Last night was the series premiere of Million Dollar Listing Miami. Which means new sharks, new million dollar high stakes deals, and lots more drool-worthy properties. All of that, plus the beach! SOLD! I wonder if any of our former Real Housewives of Miami ladies will be making an appearance?
We start out by meeting Chris Leavitt, whose motto is work smart, not hard. Chris prefers to conduct his phone meetings from his office, the bath tub, which he says is also his therapist. Among his most important strategies for being a top dollar agent is looking good, and being the type of person his clients want to hang out with. I mean clearly it's working because 2 minutes into the show Chris and his Oscar the Grouch eyebrows are my favorite. #CallMe
Chris, who grew up on the east coast, strives to bring "Northeast class" to the Miami new money market. He does most of his business in the exclusive enclave of Bar Harbor, which is old money and new money home of Miami's most fabulous – and wealthy.
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Chris meets his first client beach side, where she's wearing a silver fox robe to protect her from the Miami ocean chill. Silver Fox… although I love the Clooney version, the actual fur coat I'm not such a fan of. Poor fox. The wearer of the fox is Sandy, a representative for one of Chris's most high profile clients identified only as "Madame". Oooohhh goody, another one of Bravo's invisible characters.
Madame would like to unload her penthouse at the St. Regis, the exclusive building with hotel-like amenities. Chris is miffed because when Madame bought the penthouse, she did not use Chris for the sale so now he has something to prove. But first he needs to make love to that silver fox – the coat, not George Clooney or Sandy.
Next we check in with Sam DeBianchi. Sam tells us repeatedly that Sam likes Sam – and talking about herself in third person. In fact Sam started DeBianchi Real Estate because Sam thinks Sam is the greatest real estate agent ever and why would Sam give business to another company when Sam can give business and money to Sam. You follow? While Chris is arrogant in a lovable, fun way, Sam is arrogant in an 'I want to punch you' way.
Sam has cornered the market on the Ft. Lauderdale $1 – $2 million dollar houses, but now she wants to expand to the big leagues and move into the Miami luxury market. But it comes with stiff competition. Sam reminds me of someone else I've seen on reality TV, but I can't figure out who (or where!) and it's bugging me.
Anyway, Sam meets up with mutual friend Rachel, who is a heavily connected real estate agent, except for all her connections Rachel has never sold one property. Translation: Rachel got a real estate license because daddy said she needed to get a job, but she mostly goes to open houses for the free booze.
Rachel wants Sam to co-list a property with her and the owner of the property is Gil Dezer. Gil's father is a legendary Miami real estate developer, and Gil… looks like a cross between Meatloaf and The Dude. Anyway, he's got a huge two-story penthouse he wants unloaded, but Rachel needs to work with someone so she doesn't have to do any work, but can score a sweet commission (aka new shoes!). And of course, Sam will do all the work because Sam tells us she's intense, she doesn't stop, she works constantly, she will rip out drywall with her teeth and paint with her toes to make a sale.
When they meet Gil to pitch the listing Sam admits to having a GoogleAlert on Gil as she stumbles through the pitch. "Sam doesn't stop…" Um… Sam probably should. Admitting that your stalking the client is probably not the safest or sanest way to land a deal, but it's probably a good way to get yourself banned from Trump Royale! Because this is TV, Gil hired them under one condition – they list for $8.9 million and it sells in 30 days. Rachel deflects all responsibilities to Sam, because Sam doesn't stop, but Rachel doesn't really ever start.
Next we meet Chad Carroll, who lives and breathes work and is a big-deal at Douglas Elliman. He has a girlfriend who calls him on his bullshit. Chad is arrogant in a scary way and will definitely be the Ryan Serhant of this franchise. Ew.
Chad is co-listing a property on Palm Island with Stacey, a part-time broker from his firm. Stacey is also the owner of the property. Conundrum. Stacey has been listing at $4.2 with no action for months, but her husband, a major club owner, wants to unload it faster. Chad tours the property and is unimpressed – its a bit tacky and a bit dated, but clearly neither Stacey nor her husband feel that way.
