino said he remembers when he decided to join the chamber more than 20 years ago and was interviewed by Harold Pryor. The organization’s first president asked him why he should be accepted.

“I remember sitting down and saying, ‘Well, because I’m going to help you make it better than you have already started it to be,’” he said.

Through the years, Ardolino has served as the chamber’s president, president emeritus and is currently assisting secretary. He is the chair of the chamber Special Events Committee, a member of its Program and Membership Committee and the cofounder and current chair of the 3V Chamber Family BBQ. The event has been held for 20 years but this year was canceled due to the pandemic.

He is also the founder of the Three Village Electric Holiday Parade and sits on the boards of Gallery North and The Jazz Loft. For the last couple of years, he has been the co-chair of Three Village Industry Advisory Board, which works with the school district to provide job opportunities for Ward Melville High School students. Recently, he has been serving on the Town of Brookhaven Small Business Recovery Task Force.

“Being in the chamber as long as I have, enjoying everything I’ve been doing with the chamber for many years, to get that award was really special.”

— Michael Ardolino

During the pandemic, Ardolino organized a sign campaign with other local chamber businesses which raised funds to feed workers on the frontlines. The real estate agent said he appreciates his time with the chamber.

“The chamber is one of the strongest foundations of the Three Village area,” he said. “It’s a very special place we live, and the Three Village chamber here all these years helped it grow and be what it is today.”

On the same night that Ardolino won the Member of the Year award, Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, was presented with The Roy Dragotta Award, named after a past president.

“Rocchio exemplified the characteristics that Roy embodied,” the chamber press release read. “These include an outstanding commitment to and participation in the chamber, working tirelessly to recruit business and doing whatever she could support or advocate for local businesses.”

Rocchio said, like Ardolino, she was surprised to hear she was an award winner. She was proud to work with the chamber board members who she said are passionate when it comes to helping the business community.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) won The Harold Pryor Award for her “commitment to the Three Village community through faithful service,” according to the press release.

“I was incredibly humbled and honored to be presented with The Harold Pryor Award by the Three Village Chamber of Commerce,” Hahn said in an email. “Growing up in this community, and now raising my own family here, it is a true privilege to be able to support and serve its residents.”

Hahn also congratulated Ardolino and Rocchio for their awards and thanked the chamber “for all of the work that they have been doing to support our local businesses.”

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting and grand-opening celebration for Gypsy Hair Lounge on Feb. 27. Established in 2015, the salon recently moved from its Port Jefferson Station location on Nesconset Highway to the Three Village Shopping Center at 1389 Route 25A in East Setauket. The salon specializes in creative coloring, highlights, blowouts, extensions and event styling. 

Chamber members Michael Ardolino, Jane Taylor and Charlie Lefkowitz presented a Certificate of Congratulations to owner Nicole Digilio and welcomed her and her staff to the community. 

Hours of operation are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 631-374-6397.

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Despite the cold winds, students, business owners and elected officials took to East Setauket’s streets Dec. 15 to participate in the annual Three Village Electric Holiday Parade.

Floats and banners were decorated with holiday lights to brighten up the holiday season.

This year’s grand marshal was Michael Ardolino, a longtime past sponsor of the parade, of Realty Connect USA.

Along the route, spectators could be found bundled up and sporting lights themselves to show some holiday spirit. After the parade, Santa greeted visitors at the East Setauket Pond Park, and hot chocolate and cookies were served.

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File photo by Greg Catalano

Businesspeople are lending a hand in the Three Village Central School District to help students figure out the career path that’s the best fit for them.

Local businesses have partnered with the school district to form the Three Village Industry Advisory Board. Its first initiative is hosting the Ignite Your Career … Discover Your Opportunities career fair Jan. 9, which will give junior and senior high school students the opportunity to learn about potential career paths.

According to a press release from the school district, before the fair, students in grades seven through 12 will take a “career DNA” analysis called the Holland Code. The evaluation reveals career paths that correspond with a student’s personality which is denoted by different colors.

Michael Ardolino, owner of Realty Connect USA/Team Ardolino and co-chair of the advisory board, said the students who sit on the advisory board have contributed many exciting ideas.

He added all the businesses at the career fair will have a table marked with a color from the Holland Code corresponding with the personality that dominates its field, with minor colors that show other types that may be involved in the business.

Businesses are always looking for quality people, Ardolino said, and students can discover interesting information at the event about various fields of industry. One example is how the role of mechanics has changed to where computers are now widely used. Several businesses will also incorporate videos to educate attendees about their selected field.

Ardolino said the school district made the right move in opening the career fair to junior high school students.

“Let’s invite them all here so we can begin to enlighten them to the opportunities of what they can be doing with their lives,” he said.

The event could also be helpful for students to choose elective courses based on their interests and find clarity when it comes to college majors, according to the press release.

“We can learn much from our community partners on what businesses and postsecondary schools need most in terms of the skills that drive their success,” said Alan Baum, executive director of secondary, curriculum and human resources in the school district. “By collaborating with our partners we can learn from them to better inform our own instructional practices. By keeping our eyes open and listening to the business community and our postsecondary colleagues, we hope Three Village remains at the forefront of providing our students with a meaningful education, authentic experiences and equip them with the skills they need for future inquiry and success.”

