It was only a matter of time that Bravo TV’s hit show, “Million Dollar Listing,” hit the City by the Bay, where the median home is now $1.25 million. The drama-packed show premieres tonight, and like its New York and L.A. brethren, will follow the personal and professional lives of three Bay Area real estate agents selling over-the-top luxury homes.
One of the new breakout stars is the praying, surfing, breakdancing and power suit-wearing Roh Habibi, a broker associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in San Francisco. Habibi, who was born in Kabul and moved to San Francisco with his family in the 1980s, has ascended the real estate ranks in three short years after quitting his job at JP Morgan. Even as a rookie agent, he was a huge fan of the show—going so far as hashtagging MDLSF on Twitter to get the attention of the show’s producers.
In anticipation of tonight’s premiere, we asked Habibi to give us the scoop on his rise to fame and what we can expect during S.F.’s first season.
Many real estate agents would be thrilled to be in your position as a “Million Dollar Listing” agent. How does it feel to be among the chosen few?
It feels absolutely amazing! I can’t even describe the feeling; I am humbled, grateful and blessed to be one of 12 agents cast on the MDL franchise.
Did you ask any of the veteran agents on previous shows for advice before filming started?
I called many of them, sent emails and made some phone calls. I reached Josh Flagg by cell phone, and he said, “Why are you calling me?” He has a great sense of humor.
You started your career in real estate only a couple years ago and have been a high-profile real estate broker ever since. What’s been the key to your success?
Hard work. There are no shortcuts in this business. I work seven days a week, 24 hours a day. In addition to real estate, brokers and agents need to work on building their personal brand and constantly network.
Can you tell us a little about this season? It’s the first time “Million Dollar Listing” focused on San Francisco.
This season is going to be an incredible ride. You will see the interiors of beautiful properties from the late 1800s, brand new spec homes and everything in between. San Francisco is a very dynamic city and you will feel that energy while watching the show. The San Francisco real estate market is highly competitive and that sparks some intense drama. Million Dollar Listing San Francisco is fun to watch and the incredible properties add to the beauty of the backdrop.
The past seasons of MDL had no shortage of drama. Did San Francisco’s red-hot real estate market add to the tension on the show?
Yes, we all have Type A personalities and are fiercely protective of our clients; the gloves come off when we are protecting their best interests. That, mixed with the competitive nature of the business combines to create a very entertaining television show.
Throughout this season, what was your biggest challenge when it came to working with the other agents?
We didn’t know each other before we started filming the show, so we literally met on camera. You will see us meet for the first time, on the first episode, and watch as our relationships evolve, for better or worse, from there.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about San Francisco real estate?
That housing prices here are expensive, or comparable to other global cities. In truth, the San Francisco Bay Area is cheap, cheap, cheap in comparison to cities like New York or London. In New York, you pay $5,000 per square foot; in Shanghai you pay $6,000 per square foot, and in London and Monaco, even more! For a brand new property in San Francisco, you pay $1,200 per square foot. You better believe that our prices will reach other global hub cities in the future. Now is the ideal time to buy in San Francisco.
When it comes to amenities or home features, what are luxury homebuyers in San Francisco absolutely insistent on?
Buyers want something unique, truly one of a kind or a property that they can make all of their own. Tech features are important in this area, of course. Only the best of the best, Nest thermostats, and iPads to control lighting, security, electronics. Lots of light and great sound systems. In condo buildings, buyers want full-service 5-star hotel type amenities.
What has been the most important takeaway from your first season?
Time management is necessary to balance work with filming the show and family. It’s all about the schedule, and sticking to it as much as you possibly can.
You’re getting all kinds of publicity right now… you gotta be enjoying the attention!
The publicity for the launch of the show and my brand are awesome. I am thrilled! At the same time, it is a bit daunting to feel like you are losing your anonymity, but the reward far outweighs the risk. I am grateful.
Million Dollar Listing San Francisco premiers tonight on Bravo at 10/9c.
Photo Credit: Sam Sherdel