At the Desk of: Susan Breitenbach

The Hamptons powerbroker on her working-class roots, boots over stilettos and being No. 1
By Katherine Clarke | June 01, 2016 11:00AM
Susan Breitenbach (Photos by Michael McWeeney)

Susan Breitenbach (Photos by Michael McWeeney)

The Corcoran Group’s Susan Breitenbach is a go-to broker for a slew of celebrities, sports stars and corporate bigwigs looking to buy or sell a house on the East End. She is currently selling Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s $13 million Sagaponack home and is listing Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau’s nearly $27 million Bridgehampton mansion, among a number of other luxury properties in the area. Over the years, Breitenbach’s clients have included Billy Joel, Jason Kidd, Russell Simmons, Richard Gere, Jonathan Sobel and Donny Deutsch. Her bright, airy office is located in a small, two-story building off the Montauk Highway, between Water Mill and Bridgehampton and just a stone’s throw from the Hampton Classic Horse Show’s Grand Prix track — the site of a see-and-be-seen event for the Hamptons elite. As Corcoran’s No. 1 Hamptons agent, Breitenbach has one of the building’s only private offices. A former Wall Street sales executive, she got her start in the business 26 years ago, after moving to the Hamptons with her husband, a high-end Hamptons home builder. Her tenure at Corcoran dates back to August 2006, when Corcoran’s parent company, NRT, bought Allan M. Schneider Associates, the boutique firm she had been working for since 1987. She estimated that she has closed more than $3.5 billion in residential sales since then. 

Susan-Breitenbach-awardAwards

Breitenbach’s No. 1 agent status came after closing nearly $350 million in sales last year, so it’s little surprise that her desk is filled with awards. “I never thought it was important to be number one, but I guess it would be hard for me to go from number one to number whatever,” she said. Her awards also serve as motivation. “Once you’re complacent and you don’t have that drive, that’s when the whole thing crumbles.”

Picture of Kids

Susan-Breitenbach-kidsBreitenbach has three grown children and two granddaughters, along with stepchildren and step-grandchildren. Her middle child, Matthew, worked with her at Corcoran for nine years before jumping to Douglas Elliman last January. “It was wonderful, but working for your mom is hard,” Breitenbach said. “Everyone [was] calling, being like, ‘Can I talk to your mom?’ It was time for the bird to fly out of the nest.” Still, the pair continue to do deals together. They recently co-listed a $55 million Montauk mansion.

Susan-Breitenbach-plannerPlanner

In an otherwise immaculate office, the one exception is Breitenbach’s personal planner, which is jammed full of Post-It notes and papers. She assiduously guards its contents, which include appointments with some very famous clients whose names she won’t reveal. “I’m not really supposed to talk about who the owners are, but everyone knows,” she said. I have one client who has me very starstruck right now. These are people who run the world, and they’re asking me, ‘Susan, what do you think about this?’ I’m still enamored with that feeling.”

Susan-Breitenbach-newspaperNewspaper Clipping

Breitenbach keeps a framed newspaper clipping of her late father, Frank, who was a firefighter in Queens during her childhood. He saved enough money to buy a quaint second home in Southampton by operating a small construction business on the side. “We didn’t have a lot of money, but we did have a little cottage near the bay,” Breitenbach said. “I have a big, beautiful house now, but that’s not how I grew up at all.”

Susan-Breitenbach-letter-openerLetter opener

Breitenbach bought this letter opener three years ago on a family trip, a private safari, to Tanzania. But Breitenbach rarely takes long international excursions. “The only time I can get away and not feel guilty is between Christmas and New Year’s,” she said. “All my clients are in St. Barths, and they’re not calling me about Hamptons
real estate.”

Susan-Breitenbach-boatThe Family Boat

Breitenbach’s husband, Stephen Breitenbach, owns a 65 Azimut Yacht, which they keep docked in Miami and have sailed to Block Island, Nantucket and the Exuma islands in the Bahamas. “He’s always looking for a new boat,” she said of her husband, who has his official captain’s license. “It seems like we get one every two years.”

Susan-Breitenbach-shellsShells

Breitenbach has been collecting seashells for years, and her kids often bring them home from trips abroad. A handful of giant conch shells dot her office. “A lot of these are from the Bahamas,” she said. “We carried back a box of starfish from the Exuma islands and had them cured. My husband was going to dump them, and I said, ‘No, no.’ ”

Susan-Breitenbach-bootJimmy Choo Boots

Designer Jimmy Choo may be known for his stilettos, but Breitenbach prefers the designer’s boots, which she uses for walking around construction sites. Breitenbach said she also keeps a pair of sneakers in her car, for impromptu workout sessions. “Sometimes after [an oceanfront] showing, I’ll throw them on and just go running on the beach in my full showing outfit. It’s sometimes the only chance I get to work out.”