“There’s a quote from Buddha that says kindness to all living things is the true religion,” says Chris Cortazzo, Malibu’s #1 real estate agent for more than a decade. “I apply that to every aspect of my work and how I treat people.” In fact, much of Chris’s approach to luxury Malibu real estate is based on time-tested wisdom like this. Born and raised in Malibu, Chris also knows that success in life means putting in hard work, maintaining integrity and “keeping your energy and spirits high.” People want to be around happy people, he says. Chris is a happy person. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have the most beautiful location to sell the most beautiful properties and this incredible Malibu lifestyle.”
While the concept of “selling lifestyle” is constant across the highest echelon of real estate sales in most markets, “lifestyle” in Malibu means something completely different than in a market such as Beverly Hills. “I don’t actually stage all my houses,” Chris says. “Sometimes, we even have to ask a client to create a more relaxed, un-staged feel if the house is extremely sophisticated.” That’s because the Malibu lifestyle is laid back and informal. Many buyers are looking for second homes; some, says Chris, end up loving the lifestyle so much that their intended vacation getaway becomes their primary residence.
“Even within Malibu we have different neighborhoods with completely different lifestyles,” he adds. That’s where Chris’s expertise as a lifetime Malibu resident and longtime luxury REALTOR® proves most valuable. “Malibu is so much more than one long strip of beachfront. I’ve seen the beauty of it all.” Beyond its 21-mile stretch of prime Pacific waterfront lie numerous offshoots such as Point Dume, where Chris was born, raised and still resides. Point Dume affords a serene and beauty with access to three beaches and the upscale amenities of an elite oceanfront suburb. In contrast to Point Dume, just minutes away, Carbon Beach, dubbed “Billionaires Beach,” features about 70 gorgeous beachfront homes on a one-mile stretch of oceanfront closer to the bustle of town and one of Malibu’s most beautiful beaches. Chris enjoys lis- tening to clients’ needs and surprising them with Malibu’s different lifestyle options. “At the end they thank me for exposing them to worlds they didn’t know existed here.”
Client satisfaction is everything to Chris. Much of that satisfaction is de- rived from the respect Chris shows each client. “Technology has changed everything in the last 10 years,” says Chris. “Buyers are very sophisti- cated. They do all their research before they contact you.” An agent like Chris, whose online presence mirrors his dominance in Malibu, receives far more calls now than he used to receive. To be prepared for each unique request, he relies on his staff of assistants, who all specialize in particular aspects of the business. Having a team affords Chris the luxury to provide incomparable service to everyone and to focus on spending time in person with clients. “I’m still very hands on,” he says. “I like having real contact with people.”
In taking client satisfaction to all new levels, Chris strengthens the real estate profession in Malibu and in other parts of Greater Los Angeles. “I refer a lot of business to other agents, especially to those outside Malibu,” he says. “I don’t know Beverly Hills or Venice like the experts there do, but I do know those experts.” In instances where high-profile clients still want Chris to be a part of a listing despite location, he’ll welcome a co-listing. “I’ll of course market it and I’ll show it, but I try to rely on the expert agent in that area; they know which buyers are coming through the market. That’s a service we all owe to the client.”
When REALTORS® serve each other, clients benefit, says Chris, who regularly advises agents about the importance of maintaining good relationships with other agents. He has mentored many people entering real estate over the years, some of whom he occasionally competes with for listings. “But I don’t feel that it’s competition,” he says. “I think it’s inspiring to see other people do well and to make money.”
With each mentee, Chris shares that he won’t go after expired listings and he won’t go after other people’s clients. “They may call me, but other REALTORS® know I’m not the aggressive type trying to undercut others.” Some agents may find Chris’s success enviable, given his prominent clientele and track record with luxury estates ranging from $2 million to $60 million. But his evenhanded and courteous approach to every aspect of his work earns him the respect of the industry. “I am a fair person and a big believer in karma and kindness.”
For Chris, doing right by others also means doing right by the Earth and people who are less fortunate than most. He is dedicated to several dozen nonprofits, including causes related to animals, AIDS and environmental issues. “I’m also very involved with the Boys and Girls Club in Malibu and served on the board of directors for six years,” he says. “People have a perception that Malibu is very wealthy, but there are a lot of people in difficult situations,” he says. “The Boys and Girls Clubs provide excellent service to young people here who are genuinely at risk of heading down the wrong paths without this support.”
Above all else, Chris’s success can be attributed to kindness, generosity and a good spirit. A firm believer that the more a person puts out into the universe, the more the universe will give back to them from its gratitude, Chris loves to recall the wisdom shared with him by his grandmother years ago: “She’d say, ‘throw bread upon the water and it comes back buttered toast.’” To Chris, that adage encapsulates the principles by which he strives to live and work with generosity and integrity.