It’s always a mystery when you meet someone new on the East End where they are from and how they got here. Unless they were part of the local historic families (i.e. Gardiner, Hildreth, etc.), most found their way here with their own stories to tell.
Corcoran sales agent Jackie Dunphy’s story is an odyssey that spans several continents. Agents have been jet-setting to Aspen and Art Basel off-season to land the distinctive home buyer. The global bent to her life gives her a definitive edge to help international home-buyers and investors, while her love and knowledge of the East End makes her an expert in the region. Indy caught up with Dunphy to learn more about her fascinating life and travels.
Jackie, your life story is so surprising! You were born in Hollywood? Is your family originally Californian?
My father moved from Oklahoma at a young age and my mother from Texas. My father’s family are Choctaw American Indians who were forced from Mississippi to reservations in Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. My mother’s family were plantation owners who fled to Texas after the Civil War. My parents met in college.
My sister and I were both born in Hollywood and when I was eight weeks old, we moved to Hawaii, where my brother was born.
You were raised also in Spain, Italy, Jordan, Japan, and Australia! Your global experience is amazing. Can you explain why you were raised all over the world?
My father worked for Lockheed as a tech rep and was sent all over. We moved countries every few years. It was a real vagabond type of life. But the experiences that this life afforded me were more than most people encounter. We moved to Spain when I was five. My siblings and I were put into Spanish speaking schools and we were fluent in three months. My family immersed us into the Spanish culture and lifestyle right away. Dinner was always at 10, bullfights every Sunday, and flamenco on Friday nights at a local club after tapas. All of us kids took flamenco lessons weekly.
After a few years we moved to Italy and were placed into Italian schools. Since we already spoke Spanish, picking up Italian was a lot easier! We lived in a small resort village in Tuscany right on the Mediterranean. It was very similar to the Hamptons. There were a lot of second homes and the winter population was made up of trades people and farmers. Not only did we learn a lot about Italian culture and customs, we shared a few American ones.
After a few years living there, it was back to Spain, this time to Madrid. My parents realized we probably needed to go to an English-speaking school at this point, especially after we were heard reading English and pronouncing everything phonetically! After four wonderful years, my father was transferred to Amman, Jordan and we had 10 days to pack up and leave. In those days, corporations never really took into account that their employees were married with kids. Sometimes they were given a mere matter of days to pack up and move.
Jordan was quite the experience. Such a different culture and customs. One of the most interesting ones that stands out was that you must never show the sole of your shoe to another person. It is a sign of extreme disrespect. Being a female in the Middle East was quite restrictive and we all had to wear modest clothing when going to the souks downtown. Civil War broke out while we were there and we ended up living in our bathroom for a week as that was the safest room in the house against gunfire.
We lived behind the British Embassy so there were royal Jordanian soldiers with machine guns in our backyard shooting at the Fedain, who were on a rooftop next-door shooting at the Embassy. One day there was a knock at the door and it was the Red Cross coming to evacuate us. We were told to grab one coat and our passports and run to the Red Cross van while being shot at. My feet never touched the ground running to that truck! We had a small poodle and were told we had to leave him, but my father scooped him up in his coat and smuggled him out. That dog had been with us since I was four years old and was a member of our family. There was no way we were leaving him.
We raced to the Amman International Airport and our airplane, which was a medevac that had rows of two seats on one side and stretchers on the other, was the last airplane out before the Fedain took control and closed down the airport.
We landed in Athens, Greece, where we were reunited with several of our friends who also managed to get out. We spent a wonderful month in Athens but were so shell-shocked that we were hitting the ground whenever a car backfired, so my father decided to rent a villa on Spetzai, a very tiny Greek island with no cars. We spent an incredible month relaxing and hanging out and destressing.
Then it was back to California to regroup. This is where Lockheed was located at the time. Not six months after moving to California, we had a massive earthquake. I woke up to my bed jumping across the room. I was beginning to think that disaster was following us everywhere.
My dad was then transferred to Tokyo, Japan, but I stayed behind to finish up college. The summer after graduation, I decided to go visit my parents for a month or so, and ended up staying in Japan for six years. It was a tremendous learning experience as the Japanese culture is so very different from anything else I had had encountered.
Some of my deepest and lasting friendships are from this time of my life. I began my modeling and acting career in Tokyo. I also had a newscasting job on the local cable station. After six years I began to feel antsy and needed to move. I had an opportunity to model and act in Australia, so within a matter of weeks, I packed my bags and off I went and spent two years living in Sydney.
You have such a powerful yet inclusive persona. Is that natural or because you were a model, actress, and newscaster?
Growing up without a home base taught me to be a mediator, diplomat, and negotiator from an early age. We never knew how long we were going to be in any given country, so I learned to dive right in, make friends quickly, and get the lay of the land. Learning to live in so many different types of cultures made me realize that there are always two sides to a story and there is always another way of looking at life. My siblings and I became chameleons – adapting to whatever situation we were thrown into.
