Brokers Of Distinction: DeWolf & Babcook Forge Alliance With Christie’s International Real Estate For Hamptons Luxury Market

The prestigious Christie’s International Real Estate network staked its claim in the coveted East End territory last year and unveiled plans for a new office in East Hampton’s heart. Under their corporate umbrella, the exclusive affiliate made waves when they announced their foray into the iconic beachside enclave.

Hailing from its Manhattan HQ, the brokerage, boasting a formidable presence with over 30 offices and a legion of 1,000 real estate agents spanning New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and now the Hamptons, set its sights on 26 Park Place in East Hampton as its newest home.

Bonita DeWolf and Dutch. Photo by Ty Wenzel

Christie’s has a vast network of 150 affiliates and 31,000 agents across 48 countries, making it a highly sought-after option for luxury real estate. This network is particularly appealing to high-end buyers and sellers. With reported annual real estate sales eclipsing the $100 billion mark globally last year alone, Christie’s reputation for excellence precedes itself.

Christie’s ambitious international expansion trajectory over the past year has established new affiliates in prominent locales, including Beverly Hills and Naples, Florida, alongside international hubs in Switzerland, France, and the Caribbean, cementing its position as a global powerhouse within the luxury real estate domain.

Joining the ranks of this prestigious endeavor are top-tier local Hamptons brokers Bonita DeWolf and Jane Babcook, who bring with them an intimate understanding of the local market dynamics and an enviable roster of clientele.

Hamptons Real Estate
Jane Babcook. Courtesy of Christie’s International Real Estate Group

What was the impetus for expanding to the Hamptons market?

Bonita DeWolf: Christie’s International Real Estate Group’s presence in the Hamptons is a natural progression. With a dominant residency across the tri-state area, the Hamptons were a missing puzzle piece. Both Jane and I have been living and working in the Hamptons full-time for well over 20 years. We bring the local knowledge that Christie’s global network needs. The Hamptons high-end niche market is equally matched with both Christie’s clients and the Hamptons community. The opportunities for success are endless, and we are excited to welcome and represent the infamous brand.

Jane Babcook: Given the global prominence of the brand, its association with the prestigious Christie’s Auction House, and the luxurious homes on the East End, the decision to extend the brand to the Hamptons was the next logical step in servicing sophisticated global clientele.

What opportunities do you see here for Christie’s?

JB: Our global presence ensures our clients receive maximum exposure to potential purchasers worldwide. Estate properties, in particular, attract overseas clientele, and our global network plays a crucial role in catering to their strong preference.

How will you tailor your services and marketing for clients and customers?

JB: Our properties are showcased throughout all 10 worldwide Christie’s Auction House locations including the possibility of being shown through the New York City Auction House windows for millions of passersby to view. Additionally, a customized bespoke video montage will be showcased on and at every auction house location worldwide, spanning Amsterdam, Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, London, Milan, Paris, and Shanghai. Our presence extends to the Luxury Living booklet, prominently displayed at all auctions and events.

BD: Our experience, combined with Christie’s sterling reputation for excellence and service, is truly unmatched. Our goal is to elevate the customer experience for all our clients, no matter the price point. In terms of marketing, there is an incredible opportunity for exposure through our worldwide network, which spans over 50 countries and territories. We look forward to presenting new avenues of exposure to existing and new clients.

How many brokers/agents are stationed in the new East Hamptons office?

BD: Right now, we are a small but mighty team. We are open to welcoming other dedicated, seasoned local agents to our East Hampton office. Our owner and broker are looking for quality over quantity, and focusing on a high level of ethics is paramount.

JB: Currently, we are quite a few seasoned agents who have each been in the real estate business for decades. We are actively seeking individual agents or teams who align with our value propositions to our clients and have a strong working knowledge and track record of transacting Hamptons real estate. Local expertise, ethical conduct, and excellence in client services are just some of the key areas we focus on when considering onboarding a local expert agent.

Bonita DeWolf. Courtesy of Christie’s International Real Estate

How will Christie’s market their exclusives? What’s included if someone asks you to bid or become their exclusive broker on a home?

BD: Christie’s will market exclusives through their worldwide network of affiliates. Christie’s International Real Estate’s global network spans over 50 countries and territories with over 32,000 real estate professionals. The opportunities to network with our fellow Christie’s colleagues are endless, and we look forward to introducing them to our world. We believe that our connection to the tri-state area offices is critical.

JB: In addition to our exclusive access to Christie’s Auction House clientele, we also have strong personal relationships with our Christie’s International Real Estate global affiliates in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, as well as stateside. Through the global network, we can showcase our exclusive listings to potential purchasers who visit New York from around the world before they even step foot off an airplane. We use award-winning proprietary marketing software called “Pl@tform,” which won Inman’s 2022 Innovation Award, which allows us to strategically position ourselves on various social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, using both our local and international corporate accounts.

Why should high-end sellers/buyers choose you?

JB: Leveraging the strength of the brand through both domestic and international syndication, we have access to a comprehensive array of marketing tools at our disposal.

How do you think the 2024 market will play out?

JB: Exciting opportunities are on the horizon as we anticipate the arrival of exceptional property listings, making the upcoming 2024 season poised to be highly dynamic. We are proud to be one of the only real estate brokerages in a growth stage in both the Hamptons and New York City markets.

Bonita DeWolf, Jane Babcock, and office admin Astra Carigaba. Courtesy of Christie’s International Real Estate

The Hamptons have a seasonal ebb and flow. How will you adjust the brokerage throughout the year?

JB: In a subdued market, success boils down to pricing, strategic positioning, and maintaining a consistent presence. Our team works cohesively, engaging in collaborative discussions to adjust and adapt to prevailing market conditions.

BD: It’s not an adjustment for us since we have been transacting real estate in the Hamptons for years. We respect the natural flow out east. We are focused on planting seeds now that will grow with the warmer weather… but the activity has already picked up in February. People are looking for and securing rentals, and the sales market is picking up.

What trends are you seeing in Hamptons real estate lately?

JB: We are experiencing shifts in buyer demographics, amenities, prices, etc. Current trends highlight a surge in new construction, with many first-time homebuyers opting for properties north of the highway due to pricing challenges south of the highway. Proximity to villages for shopping and dining is a key factor. Since 2020, prices have experienced an upward trajectory, influenced by the high costs and shortages of construction supplies, leading to additional expenses on the back end of new construction.

Bonita DeWolf. Photo by Ty Wenzel

How has the pandemic impacted the luxury real estate market in the Hamptons for the long term?

JB: The aftermath of the pandemic has subsided, yet its impact on our inventory lingers. We eagerly anticipate an influx of properties entering the market this spring, aligning with the approaching summer season.

BD: I think what has changed most of all is that people have invested so much in their Hamptons homes, and after spending significant amounts of time out east, they now feel that their secondary home is much more equivalent to their primary residence. The owners may be spending less time out here now, but the draw is very strong. As much as they can, they want to be in their Hamptons homes whenever they can manage it.

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Ty Wenzel

Co-Publisher & Contributor

Ty Wenzel started her career as a fashion coordinator for Bloomingdale’s followed by fashion editor for Cosmopolitan Magazine. She was also a writer for countless publications, including having published a memoir and written features for The New York Times. She is an award-winning writer and designer who covers lifestyle, real estate, architecture and interiors for James Lane Post. Wenzel is also a co-founder of the meditation app for kids, DreamyKid, and the social media agency, TWM Hamptons Social Media.

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