Interview with Vicki Restivo:
1Q:Why real estate?
“From steel trading (another story!) to hotel sales & marketing, I slid into the luxury residential real estate market. Leasing corporate hotel space around the world …and working in a multinational environment was right up my alley. Selling residential homes and condos is something I do on a much more personal level, and that makes it all the more rewarding.
2Q. You’ve lived in California, Europe, NY and Miami?
“I’ve dabbled in real estate for decades. My first personal investment was a disheveled condo on New York’s Upper East Side, that I bought, and fixed up. That was when I was in my twenties (and with the first two nickels we could rub together). I knew then that real estate was something I wanted to get involved in. I worked for Westin Hotels … and then for Helmsley … and Regent International … buying and fixing up places (including a bed and breakfast in upstate New York) … I worked with an art gallery in Florence, Italy. And moved to Miami … All great life experiences… and amazing places to live. “
3Q: You speak Italian?
“I studied my junior year abroad at Stanford in Florence. The first few weeks there it really was ‘sink or swim’. Having an Italian language base opened the door to working with International Real Estate Investors, and living in Europe gave me an understanding as to the intricate differences between property ownership in the States, and elsewhere.”
4Q: What makes you successful?
“Perspective… persistence and hard work. I set the bar high. I don’t tolerate mediocrity in myself … or in others. I expect a lot. I rely on other competant professionals in fields that mesh with Real Estate (attorneys, lenders, title companies…) That goes a long way. I’m hands-on and involved with all parts of any transaction.”
5Q: What gives? You’re one of the few not crying the blues!
“Historically, real estate has been a strong, long term investment. The market is cyclical. It always has been. And we’re in a very normal cycle. Those buying now will be cheering as the market turns upward. “
6Q. What is a Comparative Market Analysis?
“I can’t create or change the market or the economy, but I can share information on what the market is doing (what’s selling and for what prices and in how long a time span) so my buyers and sellers can make informed decisions. A comparative market analysis shows “sold”, “currently for sale”, “pending sales”, and gives an idea as to where the pricing is (or ought to be), and gives an idea as to how many ‘real’ buyers there are out there. I shoot from the hip. I am pretty positive (at least most of the time), and I’m determined to do well and provide accurate market insights.”
7Q. Your website has quite a bit in the way of resources and info!
“Over 90 percent of homebuyers, at some point along the way, research their purchase through the internet. Reliable resources are essential – whether you’re a buyer or a seller. The real estate market and available technology change constantly. By providing information, it’s a way for me to stay on top of the market … and it’s important for buyers and sellers to have that info.”
8Q: Rumor has it that you’ve pulled together some rather creative deals.
“Thinking outside the box has always been my ‘forte’. Even in the crux of the fray, we all need to keep in mind that buyers and sellers are both headed for the same finish line. Sometimes the people involed loose sight of the big picture … at least temporarily. In real estate, there’s almost always a way to make it all ‘happen’ and fit together. The art of negotiation really is an art. I try really hard to listen .. and hear what people are saying.”
9Q. Your first year in real estate… in one of the worst markets ever, you were in the top 2% of realtors nationally. How?
“What I didn’t do was to prioritize, which in theory, should have backfired on me. Whether it was a first time home-buyer needing an FHA loan, or a major estate donated to the University of Miami, a tiny pied-a terre with no view, a savvy international investor, a townhouse under construction or luxury waterfront property …I treated them each with the same importance (regardless of value). Intriguingly, that philosophy worked. And I haven’t changed it.”
10Q. Partnering with your daughter, bringing her into the business what’s probably in the worst market Miami has seen, well, is there a pattern here?
“Alexandra is off and running. She is technologically savvy and has a fresh approach. She’s people oriented and results-driven. Alexandra is a huge asset. And we make a great team. Her strong connection to the University of Miami (having graduated from there) has already given her a bevvy of contacts and connections.”
11Q. Why EWM?
“EWM is owned by Warren Buffett, and it’s affiliated with HomeServices Lending & Wells Fargo. EWM’s a solid company and has good name recognition (and reputation), and it’s a company that provides a good, strong support system. In today’s financial climate that’s important. I’m surrounded by competant, like-minded individuals.”
12Q: The name “Miami Real Estate Cafe” is catchy
“Anywhere in the world, “Miami” conjures up the idea of vacation paradise (sun, sand, water). Who doesn’t want to live in Miami? The local “Cafe”… is where one goes to get the inside scoop … and “Miami Real Estate Cafe” is where some of the best finds are scooped-up before they are ever publicly available or widely known!”
13Q: Your website … tell me about it:
“Lifestyle… Comfort… and Trust. There’s nothing more personal, intimate or important than the purchase or sale of a home. Lifestyle choices, wants, needs, financial ramifications, time considerations, all come into play. We listen. We are really good at finding buyers and selling property. And we pride ourselves on finding the right homes for our buyers.”
14Q. Somehow, I don’t get any sales hype from you.
“Nobody wants to be “sold” something.”
15Q: You worked with Leona Helmsley, the ‘Queen of Mean’?
“Eye opening… Working with her really did inspire me to treat others with respect … and to treat each home (regardless of value) with dignity. I never forgot how I started, and how hard it was to get started. I worked my way up, one step at a time … from my very first little piece of Manhattan … a small and dilapidated condo…. and I remember it … and hold those memories close. I remember what it was like to be scraping together every penny I had to buy my first place… and I love working with others who are doing the same.
16Q: Working with corporate relocations, the University of Miami, investors, developers and new construction: Have a favorite?
“Whichever phase of life swings the door open again: I don’t think I care what it is that I’m working on (as long as the people I’m working with are great people … so whether they are ownsizing, outgrowing, looking for vacation homes or investments… my “favorite part” is probably really the people I have the pleasure to work with and get to know!”