From helping to launch the Mexican Olympic ski team to fresh insights into his split with Hilton & Hyland, the book is full of interesting anecdotes about Umansky’s life paired with the lessons that came out of those experiences.

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Twelve years after launching luxury boutique brokerage The Agency, Mauricio Umansky has released his own book called The Dealmaker: How to Succeed in Business and Life Through Dedication, Determination and Disruption.

Set to hit shelves Tuesday, the book is part memoir, part business tutorial and reveals a number of details about Umansky and his life that previously were unknown to the public.

From tidbits decades old about Umansky’s childhood to fresh insights into his split with Hilton & Hyland and the drama that ensued, the book is full of interesting anecdotes about Umansky’s life paired with the life and business lessons that came out of those experiences.

What follows are some of the juiciest details Umansky reveals.

The details on his split with Rick Hilton

As Umansky became a more experienced real estate agent and built up his network while at Hilton & Hyland, which he joined in 1996, he quickly rose the ranks to become one of the brokerage’s top producers, he details in The Dealmaker. After 10 years with the firm, Umansky knew that he wanted to use his new standing — he claims he was bringing in 20 percent of the firm’s revenue at the time — in order to make an argument for why Rick Hilton and Jeff Hyland should make him a partner in the company.

According to Umansky, Hilton and Hyland accepted his proposal to become a partner, but would only offer him a percentage of the brokerage’s top-line revenue, not equity in the company. Although it wasn’t exactly what he wanted, Umansky accepted their offer because “I realized that my main goal was to feel acknowledged for my hard work and success,” he wrote.

His partnership became official in late 2007, just before the Great Recession pummeled the U.S. economy. Following his father’s advice to be a contrarian during difficult times, Umansky decided to buy up a dozen pages of advertising in the Los Angeles Times every week and ended up becoming the No. 1 agent in California that year, despite challenging economic circumstances.

“As a result, the perception became that I was the only one busy selling real estate during the recession,” Umansky wrote. “People were losing money, which in many cases meant they needed to sell their houses, and my phone was ringing off the hook.”

When it came time for Umansky to be paid out his end-of-year bonus as a partner, however, Umansky says Hilton told him the deal they had made wasn’t fair because of the recession and how the company didn’t make hardly any revenue that year as a result. Umansky goes on to say that he tried to negotiate with Hilton instead to pay him in company equity rather than the revenue they agreed upon, but that Hilton turned him down.

The denial seems to have been a turning point for Umansky, after which he was determined to set out on his own business venture.

“I feel that had Rick made me a full partner in Hilton & Hyland, paid me what I deserved to be making, and showed me an inkling of professional love, I would have stayed,” Umansky wrote. “I believe I needed him to fail me in order to summon the wherewithal to pursue my dream, which was launching The Agency.”

He paired up with Billy Rose, who had been with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, to create The Agency, and the two ended up getting a contract for their first development deal right before a holiday weekend during which Hilton and Hyland were both unavailable. Umansky ended up having to tell them both over the phone that he was leaving to start his own firm.

Following Umansky’s departure from Hilton & Hyland, he faced allegations of poaching agents from the firm, which he shuts down in The Dealmaker.

“Billy and I didn’t try to recruit any of the other agents from our respective firms,” Umansky wrote. “That kind of behavior is not only disrespectful to your former employer but also the type of thing that will ruin your reputation.”

Umansky added that his and Rose’s respective teams from their old firms moved to The Agency when it was launched of their own volition, but in some other cases when agents who have left Hilton & Hyland have come to The Agency looking for a job, Umansky said he has actively discouraged them.

“From my perspective, there has never been any bad blood between The Agency and Hilton & Hyland or with Rick or Jeff,” Umansky wrote. “What I did not expect was that, after he’d given my resignation more thought, Rick stopped speaking to me, which extended to Kyle [Umansky’s wife] and our whole family. And of course his wife, Kathy — Kyle’s sister — did the same.”

He helped get the Mexican Olympic ski team off the ground

In high school, Umansky became very enthusiastic about sports and in his later teenage years got especially active in alpine skiing. He wrote in The Dealmaker, and told Inman, that he and a small group of other skiers helped launch the first iteration of the Mexican Olympic ski team in 1986.

