“Selling the Hamptons,” a reality TV show about six Nest Seekers International real estate agents navigating the Hamptons summer market, premiered on Discovery+ on January 20.
The show follows agents J.B. Andreassi, Kenny Arias, Mia Calabrese, Bianca D’Alessio, Michael Fulfree and Peggy Zabakolas as they experience the thrill and agony of personal wins and losses, all while battling the heated market competition of the Hamptons.
Inman recently spoke with Andreassi and D’Alessio about their experience filming the show and how it impacted their lives, personally and professionally.
Andreassi, a native of Southampton, grew up around real estate with a father (J. Andreassi) who is a prominent developer in the area. In addition to his business with Nest Seeker, Andreassi is also co-owner of his family’s development business, Andreassi Development. In 2021, he completed $75.5 million in sales volume across 20 transactions (closed or in contract).
Real estate also runs in D’Alessio’s family, but with a more checkered history — her father is developer Michael D’Alessio, who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2019 for running a $58 million Ponzi scheme through his Westchester-based real estate development business. D’Alessio manages over $10 billion in new development sales inventory for Nest Seekers Development Marketing, and is also founder of the Masters Division team at Nest Seekers. In 2021, she completed $327 million in sales volume across 387 transactions.
The two agents are no strangers to working hard to earn their success, but they said balancing everything while filming a show during the busiest season of the year was still a challenge. Here’s more of what they had to say.
Inman: What was the incentive for you to do a reality real estate TV show like “Selling the Hamptons?”
J.B. Andreassi: For me — I could probably speak for Bianca on this too — we’re not TV people. But we saw a platform like Discovery+ and what that could do for our business in terms of exposure, especially in a world where it’s just so competitive, whether you’re in the Manhattan market, or the Hamptons market, or down in South Florida — how do you stand out?
So I think for me, it’s just about the exposure and what the opportunities are that could come from this … Even though it does take away from some of our day-to-day business and some of the transactions and clients that aren’t shown on the show, the benefits of it way outweigh some of those challenges of trying to balance the two worlds.
Bianca D’Alessio: In addition to that, a lot of people think about [real estate] as their localized markets, but real estate is a global game, especially when you’re playing at this price point in these markets. In New York City, the Hamptons markets, these buyers are international, so being able to take that reach and that exposure to a global platform is incredible. It’s also just something very fun and different for our clients to participate in.
Is it really hard to juggle filming the show while balancing other clients not featured on the show?
Andreassi: It is challenging. We started shooting in mid-May of 2021, so in the Hamptons, that’s like the thick of selling season. It’s Monday through Friday [for about three months]. If you’re shooting a scene, it’s five or six hours of being locked into what’s being conveyed in that scene and you really don’t have time to answer what’s probably 60-75 percent of our business that’s not shown on TV.
So when we walk out of a house where we’re shooting, [I get] emails, texts, voicemails, ‘JB, where are you?’ You try to explain it to people and most people are receptive because they know what they sign up for with listing with me or partnering with me, but at the same time, they don’t want you distracted. I’ve gotten a little better with the balance because I went through this with another show two years ago [Netflix’s “Million Dollar Beach House”], so I was a little more well-versed in how to handle that.
D’Alessio: It’s two full-time jobs. I think it looks really glamorous too, but J.B. and I laugh about this all the time — it’s waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning to get three hours of emails in before you have to start filming and then staying up until midnight to catch up on everything. So it’s like you’re working triple time during filming season because you can’t let the ball drop because that’s what’s fueling the show — the business — and it all plays off of each other.
Andreassi: And Bianca oversees billions of business in the city, so think about having to go back and forth [between Manhattan and the Hamptons] and manage that. A lot of [our clients not featured on the show] get the short end of the stick during that time period and we have to make up for it in late night hours and early hours.
D’Alessio: And giving them extra love on social media to let them know that we didn’t forget about anyone.
I know the show has only aired a few episodes so far, but have you seen any of the benefits of being on the show at this point, in terms of new clients or contacts?
Andreassi: We’ve started to — I’ve had a few people reach out who knew of me before, but after watching this season, it helped them make the push to contact me and want to work with them, specifically with properties in West Hampton Beach. And I think that trend will probably continue to grow as we go through the season. Again, it’s only been two of the eight episodes shown … so I think we need to go through it fully before we understand or have a grasp what the benefits were of doing something like this. But just to have a few people reach out already at its inception, only one week into airing, is a really good sign of things to come.
D’Alessio: And I think it further solidifies for all the clients that we already have who went through the process with us — a lot of my business is new development in addition to single-families [and] developers are building buildings for so many years … and now to actually see it on TV, they’re like, ‘Wow, this is powerful, this is impressive, and this is awesome, we can’t wait to see where else this goes. Also, you’re in multiple markets and look at how you’re dominating.’ It allows you to really scale and be able to expand even further than the New York markets, looking into L.A. and overseas.
