Inside the insane Hamptons real estate scene of ‘Million Dollar Beach House’

New York Post

By Hana R. Alberts
Aug. 26, 2020


Courting buyers: On "Million Dollar Beach House," a Netflix series about the Hamptons' over-the-top real estate market, brokers spend $30,000 on a party at 475 David Whites Lane in Southampton. Guests schmoozed by the pool and tennis court alongside a catered feast while a DJ played. It's about to sell for more than $7.5 million.

A 3,300-square-foot modern mansion boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a heated pool, a roof deck with a fire pit and a deep-water dock — for a yacht, of course — that juts into Sag Harbor Cove.

The place is “a panty-dropper,” says real-estate agent Peggy Zabakolas.

It’s one of the jaw-dropping properties featured on “Million Dollar Beach House,” a reality show about the cutthroat Hamptons property market premiering Wednesday, Aug. 26, on Netflix that follows five brokers at the Nest Seekers agency who go to extreme lengths to please mercurial clients, score listings and close multimillion-dollar deals, all while avoiding on-screen drama.

That last goal, naturally, doesn’t last long. Just take the Sag Harbor spread, priced at $5.99 million last year. The owner, who dubbed her Hamptons hideaway the Patti Shack, has frumpy taste.

“Patti has Buddhas and tchotchkes everywhere,” says listing agent Michael Fulfree, who stands to make $360,000 in commission if he can sell it. “It needs to be sleek and modern.”

So Fulfree throws “tens of thousands of dollars” into staging the spot, replacing furniture and throwing a happy hour with free-flowing alcohol — pardon, an open house — to attract young bachelor and bachelorette buyers.

During the shindig, Patti returns home unexpectedly.

“Holy f–k, I hate it,” she says.

Fulfree tries to steer Patti, still spouting disses, away from any prospective buyers.

After all, the stakes are high. The peak season for Hamptons real estate has historically been short — from Memorial Day to Labor Day — and 2,500 brokers compete for a handful of luxury listings in the series of bucolic beach towns from Southampton to Montauk that border the Atlantic Ocean off Route 27.

“You only need to get a few deals done per year and you can live comfortably,” says Fulfree’s high-school friend and new colleague, rookie agent JB Andreassi. So the pressure is on.

The summer of 2019, when the six 30-minute episodes of “Million Dollar Beach House” were filmed, was a tough one for brokers. Fulfree, Andreassi and Zabakolas are joined by Noel Roberts and James “Jimmy” Giugliano to round out the cast. Inventory was high, buyers were picky and sellers weren’t willing to budge — which meant that the team had to come up with creative ways to draw interest to the lavish properties they were marketing.

It’s all about obscure, over-the-top amenities. Andreassi and Giugliano showed off a custom-built dog-washing room at 6 Olde Towne Lane in Southampton, priced at a sky-high $40 million, to super-rich clients Jan and Renee Berman. Andreassi called that home “the Taj Mahal of Hamptons mansions,” with 13 bedrooms, a bowling alley, a built-in bar, a movie theater with reclining seats, a wine cellar, an Olympic-sized pool and a putting green on the roof.

And at 21 Kellis Way in Bridgehampton, listed for $6.99 million, the pair emphasized the pizza oven in the kitchen. It has not one but three master suites — and a total of eight bedrooms and 8½ bathrooms over 6,800 square feet.

The Nest Seekers team also has a yacht to entertain clients — and to take team-bonding jaunts with elaborate cheese plates and rosé to smooth over tensions.

Roberts and Zabakolas clash over an edgy oceanfront property at Marine Drive in Amagansett. Although the 5,200-square-foot, six-bedroom house was not even officially on the market, Roberts convinces owner Sandy to let him show it to prospective buyers anyway. Roberts says: “If the price is right, everything is for sale.”

But Roberts prices it at $35 million, and Zabakolas — and her client Justin, who she takes to tour it — balk at the price.

“It’s three times more than anything nearby,” Justin says, while the trio sits on the roof deck with an enormous TV overlooking the beach. (While Roberts didn’t sell the house, he told The Post this week he still stands by his pricing. “Off-market deals get done all over the country for super-extravagant prices,” he said.)

Still, the work isn’t always so glamorous.

“I am sometimes a cleaning lady, I am a divorce therapist, I am a dog walker, a pooper-scooper sometimes, I’ll get calls at 2, 3, 4, 5 in the morning,” Zabakolas told The Post.

“You just have to be on all the time,” Andreassi told The Post. “It’s 24/7. You drop what you’re doing. You leave the beach and you go.”

He and Giugliano schlepped heavy furniture around when commanded by owners Max and Michelle Breskin of Water Mill. The eight-bedroom property at 468 Edge of Woods Road spans 10,000 square feet with a pool, hot tub, a tennis court and a movie theater and listed for $6.25 million. Michelle Breskin disparages the dining set as “office furniture” and barks, “Move that right now!” So they did.

Entrepreneur Neil St. Clair, who toured the home, didn’t seem to notice the dining set but liked that it was adjacent to vast tracts of reserved farmland with trails and a horse farm. “I have a 6-year-old daughter, so I’m looking to get a pony,” St. Clair says on the show.

Another demanding client: Yale Fishman of Hamptons Luxury Estates. The developer built an eight-bedroom property at 475 David Whites Lane in Southampton that listed for $5.89 million last summer. To help sell it, Giugliano and Andreassi threw a $30,000 party complete with servers in skintight jumpsuits, a live DJ and balloons scattered across the pool.

“I’m spending $30,000 to get this sold. It’s a lot of money to risk,” Giugliano says. “But I need to get eyes on the property.”

Despite the expense, Fishman gets annoyed when Giugliano, whose wife was pregnant at the time, takes a phone call. “Ringers are off,” Fishman says.

Disappointingly, only one house actually sells on the show. Giugliano secures a buyer for 290 Narrow Lane in Southampton for $9.4 million after three weeks on the market.

But that all changed this summer: Thanks to New Yorkers fleeing the coronavirus, the show’s brokers say activity has picked up to the point of bidding wars.

“I’ve secured properties for billionaires and princesses, all of it was sight unseen. There couldn’t be a more perfect time for this show to be coming out with all the eyeballs on the Hamptons right now,” Roberts told The Post. “On a weekend, I might be on a boat with a client, or on the polo field the same day.”

In fact, 475 David Whites Lane, the site of the $30,000 party, is about to close for above ask — now $7.49 million — thanks to Zabakolas, who is the current broker.

“I came here to kick a– in the f–king Hamptons, make a s–t ton of f–king money and have good friends around and that’s it,” she says on the show. “I’m just trying to look out for myself and nobody else.”



Bridgehampton South Bridgehampton South
Spectacular new post-modern in Water Mill Spectacular new post-modern in Water Mill
8 Bedroom New Construction Country Estate Overlooking 50 Acres in Southampton 8 Bedroom New Construction Country Estate Overlooking 50 Acres in Southampton
Peggy Zabakolas Esq Peggy Zabakolas Esq
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker | Licensed as 'Panagiota, Zabakolas'
James Giugliano James Giugliano
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Michael Fulfree Michael Fulfree
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
J.B. Andreassi J.B. Andreassi
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Noel Roberts Noel Roberts
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson