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Top Real Estate Experts on the East End's Evolution in the Past Four Decades

Moderated by Michael Braverman | July 23, 2018 | Home & Real Estate

Our expert panel convenes for a retrospective on the past four decades and makes some guesses about the future.

This week’s home hotshots include some veteran Hamptonites and a couple more recent residents: brokers Tim Davis, James Peyton and Cody Vichinsky; designer Shannon Willey; builder Frank Dalene; landscaper Michael Derrig; architect Matthew LaBrake and banker Patricia Horan.

Panelists (from left): Matthew LaBrake, James Peyton, Shannon Willey, Cody Vichinsky, Michael Derrig, Patricia Horan, Tim Davis and Frank Dalene

Let’s talk about some changes to your business over the past 40 years.
FRANK DALENE: I’ll start with one word: technology. It has impacted us equally in business, our personal lives and the homes we build. We used to do home-automation systems where you were literally tethered to a technician. Today it’s plug-and-play with your smartphone.

PATRICIA HORAN: If you’re not embracing technology, you’re not going to be around. We have people who never go into a bank. Everything is done on smartphones.

MICHAEL DERRIG: I’m glad they can’t install landscaping with smartphones.

FD: They’re 3D-printing homes right now! I’m sure you have clients that will help design their landscape from their app.

SHANNON WILLEY: As an interior designer, I can say that’s absolutely true.

MD: I like the old way of communicating. When I drive down a farm field, it brings me back to when you had to go talk to the farmer. You couldn’t call him; you actually had to see if he was there. He might not be, so you had to come back later.

TIM DAVIS: When you made a call to somebody, you stopped at the pay phone. And you took a Polaroid of the house and stapled it to the listing.

JAMES PEYTON: Certain clients say, ‘I don’t want to be called; just send me a text.’ Technology lets everyone proceed at their own speed.

CODY VICHINSKY: Nothing beats old-school. Nothing beats connecting. Nothing beats intelligence. Technology can be distracting and a crutch for a lot of people who want to emphasize their technical skills and devalue their social skills, or just the ability to look someone square in the face and tell them how it is.

hamptons-architecture.jpgA modern marvel in Sagaponack by Bates Masi + Architects, listed by Bespoke Real Estate

What will things look like 40 years from now?
SW: Part of the charm of this place is you get to go back in time. The Hamptons has maintained some history. I think that will remain.

TD: As long as we stay focused on preservation: Architecture and our waters are critical.

MD: We’ve saved so many properties, so many barns, with the East Hampton Historical Society. No place is the way it used to be, but this place is pretty damn good. If you go from East Hampton to Montauk, it’s all green space, no roads.

MATTHEW LABRAKE: There’s going to be more of a year-round population, partly due to technology and the ability to work anywhere.

CV: When I moved here, the gym was like Studio 54 for me in the off-season. It could be pretty bleak. But in a decade, I’ve seen tremendous change. You go to restaurants on Saturday night off-season, and they’re packed.

We have a more diverse population now—and more traffic.
JP: People complain they’re overrun because of Airbnb, but it’s also about a whole other generation and different economic levels being able to enjoy the Hamptons.

ML: They’re coming from all over the world. You’re exposed to more things than you were 40 years ago.

TD: It was intentional that the founding fathers didn’t create zoning for hotels, that homes would be rented. It was supplemental income for people who owned houses.

FD: For me, it’s about the ocean. Either Cooper or Main Beach is No. 1 in the U.S. That’s what we need to preserve. I named the East End ground zero for sea level rise. I’ve been doing everything I can in green building and getting people to save energy. We have to lead by example.

MD: We have 15 percent of our properties now fully organic. We’re seeing great results.

hamptons-design-2.jpgA custom-built modern oceanfront estate in Quogue listed by Bespoke

SW: I cannot force a client to buy a product because it’s sustainably made, but by sourcing those things and having people fall in love with the way they look, it’s taking that next step to educate them. You get technical, people glaze over.

MD: With older clients, if there’s something wrong with the lawn, they’re like, blast it with whatever you’ve got. New buyers with young kids only want organics.

ML: It translates to building technology, materials and historic districts. Local municipalities realized there was an issue not just with house size but energy consumption.

How’s it been for banking?
PH: We’ve seen tremendous growth in the last 10 years, and it’s all from relationships, from meeting people like Michael and bringing him on, then having people refer us. We benefit from those who take care of the Wall Street money: landscapers and builders.

And the business cycles we’ve endured?
PH: 2008 was frightening. People would come to us, and some hard decisions had to be made: You may have to lay staff off, not do this project. A lot of times it’s saying no.

hamptons-design.jpgA new, modern waterfront property in Bridgehampton listed by Bespoke Real Estate

So what have we done right?
FD: The quality of the trades. The Hamptons draws the cream of the crop. Our clients have a budget to support that quality.

ML: Whether it’s a contractor who’s passionate about their wall reveals or an architect who’s passionate about their designs, they’re extremely driven.

SW: For a rural area, we have an incredible amount of resources, between the cultural institutions and the artisans.

JP: Overall it’s an opportunity for learning. Year after year of being out here, I yearn to learn more. The opportunity is there every day to grab as much knowledge to make you a better, more fulfilled person.

A Beach Hampton gem by Bates Masi + Architects, built by Telemark

Meet the Panelists

FRANK DALENE: President, Telemark, 367 Butter Lane, Bridgehampton, 631.537.1600,
TIM DAVIS: Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, Corcoran, 88 Main St., Southampton, 631.702.9201,
MICHAEL DERRIG: Owner, Landscape Details, 103 Montauk Highway, East Hampton, 631.329.3000,
PATRICIA HORAN: Regional Manager, BNB Bank, 2200 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton, 631.537.1000,
MATTHEW LABRAKE: Director of Architecture, Blaze Makoid Architecture, 7 Tradesman Path, Suite 4, Bridgehampton, 631.537.7277,
JAMES PEYTON: Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Corcoran, 2411 Main St., Bridgehampton, 631.537.7773,
CODY VICHINSKY: Founding Partner, Bespoke Real Estate, 903 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, 631.500.9030,
SHANNON WILLEY: Owner, Sea Green Designs, 68 Jobs Lane, Southampton, 631.259.3612,