The early days, from the Caribbean to Florida, USA
Born in the sunny Dominican Republic, Luis started working when he was only thirteen years old. Whilst his same age friends were playing on the soccer fields, he worked from 8-5 for a local bank during his summer breaks. He already knew, “If you want something, you have to work hard and be willing to sacrifice.” A few years later by an age of sixteen he was working in sales for a suit manufacturing company and dressed up the business men of the country. “This created a desire for me to be on the other side, to be the one buying the suits.”
Luis started reading books of Dale Carnagie, and Arthur C. Clark which taught him how to be economically independent, how to treat people with respect and how important it was to connect to them and build a social network. He started working in one of the top banks of his country, became employee of the year two years in a row and looked after growing in the company to get into a better position. When he applied, the bank gave the job to one of his colleagues who was the company’s vice president’s nephew. From this point on Luis realised, it is not all about being the best, you also sometimes need connections to help you grow.
How to find your dream job
“I knew that I was good at two things, connecting with people and competing athletically at a high level.” By an age of 22 he had met a lot of different people with good positions in the industry. He started working as a sales manager at ESSO Standard oil for several petrol stations, later in a local newspaper but wasn’t happy about the jobs he was working in. In his freetime he was watching the TV show “Million Dollar Agent” with all its pomp and circumstances, and immediately he knew: “That's exactly what I want to do!”
Solving problems in his twenties
Luis knew now what he wanted to do, but he had a problem. He had no knowledge in English and no visa for the United States. But what he had was the drive to get things done! He applied for several college programs and after long days of researching he finally got what he wanted. Once he arrived in the US, he started working as a food runner, service waiter, pool boy and in room service in Naples FL at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. When his visa was about to expire Luis didn't give up. The drive to start as a real estate advisor was still on his mind and his big dream. He worked very hard, but 2009 hits him as hard as a lot of other US citizens but he still wanted to become a successful real estate agent. Unfortunately he lost his job at the Ritz Carlton and had only one week to find a new one. After days of nonstop researching through the web and making about one hundred phone calls, he found a new job at another five star Hotel in Captiva, Florida. But he still didn't do what he actually wanted to. “So I had to find my connections to get into the real estate business”. Moving to Miami with only $120 in his pocket he started working as a tennis teacher. With a lot of training and spending four years of his life on the court, he had over 400 clients between Miami and the Hamptons. The people he trained ranged from founders of top brands to royalty, public figures, actors, singers and up to very high executives. Still he wasn’t doing for what he came for. “I told my clients that I was always on the wrong side of the net, I want to be the gentleman taking the tennis lessons. This is who I am, I always tell what I feel because I am know people love the truth.”
How to get started in real estate business
Now it was time to become a successful real estate agent! Luis started to study for the test, failed a few times but finished and got his license after seven months. He put his license with small companies but none of them fit into what he was looking for.“I wanted to focus on the ultra high end.” One of his tennis clients was part of the acquisition team at Engel & Volkers Miami. He studied the brand and Engel & Völkers was exactly what he was looking for. “Very elegant and focused on exclusive and luxury properties.”
Once Luis joined Engel & Völkers, his English was still not the best and he had to work hard on his language and grammar skills. “This is very important and very hard when you have to communicate by email with high profile clients.” He knew the most important thing is to have a strong core of value and know your market. “So I started to spend all my days and nights learning about every high end building, every floor plan, what the price per foots are, how long properties stay on the market, everything I could…!”
Nothing comes easy – Challenges for successful real estate agents
This time Luis quit the job as a tennis teacher and had no income, after failing through multiple deals he realised real estate is not for everyone and you have to be tough. It was his second year with only $2 in his account and 30k in debt, living in a studio apartment. After one year of hard work he closed the biggest penthouse deal at the W hotel for more than $10,2. Mio US Dollar and he set up a record in Miami Dade County for the highest price per square foot ever sold in the year 2017.
The success of the real estate business
In the summer he goes to The Hamptons, Monte Carlo, Cannes & St. Tropez. This is part of his strategy that helps him to grow in the network. “Being part of the Engel & Völkers brand gives you a huge network of international partners and potential clients.”
Now he has regular deals in the high end estate market of Miami. With the money he made in commission, he was able to have another string to one's bow by founding his company, named Gonell Holdings, which manages several luxurious estate assets in South Florida, but he still works actively at Engel & Völkers Coral Gables. Also he just closed in January 2018 the second highest price penthouse ever sold at the W Hotel Miami Beach for $8,7 Mio US Dollar which is the third highest price per square foot ever sold in the years 2017 and 2018. In the same month he closed another deal at the luxury building One Hotel Miami Beach for $5,6 Mio. US Dollar. “These are amazing achievements that can’t be omitted, I think this helps agents to get encouraged and keep on fighting!”
If you are interested to get in contact with Luis Gonell you can find his contact details on the Engel & Völkers Miami website, also you can contact him directly on his Instagram channel.
We would like to thank you, Luis, for your time to tell us your story of success with all its ups and downs. Explore more great real estate success stories of the Engel & Völkers network on our YouTube channel.