There is a perception that to become a top agent in the ultra-competitive Los Angeles real estate market, you have to have personal connections. Referrals and networking are the basis for success. Or, as one prankster recently put it, “You gotta know the rich people.”
But one agent, Ruby Home’s Tony Mariotti, breaks that mold. Last year, he replaced buyers of a $17.5 million beach house in Malibu property of Skrillex and represented Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joe Elliott of Def Leppard in his purchase of a $2.3 million West Hollywood home, as reported Dirt.
Mariotti’s customers on these sales were not linked to him by referral or word of mouth. They simply found him thanks to his Ruby Home website, which Mariotti has cleverly optimized to rank on the first page of Google search for a multitude of terms. Type in “Los Angeles luxury homes” and Ruby Home appears as the fifth result. Type in “Bird Streets homes” or “Los Angeles penthouses” or “Trousdale Estates,” and Mariotti’s site ranks #1, ahead of Zillow. In total, Mariotti made $33 million in sales in Southern California in 2021, up from $5 million the previous year.
Mariotti leveraged his experience in digital publishing to drive these high-level results, which in turn generate leads and, ultimately, sales. “I know what digital publishers are trying to do to get eyeballs and ad impressions,” the agent says. “I kind of took the editing mentality into building Ruby Home.”
To that end, he began posting blog posts about the architecture and character of various Los Angeles neighborhoods on the Ruby Home website, as well as real estate listings. “I thought if I could write about things I love like neighborhoods of architecture and industry — all three are inextricably linked, especially in Los Angeles — maybe people will show up and read information on [for example] The Victorian houses of Carroll Avenue,” he says. “I kind of built evergreen content on the neighborhoods. I try to outrank Zillow, Trulia and Redfin who only offer homes for sale.
Mariotti, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, started Ruby Home in 2017, and for the first two years of its existence, he didn’t even attempt to do any real estate transactions, even though he got a real estate license. “It was just about getting decent traffic. In 2019 I was getting maybe 20 or 30 people signing up [on the website] per month or request a visit. I ignored them. I wasn’t selling,” he says, adding that he first got his real estate license just to “get the ad feed on my website.”
Eventually, people who signed up on the Ruby Home website started contacting Mariotti to buy homes. “I had wives of famous people, famous people themselves texting me, including Tommy Lee,” says Mariotti (although no dealings took place with rocker Mötley Crüe.)
His first sale was in 2019. It was, he says, “an accident.”
“I answered the phone at nine o’clock one evening. She was a woman looking for a house in Beachwood Canyon. She was interested in trees and a large garden. I said you should watch Outpost Estates. Two weeks later, she bought a $2.8 million home. (Mariotti then operated as a real estate agent through the brokerage firm United Real Estate. “It’s a flat-rate brokerage,” says Mariotti, unlike many real estate brokerages, which charge a fixed percentage of the agent’s commission.)
Its biggest sale to date was to Skrillex’s Malibu beach house buyers, who, yes, discovered Mariotti through an online search. “They found us and they registered on the website. These were Australian overseas clients who invested in luxury properties around the world. They were staying at Shutters and were here for a week and wanted to see homes in Malibu. They said, “Our budget is $20 million. OK, let’s go, ”recalls Mariotti.
Last November, Mariotti took his business one step further. He started Ruby Home as a brokerage and now has two other agents, Judy Lin Young and Beata Mandell, on his team. (Young joined in the summer of 2020, while Mandell “approached me about joining RubyHome — out of the blue — after repeatedly seeing Ruby Home show up in search engine results pages,” he says. .)
In total, Mariotti, who also sells in the Pacific Northwest, had $40 million in sales in 2021. And while that doesn’t put him in the upper echelons of LA’s top-selling agents – Jade Mills of Coldwell Banker, for example, made $471 million. in sales last year, topping California’s Real Trends chart – Mariotti talks with surprised delight about the sale of a celebrity beach house for nearly $20 million.
“I didn’t see that coming. If you had said to me five years ago, ‘Hey, you’re going to do this’, I wouldn’t have believed you.”