Michael Fulfree Juggles Family And Closing Deals On Selling The Hamptons - Exclusive Interview

Real estate in the Hamptons is a hard business to break into, and reality television may be even harder. Michael Fulfree has easily broken into both.

As a prior international model, Fulfree has always been familiar with the entertainment business. Since starring on the reality series "Million Dollar Beach House" and currently appearing in "Selling the Hamptons," even more doors have opened up for him — both metaphorically and literally (You know, because he's a real estate agent).


From modeling to real estate and reality TV, Fulfree has had quite an eclectic career, and he's still only getting started. In fact, his next move may surprise you, and we got the chance to ask him all about it. In an exclusive interview with The List, Fulfree shared why he left his successful modeling career to pursue real estate, why it was important to talk about parenthood on "Selling the Hamptons," and how his family and friends really feel about seeing him on reality TV.

Here's how Michael Fulfree landed a role on Selling the Hamptons

How were you approached to do "Selling the Hamptons?" How did it come to be?

I've been in real estate for about three years now, so going on my fourth straight year in the business. I was approached pretty much out of the sure thing that I would be as real as I possibly can for TV.


I'm known in the real estate business and where I am as really doing it the old school way, making those connections. With my brokerage, I was really making noise. I was going after every builder, every big person you can go after in this business, and in a very short period of time of being in it. Usually, you are an apprentice to somebody else, but I've been on my own since the beginning, and I was very aggressive, and my CEO saw that and my personality. He's like, "You're made for TV, dude."

I felt the same exact way. I've been in the entertainment realm, and now it's going to another level, so I'm really excited.

Michael Fulfree looks back on his modeling career

You were a model before this, so how'd you go from modeling to real estate?

Well, I wanted to eat. That's pretty much how it started. I'm a big guy, I'm six foot five. So, you know, there's a lot that comes with that, obviously.


Being a model was an interesting thing. I was in high school ... and at a bank, [I] was approached in Manhattan. The Big Apple's where anything can happen, and I'm this Long Island guy, and it was just crazy how it happened.

I lived in Milan for about five years, went to every fashion show, worked for every different designer around. I've always wanted to be in sales ... so I said, "I need to make a jump somehow from modeling to real estate," because real estate's something that's been in my mom's blood. She did it 25 years on the east end of the Hamptons. In Long Island, she was a mortgage broker, so I saw what she was doing, and I really wanted to get involved somehow.

Going from modeling, I had to transition. I went from modeling, doing all this crazy stuff, meeting amazing people, to selling cars in Long Island. If you want to own a restaurant, you should probably be in the back cooking first, cleaning even dishes. A lot of successful people, they do every facet of their business. So for me, I said I'm going to put my pride aside, 'cause there's nothing wrong with selling cars at all. You can make a great living. I started selling cars, and I said, you know, I got to get comfortable with the transactions and dealing with people.


I saved enough with the modeling business. I retired. I know it's crazy. You retire at 26 years old, 25 years old from modeling, and you're kind of washed up. I did my time, was able to sell some cars. I ended up becoming, like, top 100 on the Northeast of the country in selling cars, so that [helped] transition me into [real estate].

When I was first selling, they were telling me, "You need to do real estate" ... I got involved and really got aggressive with it, and CEO took notice and this is where I am now. So, very blessed.

That's such a fun story. Do you feel like modeling prepared you in any way for reality TV?

Absolutely. The thing is, I'm not a big fashion guy. I'm not into that at all. Everybody that met me in Italy and Milan, anywhere, Spain ... people were like, "You're not the normal guy that is in the modeling business." [Laughs] They would ask me a request for what I wanted to eat and I'd just be like, "Can I actually just have some water and food?" I was living in Milan. If they're asking me, I'll eat anything. Everything's fantastic in Italy.

I never had demands, so I was easy to work with. I never really complained. I brought that into every facet of my career and what I've done. From the car business to real estate, I don't complain. You deal with a lot in this business, especially in the market I'm in. I know that I've come from nothing and built something really special, and I'm just excited.


What it's like watching yourself on TV, according to Michael Fulfree

How is the dynamic of this team on "Selling the Hamptons" different from what we saw on "Million Dollar Beach House"? Because there are a lot of new faces in your office.

