By Anna Ryan
Co-starring in the Bravo television series, Million Dollar Listing, 26-year-old Luis D. Ortiz truly climbed the ladder of success when he got into the business of real estate. While real estate may not have been his first passion, Luis demonstrates that there may be something better out there to fall in love with.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, Luis found himself wanting to do something more with his life. His passion at the time was film, and when he got the opportunity, he moved to Florida to study film directing. He later moved to New York City and put together his first film, “I shot a film in Bolivia, and I put a lot of love into it. I raised funds by asking all the restaurant owners from 12th to 72nd Streets, and I got $9,000—just by asking. They knew they were investing in something and someone that was going to make things happen.” However, the film wasn’t all that he had hoped for it to be, “For me, the message wasn’t sold right. No one saw it, not even my twin brother!”
Living at his friend’s house and sleeping on the couch every night was not what Luis had in mind when he completed his film, “I got so frustrated and I needed to get out! I saw an apartment in the Financial District with two bedrooms for $2,400 per month, so I went to see it. But when I got there and met the landlord, the place was a studio for $2,800 per month. The broker told me I could put up a divider and make it a two bedroom.” Even after being deceived and expecting a two bedroom apartment, Luis decided it was perfect, “I took out a six-month loan in my father’s name and moved in.”
Upon moving into his new place, the real estate agent who found the place for him said, “Listen, Luis, you find a way to make things happen. You should try to do real estate.” After being highly disappointed with his film, Luis decided to try it, “I thought, ‘how hard is that?’ So I went into the office on Wall Street, and there were all these young guys, anywhere from 19 to 30 years old. There was so much fire in the office, and I had only really known Wall Street from what I had seen in the movies, so I figured as long as I was surrounded by this exciting environment, I was going to make some damage.” Luis went on to take his licensing exam and closed his first deal within his first three days and was able to pay his first month’s rent, “Then I got addicted to it! It wasn’t the money. I’ve never been driven by money, and I never will be. It was the excitement behind doing things and creating something out of nothing.” With that motivation, Luis started working 18 hours a day and began making a profit, “I was all over the papers and all over Craigslist. I had my face all over the place and then that’s when it all started!”
Being a well-known real estate agent has its perks. Luis is now a co-star for the Bravo television series, Million Dollar Listing, “Everybody I’ve met keeps telling me I should be on that real estate show. I don’t know at this point who referred me, but one day I was showing an apartment, and I got a call from a California number. They asked me if I had seen the show. I told them the truth – I’d heard about the show and that I had honestly been expecting the call!” A lot of other real estate agents were up for the part, but that didn’t slow Luis down. Instead, he didn’t pay attention to his competition and kept his eye on the finish line, “So I got in. They never told me officially that I was in. I just kind of figured that it was because we were shooting for so long! I said, ‘I don’t think they’d be filming me this much if I wasn’t the guy!’”
Joining Luis in the television series, Million Dollar Listing, are Fredrik Eklund and Ryan Serhant, “The three of us interact a lot. Ryan does a lot of deals uptown and Fredrik does the West Village and Tribeca—and now in this market, which is a seller’s market, we’re all going after the same listings.” Luis works in a competitive field, and when he’s up against other top brokers, he just focuses on what he is able to give the client, “I authentically believe that I’m the guy who can get things done.”
Even though Luis’ first passion, film, didn’t work out the way he had hoped, he was able to find a new love – real estate. It doesn’t matter what the property is, Luis will look at every property the same way, “For me it’s about the excitement of the deal and the stories I get to tell when I’m done. For me that’s an edge. I’m always looking about getting it done and what comes afterwards.” Luis’ ambition and dedication prove that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. You might be disappointed at first, but if you keep working, good things will come from it.