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Run by mother-son team Mayi and Daniel de la Vega — Mayi is the Founder and CEO, and Daniel serves as President — ONE Sotheby’s International Realty has emerged as the definitive luxury leader representing Florida’s East Coast.
When they’re not traveling the world as ambassadors for their brand and brokers, participating in philanthropic initiatives, or scoping new works for their extensive art collections, the de la Vegas are propelling luxury real estate in new directions. Here, they share their perspectives and experiences.
1. What led you to a career in luxury real estate, and how did you break into this business?
Mayi: “My family fled Cuba when I was a child. Watching my parents work so hard to build a better future for my family really shaped my work ethic. After graduating from business school, I worked for my father in the aerospace aluminum industry. This experience taught me how to build relationships, manage a team and conduct strategic planning.
“I have always been a people person with a passion for architecture and interior design, so when I had kids, I was looking for a career with more flexibility, I started working as a sales agent in Coral Gables. I quickly learned how demanding a real estate career could be — it took tremendous discipline to learn the market and cultivate a strong sphere of influence. The turning point came when I acquired the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise on Florida’s East Coast.”
2. How did you become the founder of your own real estate brokerage firm?
Mayi: “I was confident in the future of South Florida as a global hub, and I knew there was a need for an international luxury real estate brand in the market. When I first launched the company, failure was not an option. I was so determined that I was able to put my blinders on and focus all my energy into building ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.
“Driven by an agent-centric mentality, early on, we decided to invest heavily in cultivating a culture where our team could thrive and grow. We differentiate ourselves by doing everything we can to support our agents’ growth while maintaining a boutique atmosphere where Daniel and I are always accessible.”
3. What are the top changes you’ve seen in the industry?
Daniel: “The dramatic price appreciation of Florida’s luxury homes in the past few years — fueled by incredible demand from out-of-state buyers, the rise in construction costs and shifting economic factors — set a new baseline for pricing in our market. We always knew real estate on Florida’s East Coast was undervalued compared to some of the country’s most prestigious markets, but never expected prices to jump so quickly.
“Innovation through technology has constantly been an evolving factor in our business, but agent adoption of the tools available today has been slow, with no successful end-to-end platform available for the industry. I think the most impactful innovation is still to come with the introduction of AI into the business.”
4. Describe one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how you were able to conquer it
Mayi: “I founded ONE Sotheby’s International Realty during an economic crisis. Ultimately, our passion, resilience and adaptability helped us position our company to become the leading luxury brokerage it is today.
“Success in real estate demands a readiness to roll with the punches and navigate through market fluctuations, fierce competition and the ever-evolving technological landscape. Stay prepared for highs and lows, remain open to change and never stop learning.
“In this business, you also have to find a way to differentiate yourself. Embrace your unique strengths, remain focused and always strive to be the best version of yourself. Regardless of what happens in the industry, have initiative, navigate changes with resilience and stay humble.”
5. What opportunities are you looking to capitalize on as you plan for the future?
Daniel: “In an effort to become more vertically integrated, our company is beginning to move into ancillary businesses — including title, mortgage, insurance and property management. We see this move as essential in order for us to maintain operating margins and think it will be an important part of our company moving forward. We also remain committed to growing our Development Division, selling condos, multifamily and Class A office space and in the near future plan to develop our own properties.
“A big differentiator for ONE Sotheby’s International Realty is that we are a privately held, family-owned and operated company. This allows us to be genuine in the way we approach the business, and gives us the ability to be nimble and make strategic decisions quickly.”
6. What advice would you give to someone thinking of building a career in luxury real estate through Sotheby’s International Realty?
Mayi: “Agents should fully embrace and utilize the powerful resources Sotheby’s International Realty offers. Understanding its rich legacy, core principles and unmatched networking opportunities will set you apart.
“Treat your real estate business with an entrepreneurial spirit, recognizing that the path to success lies in having a clear vision, unwavering passion and the patience to understand that cultivating a thriving business and community takes time. At Sotheby’s International Realty, it’s not just about transactions — it’s about building lasting connections.”