Yeah, it's a completely new show. There's nothing that has relevance, which I kind of love. I had to go through the experience all over again of auditioning, you know? And I'm nervous. I'm like, "I wonder if I'm going to get it?" 'Cause it's something completely new. For me, it was like starting all over again, but also being really comfortable with the cameras now.


When you watch the show, I literally am myself. I don't change for anything, so what really helps me is there's no burden there. I'm not nervous to be on camera. I can transact and do what I do on a daily basis, and there's someone in the background, catching and capturing everything.

I'm really excited ... in business, and you know this, everything becomes a blur at the end of the year. Like, "Okay, how did I even get here?"

It's so nice to be able to look back now, and ... remember that good call or that bad call, that big deal. I don't forget the deals because the commissions are unforgettable.

Other than that, this summer was very transactional. A lot of deals were getting done, and luckily, discovery+ was right there to cover it. Thank God, because it is something really special.


Being in reality TV, you get to go back and watch your life on screen. Is that interesting to see yourself and see those situations you were in – from literally another angle?

Oh, yeah. It's really interesting. I also learned a lot about myself and my own character traits, and maybe some things I need to work on, because our show is very raw. It really shows everything that goes down. So for me, I think it really helps me be able to look into myself and see what I've done wrong and maybe a situation I was mad at that maybe I should have responded differently, you know? So, it's an interesting thing. A lot of people don't really get that chance.

Sometimes, if me and my wife have a little — if we bicker about something, she's like, "Watch back the security camera. Watch yourself and see how you talk to me." Sometimes she's right, and I realize I got mad for no reason.

What are some of the other things that you've learned about yourself from watching?

I've learned that I need to do my own self care, 'cause I take on a lot of other people's situations. I notice that, yes, I'm that sounding board for a lot of the agents at the brokerage, but I also need to make sure I take care of my own mental, because that's something nobody ever talks about. It's like, when you do so much, try to help out other people, you got to also find time for yourself.


I've learned that ... especially this summer, if I don't take care of myself, I can't take care of others. Like a plane going down, you get the oxygen first, and then you can help out everybody else.

That's what I noticed, that I really got to take care of myself and what I need to deal with, on top of handling a lot of the brokers and a lot of the agents and helping them, because we all feed off each other, and we all are in a unique situation, so we all have each other.

Michael Fulfree wants parenthood portrayed realistically on reality TV

You're the only one who's talked about parenthood on "Selling the Hamptons." How do you balance parenthood, real estate, and now a reality show? What's some advice you have for working parents?

I'm going to be very honest, and every working parent will understand this: there is absolutely no plan. [Laughs] There is no framework of how this works out. Every day is unique, every day is ever changing, so it's juggling, and we want to give as much as we can to our son. We don't want him raised by other people. We really put as much emphasis on that — which, we completely understand all the people in the workforces that have to have someone come in because they both work for their different businesses.


Luckily, my wife owns her own company. We have an office in South Hampton, so we're nice and local. And then I am an independent contractor. I own my own company, too, so we're blessed in that aspect.

I get as much time with my son as possible. We play, we watch movies — and then in the next hour, I could be having to drop him off at my wife's company and go on a listing, and just switch my outfit out. I do wear sweatshirts and sweatpants. When you have kids, you got to be comfortable, because your head's on a swivel.

It's very unique, my situation. I'm the only one that has kids on the show and trying to do that whole work balance. I'm just not going to take away from my son. I want to be with him. You only live once, and, like, I need to have that with him and also just building our family up.


A big work/life balance [is what] I try for. It doesn't always work out. There are some tough weeks, but ... we do integrate my wife a little bit into the show and really show how tough it is, because I don't want to put on this fairy tale that everything is perfect, 'cause when two people are really independently doing well, it is not. You have to, you know, find time. It could be easy just to hire somebody, but we don't want to do that.

This reality star doesn't want any office drama

I want to talk to you about your relationship with JB Andreassi. What is it like to work in such a competitive environment with your best friend?

