Founder and CEO of The Agency, Mauricio Umansky set out to create an industry-disrupting brokerage that would redefine the business of real estate. Since its inception in 2011, The Agency has done that and much more, ranking among the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the country for two consecutive years. The firm has expanded to employ more than 450 agents in 24 offices worldwide, with six more offices slated to open per year. Mauricio is a proud member of The Young Presidents Organization (YPO), an influential and world-renowned business networking organization. His philanthropic work includes serving as a board member for Giveback Homes, an organization dedicated to building homes for families in need, The Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the National Breast Cancer Association. Haute Residence sat down with Umansky to discuss his love for real estate and how The Agency began.
How did your love and interest in real estate begin? Was it something you admired growing up?
I have always had a keen interest in real estate and architecture. Even as a young boy, I would marvel homes and their design. When I was 26, I sold the textile company I owned alongside my father. My brother-in-law owned a real estate brokerage in Los Angeles and offered me an incredible opportunity to sell real estate under his firm. I worked there for approximately 15 years until I launched The Agency in 2011.
Though my start in real estate began in my mid-twenties, I learned invaluable lessons on how to sell and build lasting relationships with clients from my father throughout our time working together and building our textile company. I still employ many of those lessons in my life and business today.
How did the idea for The Agency begin? What were you trying to accomplish?
We launched The Agency after seeing a true need in the market for a different model than the status quo and to break the mold with a company that was focused on collaboration. When we started the business, the real estate market was still in a recession and the industry had become an archaic business with agents keeping listings to themselves and not sharing information, which resulted in listings accruing astronomical days on the market. We wanted to create a community where collaboration was key, and agents would work together to better serve their clients.
We created a unique and dynamic offering at The Agency by introducing a full-service, in-house creative division, which handles branding, marketing and public relations for our agents, luxury properties and developments, in addition to bringing forth resource-driven offerings in technology, setting The Agency apart from its competitors.
What challenges did you face starting The Agency? How did you overcome them?
Just like with every business you’re trying to build, especially one that was created during a recession, we faced the same types of challenges as most startups. However, we continued to work hard and hustle, which is truly the secret sauce to our success. I always say you’re only as good as your last deal, so maintaining that startup mentality, I believe, fuels the drive in all of us to continue to overcome any and all challenges we face as a company. We are also very lucky to have a unique culture here at The Agency, one that began on day one and has continued now eight years later as we have expanded around the world and we’re just getting started with more growth and learning on the horizon. We pride ourselves on maintaining a boutique feel and will always return to our foundation of collaboration as we continue to grow and learn.
When did you notice your company was growing rapidly and needed to grow your team?
The demands of the market and the needs of our clients have dictated the growth of our company. To this day, we still maintain a boutique atmosphere and culture and we’re very proud of that as we continue to expand throughout the U.S. and abroad.
What qualities and traits do you look for in agents to join The Agency?
Agents seek out The Agency because of our creative and collaborative culture. Our agents are ethical with integrity and demonstrate best in class service. They are true collaborators who continue to improve and are driven, competitive and want to be successful. They see real estate as a full-time commitment, not just a part-time gig.
What are some goals that you have for the next 5 years?
Our goals in the next five years are simple. We want to continue to grow and expand where we believe we can make a true difference in the market. That means strategically looking at luxury markets around the world and hiring the right team members to establish The Agency brand. Continuing to add dynamic and driven agents and staff members to our existing teams is also a priority.
What do you love most about The Agency? Do you have a favorite accomplishment so far?
There’s so much I love about The Agency. First and foremost, our company culture is unmatched. We’ve been given the unique opportunity to represent some of the most incredible properties throughout the U.S. and the world. We’ve also cultivated incredible careers for some of the nation’s top-producing real estate agents. At the end of the day, our people are our greatest accomplishment and the family we’ve created is what I’m most proud of.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
When I’m not in the office, I love to travel and spend time with my family – Mexico, Aspen, and Europe are some of our favorite locations. I’m an avid skier and golfer and love to tee off when given the opportunity.
I am also very passionate about supporting our charitable partner, Giveback Homes. This is a tremendous organization that builds homes for those in need. At The Agency, we raise funds to support the charity in unique ways - exercise classes, staff karaoke contests, and just a few weeks ago Santiago Arana and Sandro Dazzan joined me behind the bar to mix up drinks for happy hour with all proceeds going to Giveback. We then parlay those funds into build days, where The Agency team rolls up their sleeves and builds homes brick by brick. I find this a very rewarding experience and a great way to give back to the community.
Do you have a favorite project you all are working on right now?
Right now, we’re working with some extraordinary properties and developments around the world, including a few in Mexico that we’re very excited about. One of which is the exciting One&Only Mandarina - a collection of 55 villas in paradise that will be the first real estate offering from the high-end luxury hotel brand.
Do you have any advice for someone who’s looking to start their own real estate business?
My advice for anyone who’s looking to start their own real estate business is to be confident in their decisions and soak up as much knowledge of the market as possible and don’t be afraid to fail. Maintaining that fire and tenacity is crucial in order to be successful and offer your clients the best service possible.
Photos courtesy of The Agency