Andreassi: That’s a good point — a lot of people reach out outside of the Hamptons and New York market. These shows really resonate I think a little bit more with people in California and the L.A. markets or people in South Florida, and even in Europe, in the London markets. So those global touch points, that’s really where we’re seeing a lot of good feedback and people wanting to work with us too.
You just touched on this a bit, Bianca, but one of your goals in doing the show was to gain a bigger foothold in the Hamptons market — do you feel like you were able to do that?
D’Alessio: Absolutely. Just the amount of transactions I’ve been doing since the show and since being out there all summer has been incredible and it’s just leading to so much more. When I work with my developers in the city who are now looking at, ‘Let’s start developing in the Hamptons,’ or, ‘Where is there opportunity?’ Even spanning past the Hamptons, it’s been very, very exciting and I just think there’s going to be more synergies and more business that comes from it as more episodes come out.
How would you describe your interactions with clients or each other on the show compared to when you’re not filming a TV show? How does it differ from ‘real life’?
Andreassi: For 98 percent [of the time], it’s real interactions. I think the biggest challenge for some of these folks — and these are real clients — is the cameras. At first, I think they’re a little nerved up by it, but you have to take them aside and reassure them and say, ‘Forget the cameras are there. This is just you and I walking through a potential investment opportunity …’ But once they get comfortable, it’s just like an everyday, normal interaction with them. So for me, it’s pretty spot-on and real and that’s why I think this show, compared to maybe some of the other real estate reality shows, it’s authentic. We’re real people, we’re not actors who are brought in, we do this. We live this and breathe it everyday, and that’s why I’m pretty proud to be a part of something like this and be able to put it on full display.
D’Alessio: I think that’s so accurate. I think after seeing the first few episodes that have come out, one of my concerns with actually filming the show, was, how am I going to be portrayed? How is the business going to be portrayed
And I really wanted to focus on the business aspect of it because, if you can’t tell, I’m pretty serious. And it’s incredibly rewarding and exciting and I’m proud that the show really showcases the true excitement and love of real estate and the hustle of getting a deal done. Some of the drama that comes along with the events and the personalities and the egos, but it really has a business focus, which has been very important to us from the start and will continue to be.
Andreassi: And I think the drama piece of it — people will sometimes say, especially with other shows, ‘It’s petty drama, it’s interpersonal.’ But I think this show captures, there is real estate drama. We go head to head with brokers every day, some of which we probably wouldn’t even be able to show because it gets so icy and nasty. But it is a small representation of sort of that, you have to be that boss-type person or that shark and be extremely confident in what you do.
What would you say the biggest learning moment has been for each of you in doing the show?
D’Alessio: For me, I stepped away from the city for a little bit but I made sure I was coming back during filming, and I think people use that as an opportunity to try and sneak in with your clients.
So again, I can’t stress [enough], you’re working two full-time jobs when you’re filming and it’s touching base with everyone every single day and being overly communicative. I definitely learned a lot of lessons the first go-around with filming that you need to be front of mind with everyone on your team and everyone you’re working with every single client, every single day, to let them know that you’re not just having fun and games while you’re filming. It’s business and it’s work and the ball’s not getting dropped at all.
Andreassi: I’d probably say, just more generally speaking, just being comfortable with who I am. It’s ok, this is my personality and really just lean into it and don’t try to be someone you’re not. If people don’t like you for that, it’s ok. I think the first go around when I did “Million Dollar Beach House,” I was trying to appease everyone and be a likable person. And now it’s like, no, this is who I am, this is how I conduct business, and I’m proud of that. I’m very confident and knowledgeable and experienced in what I do, so why not just be who you are? You’re going to get a lot better feedback from people and a lot more individuals who want to work with you because of that, and hopefully that resonates with people.
I want to ask about what seems like a very made-for-TV moment — there’s a scene where you, J.B., are at a gym practicing kick boxing with Peggy while hashing out a deal. Is that something you normally do — work out with your colleagues while talking business?
Andreassi: You know, that was the first time that has happened. I actually found I was more productive being outside the office. You’re kind of doing something else, like a competitive sport or hobby, while working, and we actually got a lot done in that workout. And I feel like, I might do that more — if you have to hash something out with a colleague or another broker you’re working on a deal with, why not take them outside the office when you’re full-on one-on-one?
What would you advise other real estate agents hoping to enter the Hamptons market?
D’Alessio: We make it look like I’m stepping into the Hamptons right now, but all of us have a lot of years of experience behind us and real estate is not an overnight success game. It’s a long-term play, it’s a lot of hard work, and it takes years to feel the momentum and the excitement. So for anyone who’s looking to get into the Hamptons market, any new market, really learn your craft, spend the time learning it from someone who knows it really well. Work for free and absorb as much as you can and be patient with it. Your work ethic and how hard you hustle and the commitment that you make to the business is crucial early on. It will be very frustrating, you will have a lot of losses before you have wins, but stick with it because hard work pays off.
Andreassi: Perseverance and patience. I had to go through it my first year out here, everyone has to go through it, but you just have to stick by those two things. Have a game plan, lean on your resources, but you really just have to persevere, be relentless, and you have to be patient at times and then it will start clicking.