Carlos Justo Getting His Second Wind
Sometimes when you live large, you fall hard. But there’s nothing saying you have to stay there.
Such is the case with realtor to the mega-rich, Carlos Justo. This 53-year old Cuban born realtor to the stars has lived the highest of lives and, has recently had to file bankruptcy with over $20 million in debts after overreaching and indulging in what he calls his own “greed – pure and simple.” Yet, he refuses to see himself as a failure, and indeed, has stated that he will come back bigger and better than ever.
Talk about someone who’s overcome long odds. He was born in Cuba in 1955 and came to America in 1967 with his family. With no high school diploma, he started out small, as a janitor and office boy in his teens. He worked at McDonalds, and bagged groceries. Knowing he wanted more from life than that, he got his GED and a real estate license and went to work.
While many real estate agents want to sell as many houses as possible to make their living, there’s always another way. For Justo, that way was to sell expensive homes, and not just million dollar homes. He wanted to sell double digit million dollar homes, though he would “settle” for multi-million dollar mansions.
And he was good at it. Not content to sit back and wait for deals to possibly come together, he worked tirelessly to help make deals go through. He even had a helicopter as part of his business so that he could not only get potential customers to properties quickly, but he could give them an aerial view that most realtors could never have achieved.
And the stars he worked with. There’s Shaquille O’Neal and Rosie O’Donnell. There’s Sean Coombs and Gloria Estefan. If it was Miami and expensive, Justo probably had a hand in it. He became a star himself. He rode around in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce limousine; one had to look the part. He was the star of his own reality TV show called Million Dollar Agents. He sold his own brokerage house in 2002 for around $25 million. He lived in a $7 million mansion, and owned many other properties.
And that’s when things started caving in on him. As the real estate market started to suffer, his change of careers from being a real estate agent to a real estate investor came crashing down on him. He couldn’t afford the payments, and he couldn’t sell the properties. He wasn’t alone, but he was the biggest in the business, so it hit hard.
These days, after declaring bankruptcy, he’s living in an apartment; an expensive one, but still an apartment. Most of his debts have been wiped clean, though he’s battling with the IRS over his tax liabilities. He still has a chauffeur, and is still working on making deals, but he’s being driven around in a Land Rover now. His former clients still talk well of him, as do his new clients. He’s going back into what make him rich to begin with, real estate marketing. He asks for no sympathy, and probably wouldn’t get any; even in a depressed Florida housing market, he’s still averaging close to $400,000 or more a year in income.
And that kind of talent, drive, and the will to succeed, will probably carry him back to the top once the housing market starts coming