July 18, 2017
Moderated by Michael Braverman | July 14, 2017 | Home & Real Estate
What are the kids into nowadays? The kids with money to buy a modernist gem in the Hamptons, that is. Esteemed local propery experts reveal the surprising trends.
Nick Martin Architects designed this East End home with a net-zero carbon footprint. According to Martin, young buyers believe in their architects and are “willing to dive into something absolutely complicated.”
Tracking the East End trends, our five panelists— top brokers Karen Benvenuto and Gary DePersia, real estate lawyer Brian DeSesa, architect Nick Martin, and awardwinning pool builder and designer John Tortorella— discuss the latest youthdriven developments in home design and community living.
What are your younger clients looking for?
Gary DePersia: Because of social media, the young buyer today is much more savvy about what’s going on in the Hamptons. Although beaches will always be a draw, not everyone spends all day there, so they’re open to going closer to the bay or north of the highway, where they’ll get more value.
Karen Benvenuto: They’ll be here weekends year-round. It’s their primary residence. Being able to go to the beach is less important than more amenities on the property.
Nick Martin: They’re also willing to dive into something absolutely complicated and just give the hopefully talented engineer, architect, or builder the keys and say, “I believe in you.”
John Tortorella: Some come with a wish list: an outdoor eating area, barbecue, bar, rimless pool. I’m like, “You just bought the house for $800,000 and what you’re trying to put in is over $800,000. I don’t think that’s a good ratio.”
Brian DeSesa: We’re seeing crazy things—underground basketball courts, underground hockey rinks with synthetic ice. It’s wild.
GD: It makes bowling alleys archaic.
NM: Let me know when they put an indoor mountain in, so I can ski.
Is this generation changing the way older generations think?
NM: The younger well-heeled buyer is thinking about the family compound and how to subdivide. We had two sisters do a house together, then they both got married, so now we’re doing a house next door, and then how do we bring in the parents?
JT: [Buildings are] attached but separated by breezeways, so everyone can have privacy. They might have a central kitchen.
A new and luxurious traditional home on Matthews Lane, Bridgehampton South, listed by Brown Harris Stevens.
Are younger people driving the trend toward modernism?
NM: Modernism is heading toward more intimate spaces. How do we create perhaps a smaller house for a family and make it feel like it’s their home rather than an expression of some idea? Let’s create what they actually need.
GD: On the water, modern houses work better, but now you see them in the woods. They’re expensive to build because you can’t hide as much with moldings and other details.
JT: There’s a lot of automation with these homes. You push a button or [tap] your phone and everything gets taken care of. With pools, we’re doing negative [edges] and rimless. That’s very expensive, but when the sun shines they’re like a sheet of glass just floating.
NM: That’s about ego, too. In the old days, just having a pool was a big thing.
JT: But it’s also about adding value. You paid for an expensive property; you’re all in. You might as well just carry it out
But are they ready to pay for good modernism?
KB: It’s a limited commodity, and a lot of buyers are willing to pay premium. It’s more than the architecture; these houses are built to the ultimate standard. They’re smart homes, the heating systems are efficient, and they’re built to green standards.
GD: I represent a house by Taconic Builders that’s absolutely amazing. It looks like a concrete box, 19 feet off the ground; all the parking is underneath. Huge slabs of window drop down and automatic screens come up.
BD: They’re trophy houses, and people are willing to pay for that.
How about interiors trends—kitchens, for example?
NM: Kitchens [are] becoming more like furniture. All the appliances are hidden; there’s no stainless steel anymore. It’s all backlit and minimal.
KB: I’ve seen a lot of service bars outside the kitchen, and outdoor kitchens are getting more elaborate, with pizza ovens.
So what’s on the horizon?
NM: There’s a lot of money coming into the Hamptons. It generally brings competition and quality and a lot of renovation and demo. It brings a lot of the technology we’re speaking of, but also a lot of creativity. Hopefully, it will bring a community sensibility as well.
JT: Local people are being pushed out. Unless we do something soon, everyone’s going to come from the west. It’s going to take four hours [for tradespeople] just to get here, they’ll get five hours of work in, and then they’ll get the hell out. [We have to] stop squawking that nobody wants affordable housing. These guys are our neighbors, our friends. NM: We have the best and brightest here, because that’s the demand. We all want to think about how to sustain it.
BD: We’re only as good as our team.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DOUG YOUNG (PANELISTS); PATRICK BERNARD (PROPERTY)