You may have seen him on an episode or two of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with wife Kyle Richards, but Mauricio Umansky is also known as one of America’s most successful and renowned real estate agents. In 2011, he redefined the industry after co-founding The Agency, a full-service, luxury real estate and lifestyle brokerage that fosters a culture of collaboration over the traditional cut-throat and competitive model.
In just a few short years, the company has established itself as a top brokerage with over $9 billion worth of transactions and many of its agents rank among the top 250 realtors in the United States. Representing some of the country’s most unique high-end properties, its client roster is also a who’s who of celebrities, musicians and professional athletes.
We caught up with Umansky to learn more about The Agency, its clients and the various services offered.
BuzzBuzzNews: The Agency was recently selected as a finalist for the 2017 EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Greater Los Angeles Region. However, you were an entrepreneur even before starting The Agency. Can you tell us about the clothing company you started when you were in your 20s?
Mauricio Umansky: The company was called 90265 – after the Malibu ZIP code – and our focus was on women’s wear. I enjoyed the business and I learned a lot along the way before ultimately selling it.
BBN: So when did you get into real estate?
MU: I started selling real estate in 1996. It was the culmination of my love of design and architecture paired with my sales skills that led me to real estate.
BBN: When was The Agency formed and what would you say was the biggest challenge you faced while starting out?
MU: The Agency was formed in 2011. We have grown from a small collection of founding partners to a force of more than 180 agents with offices throughout Southern California, Arizona, Mexico and Turks and Caicos.
When we began, the biggest challenge was that we wanted to redefine the industry. We wanted to change the real estate brokerage model to be able to better serve our clients. Disrupting an industry is always difficult, but I would like to think our success is a testament to the fact that we achieved our goal and that the new model is working.
BBN: As you mentioned, the company has grown to over 180 agents in offices from Beverly Hills to Los Cabos and today, has more than $9 billion worth of real estate transactions in its portfolio. What do you attribute that success to?
MU: Our success is based on how we tailored our brokerage model to be more client-centric and upon all the hard work of our dedicated agents. We pride ourselves on having the best agents in the business wanting to be a part of The Agency and do business with us, and we hire the best-of-the-best in terms of our staff.
In redefining the brokerage model, we also created The Agency Creates (TAC). TAC is a dedicated team of marketing, public relations, design and tech engineers who support our agents in their endeavors.
BBN: You describe your agency as a luxury real estate brokerage and lifestyle company. How does “lifestyle” fit into the scope of your business?
MU: We are a luxury real estate brokerage selling high-end real estate. Part of selling high-end real estate is selling the lifestyle. For instance, if I am selling a high-end home in Beverly Hills, it is not about selling the bricks and mortar alone, it is about selling what it means to live in this exclusive ZIP code. In Beverly Hills we have the world’s best dining, entertainment and retail options right at our doorsteps. We sell the home as well as the lifestyle it affords.
BBN: You’ve listed quite a few high profile properties including the home of Michael Jordan, Lady Gaga and even the Playboy Mansion. What’s it like working with celebrities like these and is there one particular property that stands out for you?
MU: I approach working with celebrities as I do working with any of my clients. Every client has a goal, whether it be to buy or sell a property. So it doesn’t matter if a person is a celebrity or not, I’m here to help them.
One of the most interesting experiences I have had when working with a celebrity was when I was showing the late Michael Jackson a home. We came to an area in the home that had amazing acoustics and he started to sing. It was such a surreal moment and I certainly cherish it.
In terms of a property, I am currently listing the former home of Elvis and Priscilla Presley at 1174 N Hillcrest Road, Beverly Hills. I’m a huge fan and the property is magical.
BBN: What’s the state of the luxury real estate market in the US and how does the LA market compare to the rest of the country? Any predictions for the remainder of 2017?
MU: The luxury residential market in the US is varied across the country. In those areas where we saw a rapid comeback after the downturn, we see prices in those markets stabilizing.
In Los Angeles, we have strong movement in the luxury sector with plenty of interest coming from overseas buyers. And why not? Los Angeles is one of the best places in the world to call home (or perhaps a second or third home!)
BBN: In addition to residential resale, The Agency has a dedicated division that represents new construction luxury developments. Can you tell us a little more about this division and the services provided? What are some of the most exciting new residential projects you’re working on?
MU: To service our new development clients, we have The Agency Development Group (TADG) and The Agency Creates (TAC). TADG is comprised of a team of professionals who specialize in the new development field and work with developers in all aspects of the life of a project. These tasks range from pre-development consultancy, market analysis, pricing, sales team staffing, to amenity programming, sales gallery design and much more. TADG will assist a developer in all aspects of turning a plot of land into a successful sold-out luxury project.
TAC excels in the art of branding luxury properties and developments. We offer a fully integrated marketing solution with a scope of work that encompasses everything from branding, web design, public relations, advertising and social media. A team of graphic designers, publicists, analysts, tech engineers and marketing specialists offer strategically driven solutions for buyers, sellers, developers and investors across the globe.
Some of the projects we currently work with in Southern California include AIRE Santa Monica, The Liddel, Mr. C Residences, Estancia and Desert Palisades. In Sacramento, we work with The Residences at The Sawyer and in Arizona we just launched our fifth new development project, Novella at Arcadia.
BBN: Switching gears, let’s talk a little about your home life. You and your wife, Kyle Richards -- one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills -- lead such busy lives. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance and what do you like to do in your spare time?
MU: Kyle and I always make the most of the time we have together. We laugh a lot, which is key, and always share stories about our days and experiences.
When I do have spare time, I love to spend it with my family, travel, play golf, ski and I really love to be by the ocean.
BBN: What’s coming up for The Agency in the second half of the year? Any exciting new developments or clients in the pipeline that you can share with us?
MU: All I can say right now is that The Agency will soon open an office in Malibu with San Francisco soon to follow. We always have something interesting in the pipeline so stay tuned!