Welcome to Miami Agent’s first “What Drives Realtors” issue. While being a Realtor is supposed to be all about houses, many agents will tell you that it’s also about cars. Serving the equally important functions of mode of transportation and status symbol, the kind of car you drive is especially important in South Florida. The distances are vast, and the luxury customers are discriminating as well as observant. Following are eight cars that could become your vehicle on the road to success. You’ll also meet local Realtors who represent the diverse network of professionals currently operating in South Florida, with backgrounds and interests as broad as the area is extensive. Learn what they drive, and what drives them.
Marie-Charlotte Piro – Fortune International Realty
2007 mercedes-benz clk63 amg
Marie-Charlotte Piro of Fortune International is currently the sales manager for the Flamingo South Beach. Piro, who is currently working with a Victoria’s Secret top model and a hip-hop celebrity (although, naturally, she won’t reveal their names), thinks convertibles are ideal cars for Realtors in South Florida.
“Out-of-towners want to enjoy the weather!” she says.
The Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG convertible certainly allows passengers to enjoy the weather — and some fast speeds. The roof disappears neatly into the body of the car with the push of a button, and the five-liter V8 engine eclipses 60 mph in six seconds. It is very quiet as it speeds, so quiet that you might reach the 130 mph electronic limit before you know it.
Although the CLK63 AMG is equipped with an optional phone system, you won’t see Piro using it as she drives around Brickell and South Beach, where she focuses on selling pied-a-terre properties under $1 million.
“I don’t use my phone while I drive,” she says. “But I return calls as I park.”
For more information on the Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG convertible, contact Bill Ussery Motors at 300 Almeria Ave. in Coral Gables, www.billussery.com, or phone 800.654.8290. To contact Piro, call 305.531.2922, or email [email protected]
Alex Diaz – Urban Real Estate Group
2006 ASTON MARTIN vanquish s
Alex Diaz is the broker and president of Urban Real Estate Group and has produced more than $290 million in residential sales for a prominent South Florida residential developer, but he doesn’t let his status lull him into a false sense of security.
“Every day is a challenge,” Diaz says. “The rule, as with most careers, is that you’re only as good as your last deal.”
He says the secret to his success is the way he treats his customers. “My success as a Realtor is defined by my commitment to personal service.”
The secret to the worldwide mystique surrounding the Aston Martin, best known for being James Bond’s car of choice, might also be the way it treats its passengers. The Vanquish S is the fastest car in the history of Aston Martin. The flagship vehicle for the legendary sports car maker, it has a six-liter V12 engine and a six-gear manual transmission that can change gears in approximately 250 milliseconds.
If you live your life like Diaz, with your eye on the finish line (the broker says his personal motto is, “If you don’t have a vision of where you want to go, then you will never get there.”), the Vanquish S is certain to speed up the process.
For more information on the Aston Martin Vanquish S, visit The Collection on Bird Road and Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables, www.thecollection.com or call 305.444.9999. To contact Diaz, call 305.244.0960, or email [email protected]
Felix Guzman – Douglas Elliman
2006 MASERATI quattroporte
Felix Guzman, who recently joined Douglas Elliman Florida, says he won’t sell any properties he wouldn’t buy himself. The Realtor focuses on residential properties on the Upper East Side and the beaches, says his favorite part of the job is the flexible schedule.
On a day where the flexible hours allow for some leisure, that time might spent cruising in the new Maserati Quattroporte. The compact, yet extremely responsive 4.2-litre V8 engine car features a Skyhook automatic damping system, the renowned MSP (Maserati Stability Program), electronically controlled power steering and a powerful braking system.
Despite its appeal to adrenaline junkies who revel in the great speeds it can reach, the Quattroporte surpasses standard safety requirements, and offers an airbag system activated by sensors situated on the front and on the sides of the car, as well as rail curtains, seat belts with pretensioners and load limits.
For a test drive of your own, visit The Collection on Bird Road and Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables, www.thecollection.com or call 305.444.9999. To get in touch with Felix Guzman, who, incidentally, refers to himself as a dashboard man, call 305.695.6074, or email [email protected]
Christina Ashford – Majestic Properties
2007 CADILLAC ESCALADE
Majestic Properties’ Christina Ashford has most recently focused on selling high-end pre-construction projects, such as the Marquis, which she worked on last year, and Canyon Ranch Living, the upcoming development she is currently focusing on.
The agent, who has sold properties to director Michael Bay and several NBA players, loves the variety inherent in the real estate profession.
“No day is ever the same,” she says. “Every day I have a brand new experience, from meeting new, interesting people from all over the world, to viewing some of the most spectacular properties I have ever seen.”
A spectacular car that is extremely popular in today’s market is the Cadillac Escalade (Braman Miami, which sells BMWs, MiniCoopers, Bentleys and Cadillacs, among other luxury brands, cites it as a best seller). An SUV that is frequently equated with elegance and style, the Escalade is also extremely comfortable to drive.
“You need space to hold at least four people comfortably, not including the driver,” Ashford says of what she looks for in a vehicle.
The heated and cooled front leather seats are extremely popular, as a driver in the sun need not turn on the air conditioning in order to aleviate the heat.
For more information on the Cadillac Escalade, visit Braman Cadillac at 2020 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, www.bramanmiami.com or call 305.571.1205. To contact Ashford, call Majestic Properties at 305.757.1400, or email [email protected]
Fabian Echagaray – Swire Realty
2007 JAGUAR VANDEN PLAS
Fabian Echagaray, of Swire Realty, has been a real estate agent for the past 10 years. Swire Realty is a subdivision of Swire Properties, which developed the real estate on Brickell Key, and Echagaray has sold luxury condos to many of the exclusive island’s residents, while also selling single-family homes and commercial real estate in other areas of Miami.
The Jaguar Vanden Plas also embodies the exclusivity and luxury associated with Brickell Key and other elite enclaves. The car carries the distinction of being the overwhelming selection of most chauffeur-driven passengers.
Features of the Jaguar include 16-way adjustable front seats with three-stage heating, a touchscreen DVD-based navigation system and premium soft-grain leather front and rear seats with piping. Perhaps the most useful feature for a Realtor like Echagaray, who keeps in constant touch with his clients via email, to use while not in the driver’s seat are the folding rear picnic trays, suitable for a laptop computer.
For more information on the Jaguar Vanden Plas, visit The Collection on Bird Road and Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables, www.thecollection.com, or call 305.444.9999. To contact Echagaray, call 305.37.1288.
Eric Feldman – E2 Properties
2007 Audi a8
E2 Properties co-founder Eric Feldman says he enjoys guiding people through the process of home-buying.
“My favorite part of the job is helping people make the most important purchase of their lives, and being there to see the joy when they realize that they are home,” he says.
A 10-year industry veteran, Feldman has sold property to Lenny Kravitz and several Miami Dolphins players, including Patrick Surtain, Vonnie Holliday and Antwan Edwards.
Perhaps because so many of his clients are larger than life (literally and figuratively), Feldman prizes space in a car.
“You need to have your clients with you so that you can learn who they are. The personal time in the car can help you understand what the right home is,” he says.
The 2007 Audi A8 recently won a Ward’s “Interior of the Year” award. Its aluminum space frame and body panels leads the car to weigh less than a comparable car with a steel structure, and it also allows for improved performance and fuel economy. All A8 models come standard with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive, and the A8 L models have a refined 335 horsepower V8 engine. A highly anticipated addition to the car for 2007 is the Bang & Olufsen 1,000 watt, 14-speaker sound system.
To test drive the Audi A8 L, visit The Collection on Bird Road and Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables, www.thecollection.com, or call 305.444.9999. To contact Feldman, call 954.929.0721.
Daniel Veitia – EWM Realtors
2006 chrysler 300c srt8
Daniel Veitia has worked with EWM Realtors for the past three years. A community activist who sits on various non-profit boards, he got into the business in order to have time to devote to his volunteer activities.
“I was looking for a new career that would keep me in Miami most of the time and provide me with the flexibility to manage my time so I can dedicate more to the community,” he says.
Unsurprisingly, the features Veitia most values in a vehicle are those that also tie into community. For one, Veitia needs a four-door car, whether his passengers be clients or family and friends. He also looks for cars that are fuel-efficient.
Because many consumers are also looking at fuel efficiency, the popularity of SUVs has declined, and sedans are increasingly popular. The Chrysler 300C SRT8 marks an evolution of the classic sedan, with a roomy interior and more horsepower than any V8 car in Chrysler’s history (even greater than that of the legendary 1966 HEMI). The car offers nearly 50-50 weight distribution that ensures a smooth ride, and 105.8 cubic feet of passenger room.
You can find out more about the Chrysler 300C SRT8 by visiting Tamiami Chrysler Jeep, 8250 S.W. 8th St., Miami or calling 305.266.5500. If you’d like to work with Daniel Veitia, contact him at 305.219.3408, or [email protected]
Briana Bournique – Lennar Developers
2006 porsche cayenne s
Briana Bournique sells new single-family and townhomes with Lennar Developers at Silver Palms. A cheerful, optimistic person who says her personal motto is “Smile, it’s a good life,” Bournique’s favorite part of being a Realtor is handing a first-time buyer their keys.
The new owner of a Porsche Cayenne S might also experience a thrill upon receiving the keys to the car. Designed as a car that “puts the sport in sports utility vehicle,” the Cayenne has several features that suit the adventurous spirit. An extended navigation system that allows the driver to trace his or her way back to the starting point, even when the road or trails traveled do not appear on the system’s internal map, is one of these features, as well as an electronic logbook to record mileage, journey length, and date and time.
Bournique, who says her car is often dirty from the Lennar construction site and gets an occasional flat tire from the nails, advises buyers to always look for a good warranty and tire coverage.
To contact Bournique, email [email protected] For more information about the Porsche Cayenne, visit The Collection on Bird Road and Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables, www.thecollection.com, or call 305.444.9999.