The madly talented real estate superstar took a time out to talk about everything from Million Dollar Listing New York drama...to PG-13 rated antics at open houses...to his million dollar-worthy advice for first time home buyers. Leggo!
MM: You’re a phenomenal addition to “Million Dollar Listing.” How did you get involved with the show? Luis D. Ortiz: Most people I know – even clients that knew me less than 24 hours - would say “You seem like a guy that should be on the show.” Then one day I got a call from someone in LA about it. It was a long process, but all of the positive energy I’ve gotten from people must have led me to it.
MM: Hurricane Sandy strikes in this week’s episode. Intense!
LO: I’m very happy this episode takes place. I’m very used to hurricanes. I’m from Puerto Rico and we have 3 or 4 a year. When you have no power, no light, no email, no place to go, you realize who your loved ones are and where you are in your life at that moment.
MM: How did Hurricane Sandy impact you?
LO: A lot more people were much more affected than me. My twin brother and I lived on the 35th floor of a building. We’d walk up and down all 350 steps every day. We’d walk down to the pharmacy to get an orange, then come back and realize we forget something else, and have to go back down the 350 steps. I don’t go to the gym! After walking up and down those stairs, I’m on the ground [laughs].
MM: You look in shape.
LO: Maybe it’s the Puerto Rican genes [laughs].
MM: Does your family watch the show in Puerto Rico?
LO: My family loves it. My father told me that during the first episode, my mother was screaming minute 1 through minute 44 [laughs]. She couldn’t understand the English dialogue, but was excited to see my face.
MM: Are you completely happy with how you’re portrayed on the show or do you wish you had any do-over moments?
LO: I’m so happy with the show. There’s nothing in this life I’ll ever regret - bad or good. I look back, learn from it, and be a better man the next day. The person you meet on the street is the same person on the show.
MM: What’s the craziest/coolest/weirdest thing that happened to you during filming?
LO: Brushing my teeth and having cameras next to me while showering and things like that was weird at first. Usually, I don’t even change my shirt unless I’m bringing a girl home [laughs]. I’m kidding. When I signed up for the show, I wanted to do it all the way.
MM: It looks like you have a ferocious fight this season with your co-star, Fredrik Eklund. Are you friends now?
LO: When I was 10 and 12, I was getting into fights on the streets like it was my job [laughs]. I don’t get that angry really ever now.
I can’t reveal much of what happens, but you’re going to see what it took to get me to that point. Sometimes you get pushed to a point and you go for it. My relationship with Fredrik is all business – it’s not personal. We’re going after the same thing in this world.
MM: What was your first listing?
LO: It was a rental. A furnished studio in New York, $3200 and 598 square feet.
MM: A huge part of your job is handling pressure in extremely high-stakes situations – sometimes for deals that last months on end. What keeps you going during negotiations?
LO: If you’re not in love with what you do, business will be really tough. You can do good one day, and bad the next. You can have a great year, and a bad year that wipes away all of your success. This industry isn’t for the faint-hearted. You have to put a lot of work in yourself, and be consistent in your emotions all the time. It’s your drive that will get the commission, and you have to fight for it.
MM: Open houses can be outrageous. What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened to you during an open house?
LO: This didn’t happen on camera, but I wish it did. I always have liquor in my open houses, and one time I had a buyer get so drunk at my open house. I took him to the bathroom for 2 hours. He threw up and wouldn’t leave. And after all of that he never came back with an offer [laughs]! That’s the only PG-13 rated version open house story I can tell [laughs].
MM: What’s a good New York neighborhood to live in if your budget is under a million dollars?
LO: It depends on where you want to be. You can buy a nice 24 hour doorman luxury studio in the Financial District for under a million. Or you can go to the West Village and get a walk-up for less than one million dollars. It won’t be as new, maybe it’ll be small and have something like old radiators. But it’s the type of neighborhood where you can go out your door and have a coffee at a charming coffee shop that’s been around for 40 years.
MM: Where do you live?
LO: I live in the Financial District. That’s where I started my career. I’m addicted to downtown. It’s younger and very quick.
MM: What’s your best advice to first time home-buyers?
LO: Before you even hire a broker, get a pre-approved letter from a lender. No one will take you seriously without it. It’s a seller’s market and you need substance to put yourself at the top of the list.
MM: You’ve rocket-launched to the top of the elite real estate world in just a few years. What makes you so successful?
LO: I don’t aim for money. Money never has or will be my motivation. If it was, then if I worked 8 months on a deal and it didn’t go through – I’d punch a wall, get depressed and change careers. I’m in love with my job and money comes with that. I do what I can, and in life and in general, you’re rewarded for hard work.