I think if it was a little bit of a smaller market — it is a small market, but also there's so much money to be made here. We both just look out for each other. We have different styles. We're completely two different people that somehow became best friends when we're 15 years old and grew up together, so he really knows me in and out. The thing is, the competitions, for me, there is no competition, just like it was for modeling. Competition's myself. I always say that.


I don't ever look at what other people are doing. I'm happy for them and really applaud them in whatever they're doing, but I worry about myself. As long as I'm paying my bills, and I can really build something special here, that's what I'm trying to do.

There's competition out there, but — I think you got to differentiate yourself from everybody else by just being real and not trying to put on a façade or anything like that. If you like me, then work with me. If you don't want to work with me, don't work with me. [Laughs]

That's the vibe I get from seeing you on TV, too. You always seem like the mediator of the drama that's going on – that you just kind of want everyone to get along and that there shouldn't be that type of intense competition.


I think that's the craziest part about what we do. I don't get why there's even any combativeness, because it's like, gee, we all are doing really well. I come from immigrant parents. I know what it is to really kind of struggle, and we're all so, so lucky. So, when there's certain petty stuff being done, of course I want to end it and just like, "Let's get back to it."

Becoming a dad and growing up a little bit from that ... that really helped me [Laughs] grow up, because, you know — it's like my heart just walks around without me now. It's crazy. He's taught me so much about, you know, what's important in life, and it's really family and just being a good guy.

I try to mediate everything and also just for my own sake of having to buy Tylenol Migraine all the time to get me through.

Michael Fulfree opens up about fame

How has your television career affected your business? What do clients say to you about seeing you on TV?

Well, they're a little bit surprised that I'm the same person [Laughs], that I have that same energy and that I'm a very smiley kind of happy guy that also can handle myself in this situation with real estate. I really put my foot down, but people are very surprised that I'm exactly how I am on TV, and I kind of have fun with it.


It's funny. A lot of my clients — at first, they'll never bring up the show, and then they'll slip and be like, "Oh, my God. What's going on?" They'll just automatically really want to know when it's airing. Obviously, they've seen me all over the Hamptons running around and [the] film crew following you and stuff.

There's a lot of anticipation, but my clients have taken it very well. I think I just steer towards a certain kind of buyer and a certain kind of seller that want to work with me, you know? No agent is for everybody. If they are, I'd be worried about them. I like to say, "If everybody likes you, there's a problem." 

How does it feel when people you know approach you about "Selling the Hamptons"?


It's interesting. It's like, you know, the elephant in the room. It's just the weirdest thing, because I have a lot of sponsors now too, so I do a lot of events, and I go a lot of places, and I meet people. And then, of course, the people I know, they're just like — Because I really don't talk about the effects of having this new show coming out and everything, and the benefits of it obviously are incredible, they're amazed when they see it.

A lot of my close family and friends I grew up with, because I haven't changed at all, the way I talk or the way I am or my friends, they're just amazed by when they see it in person. Especially when this show comes out, they're just going to be like, "Oh, my God." 'Cause I don't really talk about it too much. I just kind of go on with business.

Right. Because you've gotten to the point, too, where you don't even realize the cameras are around.

That's right. [Laughs] Yeah, I definitely don't, and I have to be careful with that sometimes.

I think you would notice right away if I changed anything or tried to be calculated. I'm a calculated person. That's how I've done well in business, but the one thing is, I can't put on some kind of front for the camera. It's not going to work out for me. It'll come off different. I think I come off as I come off. [Laughs] I think the network appreciates that. It's a really wholesome, real experience, you know? It comes off well.


You've been a model, real estate agent, and now a reality star. What have you not done yet that you still want to accomplish?

Oh, my God. To be very honest, I want to get into comedy. I really want to do stand-up comedy. I find humor in pretty much everything. It's just how I get through it, you know? [Laughs] So, it's really something I've been about since I'm really, really young.

Also, it's not even acting. I really don't know, just something in the entertainment business. If it's representing, whatever the case may be. It's what I want to do.

The biggest thing is build a real estate portfolio that is ridiculous, so I'm eyeing homes currently to purchase for rent and just have them all over New York, and then hopefully build that out to the Midwest, California, all over the country.

"Selling the Hamptons" is now available to stream on discovery+.