Beaches and benefits, performing arts and incredible architecture, a light and a lifestyle that can’t be replicated anywhere else. The aspects of the Hamptons that draw homeowners are not only as varied as those homeowners themselves, but are equally alluring to the very experts who work with the buyers and sellers in this unique market.
“I was, frankly, at a stage in my life where the peacefulness, night star-filled skies, and the beauty of the East End became a necessary enhancement to the quality of my life,” says Raphael Avigdor, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker with Douglas Elliman, about what drew him to the East End and, with more than 12 years of real estate experience, what inspires him to remain in this market year after year. “That nature/beauty/tranquility are what keep me here.” Named “Top 10 Douglas Elliman Producer” in Long Island and The Hamptons for 10 consecutive years, Avignon shares his insights and some introspection on building a great team, a passion for discovery, the evolving East End real estate market, the power of making movies and more.
Behind the Hedges: Talk about the concept of Team Raphael Avigdor—how you’ve built the team and how it continues to grow, why a team approach benefits your clients, the philosophies behind the team dynamic…
Raphael Avigdor: Our team concept is simply that “it takes a village.” One person can hardly bear the weight, but six together can carry the project for a long distance. We find that as our business grew we needed more support for our customers and clients. This strategy also allows all of us to take the needed breaks to recharge, critical to keeping the spirit of our
BTH: How does your passion for learning about new cultures, places and people influence your professional career?
RA: Being able to interact on a personal level with customers and clients often in their native language, sharing cultural experiences from their countries, simply solidifies the bond we build with each other and paves the way for greater loyalty. Our one anniversary in Douglas Elliman’s partnership with the international luxury brand Knight Frank has already begun to strongly influence our ability to reach an international pool of buyers
BTH: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the East End real estate market over the past 5 years?
RA: A growing ability for customers and clients to exploit the information more readily available through the internet has made our work both easier and harder. Our customer base is more educated, which in the end makes the process easier as the learning curve becomes shorter for them. Information yields sales.
BTH: What is your assessment of the 2015 market here in the Hamptons, and what is your outlook for the year?
RA: All I can say is we will have a banner year and maybe the biggest year since I started in this business 14 years ago. This success is due to a combination of having grown the team to the six strong we are, and to the market conditions that continue to be favorable.
BTH: What is the best advice you’ve ever received and how do you apply that to working in East End real estate?
RA: “Ego has no place in business” is probably the soundest business advice I have ever received. We apply that advice to our interactions daily. We wish more of our customers and clients would apply that same advice to their approach to the marketplace. This process should be an educated, lucid, rational process. Unfortunately, emotion and ego creep into most people’s business decisions and it is a fatal flaw.
BTH: You have a background in architecture, having studied at Columbia. What aspects of Hamptons architecture do you find especially appealing?
RA: Funny story: My design professor at Columbia was the renowned Robert A.M. Stern. I fought with him daily as my personal proclivity was towards Phillip Johnson glass boxes as he tried to beat his post-modern Palladial vision into me. We never got along. Ironically the first house I ever sold in the Hamptons was a Robert Stern Post Modern design.
BTH: You’ve clocked an average 20,000 miles a year on your odometer. When you’re here on the East End, what are some of your favorite ways to spend leisure time?
RA: [laughs] What leisure time? Last summer I forced myself to start riding horses again, which I did as a younger man. I have started to hit “stick and ball” on polo ponies and hope to continue with this revived passion.
BTH: Talk a little bit about your passion for filmmaking, and The Man Who Saved the World in particular.
RA: I am trying to tell some lighter and some important stories through my producer, coproducer and executive producer roles in various documentary films. I am presently working on my sixth doc. The Man Who Saved the World shares critical and yet philosophical view about nuclear proliferation and love for mankind that is as relevant a message today as it has ever been.
BTH: Describe your dream listing…
RA: My dream listing is about the character and nature of the sellers and people who trust our judgment and those who let us apply our experience to the process. Sellers who wish to micromanage our handling of the job make the process much more difficult than it needs to be, and often prolong their time on market.
BTH: What are three key pieces of advice you would offer to every buyer and seller in the East End market?
RA: My advice would be: Find a good agent and be loyal to that agent. Buyers and sellers have a very independent approach towards buying/selling homes In this secondary home market and don’t often recognize the value that a good agent can add. Don’t underestimate the strength a good agent can bring to the table both in negotiating the deal and in sharing their intimate knowledge of the market.