The Hamptons: where your richest friends go on summer vacation. But reality TV’s focus this time is on realtor JB Andreassi’s opportunity to sell his first million-dollar real estate property. His listing at 21 Kellis Way, marked at nearly $7 million and a two minute drive from the shore, includes eight bedrooms and eight and half bathrooms. The house, unsurprisingly, is the primary focus of our quick entry into the world of luxury real estate in “Million Dollar Beach House.” JB’s mentor, the property mogul James, reminds him to say that the house is two acres instead of 7,000 square feet. In the face of mountainous stress, JB admits that he prefers this new line of work in The Hamptons over the rat race of New York City. He professes he’s a “rookie” again, looking to make an impact on the far reaches of Long Island.
Despite his humble nature, the beach homes that JB and his team peddle are way beyond the normal margins of commission for any amateur housing rep, and far above any median income level. It’s the type of attention to the stress of wealth that constantly draws our eyes into the theatrics of reality television.
In the COVID-19 economy, where so many Americans face the threat of imminent evictions, Netflix’s sudden premiere of a reality show featuring elegant mansions occupied by carefree yuppies could easily be viewed as somewhat tone-deaf. Still, as a son of two architects, I am captivated by the allure of houses as more than simply somewhere to sleep. As a grandchild of two native New Yorkers, I am deeply in love with the sight and smell of the Long Island shores. I just wish these homes were going to more wholesome people.
The Hamptons branch of Nest Seekers International currently has around 125 employees listed on its company website. “Million Dollar Beach House” focuses on five Nest Seekers brokers: JB Andreassi, James Giugliano, Michael Fulfree, Peggy Zabakolas, and Noel Roberts. Similar to “Selling Sunset,” the series reveals the day-to-day routines and SNAFUs of working in luxury real estate
“You can’t do this part-time and watch your kids,” Giugliano says amidst the foreground of a monochrome white living room. “It’s impossible to make money unless you’re all in.” In order to make $2.5 million in commission every year, he claims you’ll need to eat, sleep and breathe the game of home buying. But the game itself is relatively easy to play if you can afford the buy-in. Eighty percent of all homes within the Hamptons are secondary properties, meaning that most of the surrounding hamlets are purely for vacation purposes.
Nest Seekers International, the real estate group featured in “Million Dollar Beach House,” is in a more comfortable position than the other 2,500 realtors on the eastern-most tip of Long Island. The small confines of the Hamptons allow Nest Seekers to deal exclusively in the sale of ultra-luxury, multi-million-dollar homes. Memorial Day to Labor Day is known in the area as “selling season,” where the fast-paced nature of the luxury home market eats at the pockets of the ultra-rich and feeds our well-groomed team of real estate professionals.
Surprisingly, what separates these homes from most others within the sphere of reality television is the genuine style and artistry of the architecture. These houses, for the most part, are not the gaudy kind you’d typically see from “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” or “Chrisley Knows Best.” Additionally, the Nest Seekers team shares personal anecdotes about how they want their lives to be changed by selling these homes. Michael, JB’s lifelong friend, announces his plans of becoming a father. Peggy, the only woman on the team, is looking to prove herself after dominating the Manhattan markets. JB compares his worries about becoming a successful broker to his trials as a football player at Dartmouth.
Maybe the most significant moment, though, belongs to Noel, the only Black person on the Nest Seekers team. The show quickly glosses over his appreciation for The Hampton’s geographic beauty and instead cuts strangely to his coworker Micheal. “Have you seen him yet? Noel? Noel? — whatever the f***?” he laughs. “Very polished, right?” This strange cutaway seems to trivialize the presence of Noel within the brokerage. Later, when newcomer Peggy accompanies Noel to a home-buying pitch later in the episode, she scolds his intelligence behind the scenes after he proposes a whopping $35 million in order to convince the homeowner to sell.
For all its entrepreneurial glam and attention to detail, Nest Seekers seems to be obsessed with drawing in young, wall street bachelors as their clientele. “Million Dollar Beach House” comes across like a fever-dream of clout chasing. The luxury homes showcased present unhealthily high expectations of living for even the most carnivorous NYU Stern alumnus.