Andy Weiser is arguably South Florida’s best-known and most successful gay realtor. Weiser has consistently been ranked in the top 1 percent of Coldwell Banker’s 96,700 agents at 3,300 offices in 49 countries. Media as diverse as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald and CNN use him as a resource regarding current trends in the Fort Lauderdale Real Estate market. However, as far as many community members are concerned, Andy Weiser is best-known for appearing on bus benches in ads that promote his real estate practice.
“I get lots of laughs about that,” Weiser admits. “The bus bench is actually the first bit of advertising I ever did in Fort Lauderdale. The running joke was that I would call people to speak to them about listing their property and they would say, oh yes, I see your face all over the place, on so many signs. Well, the truth is they were seeing one sign on Federal Highway. But in their minds they were seeing it all over the place so that is one of the ways that I started. It was with a single bus bench.” Today, Andy Weiser has two bus bench ads, both on Federal Highway and neither one in the “gayborhood.”
Weiser is a native New Yorker, born and bred in the Big Apple.
“I put myself through NYU and went into advertising,” he recalls. “At NYU I graduated from The Tisch School of the Arts with a major in television and business because I wanted to go into advertising. But after six months I realized that advertising and Andy did not mix. While I was searching for what I was going to do next, I got mugged. And I was laid up for almost six months and in that six-month period I gave it a lot of thought. And I still didn’t know what to do. So a couple of friends said to me, you have a big mouth. You are usually pretty good about approaching people. Why don’t you think about real estate? I didn’t really know a lot about real estate at the time. I learned by the seat of my pants. I was very lucky to have learned real estate from some of the best in the business.”
Weiser worked as a real estate broker in New York for 18 years before he moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1998.
“Like a lot of people I got really tired of cold, grey New York winters. But I was at a place in my life when I knew I wanted a change. I came down here not knowing anything about Florida real estate,” he recalled. “I interviewed with a few firms and had accepted a position, but, I had set up an interview with Coldwell Banker. So as not to be rude I went in for the interview and absolutely flipped for the receptionist. She was a doll. My rationale was that if the office was run that well, if the receptionist was that responsive, it was going to be a great place to work and I haven’t looked back since. I’m still with Coldwell Banker.”
Weiser attributes his success to hard work and his training in customer service.
“My style is very individualized, very personalized. I become your real estate concierge. Buyers who work with me come to me because they either don’t want to or don’t have the time to wade through the all the listings in the MLS themselves. They like that I really listen to what they want and then find it for them. They are of the same mind set as I am which is that you to go to an expert to get something done. Sellers appreciate the fact that I don’t blow smoke or make unrealistic promises. And that I focus on marketing their property for the best price possible in today’s market. Not yesterday’s price or next year’s price but today’s price.”
Weiser estimates that 50 percent or so of his customer base is gay.
“Unlike some other realtors I do not specialize 100 percent in the gay community. The gay community has been great to me. I am a part of it, obviously, everybody knows that. But that is only a part of my life. I am a man who is gay, not a gay man. And a realtor who is gay. There is more to Andy than just being gay.”
But Weiser was not alone. There was a time, in fact, when it seemed that half the gay male population in South Florida was involved in real estate. However, Weiser does not think that being a realtor is a “gay phenomenon.”
“A lot of people come to our part of Florida to reinvent themselves. And real estate can be a great new thing to do. When the market was going nuts everybody thought it was easy money. But then when the going got tough some people didn’t really feel like working terribly hard and they got out of the business. And why did it seem that half the gay male population of Florida was doing it? Everybody down here knows realtors. Most people have at least two Realtors in their immediate circle of friends!”
Though Weiser admits that ”the last few years have not been great for the housing market,” he notes that “we have seen a turn” and that “the market is much stronger now than it has been in the last six years in Fort Lauderdale.”
In addition to his work as a realtor Weiser is also an active member of Fort Lauderdale’s gay community.
“I have done a lot of community work since I got down here 15 years ago,” Weiser says. “I actually started to get involved in the community before I moved down. However, in the last few years I have decided that I am better off letting the community sprout new leadership. That sometimes the old guard isn’t the best guard. So my involvement in the community has become that of an advisor. Community leaders call me “to chat.” And since I am not officially part of any board I can be an outside source who is knowledgeable about the workings of our community groups. I’m someone who people who are on boards or who head up groups can bounce ideas off of. They know I am going to tell them the truth. I don’t have an agenda. I can be pretty direct. And I am willing to play devil’s advocate with them.”
Andy Weiser lives in South Florida with Richard, his partner of over six years. Richard “is incredibly private. He is also the exact opposite of me. Whereas I can be Type A sometimes, Richard is very laid-back. Richard really lets everything roll off his back, which is the opposite of me.” Andy and Richard have three dogs: two Welsh Corgis and an Italian greyhound-Jack Russell mix, which Weiser describes as “an Italian greyhound’s body, a Jack Russell’s head and hair and the energy of both.”
As far as hobbies go, Andy and Richard do a lot of traveling: “We are taking more and more vacations. It’s time to be good to ourselves.”