It is said that to become the greatest, you must be willing to take risk and break from tradition. The few who put it all on the line are presented the opportunity to forever transform industries and leave behind lasting legacies.
When we sat down last year to determine who would grace our cover, we recognized that the industry model which focused only on agents and transactions was completely outdated. Since our readers demand the finest in service and capabilities, it was essential that the person we selected was undoubtedly the leader in transforming the industry. It did not take long to locate this individual, as there is only one person who matched our rigorous standards.
A bold visionary and revolutionizing change-agent, Mauricio Umansky, Founder and CEO of The Agency, has built a company that forever transforms how luxury real estate is transacted between the most affluent and powerful people on the planet – and he’s not finished yet.
If taking over Los Angeles wasn’t enough, Umansky and The Agency have entered new markets around the world, catering to its worldly clientele and further cementing their legacy as the premier real estate and lifestyle firm.
In our exclusive, in-depth interview with Umansky, we discuss how he has forever transformed the real estate industry, what the trends are in the ultra-luxury market, and how The Agency continually exceeds expectations and remains unrivaled as a company.
Q: You launched The Agency back in 2011 with Billy Rose, determined to collaborate on something larger than just real estate transactions. Talk to us about the mission of The Agency, the goals you set out to accomplish, and where you stand looking towards the future.
MU: The mission of The Agency was to break away from the typical real estate brokerage model of the past. We wanted to create a brokerage and lifestyle company that would offer clients a more collaborative effort and better representation. The model is more service centered, designed to transform the experience for buyers and sellers. Our goal was to encourage a team culture, a more family-oriented environment – where agents could share their excitement, learn and build their businesses together. This culture has allowed The Agency to extend far beyond what a conventional brokerage firm offers, creating curated experiences for our clients and offering full-service marketing through our in-house creative division, The Agency Creative.
Looking ahead, our business is continuing to expand – and quickly. In the next year, we will be opening new offices and will continue to explore new markets. We are passionate about technology and will continue investing in systems that provide our clients with the best possible exposure for their properties. We recently developed a new website with enhanced features that enable faster and easier property searches, and we produced our first docuseries to give everyone a glimpse behind the scenes of our world in real estate.
Q: Describe the experience a client can expect when working with The Agency; what sets you apart from other firms?
MU: They will enjoy impeccable service and an exceptional experience. We have a very efficient process; you can implement an impactful marketing plan for a property and designate a great sales team, but if you don’t have an effective, seamless operation you will fail. A brokerage house is typically a place where independent contractors (realtors) go to work. We are different. What sets The Agency apart is that we are a sales and marketing operation first, and we list and sell homes second.
This mindset, paired with our culture of partnership and collaboration, is what gives our clients and listings the competitive edge. Our exceptional in-house marketing division offers a full range of services and operates as their own creative agency. Our brand believes in partnering with influential people and organizations, creating the ultimate brand partnerships to truly tell the ‘full story’ of each home. We are giving your home a personality, branding not only the property, but those involved in the creation of the home.
Q: The properties in Los Angeles are some of the most exclusive in the world, and their values have continued to rise year after year. For the most discerning buyers, what factors set LA apart from other international cities and make it one of the most desirable locations in the world?
MU: Los Angeles is desirable because there is something for everyone here. The cost of living is also significantly lower than some of our top competitors, including New York City and London. Los Angeles has moved from one of the top 20 cities in the world to a top ten city.
LA also has fantastic weather and the culture and lifestyle is pretty laid-back. People always think of New York as a city with a great walkability factor, but we have that here in LA because we live very active and healthy lifestyles.
Los Angeles is also a major hub for business and commerce. With the growth of Silicon Beach, all the big entertainment industry players and new sports teams are arriving. With the switch to business being super mobile, Los Angeles has attracted the uber wealthy business people of the world.
Q: Recently, The Agency has been opening new offices internationally; what is the strategy behind this and what influences pushed you in this direction?
MU: We established an international reputation by building a strong foundation, a culture of collaboration and a world-class team in the LA area. Our expansion into these international markets (Los Cabos, Turks and Caicos, Punta de Mita), plays a significant role in allowing us to better serve our clients as a one-stop shop for all of their real estate needs. We are looking at the lifestyles of our clients, where they are vacationing and buying property. Expanding into these markets allows us to provide those vacation leases and properties to them with our stamp of approval and trusted team behind them.
Growing the business is important, but more importantly, we have to grow organically and strategically to maintain our authentic boutique feel.
Q: People from all over the world buy in Los Angeles. At this moment, what areas of the world are most of the buyers coming from and why?
MU: Buyers are coming from London, New York and Asia. They are buying the Los Angeles lifestyle, the fantastic weather, and with the business mobility, it has never been easier to work from anywhere in the world. Certain political changes could also bring Russian buyers back into the Los Angeles market as well.
Q: The ultra-luxury real estate market can have different cycles than the normal market; what has been the trend for ultra-luxury in the last few years, and what do you expect from it moving forward?
MU: We’ve been seeing an influx of high-end, ultra-luxury properties. In 2016, LA broke the $100 million mark twice and The Agency was fortunate enough to be a part of both deals.
We are seeing that prices are back to historical highs, and the amount of new supply remain at low levels. People projected 2016 to be a slower year, but we only saw one less sale in the $20+ million category compared to 2015. Although there was one less sale, we saw an increase of prices in 2016. The West Coast will continue to be a real estate hotspot with leading prices and sales since it remains an attractive market for foreign investment.
As we look into 2017 and towards the future, there will be many new ultra-luxury residential developments hitting the market with a $150+ million price tag.
Q:Real estate is such a competitive industry; what personal and professional attributes have enabled you to accumulate and retain such an impressive base of clientele and build such an incredible company?
MU: I truly care about my clients, and I love selling homes. Everyone here at The Agency has a really high “give a shit” factor.
I am not afraid of taking risks and I have always been very competitive in nature, not only in business, but in sports, and everything I do in life. My motto is “dress me slowly because I’m in a hurry.” I make my decisions carefully and considerately, trying to learn everything I can about the people I am meeting with; I want to know everything about them and their business. I really listen to my clients and cater to their needs.
The Agency is full of really great people, and our number one rule is “no assholes.” Everyone really cares about the business and wants to take risks and try new creative endeavors. My true motivation is helping the people who work for us thrive. Money comes as a result of great things. The reward today is the people; we’re a growing brand and company. I want to leave a legacy.
Q: You’re a mogul in the real estate industry but also connected to the celebrity scene, where perceptions can often fashion objects out of people. Who is Mauricio Umansky, and what do you feel is most important for people to know about you?
MU: I am a family man, I have an amazing wife and four amazing daughters. I want to spend all of my free time with them. I love sports, and I am very athletic, an avid golfer and skier. We love to be active and travel together to different places.
There are two things that keep me motivated every day: number one I am very competitive by nature, and number two I care about all of my people. I am a father to everyone, at the office and at home. I want my people to succeed, grow and have a lot of fun.
To learn more about The Agency, visit www.TheAgencyRe.com