The successful reality series Million Dollar Listing, which revolves around young, energetic and successful realtors, is getting the Miami treatment. After the success of Million Dollar Listing’s original incarnation in Los Angeles and a version in New York City, TV viewers will get to see the glamorous real estate of South Florida and the people in charge of selling it. Million Dollar Listing: Miami premieres on Wednesday, June 25, at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
One standout personality on this new show is Chris Leavitt, who works for the Douglas Elliman agency in Miami Beach, and also worked for the Corcoran Group in New York City. Recently, he sold a triplex penthouse which went for $34 million. It broke the record for the largest condominium sale in Florida history. Just last year alone, he sold in excess of $120 million in real estate.
It was a pleasure to speak with Chris Leavitt in an exclusive Hotspots interview.
You’ve been involved in real estate from such a young age. Can you tell us the story of how you were first introduced to it?
I went to a private school called Pingree School in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, and they have something called “a senior project.” Every senior goes out and gets a six-week internship, and they can go anywhere they want and do anything they want, but the basis of the project is to reflect what the student wants to do in life. My family has always invested in real estate; I helped my dad invest at the age of 14, I helped pick out my parents’ house when I was 15. So what I did was I flew down from Boston to Palm Beach and I interned for a broker there named Lawrence Moens. He’s the #1 broker on Palm Beach Island. I toured around with him for six weeks, learned the industry, and saw how a mogul in the business really makes it happen. He really taught me some of the most amazing tools: to be aggressive, but in an elegant way, and to not give up. I was really motivated by that and I said to myself, in the first couple of days of the internship, “This is what I want to do.”
What qualities do you feel people must possess in order to be good realtors?
You have to have confidence, that’s number one. People will buy from you if you’re confident. You have to have knowledge of the market. You have to have drive and ambition, of course, but you have to be smart about the way you work. You can go into a real estate office and work ten hours a day but that doesn’t mean that you’re working smart. Working smart is looking for the right opportunities and the right avenues to build and grow your business. I started out calling people whose listings had just expired, or people who were selling on their own. I was looking at the details that the busy brokers out there didn’t have time to look for, and that actually built my business. My first listing, which went for $3.5 million, that one was a “for sale by owner.” I met him and convinced him to go with me. The fresh energy that one has going into a new project…that energy made me propel.
I also think it’s important to be ethical. I always say, “Be ethical, because karma’s a bitch,” so I’ve always been ethical, fair and honest. But it doesn’t mean I’m not aggressive and [on point].
You recently sold a condominium in Miami Beach for $34 million. How difficult was it to make that sale?
I sold it to a previous client of mine, and I knew that they were perfect for the apartment. It wasn’t difficult, because I don’t find my job to be difficult. My job can be stressful, but I’m a firm believer in positive thinking, like imagining something happening before it does. It may sound all too easy, but you have to create the idea of what you want and put it out there into the universe.
Which housing market is hottest right now: Palm Beach, Broward, or Miami-Dade?
I would say that the Miami-Dade market is the hottest right now, but Fort Lauderdale is benefiting from that. Palm Beach’s island is always going to be hot, because of the niche market of luxury mansions and such. But the success that Miami has seen is trickling north into the Fort Lauderdale area. You’re seeing more buildings coming up in the Fort Lauderdale area that are much more luxurious than anyone’s ever seen there before. Basically the Miami philosophy is moving north.
When you say “the Miami philosophy,” what does that entail in your mind?
I mean the style of buildings that are being built right now in Miami. High-end and luxurious, with tons of amenities…super high-end finishes. Glass towers. You’re seeing the Miami lifestyle moving north.
What do you like the most about living here in South Florida?
I moved from New York City to be here because I love the lifestyle here. I can make just as much money in South Florida as I could in New York City, but in South Florida I’d be living a much easier, more enjoyable life. I love the ocean, I love the climate…I love driving. I’m a big car person, so to not be in a subway is great; I love being in control of where I’m going at all times.
How were you noticed by Bravo?
I have a huge personality, and I’m sure people heard about me through the grapevine. I am a big social person too, but at the same time I balance work and play very well. I think that’s something that viewers will appreciate, that someone is able to break records at work but is also able to have such an amazing time living life.
I’m sure our readers want to know…are you single?
Dating is not my strong suit. I’m actually kind of reserved in that department. That’s the one area I’m not good at…I’m almost shy when it comes to dating. But you’ll see some evolution from me this season.
Chris Leavitt, Chad Carroll and Samantha DeBianchi star in “Million Dollar Listing: Miami,” which debuts June 25 on Bravo. To learn more, visit bravotv.com/million-dollar-listing-miami.