Category Archives: luxury real estate

How Mayi de la Vega Found Success in South Florida’s Luxury Real Estate Market

My story begins like many Miamians. My family fled Cuba when I was three years old, along with hundreds of thousands of other exiles in hopes of a better life and future. I don’t remember much about my homeland, but I have vivid memories of acclimating to our new lives in America. My family settled in a small apartment, and as a child I would tag along with my mother as she cleaned offices. I remember we only had enough money to take the bus one way from the grocery store and my father would sing the whole way home to keep us entertained. A professional baseball umpire in his former life, he had to start over with nothing.

My parents shared a strong work ethic and positive attitude, believing anything can be achieved through hard work — they did what they had to do. After my parents divorced, my mother experienced great hardship, rebuilding her life in a new country as a single mom. This had a profound effect on me early on. I knew that I never wanted to be dependent on anyone emotionally or financially, and that sentiment became the driving force behind everything I do.

My first job at Burger King was an eye-opener, and early on I realized I needed to study and work hard in order to prosper and succeed. I didn’t find my callinguntil I majored in business at Florida International University. I applied what I learned in school to encourage my father to start a company that sold aerospace materials to companies including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Much to my father’s surprise, while still in school, I decided to join him in the family business. It was a total boys club, but I loved it.

I worked my way up to Chief Operating Officer at my father’s company. I was managing all the operations and accounting. We traveled abroad to Europe and South America often to conduct business, which taught me how important it was to have relationships in many places. This experience set the foundation for the discipline of managing a team, strategic planning and people skills.

Family was very important to my father, and he taught me if you have a strong family foundation and support system, it’ll help you succeed in your career. When I raised my son and daughter, I found it difficult to balance motherhood and work. I sat through my share of baseball games and gymnastics meets, but I also joined a women’s investment club, where we studied and traded stocks. I was always looking for a new opportunity and new challenges.

Real estate has been a natural fit. I have always been a people person with a passion for architecture and interior design. I was initially looking for a career that was flexible with my time because I wanted to be able to spend time with my children. I soon learned how demanding real estate could be. So many factors play into achieving success in this business, but it boils down to hard work, tremendous discipline, cultivating a sphere of influence — and vision.

I began my real estate career in the early ’90s as a sales associate at Coldwell Banker, focusing on single family residential sales in the luxury market of Coral Gables in Florida. Soon after, I transitioned into a luxury boutique firm in my neighborhood, known as Stewart De La Vega. I became the number one producer. I was lucky that I had a sphere of influence through my children’s school and traveling internationally for my father’s company, but it wasn’t enough. You must convince clients that you know the market inside and out. Just as I had analyzed my stock portfolio, I studied Miami neighborhoods — what sold, what didn’t, for how much and why. I constantly took classes about everything from negotiation to stock analysis and even started a real estate group with top producers in the city, where we got together and discussed best practices, off-market properties, marketing ideas and market trends.

Throughout the beginning of my career, there were only a few major players and some boutique agencies in South Florida. I could sense the world was changing and that Miami would soon play a much larger role with globalization. The city was always a hot spot for tourism, but was ripe to develop into a real hub for business, art and culture. I knew an international luxury real estate firm was the future.

My big break happened in 2008 when I was awarded the opportunity to purchase the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise for South Florida. We were in the midst of one of the country’s worst economic crashes and everyone was doubtful. I knew failure was not an option. Determined to succeed, I took the opportunity and ran with it, becoming the first Cuban woman to own a Sotheby’s franchise.

A decade after founding ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, I’m still in love with the brand, the people I’ve met along the way and the opportunities it has afforded me. We started with one small office with about 30 agents, and we now have 16 offices spanning from Stuart to South Miami, with about 850 of the best associates in the industry.

Managing so many people can be a challenge. The trick is to surround yourself with a team you can rely on to execute the company’s strategy and vision. I could never do this alone. I am fortunate to have brilliant and dedicated team members on all fronts who truly put passion into what they do. This amazing team helped us become the number one company for all transactions over $1 million in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. We also created our development division, with over $3 billion worth of inventory. This part of the company represents new prestigious developments being built in South Florida including Turnberry Ocean Club and the Fairchild Coconut Grove.

Building the company and growing our ONE family has been a labor of love. Our core values are rooted in establishing an authentic presence in our community and creating the most sophisticated, professional and ethical real estate experience in the region. We are still in growth mode and exploring new territories and opportunities.

I am not one to sit back and that goes for my off-hours too. There’s always a good book to read, a family gathering to attend, a new restaurant to try and a new travel destination to visit. Loving life brings true abundance.

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New Tax Laws Draw Wall Street To Florida

Florida’s new tax laws are successfully enticing Wall Street hotshots along with their businesses. As recently published in Bloomberg, the Sunshine State’s relatively low property taxes and no state income tax make South Florida an ideal place to both own property and operate their businesses compared to many other wealthy states. A record number of people…Continue Reading

Release of The Wealth-X World Ultra Wealth Report 2015-2016

Wealth-X released their much anticipated World Ultra Wealth Report with updated 2015-2016 data. The findings are particularly illuminating in this election year of change. The report found that there are 212,615 ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals globally holding a combined wealth of US $30 Trillion in assets. This represents flat growth from the prior…Continue Reading

Miami Herald Asks Local Influencers “What will Trump’s Presidency Mean for Miami Real Estate?”

The Miami Herald conducted an interesting and thought provoking audit of local influencers in the wake of the Trump Election (here). Their piece sought to assess the reaction of professionals who are active in local real estate, one of South Florida’s biggest industries. The Herald spoke with realtors, developers, economists, bankers, and lawyers about short…Continue Reading

Q3 Trends Update: Market Strength Spotlight

The ONE Sotheby’s International Realty Q3 Trends Update for Miami-Dade’s single-family home market in its most exclusive neighborhoods is here. The data assessed shows a positive overall snapshot at the health of our luxury market. 4 of the 5 categories in the Waterfront Home segment showed positive change from the same period last year. Average…Continue Reading

The Best of Concierge Service on Miami Beach

The WSJ’s Mansion Global recently did a spotlight on the luxury offerings that top Miami Beach residences can offer and Louver House was featured as the prime example. The piece titled “Concierge Service Brings Miami’s High-End Homebuyers Straight to the Beach” focuses on efforts by condo developers to offer beach service that provides the next…Continue Reading

Anna Sherrill Spotlight: US Mortgages and Foreign Buyers

Global turmoil and economic instability has led foreign buyers to find unique ways of safeguarding their money. Many have determined US real estate to be the ideal safe space but buyers have to be more savvy than ever, especially as foreigners face rising US home prices and a strong dollar. In the past overseas buyers…Continue Reading

Introducing: Palazzo del Sol Fisher Island

The A Team had the pleasure of touring Palazzo del Sol this week and it felt right to share the beauty of the Fisher Island project with you on Waterfront Wednesday. The tower is the only new construction project on the renowned Fisher Island and the live project has brought some of the most desirable…Continue Reading

MID YEAR TRENDS REPORT – Single Family Home Data

My firm has culled through all the data fit to print and has released a mid-year review on Miami’s luxury single family home category. The state of the market shows a residential shift noting a transition that allows buyers a greater selection of inventory and at time – increased negotiating power over sellers. The transition…Continue Reading

Grove at Grand Bay – An Anna Sherrill Spotlight

Coconut Grove has always been a treasured bohemian enclave, and until a year or so ago – remained a local’s secret. But “The Grove” has quietly grown its cache as several significant new developments have emerged (WSJ article chronically its rise). One of the most notable include Grove at Grand Bay (pic above from their Instagram…Continue Reading

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