“While we didn’t compete in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, we did pave the way for the next generation to finally send a Mexican Olympic ski team to Albertville in 1992,” Umansky wrote.

The original coach he worked with was Pierre Tagliabue, founder of Eternal Snow Ski Tours, who is now coach of the Swiss National Team and spends his winters skiing in Vail, Colorado, and summers in Chile, Umansky told Inman.

“I was 16, 17 and 18 years old when I did all that,” Umansky said. “So [Tagliabue] was really the one that was kind of in charge of it, but it was really just three of us that kind of took it seriously and [traveled] around with the coach, and he made it happen together with two other Mexicans.”

Umansky added that one of his initial teammates was Jorge Ballesteros, who ended up competing on the Mexican Olympic ski team in Albertville in 1992. Prior to the team’s official formation, Prince Hubertus of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, a Mexican by birth whose family is also German royalty, competed as a solo skier in the Olympics for Mexico dating back to the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo.

Jade Mills considered becoming a founding partner of The Agency

When Umansky and Rose were first getting ready to launch The Agency, Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker nearly became one of their fellow founding partners, Umansky claims in The Dealmaker.

Calling Mills “amazing and a total badass,” Umansky conjectures that she was probably a bit fearful of leaving her longtime brokerage where she had become the No. 1 agent for the brand globally.

Mills has closed over $8 billion in sales over the course of her 30-plus-year career and has also become one of the top agents worldwide across all brokerages, according to her website.

“Forgoing financial security to gamble on an uncertain opportunity isn’t for everyone, and fear of change is a very real and common phenomenon,” Umansky wrote.

He once had an encounter with Michael Jackson’s ghost

At the time of his death in 2009, Michael Jackson was leasing a house in Holmby Hills and Umansky was hired by the property’s owner to sell it, he details in The Dealmaker.

According to Umansky, Jackson actually died in the secondary bedroom suite of the property.

Following a hard-learned lesson years ago, Umansky had been extremely careful ever since about not leaving anything on in the house and remembering to lock everything. So, after a long day of showing the property to serious buyers and curious Jackson fans alike, when Umansky returned the next morning to find the secondary suite bedroom window open and the stereo blaring, he was alarmed and surprised.

“That evening when I left the house, I checked the stereo, the window, and all the lights what felt like fifty times!” Umansky says in The Dealmaker. “The next day, I came back and the lights were on, music was playing, and the window was open again. Immediately, I called the owner to double-check that no one had been there. He confirmed that not one person had set foot in the home since I’d locked up.”

Umansky also claims the bedroom was known as Jackson’s favorite place in the house, and that he used to listen to music in there while looking out the windows at the back garden. The only possible explanation, therefore, that he could come up with for the blaring music was Jackson’s spirit was still in the house.

Later on, Umansky says what convinced him of the fact is that when it came time to close the house with a buyer who wanted to pull out because a motor that was supposed to move the home’s chandelier up and down wasn’t working, Umansky threw out a “Hail Mary” to Jackson that was returned.

“As the buyer meandered into another room, I literally looked up toward the sky — as a last-ditch effort — and said, ‘Michael, please help me out here,'” Umansky says in The Dealmaker. “Then I walked back over to the switch and, by some miracle, the chandelier started going up and down.”

The deal was saved.

“I definitely felt [Jackson’s] presence,” Umansky told Inman. “Just to be clear, I never believed in spirits and ghosts up until my mother-in-law died, and then I had an experience that was super real, super physical, and then I started to become more open to it. And as I became more open to it, we started to encounter ghosts or spirits.”

Umansky also added that he believes he and his family are currently living with a friendly “Casper-like” ghost in their home.

Future seasons of his Netflix show set across the globe are likely

Buying Beverly Hills, a Netflix reality TV series starring several of The Agency’s agents, first aired in November 2022. The show largely followed the brokerage’s newer agents as they sought to prove their worth and show they’ve got what it takes to succeed in real estate at The Agency.

The good news for fans of the show is that there’s more to come. Toward the end of The Dealmaker, Umansky reveals that Netflix purchased the show’s franchise, so it’s likely that future seasons may branch out into markets all over the world where The Agency operates.