Additionally because inventory is so low on Palm Island (a super-exclusive beachfront downtown community that Chad is dying to start selling in) Stacey's husband believes their property justifies a higher price.
In the walk-thru Chad points out the property's flaws: small bedrooms, awkward dance floor in the living room, being near the highway where you can hear cars from the backyard, and dated amenities in the kitchen. He suggests listing it at $3.7, but Stacey's husband refuses to go lower citing properties selling on average for about $1000 a square-foot. Chad reminds them that's for "renovated properties". They compromise on $3.9 and Chad starts putting the pieces together for the open house and media blitz. Stacey is pretty much DOA in terms of help.
Back to Chris. He shows up at Madame's penthouse for the tour, but Sandy is nowhere to be found. Chris thinks he's botched things by getting the address or time wrong and fears firing by the ruthless, no second chances Madame. He calls Sandy, but she can't leave the office so they do the meeting by iPad. Perfect for Chris who can spend the bulk of it checking himself out in the screen's reflection – beautiful property, plus beautiful face – right Dorian Gray?
Chris lists the property for $5.9 and immediately focuses on an international buyer, since they like more temporary properties that don't require a lot of maintenance. Since open houses aren't allowed in the exclusive St. Regis, Chris must do everything with individual showings and it's not working out. One client already put in an offer on another place but just wanted to look at Madame's fabulous castle in the sky. A second client, a beautiful blonde Russian billionaire's daughter, has to ask her mommy and daddy first. Chris feels defeated and Madame is demanding this place be sold FAST!
Back to Sam, she's scrambling to put together an attention-getting and over-the-top open house to get agents in the door for Gil's penthouse. Her event planner woos her with a $25,000 event that features a top shelf champagne model in a skirt that holds the champagne glasses, mini cheesecake bombs and so much more. Sam wavers, especially since she knows Rachel won't be sharing the bill for any of this, but ultimately decides you must spend money to make money. The champagne skirt actually seems like tacky over-kill. Sorry. And if Sam doesn't sell in 30 days, she loses the money she put down.
The night of the open house there's a huge turnout and Gil is present – which is odd – as it seems like he's micro-managing Sam and sizing up her potential success. Chad and Chris both show up. As Sam gives them the tour Chad complains non-stop about the place, pointing out all it's flaws and calling it tacky. Chris is supportive and bland. You can tell he's not impressed either, but he's nice about it. I don't get Chad – so what if he doesn't like it – he's not living there!
Then Chad yells at Sam for over-pricing the property and even worse, gets into an argument with Gil where he insults his property and claims it's not worth the price! What?! If this Gil person is such a big deal in real estate why would you want to piss the man off?! Hello – potential client. Sam is offended, and although she says Chad is supportive of her career, it seems Chad is either a jealous jerk trying to poach the listing by undervaluing Sam's abilities or he's a massive famewhore looking for TV time by insulting the client! Either way, lame.
Back to Chris he gets a call from Russian girl and she's submitting an offer. They meet for lunch where the other agent drops a bomb – they want to lease for six months at $22,000 per month with an option to buy at $5.85. Chris is offended and not shy about stating that but he calls Sandy to pitch the deal anyway. When talking to Sandy he makes a proposition, $5.85 is a great offer – almost full asking – so he proposes they demand the client put down a 20% or $1 million dollar deposit to show good faith, especially since she's going to be leasing during "high season". And raise the buying price to $5.9. Sandy agrees and the deal is made. It's our first sale on MDL:MIA! Congratulations Chris. I wonder if the sale was ever finalized?
Chad, for all the advice he was doling out to Sam, is having problems of his own. Hours before the open house on Palm Island, Stacey has canceled it and called other brokers to let them know it's off. Her reason: it's supposed to rain. Um… it's Miami – doesn't it rain daily? Stacey apparently thinks it's too much of a nightmare to get people to the house with bad weather. Chad is furious! He pays Stacey a visit where he demands she stop interfering, but she doesn't seem to be taking him seriously.
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[Photo Credit: Bravo]