For brothers, real estate a family affair
By Janis Fontaine
Special to The Palm Beach Post
Brothers Michael and Andrew Leibowitz have mastered the South Florida real estate domain. In the lush and lovely
neighborhoods where the wealthy like to buy second homes — Frenchman’s Creek, Old Palm, BallenIsles, Mirasol, Frenchman’s Reserve and Steeplechase — no one has more combined sales in these communities, collectively, than Leibowitz Realty Group. “The Leibowitz Boys,” as they’re called, followed their father, Peter, into the real estate business, first managing apartment buildings in Connecticut. Then in the early ’80s, Peter and Barbara, (the brother’s mom) went looking for a vacation home in Palm Beach County. They fell in love with the area, moving here permanently a short time later.
Peter Leibowitz recognized the potential of the area and began buying and managing condominiums and apartments in West Palm Beach and North Palm Beach. Peter summoned the brothers south to Florida around 1990, and the Leibowitz machine took over the on-site resale division at the exclusive luxury gated community Frenchman’s Creek, where they bought and sold the 55 remaining lots. Now established, the three men diversified, opening their own brokerage. Their expanded focus included other distinctive neighborhoods — Steeplechase, Frenchman’s Creek, Mirasol, BallenIsles, Old Palm and Frenchman’s Reserve —where they’ve continued to be sales leaders year after year. Michael, 54, older than Andrew by four years, says the family’s approach to business is simple. There are three critical factors: Hard work, commitment and integrity. Integrity is everything, because it means using discretion and having respect for the privacy of their high-profile clients. They’re careful to keep that confidence even if it means lost PR opportunities for the company.
When you call Leibowitz, you get a group of experts working together with a singular goal: Find a home the client will love or sell a home the client no longer wants. Either way, it’s about the client, and today’s clients expects a comprehensive business strategy. Their collaborative approach has earned Leibowitz Realty a reputation as the pre-eminent sales team in northern Palm Beach County’s luxury home market.
How has the real estate market changed over the last 10-12 years?
Michael & Andrew: Technology has changed the playing field. Consumers have more data at their fingertips. We used to rely on fax machines. Now with electronic signatures, we can complete a transaction with a client who is on a cruise on the other side of the world. We show houses on FaceTime now... But there’s no substitute for seeing a house in person. Buying a house can be a very emotional experience.
What’s your best advice for a house hunter?
Andrew: Make sure to do your due diligence, which really means doing your homework. You have to weigh all the options, then decide. Make sure you are being represented by a professional who is knowledgeable about the area you’re interested in and who understands your needs, and who is looking out for your own best interests.
What’s the best part of your job?
Michael: I get to work and spend time with my wife, Miki ... She has a great business sense and she’s outstanding at marketing. Businesswise, I always get such satisfaction when I make someone happy. That look of gratitude. They really appreciate all the work we’ve done.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Andrew: I don’t see anything as the “worst” part. There are always challenges in any career. The deal is never over until it is closed.
What are the qualities a Realtor needs to be successful?
Andrew and Michael: We would say you need persistence and a little bit of obsessiveness. You have to eat, sleep and drink the business. You have to be constantly thinking of new ways to get your desired result. In our experience, something that has worked for us is we don’t celebrate the deal we just made. We do volume and are already focused on the next deal. We’re a soft-sell. We really try to build relationships with our clients which, thankfully, over the years has resulted in a lot of repeat business.
How do you balance career and family?
Michael: I FaceTime with my two kids a lot. I just FaceTimed this morning with my daughter who is studying communications in Barcelona. I spend a lot of time with my two kids.
What’s the strangest request a client has made?
Andrew: It’s not strange but some may find it unusual. People move around a lot. We’ve had clients move within the same neighborhood because they want a different view or a different exposure or a different style.