After five years as an assistant district attorney in New York City, legal eagle Carl Benincasa made the jump to the Hamptons real estate scene just over one year ago, and he’s not looking back. Here, we sit down with Benincasa to hear all about his role on the Douglas Elliman Hamptons team.
As the Regional Vice President of Sales for the Hamptons at Douglas Elliman, we imagine you’re a busy man! Tell us all about the scope of your work.
My primary role is providing leadership and support for our agents, sales managers, and administrative staff. Commonly, this role takes the form of assisting and advising on the many issues that can arise in a given deal. In a broader sense, I must provide an atmosphere of support and collaboration throughout the Hamptons region, which is one of Douglas Elliman’s key luxury markets across the nation.
Additional responsibilities include partnering with Douglas Elliman’s management here and in other regions to ensure the implementation of smart, strategic growth via agent recruitment and brokerage acquisition, and helping to lead and grow our team’s continued success through the use of Douglas Elliman’s technology, marketing and public relations firm, Knight Frank’s global platform, and of course our national platform across the country where our buyers and sellers are and want to be.
How did you grow into this role, and where did you get your start?
My background is in law, so real estate management was new to me when I started this job just over a year ago. My familiarity with the rules and processes helped, but there’s no better learning than through doing. I’ve learned so much in my time here and am still learning more and more every day.
How does your past experience as a lawyer inform your job at Douglas Elliman? What skills are applicable to both?
The laws surrounding real estate transactions and land use come into play all the time. Having an understanding of those laws certainly helps my work with agents. However, beyond knowing the law, one of a lawyer’s primary roles is to find efficient and effective resolutions to complex situations. In my current position, those skills are invaluable.
We have the best agents in the business, but there are many factors that come into play on a real estate deal and complicated problems often arise. It’s very effective to use my experience as a lawyer to help craft and implement resolutions.
When it comes to planning and developing a new residence, how early do you get involved in the process?
It really depends on when the client engages one of our agents and when they, in turn, come to me. It’s never too early to familiarize yourself with the laws governing land use and development. It’s a complex mix of federal, state, and local regulations and anyone looking to develop property needs to be fully aware before they begin the process.
Knowing exactly what you can and cannot do on a parcel puts you at an incredible advantage whether you’re buying, building, or selling.
How do local zoning laws affect your projects? Is it ever a tough hurdle to conquer?
Zoning affects every aspect of our clients’ projects and oftentimes the process can be daunting. That being said, there is often a way to achieve development goals in a manner that fully adheres to both the spirit and wording of the law.
We hear you’re a former criminal prosecutor. How did you make the switch? We imagine your cases these days are quite different!
Yes, I was an assistant district attorney in New York City for about five years. I learned much in that period and, once I left, started a general law practice before I took a job as an attorney for the Town of Southampton. It was in my private practice that I first began handling real estate matters and my time with the town only enhanced my familiarity with land use and zoning.
The switch came naturally as I enjoyed shifting focus. Yes, matters now are much different but the foundation of the job is actually quite similar since, at the end of the day, you’re helping people.
Where can we find you out East during your free time?
At the beach or on a boat. Occasionally you’ll find me embarrassing myself on the golf course.