Luis Ortiz, a star of “Million Dollar Listing New York,” has been shown the door at Keller Williams NYC, shortly after the show’s second season finale aired — and it seems the news came as a surprise to the broker.
“They would never do that to me,” Ortiz told The Real Deal when reached for comment. He then hung up the phone.
Keller Williams NYC pegged the split to Ortiz’s appearance on the hit show.
“At no fault of Luis’, the sensationalism of reality TV is not in line with the Keller Williams’ NYC brand,” the firm said in a statement. “Keller Williams is the preeminent real estate brand in the country and we hold our industry and clients in the highest regard. … We wish Luis all the best in his future endeavors.”
It’s been rumored that Ortiz was jumping ship for Douglas Elliman, where his co-star Fredrik Eklund works, but representatives for Elliman were not immediately able to confirm the information, nor did Ortiz.
The departure comes on the heels of a Wall Street Journal article published yesterday where industry heavyweights such as Pamela Leibman, CEO of the Corcoran Group, criticized the effect reality television has had on New York City’s residential brokerages.
“My brokers are appalled by what happens” on shows such as “Million Dollar Listing New York,” Liebman told the Journal, calling them “exaggerated.”
Corcoran, as well as Town Residential and Brown Harris Stevens, reportedly prohibit or discourage agents from participating in television shows.
Despite running splashy ads that called Ortiz, “Million Dollar Luis,” Keller Williams NYC seems to be joining that camp.
“As stated in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article, Keller Williams’ position on real estate reality TV aligns with Brown Harris Stevens’ and Corcoran’s – ‘this brand of realty is a far cry from reality,'” the statement said.
To critics, the shows portray the real estate industry in a false light, misrepresenting how transactions actually work. They also say the shows are bad for the industry as a whole, pushing away clients who are ever more concerned about privacy.
Still, cast members say the star turns boost their business. Nest Seekers International’s Ryan Serhant, who appears on “Million Dollar Listing,” and the Kleier family, who are featured on “Selling New York,” both say the shows have increased their visibility and boosted sales.
Reality television has not always left Ortiz looking professional. The 26-year-old agent was filmed Photoshopping hardwood floors, marble counter-tops and stainless-steel appliances into listing shots last month, prompting the New York State Department of State to open an investigation, which is still pending. He has also been criticized for cursing on the show and for admitting that he honed the photo editing skills in question while faking government-issued identification for himself and his twin brother Daniel, both of whom came to New York from Puerto Rico.
Just last week, two Keller Williams agents departed for Elliman, where they work with Eklund and John Gomes on the team’s new rental division, as TRD reported.