Real estate in the Hamptons has been booming since the pandemic hit when wealthy New Yorkers sought an idyllic escape from the city. For most of the past two years, there has been an unprecedented selling interest, and many buyers are outbid.
Hampton’s housing market is so hot that reality shows like “Million Dollar Beach House” (Netflix NFLX,
) and “Selling the Hamptons” (Discovery +) focus more on properties for sale than reality series. Peggy Zabakolas, an agent on both programs, works with the Nest Seekers company, but also worked with Ryan Serhant on BravoTV’s “Million Dollar Listing New York”.
Born in Queens and raised on Long Island, Zabakolas is a first-generation Greek-American.
“When I started in real estate, I started at the bottom,” she said on the Discovery + show. “My parents are the ones who taught me to work hard because they had to … They had no other choice.”
Zabakolas spoke with Deadline about his career, his love for Louboutins and the prospects for the luxury home market.
Deadline: How has being in reality shows changed your business as a real estate agent?
Peggy Zabakolas: I think we need to do something today to differentiate ourselves from other agents, and the fact that I now have this whole platform – whether it’s social media or Discovery + and other channels – I can happily announce and market and reach a wider reach of buyers and sellers. It just gives me a little more recognition, which therefore also gives recognition to the houses that I sell.
MW: What is your best advice for staying on top of the other domestic market? Do you have any tips for buyers and sellers specifically in the Hamptons?
ZP: My number one piece of advice that I always tell everyone, whether it’s your first or second home: I would not always wait for the right time, because the right time is, in fact, when you can afford it, so you do not stay – I dont do that. you mean “homeless” – but you do not want to invest all your money in something and then just live and fight.
When it comes to the secondary market, everything is cyclical. If interest rates are low, there will always be more buyers and less inventory. Once interest rates rise, it flattens out a bit.
I also think real estate is a good investment because it is tangible property as opposed to stocks where you never know what can go up and down and how things will work. Even with crypto, you do not necessarily know it.
MW: What are your predictions for the luxury home market for the second home market for 2022 and beyond?
ZP: Most homes that I personally see lean more toward “full service” or amenities. Many of them have indoor theaters, indoor pools if they can, or indoor gyms, and I think that has changed a lot thanks to COVID, where people want to retire to an all-inclusive resort where they do not necessarily need anything outside. I would love to see what happens in five years, because of course everything gets better and better, and then I do not know what more you can get in your own house or your own property.
MW: How much of the series is genuine and what is staged?
ZP: We’re all real estate agents first, and that’s pretty much our only job – being on the show is secondary. All transactions, all houses are genuine. The only thing that is different is that sometimes the people who buy or watch the house will not be physically on TV, so they bring in a representative. Other than that, the stories are pretty relevant.
MW: What’s the best financial advice you’ve ever received?
ZP: This is what I make a living from and what I tell many new agents when they first join the team or enter the real estate market in general: live as if you are poor, or live as if you earn much less than you clean actually earns. Let’s say you win $ 300,000. Live as if you won $ 100,000. Set a spending target, and no matter how much money you collect after next year, live as if you are still earning the same amount, and then put the money into savings.
Do not be fooled into buying all the nice cars, watches and bags, for many children, especially in real estate, get the big checks and do not know what to line up with them, so they spill out with everything. They look back 10 years later and think: “I could have bought a house without the money. So live within your means. I’m still living under my means now.
Do not try to follow Joneses because you will never succeed, there will always be someone richer than you. Do not try to get that Ferrari even if you can afford it. Stick to a normal budget because you never know what tomorrow will bring. I know it’s harder when you’re young because everyone wants this cool new toy and they see what social media has and everyone shows their nice cars or their bags or their shoes or watches but you do not know what reality is. everyone’s life is. And I would rather have more money in the bank for my pension than have a nice watch on my wrist.
MW: What do you hate spending money on?
ZP: Toll and petrol, but that’s because I drive a lot. I commute a lot from New York, Long Island, the Hamptons and Pennsylvania.
MW: What do you mind not spilling out?
ZP: I’m big on shoes and bags. I really would not recommend it unless you can afford it financially. But I also use them as investment pieces. Bags, for example, I can resell. Shoes will always fit. My slogan has been “heel deals” since I started with real estate. I have a lot of Louboutin just because it’s my brand. My favorite brand is probably Chanel, but I could not afford it when I started with real estate and people should not just buy it just to buy it once they have just started having it. It’s expensive, but I also consider it an investment all the way. That, and also quality food, quality ingredients when you cook – my mother has always told me that.
MW: Have you made money mistakes in your life or your career?
ZP: When I started with a real estate agent, I bought things that I should not have wasted so much money on – shoes and bags. Eventually I woke up one morning and said it was ridiculous and sold them. Moreover, I invested money in a development and it never came to anything. That was early. I have not really read it all, and was just hungry to get into this property.
MW: What is your favorite property?
ZP: My favorite is probably my grandmother’s ring. I use it very rarely because it is so personal to me. I think I wore it on the show in the pink interview outfit because it’s an emerald pink, but I use it very rarely, just because it’s my grandmother’s.
MW: Do you think you’ll ever retire?
ZP: I think I would be bored if I retired. The kind of person I am is that I always have to do something. Hopefully my team gets built up pretty well where it’s a well-oiled machine and I do not have to be that involved, but no. I can see where it is a problem when business is slow. So as long as business is busy, I will keep working.
MW: What work would you do even if you were not paid?
ZP: Volunteering. I would probably always help the younger children, the less fortunate children. If I could do this my whole life and be okay with the bills, I would probably do it every day.
MW: Can you tell us about your experience as a woman in a male-dominated field?
ZP: I’ve never really been like boys against girls. I was taught to walk into a room, command it, and let everything else follow. When I was growing up, my dad taught me how to change a tire and the oil in the car, so I think when I walk into a room or office I may not necessarily see the difference. I think other people do. As I get a little older, I’ve noticed that – all industries, whether it’s real estate, I’m also a lawyer – it’s very male dominated, so one is certainly treated a little differently, but I’m looking at where the glass is half full. Use what you have to your advantage. I think women are more detail oriented so I try to lean more towards it and work with that angle rather than complaining about men versus women. And then, in a way, come down and move on and keep doing what you have to do.