Move over Selling Sunset–there’s a new real estate show on the market.
Selling the Hamptons, which premieres Thursday on Discovery+, takes viewers over to the East Coast to follow an ambitious set of real estate brokers as they try to stake their claim in one of New York’s most expensive and exclusive zip codes.
“The Hamptons is the wild, wild east,” series star Peggy Zabakolas declares in the show’s opening.
She's not exaggerating. With mansions boasting full-sized tennis courts, bowling alleys, and accompanying pool houses, properties can easily stretch past the $50 million mark, securing paydays of more than $2 million in commission for competitive agents.
And with the pandemic causing a storm of Manhattanites to snap up multi-million dollar properties and shell out five figures on short-term rentals to escape the confines of their penthouse apartments, the market has seen an explosion of record sales.
“COVID-19 changed everything,” Zabakolas explains to The Daily Beast. “Everyone was leaving the city and seeing how much land they can get and the freedom of working and actually having a home office.”
So with a heightened interest in unscripted real estate shows thanks to the success of Netflix's Selling Sunset, and Los Angeles and Florida already covered, the beachy shores of the East Coast looked like the next frontier.
The Hamptons–known for obscenely oversized mansions that are hidden away from lurking passersby through imposing gates or towering, well-manicured hedges–has long been known to New Yorkers as the perfect destination to escape the sweltering city during the summer.
But over the past few years, the area has transformed from one of the East Coast's best-kept secrets into a destination of its own. The popularity of Bravo’s Summer House could be to blame for the surge, as its party-prone cast members rent out over-the-top mansions for their drunken weekend antics, throwing chaotic themed parties and staying out until 4 a.m. at various bars and clubs. Meanwhile, Showtime’s The Affair presents a tamer side to the area, filming around picturesque Montauk and its quiet beaches.
It’s also a celebrity haven, with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Robert Downey Jr., Julianne Moore, Scarlett Johansson, Alec Baldwin, Robert De Niro, and Neil Patrick Harris all owning properties in the area. And then there's the flux of A-listers who descend upon the seasonal town during the summertime, with their sightings feverishly submitted to celebrity gossip Instagram account DeuxMoi.
Regardless of the cause, the surge in popularity has been excellent for business, Zabakolas says. “I think that is a hidden gem that most people don't really know, the beauty and how exclusive it is.”
If some of the faces on the new series seem familiar–like brokers Zabakolas, J.B. Andreassi, and Michael Fulfree–it’s because the Nest Seekers firm was featured on Netflix’s short-lived Million Dollar Beach House, which premiered in May 2020.
For some reason, a second season never materialized, with Netflix seemingly pivoting its attention to the more drama-prone show Selling Sunset, which took off in popularity in summer 2020 when star Chrishell Stause was entangled in a shocking divorce with This Is Us actor Justin Hartley. The success led Netflix to launch the Florida-based spinoff Selling Tampa in December 2021, as well as the upcoming Selling OC, which will premiere later this year.
Nest Seekers International CEO Eddie Shapiro denied in November that Million Dollar Beach House had been canceled by Netflix, offering no further clarification. But Shapiro managed to find a new home for his brokers on Discovery+, which rebranded the show and swapped out some of the more divisive cast members, including Noel Roberts and James Giugliano.
Instead, they brought on Miami-based agent Kenny Arias, former model Mia Calabrese, and Bianca D’Alessio, daughter of real estate developer Michael D’Alessio, who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2019 after pleading guilty to $58 million financial fraud.
Zabakolas says what sets Selling the Hamptons apart from similar real estate shows is its focus on the ins and outs of the job, instead of placing so much emphasis on the team’s personal drama.
“A lot of people, because of these shows, think being a real estate broker is so glamorous, but there's also a lot of struggles,” she explains. “Keeping your owners happy, keeping the listing or getting the listing, and how many nights you don't sleep trying to figure it out.”
That includes Zabakolas’ mega listing of Duck Pond, a $34 million, 16,000-square-foot estate in Southampton where Zabakolas stands to take home $1.75 million in commission. “It took me about two years to get under my name,” she says.
“That to me is my baby, and you'll see the process of everything and the struggles of what it had to go through on the show. This is my biggest listing, it's more of a trophy and an accomplishment for myself. I go to bed thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it, I’m thinking about it right now!”
As the season progresses, Zabakolas says there will of course be some in-fighting among the agents, particularly when she goes head to head with Fulfree while trying to outbid his client’s offer on the ultra-modern Glass House, or when Andreassi tries to lure away her longtime client right in front of her. “You’re always gonna have a little bit of interoffice politics, and everyone's not going to get along—it's just a matter of everyone respecting each other,” she says.
But Zabakolas says she’s just looking forward to people tuning into Selling the Hamptons on the show’s brand new home. “It’s a new show, new cast, and new listings. So I'm really excited.”