Mike Leipart may not have intentionally set out to revolutionize the world of fast-paced LA real estate, but did so none the less when he combined the traditional brokerage with a dedicated sales and marketing team.
That forward thinking and creativity landed him a spot at The Agency Development Group, where he guides luxury developers through every step of the development process. Leipart spearheaded the marketing campaign for The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA LIVE, which was widely credited with revitalizing the Downtown LA condo market, and saw an opportunity to transform the LA resale and new development businesses.
We caught up with Leipart to talk about the challenges of the LA real estate market and the growing role of tech in the industry.
Livabl: How did you break into the Los Angeles real estate industry?
Mike Leipart: Prior to joining The Agency, I served as the Senior Vice President and National Marketing Director at ST Residential where I managed more than 50 multi-family properties across the county accounting for nearly $5 billion in inventory.
In this role I oversaw some marquee properties in Los Angeles, and through that I met the CEO and Co-Founder of The Agency, Mauricio Umansky. Mauricio and I both saw a new way of approaching the resale and new development businesses and set forth on a path to revolutionize these fields, both with collaboration as the impetus for change.
L: What was the thought process behind combining a traditional brokerage with a dedicated marketing and sales planning team?
ML: When I worked on new development projects previously, developers would hire an outside sales team, a creative firm, and marketing and public relations firms that would all operate independent of each other, making the blame easy to place on one or the other when results were not optimal. So at The Agency, we created a model where we hired experts in their field to all work together under one roof, allowing communication to be streamlined.
Our team at The Agency Development Group offers a fully integrated approach to the representation of new luxury development clients worldwide. The company is comprised of leading real estate industry experts with various specialties, including development, asset management, sales and private equity. We work on everything in-house from land entitlement to sales strategy, pre-construction design input, sales operation management and more.
We also created a now over 30-person creative team — The Agency Creates — in which all members work together to provide public relations, marketing, creative, branding and more for our new development clients and the brokerage. By collaborating under one roof, no one misses a beat and always has their finger on the pulse of the project.
We are not the only real estate brokerage that has its own dedicated marketing and new development teams, but we do it on an entirely different level which is why we are so successful.
L: Did you encounter a lot of resistance — or any — when you first broached the concept, the first of its kind in Los Angeles?
ML: Not at all. Developers were very receptive and appreciative of us offering these services under one roof. Making someone’s job easier while providing the very best services possible is always a welcome relief — especially in the fast-paced and high-stress world of real estate.
L: How does developing strategies for high-end luxury real estate differ from mid and entry level properties?
ML: Mid and entry level properties allow us to be broader in our outreach and creativity as the demand and market for these properties is far greater. The higher the price point, the smaller the group of buyers you can target.
L: The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA LIVE marketing and sales campaign has been credited with reigniting the Downtown Los Angeles condo market. Can you tell us a little about how you came up with the campaign, and why it ultimately proved to be so effective?
ML: We were very fortunate to be chosen to represent this property as it set the standard for luxury living in Downtown Los Angeles. When we were engaged, we were coming out of a market downturn and we were able to pair good timing with innovative marketing to turn the ship and steer sales toward success.
L: What specific challenges do you encounter working with celebrity clients?
As the head of the new development team, I rarely interact with buyers during transactions, but our sales teams approach celebrity and high-profile clients as we do all our clients. At the end of the day, a real estate transaction is one of the most significant anyone — celebrity or not — makes in their lifetime and our sales team are there to help them through the process.
L: How do you envision evolving tech being used down the line in the marketing strategy of luxury properties?
ML: Technology will continue to play an increasingly vital role in the marketing of luxury properties. Selling a luxury property is not only about the bricks and mortar, it is about the lifestyle the residence will afford. For new development projects, we try to convey the level of luxury with our marketing materials and sales gallery experience, but nothing beats being able to put on a pair of goggles and essentially walk through a space that has yet to be built.
Today’s technology is so advanced, it is hard to distinguish renderings and VR apart from the finished product. Buyers, now more than ever, can rely on the fact that what they are seeing virtually will be just like what they will experience at home.
L: Do you think the cryptocurrency craze will invade the Los Angeles marketplace?
ML: We are seeing more homes offered for sale [where] buyers will accept cryptocurrency and I anticipate that this will continue to grow.
L: What developments do you have in the works that you are most excited about?
ML: We are very fortunate to be working on some of the most exciting new development projects not only in the US, but in Mexico and beyond.
Here in the States we are representing the largest project in Downtown Los Angeles, Metropolis, as well as Vica Silver Lake, Estancia Santa Barbara, The Liddel, Gardenhouse, Aire Santa Monica, Desert Palisades, Mr C Residences and The Residences at The Sawyer.
In Mexico, we are very proud to be working with the team who brought to market the first One&Only-branded residences in the world. The project, called Mandarina, will also feature a One&Only and Rosewood resorts, as well as Rosewood-branded residences.