A third season of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” will hit screens April 2 at 9:00 p.m. Today, The Real Deal sat down with one of the show’s three stars, Luis D. Ortiz of Douglas Elliman, at his Battery Park City home to talk about how his life has been transformed by reality TV.
How has your life changed since the show first aired?
My life has changed but my essence hasn’t changed. It will remain forever. Obviously, I get recognized on the street a lot and I have instant credibility when it comes to my job. I’ve become synonymous with real estate. People will say ‘Oh, that’s the real estate guy, that’s the real estate guy.’ I’m like a walking billboard.
There have been a lot of changes in your life in the last year…
As soon as I started the show, I wanted to change everything. I wanted everything fresh. You know how when you start high school, you want new books and everything. That’s how I wanted to feel again. I moved out of the W Downtown and moved in here at 200 North End Avenue. I got fired from Keller Williams and I joined Elliman, which is the most intelligent decision I’ve made in my career.
Why is that?
Elliman is something else. I never wanted to work for a big firm. I worked for Blackstone and Synergy and Prodigy because they were boutique firms and I thought that the smaller they were, the more creative I could be. I thought I’d have to talk to an assistant of an assistant of an assistant to get anything done. But Elliman is not like that at all. It may seem like it’s corporate but it’s not. Howard Lorber, [chairman of Elliman,] is involved in everything.
What really happened at Keller Williams? Did you really find out you were fired when a reporter called you from The Real Deal?
I found out from The Real Deal. I thought they were trying to dig into something that wasn’t there, so I said no, they wouldn’t do that to me. If someone is going to fire me, they’re going to tell me first. I ignored it completely and then, when I read the article, I was like ‘what is this?’
How do you feel towards Keller Williams now?
I don’t want to put anybody in a bad light. They allowed me to join the firm before I was on the show, when a lot of firms wouldn’t do it. They believed in me. I’m glad I got the chance to go to Elliman though. I feel it’s more my style. They understand the importance of branding.
Keller Williams execs said that reality TV wasn’t really their thing. What do you think about that point of view?
It can be a double edged sword. It can be a good thing or a bad thing.
So, what are you doing differently this year on the show?
I’m always a guy without a plan. It’s good for me and it works for me because I like things spontaneous but in the long term, you have to have a plan. This year, I wanted to be a sharper version of myself and take my business to a new level. This season, you’ll see how I’ve evolved. I’m more consistent and I’m more business oriented. I close my biggest deal ever this season.
What else can we expect?
If someone has something bad to say about this season, it’s because they hate life. It’s going to be a season with character. I get to know Ryan this season. For the first time, you’re going to get to know the three agents and get to know their motivations. Why are they in real estate? What drives them to close deals? Normally, in TV shows you just get to see the surface and the little fights. Now, you’re going to see three sides of the story.
What do we find out about you?
You get to see my hometown when I bring clients from New York to Puerto Rico. You get to see my house where I grew up. My room is probably 100 square feet. You also get to see the reason I don’t date. My last girlfriend was in 2010. You’ll find out why on the show.
How do you find Ryan now that you know him better?
He’s a genuine guy and a smart guy too. In the very beginning of the season, we had a very big argument when he tried to steal a client that I had worked with for years. I really wanted to find out, what’s wrong with this guy? How can someone wake up and be such a piece of shit? Then, he asked me to get drinks and we went out and got drunk together.
Is your brother Daniel going to be making an appearance on the show this year?
No, we wanted to separate a little bit. We left Puerto Rico together and moved to New York and we lived together since then. We both needed time to ourselves, to create our own stories and then meet on the top to tell each other those stories and inspire each other. I made that decision and he understood.
Do you miss him?
I do. I like to miss him though because then when you see him it’s great.
Your apartment looks great…
Thanks. Quadra Furniture Solutions did it for me. They also do my staging. I love staging. There’s no listing that I’d take ever again that I wouldn’t stage. It’s a style of mine and it works. I want to make sure it’s a stamp of myself. If someone lives there, I would rather take the person’s stuff out and put it in storage so I can stage.
It was reported last year that the Department of State was looking into allegations that you had doctored listing photos of a Greenwich Village townhouse. What happened?
I don’t know where that is. Every time I pitch a listing though and I get it, the sellers show me letters they’ve gotten from other brokers saying ‘why do you want to go with Luis Ortiz. He’s being investigated by the Department of State. He’s a scam.’ I understand it’s a war when it comes to listings, especially in a seller’s market, but once you sign, you hug it out. Once the listing has been given to me, why talk shit about it?
And finally, what’s going on with your hair? It’s not as high as it was last season….
My hair is shaping up. It’s getting to know itself. It’s more polished I think. You have to start crazy to get where you need to get.