Real estate broker extraordinaire Leo Nordine gets the up-close-and-personal treatment from writer Tad Friend in this week's New Yorker (registration required). Nordine has been tapping into the lucrative foreclosure market, although he seems to roll with whatever happens to be hot in real estate. I remember first hearing about him in the 1990s when he was winning awards from Business Journal for doing the most residential deals (he won going away). Last October in an LAT profile, he said his priorities are family, surfing (he lives in Hermosa Beach) and work. In the New Yorker piece, he says he expects to sell a house a day.
There is often a complication: the second house on a property in Lawndale that somehow vanished; the duplex in Compton where a neighbor donned a black mask to frighten off buyers; the doctor in Burbank who broke into his town house, brandished a knife at one of Nordine's field representatives, filed legal motions, and warned the bank's lawyer, "There will be blood." In late February, the day before the doctor returned again to the house and scared off potential bidders at an auction of his possessions, the bank e-mailed Nordine to say, "If not under contract by 4/20/09, we will be forced to move to another realtor." If Nordine can't unload a house fast enough, the banks unload him.
Even on weekends, Leo Nordine has a staff of up to ten working from an office in his house in Hermosa Beach, a four-million-dollar modernist basilica of poured-in-place concrete and ipe wood, where he lives with his wife, Molly, and their seven-year-old son, Nate. There is so much to do, even within Nordine's well-organized system--posting task-completion forms online for asset managers, updating the listings on Nordine's Web site, fielding offers, and shepherding contracts into escrow--that two people work in Nate's bedroom, and on occasion the office toilet becomes a desk. Nordine's house is forty yards from the beach, and Hermosa Beach is known as the beach-volleyball capital of the world, yet Nordine rarely leaves his tiny annex, adjacent to the office, to observe the frolic.