What was your first job in the realty industry?
I started my real estate practice 15 years ago in Keller Williams Conroe/Lake Conroe. Can you believe my first closing was a $24,000 Home? Nice, brick, 3 bedrooms 2 baths in 7th Street. My clients still live there.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Mexico City. My dad’s hotel business took us to Guadalajara when I was six.
What is your favorite free-time activity?
Scuba diving, bar-none. Is where I find myself free, in touch with nature, centered and energized. I have friends in the Title business that swim with the sharks, I’m not quite there yet, though.
What do you do to relax when you’re stressed?
Stressed? What is that? Real estate is a stress-free industry, and I live in Mars…
Growing up, what did you want to be?
I really do not remember this, but the family legend goes like this: Whenever I was asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I said I wanted to be “El Presidente” of Mexico. I am really happy to have chosen real estate over politics!
If you could have lunch with a well-known figure (living or not), who would it be and why?
I would love to shadow – not only have lunch – with Michael Jordan. He is to me the quintessential achiever. He once said that his biggest challenge was his past achievements… talking about stretching one’s capabilities!
Where is your favorite place to hang out?
Houston has a lot of cool places. Hard to choose one, but I like Hughes Hangar for a drink with friends. Houston Symphony is my favorite culture spot. Now if you are looking to hang out on Sunday mornings and eat the freshest tacos with your amigos, go to Gerardo’s on North Side.
What do you love most about the industry?
I used to be an advertising executive in Mexico. One of my clients hired me to manage a region for a courier company. None of those exciting places offered me the chance to learn , lead and serve so many people like real estate.
How do you distinguish yourself from the crowd of agents?
My clients refer me like there will not be other practitioner ’till kingdom come. I once was at a cocktail party and overheard a lady saying to her friend: “What? Your real estate agent is not Martin Alcala? ‘Al Hapanim!’ [meaning “terrible”] This will cost you money, dear”. And, no, that lady was not my sister.
Clients feel that I put them first. They also love and value when I share my knowledge about real estate with them. Industry contacts are also very important. I not only know a good electrician, I know the best image consultant in town, great caterer, babysitter, art dealer, you name it. And I only refer the best, because it closes the circle of trust with your clients.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
The inside, half-joke in certain circles is that the toughest part of real estate is “dealing with the other agent”. I guess I am saying this today because I am in the midst of three – not one or two – tough deals, where we have a willing buyer and a willing seller, and us agents are derailing the deal. So, as a true professional, I need to only advise my client and facilitate with others, for the transaction to occur.
Where do you go to network and meet new clients?
In my dreams, in my BNI chapter, in the shower and literally everywhere in between. I just sold a multi-family building where I stroke the first real estate talk with the owner in the gym’s showers. Real estate is in everybody’s mind, everywhere, all the time.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
I raised two lovely daughters. And I guess all of my awards and recognitions (Circle of Stars, Top 25, etc.) are nice and gratifying. Come to my office, and if it is important, and I will show you my trophy corner.
What was the last good movie you saw or book you read?
The last good movie I saw was “Casse-tête chinois”, a French family drama, directed and scripted by the great Cedric Klapisch. The last good book I read was “The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, not Time, is The key to High Performance and Personal Renewal” by Loher and Schwartz.
What is your favorite restaurant?
That is a real challenge: I do not have one, I have many favorite restaurants, depending on the type of food. Vic & Anthony’s for steaks, Fogo de Chao for the best churrascaria. Italian? Go to Maggiano’s. Faddi’s for Mediterranean. Las Ventanas has the best sit-down, Casual Mexican cuisine. The Sneider family did it again after Las Alamedas at Voss, which is hands-down the best Mexican restaurant in its day (sorry, I have not been to the new one in Cinco). Oh wait, Hugo’s on Montrose is also great for Mexican cuisine. We also have the best Peruvian spot north of the Orinoco at Latin Bites. Greek food? Go to Yia Yia Mary’s. And finally: Drum Roll, please…For the best BBQ go to McKenzie’s in Conroe!
Architecturally speaking, what is your favorite building in Houston?
The Houston Cotton Exchange Building is one of the most intriguing small buildings down town. This Queen Victoria Revival jewel was the host of many torrid stories that revolve around its tenants: The Houston Club and the most exclusive saloon of an old era, located in the top floor. A close second for me is the Astrodome and its pillar-less domed structure. Not in vain it was dubbed “the eighth wonder of the world”. I am sorry it will be demolished.
What kind of car do you drive?
I drive a Toyota Avalon, and my other car is a gift from my wife: a Lada 1 from Soviet times.
Smartphone or Paper?
Who needs a notebook with Evernote?
What is your favorite city after Houston?
Mexico City is my hometown and my first love. My mother loved and studied architecture, and as a child, my first lessons of space, design, esthetics and environment took place in Coyoacan, El Centro, La Condesa and other Mexico City hub spots. I love its parks, museums, theater life, bull fights, Christmas traditions and the best subway system in the continent. The cultural epicenter of the Spanish Conquista is where I have my second home, among many friends and family.
In 10 words or less, what is your advice for someone new to the industry?
Look for a mentor and never stop your quest for knowledge.
What’s your favorite real estate iPhone/Android app?
Among thousands out there, HAR mobile. Our MLS is the most advanced in the nation.
Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter?
I follow a lot of corporate Tweets. I do not get too much out of the personal affairs of the Kardashians, sorry.
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