Breaking into luxury real estate is a strenuous task. Going into and succeeding in one of the world’s most coveted markets – the Hamptons – is even harder. That is exactly what Douglas Sabo has done – in the short span of a year.
Haute Residence talked to Sabo to learn more about his motivation to venture into real estate, his secrets to success and insight on the exclusive market.
How did you get into real estate?
I got into real estate shortly after finishing my graduate degree in Boston. While I had received my degree in classical music I always knew I wanted to get into real estate as well. Geoff Gifkins, my regional manager who I have known for years was the one who gave me the push to get licensed. It’s been such a perfect fit for me and I really enjoy working with both buyers and sellers.
You joined Nest Seekers in 2016 and a year later received the Privet Hedges Rookie of the Year award. What do you attribute your success to?
I have always had a very intense work ethic, which is something to which I attribute a lot of my success in all aspects of my life. I put my all into a project and won’t stop until it is completed, which is why I believe I was able to find some success in my first year in business. That being said I was given so much support from Nest Seekers and help from other agents who helped me navigate that first year in business. Having a strong support network to refer back to is critical to any business but especially in real estate.
The Hamptons is a world-renowned real estate market. What does it take to successfully navigate it as a real estate agent?
The most important thing is the knowledge, really knowing and understanding the market not only as it exists today but where the trends are happening. The Hamptons is predominantly a second-home luxury market, the buying and selling process takes longer as both buyers and sellers need the most up-to-date information to make sound, informed decisions. Service is vitally important, time is money, and my clientele demand fast response times and assurance that the information they are getting is true and accurate.
You are a Long Island native and have always been passionate about the Hamptons. How has the region changed over the years?
My family has been vacationing out here for more than 50 years, and I spent most of my summers out here until making it my full-time residence in the last 3 years. Clearly there has been a lot of building and expansion over the last 20 years with many people opting to make this a full-time residence especially after 9/11. However, the Towns have gone to great lengths to protect the beaches and open spaces, preserving farmland and agricultural reserves to ensure the uniqueness and character of the area remains.
How did the Southampton do in 2017? How does it compare to the larger Hamptons region?
Southampton did very well in 2017 and had some of the largest growth in sales volume than other regions in the Hamptons. In the Village of Southampton, especially, we have seen many new construction projects selling. Southampton is in the central Hamptons with close access to everything, and an easier commute to NYC especially in peak summer traffic.
You have traveled and lived abroad. How does that experience inform your real estate career?
Living abroad gives an appreciation and understanding of different cultures and values. That experience shapes how I look after each client and make sure I truly understand what their needs are and that I deliver a service that focuses on what exactly is the most important thing to them. Living abroad also alters how you think and problem solve, which I use a lot in real estate. When living abroad you can’t always face a challenge the same way as you would in the States and you need to get creative on how to overcome that obstacle. That very tool of being flexible or looking for a different way to reach your goal is one I use often in this career.
You often work with foreigners. What are the challenges of doing so? How is it working with foreign buyers different from US citizens or residents?
Nest Seekers has an international platform with locations throughout the world, and many of our clients have houses in each of these markets. I recently got certified as an international expert as it is imperative I understood not only the differences with buying and selling in these markets, but also the cultural differences and ways of doing business. An international-buyer company to this market is normally investment-focused, and they are very diligent and thorough in their decision-making, hiring the best attorneys, and advisors. They want to enjoy the area and the property but also know that if they need to sell their investment is secure.
What are your expectations for this year? Are there any trends you are excited to see develop?
It’s looking to be an exciting year in real estate in Southampton. Not only have rentals been much stronger than average, partially due to the US Open being in Southampton this year, but home sales have been steadily increasing. Sales were up 20 percent in both the village and the town of Southampton in 2017 and we are only seeing more and more demand as we move toward the summer. A trend I have been excited to see is that there are more buyers looking to renovate and update homes rather than tear them down and rebuild. While new construction will always be a hot item, it’s refreshing to see more people take the time to put love and respect into pre-existing homes.
What is your advice for buyers and sellers who are looking to make a transaction in Southampton this year?
Right now we are still in a buyers’ market so it’s imperative that buyers see the inventory, educate themselves on the market and make informed decisions. It’s a process and it takes time. For sellers, they need to price to sell, therefore they need to know the market and what is selling, what hasn’t and why? Buyers have many options so again it comes down to the right advice and being educated on the market. Many make the mistake of pricing too high and chasing the market down. Logic and sound research has to prevail.