The Great Recession wasn’t great for the housing market. But South Florida has largely left those effects in its rearview mirror. Today there’s another problem: low housing inventory.

John Castelli says the problem is a good one for sellers. “A balanced market is when you have six months worth of inventory; less than six months it’s a sellers market. We have 4.2 months worth of inventory of single-family homes right now,” said Castelli, the president and broker of Castelli Real Estate.

Castelli has built a bit of an independent real estate empire in South Florida over the years, competing with the big franchises.

“One of the things that will make you successful is to try in every way possible to make your agents successful,” said Castelli, who has about 260 agents under his umbrella.

Castelli has also cast his net over more than just the single-family housing market. He’s been “dabbling in development too,” as he puts it.

After asking for a rezoning request with the city of Wilton Manors, for example: “Now we could build townhomes and lofts [in Highland Estates],” Castelli said.

The Chicago native previously tried to retire, but it didn’t work. He gave it a shot after two decades of owning Fort Lauderdale’s former Copa Nightclub, which was famously raided by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in 1991.

But after selling the Copa in 1995 and travelling for a handful of years with his husband Steven, he knew he needed to get back into work. Since he owned several properties, real estate was a natural fit.

“I used to get home at 6 a.m., now I get up at 6 a.m.,” Castelli said. “I just love real estate. I don’t play golf.”

More is at