It’s been an incredible year for Luis D. Ortiz. The 31-year-old was reaching the summit of success in the highly competitive and insanely lucrative New York real estate market as one of the stars of the hit show Million Dollar Listings New York. The suave, stylish and passionate Puerto Rican was a fan favourite; he was a fireball of energy and raw emotion, and we loved sharing every minute.
Then, to everyone’s surprise, at the end of season five and completely unbeknown to producers, Ortiz announced he was pulling the shiny plug on real estate. Ahead of his Australian tour with the Altman Brothers, Nikki Horner talked to Luis to find out where it all began and just what caused it all to end.
Heart and Hustle
Migrating from Puerto Rico at the age of 16, Ortiz was always determined to break free. After a few years in the film industry, Ortiz stepped into real estate and began his career selling rentals. He had the energy and he ’embraced the grind’. Starting out cold-calling using The Blue Book, calling people “twice, three times a week. They would get pissed off”, he persisted, until they were no longer pissed off.
His persistence developed relationships while his determination rocketed his business. Now Ortiz knows the market has changed; it’s not just about calls. For him, it’s physical contact, always changing and getting creative.
Social media ‘Influencer’ has to be one of the buzzwords of 2017 that is still, somehow, holding on for dear life. Ortiz thinks it’s all been done and done to death. He credits his following to seeing the potential in social media early in the game, before it became trendy.
“I would get a hundred of the best real estate accounts on Instagram that had over a million followers, whether it was interior design, or leisure and travel, or architectural Instagram accounts. I would reach out to the owners and pay them for posts of my listings, tagging me back into my name so that they could use my contact and my listings to generate a following, attention to audiences that I didn’t have. Now it’s becoming a little bit saturated for the consumers and, all of sudden, I’m getting just ads from all kinds of different things.”
(I’m guessing he gets targeted by those charcoal face masks too.)
The Million Dollar Listings Effect
With the show still growing in popularity and the influence of social media, there is an evident spike in the younger generation being obsessed with reality shows, documenting the lifestyles of the uber-rich. Ortiz tells me how the Million Dollar Listings fame can lure in a new breed of agents under false pretences.
“Many people started to come into real estate after the show started to air; they see selling a property in 30 minutes, and agents making half a million dollars in that time. They think, ‘Oh, I can do that’. This is almost as hard, or even harder, than any other business because you have to have self-discipline, you have to have an organized business. I think the biggest quality that someone should have, when it comes to being successful in this business, is consistency.
“I see a lot of people are not spending time understanding the product that they work with. They come and they show a client and they tell them where the kitchen is. The kitchen is very obvious, there’s a fridge right there, it should be right there.
“So it’s not about showing a property; it’s about how you become valuable.”
Nobody knew it was coming
With an established business, Ortiz admits he knew he had an exceptional career, at the helm of a successful team: Ortiz & Co working for the renowned Douglas Elliman. Surprisingly, money has never been his motivation. With his career soaring to new heights, where had the excitement gone?
“Truthfully, it was just a habit. I realised that life is amazing and way too short to be doing something that you’re no longer excited about.
“Most people would say, what did I work so hard for, if I’m not going to continue to do it? Well, that’s not necessarily a proper way of thinking. I think that you did it, you experienced something, you were once in love with it, and that’s why you became good at it and successful at it. Now, you’re allowed to change your mind as many times as you can. While I’m young, I think that it’s only smart for me to follow what my gut feeling says. That’s when I decided I was moving. I thought about this on February 1st of last year and I moved to Paris a month later.”
Due to the sequence of filming, not even the show’s producers knew the announcement was coming, and there wasn’t enough Kleenex on set or in our living rooms.
“I mean, nobody said anything until I was finished. Once we were done with the interview, Danielle King, who was the executive producer, she said this, ‘Is this real? Are you leaving the show?’ I said, ‘Guys, I’m not trying to leave the show because I enjoy it. But I’m leaving the business and the show is about the business’.”
Ortiz felt the pressure, as I’m sure we all do: the pressure of family, friends, the business. But, never one to be restricted by the constraints of expectation, he was already focusing on the journey ahead.
“I’m very happy. I have seen the world. In a matter of a year, I’ve lived in Paris, I’ve met incredible people. I am working on two business ventures outside of real estate that stem directly from my contacts in other parts of Europe. Now I’m in L.A. I’m going to continue to pursue television.”
This is where it all started back in 2006, when he first moved to New York to study film direction at the New York Film Academy. It seems he has come full circle. I tried to dig a little further as to what those projects may be, but it’s all under wraps and all very Hollywood.
Heading Down Under
Next month Ortiz heads to Australia to kick-start his first-ever speaking tour, after spending the year on a timeout from all things real estate. “I’m excited that the first place I will be speaking after all of this is going to be in Australia. I am probably going to spend another week there after the event so that I can really get to know the place.”
With the tour commencing in March, we’re looking forward to getting to know him too and seeing all his fabulous energy explode on stage.
For more information on A Million Dollar Evening with the Altman Brothers, including ticket prices and venues, visit milliondollarevening.com.au.