Netflix’s ‘Million Dollar Beach House:’ Nest Seekers International’s Peggy Zabakolas

Nest Seekers International Broker Peggy Zabakolas of "Million Dollar Beach House"

The alluring world of luxury real estate comes with its own set of drama, both corporate and personal, and Netflix is about to capitalize on it. Its new show, Million Dollar Beach House follows five Nest Seekers International brokers out for success in the Hamptons real estate market as they navigate high-stakes business while keeping up with their families and loved ones and dealing with interpersonal conflict with each other.

Million Dollar Beach House is streaming exclusively on Netflix. Get ready to meet the brokers!

Peggy Zabakolas
Peggy, a 10-year broker veteran, just transferred to the Nest Seekers Hamptons office after working in NYC. She was tired of referring clients to other brokers in the Hamptons and thought she should take advantage of these listings herself. A tough negotiator (she’s also a lawyer) with a huge rolodex of clients, she has friction with Noel and doesn’t like the idea of back door conversations.

You have a background in NYC real estate. Tell us about the relationship between NYC and the Hamptons and why you decided to make the move out east.
I’ve been doing real estate for almost 10 years at Nest Seekers. I started in the city–I was originally on Ryan Serhant’s team. I grew up on Long Island, I’m from Commack originally, and a lot of my NYC clients have houses in the Hamptons and typically I’d refer them out to other agents in the Hamptons. Once I left Ryan’s team I made my own team in the city and figured nest seekers was the only company that allowed their company to work in the city and Hamptons and figured I’d service them myself, so I expanded into the Hamptons.

What was it like doing major business while filming?
Super hard! I’m definitely a micromanager and I like things done a specific way, and I want every client, whether it’s $500,000 or $50 million, to feel like they’re my No. 1 client. And having a NYC business is one thing but expanding to the Hamptons and having that is another full-time job and adding filming on top of that is another full-time job. Toward the end, I got the hang of it. It was very, very difficult and I’m hoping if there’s a season two it’ll be a lot easier. I was driving from the Hamptons to the city and the city to the Hamptons in one day!

How did your relationships with the other brokers affect your time on the show, both positively and negatively?
Ultimately, because I had the city business, I think my main focus was just business and work because I am a a bit of a workaholic. I didn’t have much “me time” in the Hamptons, I think the only me time I had was riding my horse. There’s 30 minutes of six episodes, and I was being filmed for the entire summer, so you’re not going to get the full story of what was going on. There was a lot of things that happened off camera. We’ve worked everything out off-camera. I went into this looking like this was my family for the next several months and we were going to clash, have differences, but at the end of the day we worked everything out. It’s a professional industry so you don’t want to make anyone look terrible.

What was it like dealing with clients who may not have been used to being filmed?
Everyone did a great job. Obviously we would not put anyone in a situation who didn’t want to be on camera. But you’re still being yourself, you’re not playing a role. It takes a second to forget that there’s a camera in your face but everyone did great. 

Talk about the show’s balance of business and personal drama.
The boys, for the most part, were all friends before they started real estate. I don’t know if we all would have been friends if not for the show but now I consider them close friends because we had an experience that no one else in the Hamptons can really experience.

What are the challenges associated with selling luxury properties in the Hamptons?
I think on a higher scale there’s more risk and more money to lose, whether you’re representing the buyer or seller. Finding a buyer is a challenge, no matter what.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned as a Hamptons real estate broker?
Working in the city and having all my experience in the city, it was a learning curve in the Hamptons because in the city I’m selling apartments. No one ever does inspections unless you’re buying a brownstone or a townhouse. The biggest learning curve was you’re now buying a house with plumbing, electrical, a pool, which is the owner’s responsibility. That would be the biggest challenge, learning the ins and outs of that aspect. Ultimately, selling real estate, if you have the fundamentals, it’s all there.

What aspects of this market do you think viewers from elsewhere will find particularly surprising?
The price tag! You see these $30 million-plus homes that you’re just like, “what? How is that worth 30 million?” If you buy in North Carolina or Texas it’s a different ballgame.

How do you build trust with buyers and sellers?
A lot of my clients are referred to me in the past and I think that is the best form of compliment. If a past client has liked you they refer you. I like to make every client I work with my priority, no matter their budget. I’m available to them all day, every day. I don’t end it at the transaction. I pick up on things they’re interested in. The other day, an owner of a new listing I had saw these show coverings I had and I bought her a pair. Little things like that. I try to make connections. I think they trust my background. I do have a law background. I try to relate to them as much as I can and try to be a full service broker. I’ve gone to clients’ christenings, weddings, first birthdays, years after we’ve closed a deal.

As a broker in such an exclusive market, what do you think makes the Hamptons so special?
You’re just an hour outside one of the best cities in the world and when you’re in the Hamptons you think you’re in a little oasis. It’s no more of the hustle and bustle. You get the beaches, the good food. It’s very private in the sense that you could be sitting next to a celebrity and no one really cares. It’s the norm. Some areas are so chill. It’s not like there’s paparazzi everywhere. 

Discuss what impact to you think being on this show will have on your business and the way potential clients will perceive you.
Hopefully it expands it! I hope that it promotes my business and I can use this as a platform to connect more people together, as well as other businesses. It’s not just about real estate–interior designers, moving companies–to help clients out. The more I’m out there and the more connections I have it’s better for my clients. I want to reach out internationally. 

What are you most looking forward to viewers seeing on Million Dollar Beach House?
I’m most looking forward for viewers to see how it is to be a new agent coming from New York City into a whole different world. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks. I’ve been doing really well in the city and I had to start not as on top of my game in the Hamptons. I don’t have all the local connections as everyone else so it’s interesting to see.

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