Photo-Illustration: Lined; Photos: Getty Images, Alamy Stock Photo
In “Realtor Logs“, hear us people in the center of a wilder market than ever. Today, an hour-by-hour insight into the working world of one of Mexico City’s top brokers, Luis Diaz.
7 a.m. I’m married and have three children, so I have to wake up at this time every day. My wife is a kindergarten teacher. Mornings are busy getting everyone out of the house.
8:30 am I make myself a triple espresso with milk, a plate of fruit and some sort of egg. Today is huevos ala cazuela. We have a maid who often prepares breakfast, but I also like to cook. It’s a big cultural difference here, and something my foreign clients love to experience in Mexico: you can have a full-time housekeeper and it’s very affordable – $450 to $700 per month. Most ‘normal’, ie ‘non-rich’, families have one. You have to be very rich in the United States to have a housekeeper, a cook or a nanny. We all have that here. My American clients who move here say, “This lifestyle is amazing! You don’t cook, you don’t do laundry, you don’t do dishes, you live in your own home like it’s a five star hotel! Americans find themselves living very, very comfortably in Mexico.
10am My office opens at 10 a.m. It’s a seven minute drive so I’m not in a rush today or any day. But I head to my car. I live in Los Lomas de Chapultepec. It’s 90% large residential homes, and I guess you can call it the Beverly Hills of Mexico City or the Upper East Side. It’s like a very nice suburb in the middle of the city. Homes range from around $2 million to $18 million. Some homes have an upscale “Mexican” feel, like villa style, with fountains, pergolas, and gardens. Some are very modern, made of glass and stone, designed by famous architects like Javier Sordo Madaleno, with long private gated walkways. I don’t live in one, but there are many mansions. Ambassadors live here. The French Embassy here is in a beautiful mansion near my home.
10:15 a.m. I work at Sotheby’s and our clients are very wealthy people, which means no one wants or needs to be bothered so soon. But I have papers to do. Our office is in Polanco. This district is a huge combination of buildings, restaurants, hotels, restaurants and houses. It’s classy and hip, but it’s always been classy and hip. The most desirable place to live here is in an Über-luxurious penthouse apartment overlooking our best park, Bosque de Chapultepec. Many of my clients from New York and Los Angeles want to live in one. They start around $6 million, but these apartments have nothing in them – not even a floor or a toilet. The idea is that these are people who will want to customize everything in their own way, so let them build it perfectly on their own.
11 a.m.. The first Monday of the month, we have an office meeting. There are 30 brokers. We discuss sales, the market, etc. We all agree that 2022 has been an incredible year for us, our best year yet. The pandemic has been difficult. Real estate here has felt frozen. But then things turned. We had more sales in April 2022 than in all of 2021. So, yeah, right now it’s booming. Forty percent of our customers are foreigners – right now I have active customers from Brooklyn, Switzerland. Most people who come here are wealthy singles, or young couples without children, or empty nests. They like that Mexico City is somehow on the same frequency as New York, LA or Boston and yet it feels like a whole new land in many ways. They like the fact that it’s easy to buy in Mexico City. You can make an offer on a house and have the keys in your hands in a month or less. Most of my clients are cash buyers because mortgage rates are not good here. They like that houses are still relatively cheap compared to their home country. Even if they increase, of course. A four-bedroom in Condesa, which resembles Mexico’s West Village, reportedly cost $400,000 in 2016, and is now $1.8 million.
12 p.m. On the way to screenings with a young couple in their late twenties from the Pacific Northwest; they’re into tech and they want to move here or somewhere totally different just because they can. They learned, like so many of my clients during the pandemic, that you can work from anywhere, so why not take advantage of that? They want to find an “authentic” and “charming” house, but nothing that is falling apart.
12:30 p.m.. I pick them up at their Airbnb and show them around. It’s the first time I’ve met them, so I want them to feel as attracted to the city as possible. We drive to some nice places in the La Condesa neighborhood – rich bohemian, very hip, a bit chic. Their budget is around $2 million. Again, they want something charming and European but not a ton of work. I showed them a very old villa, but I think it’s too old.
3 p.m.. They didn’t find what they were looking for this time. Its good! I’m going back to the office to get ready for two guys from New York who are coming here next week for investment property. I see a lot of people wanting to invest here in Mexico. They either want to find places in Condesa, Roma and Polanco to buy, renovate and resell quickly, or places that are Finished, and ready to move in, so they can Airbnb them. Airbnb rules and regulations are still loose here, but I don’t know how long that will last. These New York guys look really nice.
5 p.m. I get an exhausting call from one of my toughest clients to date, a salesperson. Before telling you about her, let me say that in my experience, most of my clients are great. A few weeks ago I had a client who flew in from Las Vegas on his private plane. He wanted to see the most “quirky but modern” houses or apartments in town. He had between 7 and 10 million dollars to spend. So he flies off with his wife. We had a great showing. It was one of those totally dismantled apartments – I’m not talking about floors – on the 23rd floor of an impressive building with a view of the park. They loved it. Then I took them to a very fancy restaurant, Pujol, one of the best restaurants in the world. At the end of the week, the case was finalized. Three weeks later, he owned it. He hired an American interior designer from Los Angeles and a contractor here in Mexico. It was so easy! Recently, he said to me, “Give me a year, and then we’ll find a property on the beach.”
On the other hand is that seller I mentioned. We have a signed contract on her house, and she fights for everything. Now she wants extra money for the marble table tops, for the sound system, for the wallpaper! I think to myself, “They paid a few million dollars, and that includes everything! You cannot take the lights or speakers with you. For example, you can’t charge them for wallpaper? I’m very close to losing this deal because of all this back and forth. She is such a sophisticated and intelligent woman. Her closet is amazing. I don’t know what to do with her.
7 p.m.. I’m ready to go home. I’m a little tired today because my wife and I went out with friends last night, just to their house for dinner, and we stayed there until 4:30 in the morning. Mexicans are very sociable! We love seeing our friends and talking about family, travel, adventures. No one really talks about work. We also try to avoid politics.
8 p.m. For dinner, I try to be more American and eat a healthy caprese salad.
10 p.m. A last drink with my wife around a glass of red wine. Then I turn off my phone. There’s no point in leaving it on. If someone calls me in the middle of the night about work, my wife is going to kick me really hard. And then I will kick myself because I will never be able to go back to sleep.