Mayi de la Vega is the founder of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty (ONE SIR), and the first female Cuban-American Sotheby’s International Realty franchise owner. Her office represents beachy properties along Florida’s east coast from Cape Canaveral to Miami, including luxury developments such as Zaha Hadid’s One Thousand Museum.
Other than representing clients in high-end real estate transactions in Florida ONE Sotheby’s International Realty is known as a family-run business, one that has grown to include over 1,000 agents.
Mansion Global caught up with Ms. de la Vega to find out what buyers want along oceanfront Florida.
MG: What’s a typical week like for you?
MG: Did you manage to go on vacation this summer?
MV: After months of lockdown and no travel, I was able to get out to Aspen [in Colorado]. I was like a butterfly, traveling around to all of our affiliate offices before the lockdowns. Aspen was lovely, and after being so scared of being out there [in the world], it was great to hike and bike again. It wasn’t a long break, but to look at those Aspen trees felt really good.
MG: It’s said that South Florida is a seller’s market at the moment. Who’s buying in Florida?
MV: It’s been a landmark of a year. Florida became a state that everybody wanted to be in, and they gravitated here. We have very favorable tax laws and no state-income tax. The weather, the beaches, the lifestyle, the culture and dining—people just felt it would be a great alternative to being in the city. For the price of an apartment in some cities, you could buy a great house here. Prices here have always been lower here than in New York City, Beverly Hills, [California], Hong Kong and other great cities.
MG: What are the biggest shifts in buyers’ demands you predict will have a lasting impact?
MV: When people build homes from scratch, their requirements are going to be quite different because a lot of people will want permanent home-office space. Work flexibility will continue in the long run.
MG: What amenities do you think will be long-term?
MV: Covid has had a very significant impact on our lifestyles and the way we live day in and day out. Everything you need to work comfortably from home will be long term. Conversions of extra rooms into office spaces or home learning rooms. A faster internet connection with more bandwidth. Good lighting is important for Zoom calls. During the pandemic, we all learned new ways to work. We had to figure out a lot of things and keep going. People started appreciating a home that would have a home office and a place to take Zoom calls and work quietly.
MG: How have you been making the most of your time at home?
MV: Williams-Sonoma became my best friend because I started cooking again and baking again, just to break up the day. People were so used to going out and to traveling. You had to find a diversion, a distraction that you enjoy doing in your home. For me, I cooked a lot and I baked a lot. I couldn’t see my grandkids, so I would drop off cakes, wave to them behind the gate of their house, and go on. We learned to find new hobbies.
MG: In your line of work, what are some other topics that have been coming up lately?
MV: Quality of life and longevity. Everyone is more in tune with their bodies, taking their vitamins and minerals to make their bodies strong, whereas before, people were much more dismissive of that. Good immunity equals longevity.
Another topic has been the family unit. It’s become the focus, because so many of the distractions we had before the pandemic have gone away. People are talking about how they’re valuing their families more. This gets back to health-related topics as people have more time to cook simple, unprocessed foods instead of going by the drive-thru for dinner.
MG: How do you define luxury?
MV: I love that word. I love it because it’s ever-changing. I define luxury as approachable, accessible, simple quality. Luxury is no longer about being served with silver platters and white gloves. The definition for me isn’t a price point anymore, it’s a feeling that’s evoked. Luxury can be made a part of your daily life. Bath salts from CVS or a luxury retailer can both be considered luxurious, provided you use them. It’s about your experience. A $300,000 house can evoke the same feeling of luxury that a $10 million house can. Luxury is elegant, timeless and simple. It should definitely not be in your face.
MG: What does your dream house look like?
MV: My dream house would be a Mid-Century Modern with a lot of wood, texture and stone on a green, lush property overlooking a beautiful creek, lake, bay or water of some sort. It would have an infinity-edge pool. The deck would be teak. Inside, it would have high ceilings covered in wood, wood floors, a lot of stone and a lot of natural products. I’d keep it very simple.