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4 Sumptuous Homes with Private Clients: Why Discretion is Key for These Historic East Hampton Estates


Keeping it in the family has proven a powerful path to success for The Petrie Team at Compass. Father Ed Petrie and sons James Petrie and Charles Forsman are all Compass - East Hampton agents and have been dominant representing the legendary and coveted historic East Hampton estates along the ocean for nearly 40 years. “We were born into the business,” explains James Petrie, as he, father Ed and stepbrother Charles are all lifelong residents of East Hampton. “We know the subtleties of how proximity to sand dunes impacts a property, the desirability of each street and the particulars of the trees in the landscaping. I spent my childhood accompanying my dad at showings and walkthroughs with architects who specialize in restoring antique homes while navigating building codes. It’s an expertise we’ve researched, grown and refined together.”



James shares how Ed cultivated the team’s devoted client roster in the timeless coastal enclave. “It was a big deal for my father when he started his real estate career. He was a basketball coach at the time, and borrowed $500 from his brother to take classes and get his real estate license.” Ed went all in by exclusively focusing on the niche market of oceanfront, historic East Hampton estates, and his gamble paid off. “My dad met a few key people during those early years, such as his client Peter Morton, co-founder of the Hard Rock Cafe. They became close friends, and Peter was instrumental in referring clients to my dad who were looking to buy and sell these unique properties.” It was not long before Ed’s listing portfolio had grown enviably impressive. “Ed’s perseverance and grit built the business, and his sense of discretion was key,” highlights Charles. “There are different approaches to marketing properties and working with clients. Some agents are loud, blasting out every big sale. Ed was the complete opposite. He kept his business quiet, and client referrals grew from there.”



Discretion is the foundation upon which Charles and James work, too. “We keep our clients out of the spotlight,” explains James. “There is so much value in historic East Hampton estates. We let that take center stage.” While the village boasts magnificent modern homes built in recent decades, its legendary origins began in the late 1800’s, when Manhattan’s most notable architects designed estates for the well-heeled residents of this new “Summer Colony” vacation destination. Many of these Summer Colony mansions have been impeccably maintained and refurbished, and their rarity commands high demand and steep price tags. Charles reveals, “These estates with extreme historical relevance fall outside standard pricing parameters, like price-per-square foot. The homes have preexisting, non-conforming characteristics which are no longer allowed.” James shares some examples, “Historic three-story properties cannot be replicated, because the village does not permit building a third floor in an effort to maintain the visuals of the area and the charm of yesterday.” Many of the homes have deeded ocean access, too, a highly desirable local luxury.



James and Charles carefully research the historic East Hampton estates they represent. James details, “It is vital for us to do our homework and understand the biography of the home in order to properly retell specific stories about its previous owners, including gathering old photos and prior views with the original landscape intact. We search out details far deeper than simply the year the home was built. We discover who the original architect was, what has been altered over the years, how many people have lived there, and if it was ever used as a rental. These learnings are exacting and exciting.” Charles adds, “Our listing at 121 Further Lane is a terrific example of a storied home history, as it was Jackie Kennedy’s Bouvier family summer retreat during the 1920s. Another example is our listing ‘The Gansett House’ at 117 Egypt Lane, an 18th century home which was moved from Amagansett in 1930 by the renowned Mrs. Harry Hamlin, one of East Hampton's great preservationists. Its original frame is intact. It’s extraordinary.”



Given discretion is the catchword for historic East Hampton south, James and Charles declined to share the names of their notable former and current clients, many of whom rank among the most elite in entertainment, finance, and politics. They did share that these significant trophy properties tend to be held for the long term as they offer their owners such an idyllic lifestyle. “In addition to their remarkable pasts, these properties are either close to the ocean or actually oceanfront, with easy access to the beach and town,” explains Charles. “Residents are always out and about, talking to neighbors and enjoying the village atmosphere.” As such, The Petrie Team of father and sons make ideal representatives of the convivial community spirit and lifestyle. James grows emotive, “Charles and I grew up on these beaches with these people, from attending the local elementary school to teaching surfing to tourists as teenagers, from going off to the same college to upon graduation, returning home to carry the torch of the incredible business and relationships he built. Our mission is to continue his legacy. Our success is measured by his pride.”

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