Elizabeth B. Bowden has been a Hamptons regular since she was a kid. She puts those years of experience in the area to good use in adulthood by helping her clients at Nest Seekers International find their dream homes — and suss out their perfect neighborhoods, too.
How long have you been living and working in the Hamptons?
I’ve been coming out to the Hamptons since I was a young child. My family has had real estate in Southampton and on Shelter Island. I moved out East consecutively four years ago.
How did you get into real estate?
My aunt is a broker, and she always pushed me to get my license. I’d been in high-end sales, everything from horses to finance to clothing, so why not sell high-end homes? I love the lifestyle. It resonates with me tremendously. I got my license, and I haven’t looked back since.
What’s your favorite thing about being out East?
Aside from the water, I love the villages. An actual village is a rarity in New York, let alone the U.S. entirely. Every village in the Hamptons is a coveted district in its own right; each has an established history and sense of culture. Southampton Village is my favorite; its charm and classical essence resonate with me.
Why is the Hamptons a great place for millennials?
There’s great shopping, all the way from Westhampton to East Hampton, and even in Montauk. It’s good for people who are sea-savvy, whether you love the beach or boating. The restaurant district is fabulous for foodies—there’s really something for everyone out here. It speaks to a multigenerational demographic, not millennials alone.
Where do you stay when you’re out East?
I stay in Bridgehampton North, the heart of the “equestrian district,” as I like to call it. I am right next to the polo fields; polo ponies at my back and show jumpers to the front.
Is the Hamptons good for polo watching?
I have seen a fair amount from New York to Palm Beach; I picked up a mallet myself, come the end of my equestrian career. That in itself resonates with me. The Hamptons hosts a strong polo community; it has always been a sought-out Hamptons spectacle, even a tradition to some. It once had a large presence when matches were a weekly weekend affair hosted at Two Trees Farms and open to the public. When Two Trees Polo came to an end in 2015, it changed the community; polo has since been present on a private scale — private polo clubs and charity matches. As of recently, we’re beginning to see polo being resurrected on a public level. Last summer, Social Life magazine hosted a charity match, which then grew into a two-match affair this summer; both sold out.
What do you love about polo?
It’s the sport of kings, the equestrian gladiator sport. It’s really high energy, and you have to be super fit. There’s a lot that goes into the game that doesn’t always appear to the human eye. It’s a really spectacular discipline, so to speak, unlike any other.
What else brings people together in the area?
Fitness is a major part of the Hamptons culture, as is health as a whole. It’s almost like religion—diverse and a lot of it! The Hamptons hosts the best of the best in the fitness sector. Everything from SoulCycle to Barry’s, Physique 57 and everything in between. I love SoulCycle. I am definitely a SoulCycle addict. I went from being a professional equestrian riding horses every day to now wanting to ride a stationary bike.
Are there any trends in terms of what people are looking for in real estate these days?
It really varies; it comes down to preference. Some look to build new; others seek investment opportunities, while others want roll-in ready. Rarity is the pinnacle of value and the most sought-out commodity when it comes to real estate. People are looking for something special. Whether that’s something that’s located in the Southampton estate section that’s been in a family for generations and has never hit the market, or something closer to the highway with water views, or a cozy cottage somewhere north of the highway in a coveted waterfront district far from the Village buzz. Rarity and specialness will always vary depending on the person; remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
How important is party planning on the East End?
It’s everything to the Hamptons, where it’s all about entertaining, being outdoors, and parties with friends. Entertaining is a culture, whether that’s going out to a restaurant or even better, being able to entertain in a savvy way in your own home is special. There are particular properties that are incredibly entertainment savvy, for the host or hostess with the most.
Do you enjoy entertaining?
I do! I love everything that goes along with it, from curating the menus, to arranging the table, to the guest lists, of course. My biggest tip that I learned from trial and error is get the help. It’s great to want to do everything yourself—however, you want to be able to enjoy it yourself. That was one of the biggest learning curves I had, as I want to do everything myself and create the ultimate experience.
Which caterers do you rely on to supply the most impressive food at your parties?
For seafood, I always love the Clamman [Market]. It never disappoints! Those baked clams are always the first thing to go. For cheeses, I love Cavaniola [Gourmet Cheese]; their stuff is just exquisite. They also have a wine store with a terrific selection, so it’s kind of a one-stop shop. In terms of dessert, Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton is a no-brainer.
Bowden gives us the scoop on two incredible abodes for sale, among the many gems currently in her portfolio.
Tell us about some of the houses you’re representing this season!
A luxe new waterfront construction in Sag Harbor—43 Harbor Drive. It’s a special property unlike anything else in the marketplace at the moment. What we see with new construction these days is a lot of large homes on smaller lots that lack character. Here, we have an ultra custom construction with every amenity imaginable, and it’s manageable—a proper beach house.
How big is it?
It’s 3,300 square feet, with five bedrooms and four baths over two levels of living space, plus a bonus third level featuring panoramic views, an outdoor lounge, and a firepit. The backyard is set amid sand, providing a private-beach vibe and equipped with saltwater pool, poolhouse, and private dock overlooking the Sag Harbor Cove.
Any other properties on your docket?
Lets talk Montauk, specifically the coveted Hither Hills district; 75 Wood Drive aka the Hither Hills Compound. The property spans over a privately landscaped half acre, comprised of three structures, not to mention the wealth of supporting amenities both tangible and intangible. No real reason to leave the premises except to escape to the beach; private beach access and parking, yes we have that too.
What are the other structures?
Apart from the 3,200 square foot main house, we have two additional structures on the property; a multi-level pool house and three-bay garage with finished loft. Other mentionables include a heated gunite pool with roman spa, extensive decking with retractible awning and I mentioned it once but I’ll say it again, private beach access and parking at Hither Hills.
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