Fredrik Eklund is the stupefyingly hysterical real estate powerhouse on Bravo's scrumptious new show, Million Dollar Listing New York. (Check out Fredrik and company in action on Wednesdays at 10PM). Fascinating Fredrik fact #1 coming at you: The Stockholm, Sweden native has sold $1.25 billion dollars in real estate and counting...and counting...and counting. Bring on the high kicks!
The billion dollar broker took a time out to talk about everything from the first apartment he sold...to his top picks for cool New York neighborhoods that are under $1 mil (high kicks take 2)...to what makes him the top broker in New York and beyond.
MM: You’re the break out star of Bravo’s hot Million Dollar Listing New York. Are you 1000-percent happy with how you’re portrayed or wish you had any do-over moments?
Fredrik Eklund: I didn't know I was this quirky or hilarious [laughs]. The first time watching it is a little nerve-racking. Bravo sends me and the other characters the episode on a DVD the day before it airs, so we're basically seeing it at the same time as everyone else.
You see my crazy side, but people don't understand that in addition to being a broker in New York, I have 40 employees in Stockholm that I'm doing business with at the same time. You also see the other characters’ personal lives a little more in early episodes – Ryan [Serhant] and Michael [Lorber] go on dates...But you see my personal side later in the season. In episode 7 or 8 you get to see me going to Sweden and seeing my mom and dad...And my dad says some emotional words. I'm happy and excited to see my family's episode.
MM: You've sold over $1 billion dollars in real estate. Repeat - "billion!" What makes you the top broker in New York (and beyond)?
FE: I’m obsessed with real estate. I don’t give up until it’s done. I think that’s what sets me apart the most from the other characters on “Million Dollar Listing New York.” When a deal ends, they’ll say “Oh, that’s a bummer" and that’s it. But I don’t take “no.” I don’t want to spoil anything, but on the last episode, I lose a deal and you’ll see how I don’t take "no" [laughs].
MM: In addition to being a real estate supernova, you're also a high kick master - and show off your moves on Million Dollar Listing. Do you have to be Swedish and/or flexible to perfect a high kick?
FE: There is a science to it. I’m 6”4 – six feet legs and 4 inches for the rest of my body. I kick all the way to my brain! [laughs] The key is a completely straight toe. After kicking, most people retract their leg. You need to stay there and angle your hands and do the sound effect - 'whoo!'
I kick when I close a deal, but you can also kick when you're sad. The next time you’re sad, just remember the kick and do it - even if you're walking down the street. People will look at you like you’re crazy, but it will make you happy, I’m telling you.
MM: That's exactly why Bravo should air non-stop Fredrik footage.
FE: Tell Andy that!
MM: What’s the coolest part about being a broker? Besides the commission checks.
FE: Commission checks! Whoo! [laughs] The sound effect is so important. I have a lot of activity in my brain. I went to one of the best business schools in Europe - the Stockholm School of Economics - and I quit after one year because I couldn’t sit still. The best part about real estate is the moving around. I never sit at my desk for more than 25 minutes. I'm driving to a property, meeting clients, traveling to Sweden...I'm always on the run.
The second best thing about this business is the people you deal with. As a real estate agent, you have to be a therapist and a hand holder. You have to be creative and use humor and your personality to stick out. You can't be too aggressive, but you can't be weak. You have to always connect with people and stay connected. It's a people industry and I love people. I also love puppies. I'm obsessed. Im my former life, I was a puppy – I just Tweeted that. When I see a puppy it's like a hormone release for my brain [laughs].
MM: What would you be like in puppy-form?
FE: Definitely something soft and small and with long ears.
MM: You're wildly inventive...What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to sell a property?
FE: A lot of crazy things [laughs]. The first apartment I ever sold was a one bedroom on West 20th Street. I was so hungry to make it in New York that I cleaned and scrubbed the entire place the weekend before the showing. I must say it was a very dirty apartment, but I sold it - for $545,000!
MM: Do you still offer complimentary Swedish maid service?
FE: I don't do that anymore [laughs].
MM: Million dollar plus New York showings can be intense. Has anything a little nutty ever happened during one of your showings?
FE: I’ve experienced everything. One time at my showing people were going crazy over the apartment. I had 15 offers - people were writing offers on napkins. A fistfight broke out between two people who wanted the apartment! It redefined the meaning of a "bidding war" [laughs].
MM: Where’s an up and coming area in New York for those without a million dollar budget?
FE: Bowery is the new meatpacking district. There are bars, restaurants, clothing labels. It happened overnight. The West 30s and 40s are also good. And Hell’s Kitchen has been happening for a while. It's fairly close to Central Park but not Central Park prices.
MM: What's the biggest setback you've experienced in your career and how did you bounce back?
FE: This business is a lot of setbacks every day. I always say to my assistants and brokers, 'You have to pick yourself up every day. If not, you can't be in this business because you'll be miserable.' One time I spent 2 ½ years on a deal in SoHo and the project never got finished - which means I didn't get paid because we get paid on commission. But you can't ever let yourself get down.
MM: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not dominating the real estate world?
FE: It's hard to find time because I'm so focused on work, but I do have one thing that is very, very important to me. I go away to a beautiful, empty beach for 2 or 3 days. I wake up very early...listen to music, sometimes Swedish [laughs]...and walk the beach for hours all alone. There's something about alone time and the ocean and being barefoot in the sand. I get the best ideas for my business and personal life right there.
MM: You've sold over $1 billion dollars in real estate...started your own Stockholm real estate firm...and star in a super hot reality show. What makes you so crazy successful?
FE: I don't look at myself and say, "Oh my God, you're so successful." [laughs] It's a hard thing to say about yourself. You see the funny, quirky side of me on the show, but I take real estate very seriously and I'm very focused on work. Why do anything half-a**? Life is very short, there are so many things I want to try. I want to have a smorgasbord of experiences – that’s Swedish for a tray of so many little different things. I do a lot of work and I do everything in the now...And I'm happy that things seem to be going well.