What helped was that most kids we met were in the same boat. Their parents were diplomats, worked for oil companies, banks, and many other international companies. They were used to being moved around as well. So, friendships were made very quickly and we formed very strong ties. I am still in touch with people I have met along the way. Living in a culture entirely different than one’s own creates survival skills and the most important one is diplomacy. Modeling and acting are natural outcomes. When you act or are in front of the camera, you are essentially creating a new persona.
How or why did you end up landing in New York?
After moving to Sydney, I met my first husband on a TV commercial shoot. He was the director. He was given an opportunity to work in New York City so I packed my bags and off I went again! I continued my work as a model through the Ford agency. One day I was doing a shoot for jewelry when the photographer said I had lovely hands and he had some rings he needed to shoot and would I be interested in doing some hand modeling. I had no idea what that meant but my agent told me it would be a great segue into a new career once I aged out of modeling. I turned it into a great second modeling career for another two decades. My claim to fame was poking the Pillsbury doughboy.
How do you think these amazing experiences have helped you professionally as a luxury real estate agent?
From a very early age, I was exposed to many different types of people and cultures. One night we would be dining at the ambassador’s residence with heads of state or at King Hussein’s palace, and the next night we would be eating at a friend’s house of modest means. My parents were avid entertainers and always invited a nice mix of people from all walks of life. They taught us that no matter the circumstances of anyone’s life, everyone was to be treated with kindness and respect. I have used these valuable lessons in dealing with customers and clients.
Each deal, no matter the money involved, is treated the same way. All of my customers and clients deserve respect, courtesy, and kindness. Diplomacy is also very important and a good agent sees both sides of the coin and understands and respects what people may be going through emotionally and/or economically. Real estate is not merely a transactional business, rather it encompasses a whole spectrum of emotions and needs.
We imagine the ability to speak five languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, and English) helps matching international investors and homeowners with their dream home on the East End?
Although I speak Spanish as fluently as English and my French, Italian, Japanese, is quite good, I find it is best to either conduct business in English or make sure they have a lawyer who is fluent in their language. Dealing with buyers and sellers on a day-to-day basis in their native language is perfectly fine but sometimes there can be miscommunications and I find it imperative that each buyer and seller has a full understanding of the process.
Of all the brokerages, why did you choose Corcoran?
Corcoran seemed to be the perfect company for me as they had a wonderful training program in place and I admired the attitude of the manager in the East Hampton office. I was taken with their advertising and branding and strong internet presence when most agencies were not even advertising online. I knew this was the wave of the future so wanted to be on board with such a forward-thinking company.
There was also a lovely sense of camaraderie and friendship in the office and I felt right at home immediately. Whenever I needed handholding, someone was there for me. I met Greg Schmidt at Corcoran and forming a partnership with him was the best thing I did! We formed team Greg and Jackie and watched our business absolutely explode. We complement each other perfectly.
How has the COVID-19 quarantine affected your business?
It has certainly been a challenge but not being able to facilitate showings has me dealing with all the things I am not able to get to when it’s business as usual. I am updating my databases, reaching out to clients and customers, and doing all the things that our wonderful assistant Taylor usually does.
Are you feeling positive about the Hamptons real estate market? Why?
Absolutely! People are realizing how important it is to have another place to shelter in outside of the big city. Also, the idea of working from home is becoming more and more a reality and people can work pretty much from anywhere. Who wouldn’t want to wake up every morning to the birds singing, having the beach so close for walks, and your kids being able to ride their bikes right from the front door? The Hamptons offers all amenities and the city is a mere two hours away. We really do live in a paradise!
What advice would you give a seller right now?
If you plan on selling your house, now has never been a better time. Interest is white hot and inventory is lowering.
What about a buyer?
Dive in now while there are still homes to buy! Interest rates have never been lower. It’s a good time to put your money into real estate as who knows what the stock market holds for the future?
Are there any trends you can share with us? Neighborhoods, home styles, etc.?
The black window trim on white houses is still trending. The Modern Barn look is also still very popular. Outdoor kitchens and living rooms are also becoming more and more popular. Buyers are looking for crisp and clean with no renovations needed. These homes sell. The market for $2 million and under is absolutely white hot at the moment. Greg and I have been fielding a lot of inquiries.
What do you do for fun when you’re not selling gorgeous Hamptons homes?
I don’t take too much time off from work but I have been trying to remedy that a bit. My little slice of heaven is my backyard. I love having friends over for cocktails and dinners. I am a big DIYer and enjoy gardening and doing projects around the home. Since most of my days are full of phone calls, emails, and lots of talking, I like the quiet time at home. I have three dogs who bring me such joy as well as my 24-year-old daughter, who is currently sheltering in place with me.
I have been helping out at the food pantry and with Organización Latino-Americana during the pandemic. I normally am involved with the Ladies’ Village Improvement Society, but we are on pause for the moment.
To reach Dunphy or inquire about her portfolio of properties, call 631-324-1820 or email email@example.com.