Hamptons Confidential: Ed Bruehl


A California native, Ed Bruehl was lured to the New York area by Wall Street, but after 9/11, his wife was recruited to start a new private school in the Hamptons, and he fell in love with the area. He lives in East Hampton with his family.

So where are you from originally and where do you live now?

California. Thousand Oaks. Now I live in East Hampton.

What brought you out to the Hamptons?

My wife Mariah and I moved out to New York. She’s a teacher and got her master’s at Bank Street. I worked for Morgan Stanley. After 9/11, she was wooed out to the Hamptons to start a private school, which was eventually bought by the Ross School. And I came out and fell in love with real estate.

We had our first child in Amagansett–really spectacular on Christmas Day. Now our kids are at East Hampton High School and we’ve had a really good life. I love it out here.

She’s now started her own school, or really learning center, right on Main Street in East Hampton, called Playful Learning Studio. It’s really doing well: we had a lot of city kids during the summer and it’s filled up for fall. There’s a real need for this kind of educational enrichment.

What did you do at Morgan Stanley?

I sold muni bonds really and I worked in wealth management at Morgan Stanley.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to surf, and I like to golf.

Well there’s plenty of scope to do that here.

I feel like real estate is also a hobby. It’s a career, but I’ve found a way to make fun. It’s not like I’m locked in and hating it. I really, really enjoy the people I work for and with.

If you weren’t an agent, what do you think you might be doing?

I’d be doing the same. I would just be probably buying and selling and then building a portfolio of properties. I just love initiating deals. One person really needs to sell and somebody else really wants to buy; putting the two together is a real buzz for me. I’m grateful that it pays well and I’m also grateful that I enjoy it.

I think when I was performing a service and not selling was when I became a really good broker. It was a big shift for me. You sit at the kitchen table and you realize, wow, this family really needs to sell, and then when you get a buyer for them, you’re fundamentally performing a service for both sides.

Are there any drawbacks when it comes to being an agent?

It’s time consuming and you take phone calls in the middle of the night, early in the morning. and Saturday and Sunday, but so what. I still get to have time with my family. It’s far better in my opinion than being strapped to a desk at the bank in the city. I’m not complaining, and it certainly enables me to surf and golf when the time is right.

What is the best advice you ever got, either personally or professionally?

Life is really, really long. It’s not short. Take every breath seriously and take what you eat seriously, because when you’re 70 you’re going to wish you had a better diet when you were 40. I’m 51 and everyone says they can’t believe it and what’s the secret. It’s no real secret. I take what I eat very seriously; I take exercise very seriously. I do prioritize myself and make time for things like yoga or working out or surfing. I think a lot of people just end up on the treadmill and work so hard and when they’re 60 or 70 don’t have the body that they wish they had to enjoy the remainder of their lives. My advice would be to take the little things seriously, from the food you eat to the breaths you take to the habits you have.

What do you think of the real estate market right now?

It is a buyer’s market. Profoundly. I don’t care what anybody says, it is what it is. And that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong but it’s what I feel. Those buyers who are buying are in a very good position and those buyers who were considering buying or might be considering buying should take it very seriously, because these cycles do not last forever. I’m pounding the table with so many of my friends and buyers and clients to say, at least look around. These numbers will not come back around. If you missed it now, you’re going to regret it. And this is when everyone gets scared and they’re fearful that the market’s going to fall. But I’ve been doing this for 15-16 years, and I’ve seen three or four cycles and we always come back. The idea that this cycle is so different, I don’t buy it. It might be a longer cycle because of an election year and because of the 2008 financial debacle, which caused it to be a little wonky.

If you’re not comfortable taking a low sale number, then clean up the house and get it on the rental market. There are plenty of people out there with money who look decided not to buy yet, but will rent your house for a terrific number and that can pay the bills.

I also tell people on the regular: I’m not the average broker. I’m sort of the UNbroker because I don’t always think you should sell your house. I advise people not to sell regularly. You have to convince me to list your house because to me, the market supports the rental. Just hold it and rent it. And if the thing starts becoming a cash cow, they go buy another house. I used to sell stocks and bonds–this is like having a land bond in the Hamptons. If you own a million dollar house and you can rent it for one hundred thousand dollars–and I know people who can–that’s a terrific return even if you have to pay a caretaker and get a new roof every once in a while.

I’m a huge fan of just renting a property, holding it turning it into a sort of investment, and then buying another house.