Umansky also shares that the show was originally supposed to take place in Mexico, but COVID-19 complications upended that idea, and they ended up reworking the show to take place in Beverly Hills instead.

He flat out names Compass as The Agency’s “Goliath”

Anyone who’s followed The Agency knows that the brokerage has a bit of a friendly rivalry going on with Compass, which also launched around the same time.

Umansky has said in the past that he doesn’t agree with Compass’ business model — which has yet to become profitable — and that he feels like the model has amplified commission compression issues for other brokerages too.

In The Dealmaker, Umansky suggests his brokerage’s friendly competition with Compass has only served to make The Agency stronger.

“Let’s face it, every superhero needs a villain — someone who pushes you to work harder and strive to be better every single day,” Umansky wrote. “For The Agency, our Goliath is a company called Compass. Six months after we were born, they launched with similar ideologies, namely to take the real estate industry — which was relatively broken — and disrupt it.”

He also calls the brokerage “the dark side” to The Agency’s “light side,” in reference to the Star Wars movies, and a giant Titanic poised to eventually sink. But in a conversation with Inman, Umansky also said that he considers Compass Founder Robert Reffkin a friend, even if he doesn’t agree with the way he runs a real estate company.

“I don’t consider [Reffkin] anything other than a friend,” Umansky said. “I consider all my competitors colleagues.”

“Do I like what he’s done to the industry, in the way he tried to buy the industry?” he continued. “Absolutely not. I personally think Compass and Robert Reffkin are responsible for creating the commission compression, which limits the amount of money now that we can put back into the business so that we can give our clients better services … By the same token, some of the things he has done are really good for the business —  help disrupt it, bring technology into it, make it more efficient … So there’s the good and the bad that comes with it.”

When asked if the brokerage would like to comment on the matter, Compass passed along the following statement to Inman: “We are excited to continue enhancing our industry-leading technology platform for agents while being the No. 1 brokerage in the United States.”

Umansky suffered a number of health issues as a child

No one would know it based on his successes today, but Umansky was born with a potentially life-threatening blood disease called neutropenia. Individuals with the condition have a low number of neutrophils, which are a type of white blood cell, so it’s harder for their bodies to fight off infections.

Umansky says he was at the hospital for tests multiple times a week throughout the first six years of his childhood, and he mostly blocked those years out of his memory. Fortunately, one day doctors proclaimed he had been cured.

“Incredibly, when I was six years old, after a visit to the Boston Children’s Hospital for a regular blood test, the doctors told me I was cured and that I no longer had neutropenia,” he relates in The Dealmaker. “It was a medical miracle that set the tone for the self-assured man I was destined to become.”

That wasn’t the end of Umansky’s health issues, however. Just a few years later, an eye doctor discovered that he was legally blind in one eye, something that had been previously overlooked amid his other health issues and because the young Umansky had been able to fool doctors in the past by sneaking looks with his good eye.

After this was diagnosed, he was instructed to wear an eye patch to strengthen the bad eye, but much to his mother’s dismay, Umansky refused to wear the patch at school and anywhere else where he wasn’t under the watchful eye of his parents.

“Remarkably, I still didn’t heed [my mother’s] advice, and my vision remains 20/400 in one eye,” he wrote. “Fortunately, as with every other hindrance I’ve encountered throughout my life, I’ve found a way to thrive in spite of it.”

An IPO may be coming — but not for a while

At the very end of The Dealmaker, Umansky announces that, following a recent, large money raise, the brokerage is looking to go public “sooner than later.” Such a move would potentially position The Agency even further in competition with Compass, which has been publicly traded since 2021.

However, when Inman spoke with Umansky in March, he said that those plans have been put on hold for the time being. He explained that when he was finishing up The Dealmaker during the summer of 2022, the market was still going strong and it seemed like a prime time to prepare for an IPO.

However, as the real estate market slowed and as stock markets have entered a more uneasy phase, he said that now is not the right time.

“I’ve put that whole idea on hold right now because of the economy and housing recession, so right now it’s about running a balanced budget, growing market share” Umansky told Inman. “We’ll look at that later. When I wrote the book things were still on fire.”

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Email Lillian Dickerson

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