The career fair will include more than three dozen businesses from across Long Island, including trades and crafts that are in high demand. Local companies participating include Competition Automotive Group, PPS Advisors, Gold Coast Bank, Atlantic Businesses Systems, Camco Services of NY, K&M Truck and Auto Repair, Journey Martial Arts, Equity First Foundation, Realty Connect USA/Team Ardolino, Stafford Associates, Vision World, ProSysCon Computer Technologies, Alternatives For Children, Stony Brook Child Care Services, Bagel Express, Holiday Inn Express, H2M Architects + Engineers, The Meadow Club, The Curry Club, The Meridian Financial Co., Jesco Brick & Concrete, Rossman Tax Service and Bliss restaurant.

The career fair will start at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 in the Ward Melville High School cafeteria.

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Currently the real estate market is being held hostage by low inventory. Stock photo

By Michael Ardolino

Michael Ardolino

The concept of pent-up demand is not restricted to buyers. Many local homeowners are ready to move up to a more desirable home or neighborhood, but when they crunch the numbers, they come up short. Often, this is because they are overlooking hidden wealth, and buying power, in the form of home equity. There is more to a home purchase than the traditional nest egg.

The basics: Let’s say a couple purchased a home with a 20 percent down payment, meaning they have a 20 percent equity stake. As they make mortgage payments, their principal decreases, and their equity — the portion of the home that they own — increases. With home price appreciation added, equity can add up much more quickly than expected.

Home price appreciation: Home prices locally have been steadily increasing at a modest rate for about five years, and the cumulative effect is now showing up in the form of increased home equity. For owners who have been in their homes for 15 to 20 years, the numbers can be surprising. According to Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Core Logic, “Homeowner equity increased by almost $871 billion over the last 12 months, the largest increase in more than three years. This increase is primarily a reflection of rising home prices, which drives up home values, leading to an increase in home equity positions and supporting consumer spending.”

The law of supply and demand: With low supply and high demand, prices will generally increase. For several years, both nationwide and locally, home inventory has been exceedingly low, while pent-up buyer demand has been very high. The resulting higher prices are boosting home equity.

Currently, our market is in effect being held hostage by low inventory. Multiple listing service stats show that in December 2017, inventory on Long Island was down by 7.1 percent over December 2016. Home equity is a solution. As more and more owners tap their equity and put their homes on the market, the constraints being placed on the market by low inventory will be lessened. As more homes are freed up for sale, more first-time buyers will enter the market, more existing owners will move up, more people will buy vacation homes and a healthy market cycle will be nourished.

Mortgage lending standards: According to research by Fannie Mae, “… if homeowners believe that large down payments are now required to purchase a home, then widespread, large underestimates of their home equity could be deterring them from applying for mortgages, selling their homes and buying different homes.”

The stringent lending standards of six to eight years ago have become much more consumer friendly. Loans with lower down payments are readily available to qualified buyers, and requirements regarding income, assets and employment are being relaxed.

If you are a potential seller who is sitting on significant home equity, it may be time to put it to work. If you are unsure as to the size of your equity position, consult a qualified real estate professional. Your equity is a valuable asset that can help you take advantage of our seller’s market while enjoying upward mobility.

Michael Ardolino is a founder and broker-owner of Realty Connect USA in Setauket.

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Staging your home can result in up to a 10 percent increase in dollar value offers from buyers. Stock photo
Michael Ardolino

By Michael Ardolino

There’s an old saying that you can’t time the stock market. Well, in some ways, you can time the real estate market. Here are some strategies to consider.

Take advantage of the prevailing winds: Homeowners, this is the strongest seller’s market I have seen in about 15 years. To maximize your profit, your best course is to list as soon as possible. If you wait until spring, you will have much more competition. Often, time is money.  If you miss this market, you may have to wait another 15 years.

Consider the opportunity cost of waiting to list: While discussing the fact that low inventory has pushed up home prices, Bill Banfield, vice president of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans, wisely noted the other side of the coin, stating, “While sellers are obviously thrilled as their investment continues to grow in value, this trend could make home buyers set their sights on smaller homes in less pricey neighborhoods. I would encourage homeowners who are considering listing their home to take advantage of the opportunity they have in this seller’s market.”

Understand real estate’s renaissance:  Some owners who have not sold a home in many years don’t fully understand the dynamics of selling in today’s new market. Technology has speeded up the pace of transactions. Zillow, virtual tours, real estate apps, online mortgage applications, electronic signatures, texting, video chats and other advances have changed the pace of the industry.

Fully 95 percent of buyers use the internet in their home search. Buyers now come armed with full mortgage preapproval letters, further hastening transactions. Sellers must be ready to go to contract and close the sale promptly or risk losing qualified buyers. Time is of the essence. The Moving Checklist for sellers at www.LongIslandHomeConnection.com will help you plan accordingly.

Take the time to prepare: The competition is fierce, and buyers are sometimes literally lined up to pounce on new listings. The best homes, priced properly, go very quickly. Those that are less desirable or overpriced languish on the market, and price decreases become necessary. 

Make sure your home is in the former category.  Do your homework. Get advice from your listing agent as to repairs and maintenance needed. Are there large projects, such as new windows, painting, or driveway paving? If so, allow the necessary time up front.

Hire a professional cleaner and consider a professional stager. According to research by the National Association of Realtors, 50 percent of staged homes saw a 1 to 10 percent increase in dollar value offers from buyers. Staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize themselves in the home, according to 77 percent of buyers’ agents.

Keep on top of the news: Interest rates remain low, historically speaking, but have been edging up. Reports indicate that inflation concerns could cause the Fed to raise rates more quickly than expected. Sellers, time your sale so that you can also time your purchase, in other words, before significant rate increases.

Michael Ardolino is a founder and broker-owner of Realty Connect USA in Setauket.