Bay area mega-realtor, Roh Habibi, is the breakout star of Million Dollar Listing San Francisco, the latest leg of Bravo’s successful Million Dollar Listing franchise. His rise to the top of his field led Habibi to make the move from upstart to top producing agent with San Francisco’s Colwell Banker Previews International, the only real estate office in that region to do $1 billion in sales last year alone.
Along with his fellow MDLSF cast members, Justin Fichelson and Andrew Greenwell, Habibi gives viewers a front row seat into the exclusive world of high stakes, multi-million dollar real estate and what goes in to closing these lucrative deals.
With his newest venture, The Habibi Group, brokering sales for some of San Francisco’s most exclusive and picturesque properties, Roh Habibi is also fast becoming a sought after media expert. He shares his passion and knowledge of real estate regularly, blogging for Inman News, and sharing expert views on real estate with appearances on CNBC, FOX Business Network, and MSNBC. His take on all things real estate has also been extensively quoted by everyone from The Wall Street Journal to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In this interview, Roh Habibi shares how his family and religion drive him to be his best in a sometimes cutthroat career, and where he’s headed from here (hint: he’ll need his passport!).
You have an interesting back story. Your parents sacrificed quite a bit to emigrate from Afghanistan to the United States when you were a child. How has that background effected your sense of ambition and your worth ethic?
Roh Habibi: It has become my driving force to “succeed.” It would be a shame to let all of that sacrifice go to waste by not achieving the highest honors, degrees, and reaching the top in whatever it is that I do. I owe it to them. For real estate, I can reach stellar heights and help take care of them as they age, in peace and comfort. My culture does not believe in retirement homes, I would love for my parents to come and live with me later on in life, I can serve them.
You began your career in the financial industry. Why did you segue into real estate?
Roh Habibi: Finance is great, however I learned that I am not the biggest fan of working crazy hours to build other people’s bank balances. Being trapped in an office did not fit my personality type and I find real estate to be much more rewarding. It’s a tangible asset and the #1 way to build wealth.
What factors and qualities differentiate San Francisco Bay-area real estate from the rest of the country?
Roh Habibi: We are a financial hub for the west coast, founded biotechnology, leaders in technology with Silicon Valley, and our healthcare industry is flourishing. Everyone wants to live in the bay area. Our climate is great; we have fantastic weather, beautiful outdoors, and everything is a short drive away: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, beaches, etc.
How did you become part of the cast of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing San Francisco?
Roh Habibi: A lot of hard work and effort. To be recognized by the #1 real estate show in the world is the highest honor for me. It means that “I made it” in my career. The show was looking for agents for over 2.5 years, and I was the last to be [added to the] cast.
Your bio on BravoTV.com states “Habibi eats, breathes and sleeps high-end real estate.” Where does this passion for real estate come from?
Roh Habibi: This is the most difficult job I have ever had in my life. The fact that it is 100% commission and completely ambiguous scares me, and at the same time being in it and closing a few deals keeps the hunger alive. You can make a lot of money in this business and at the same time you can lose everything. Being a realtor is risky and I guess I like that.
Give Homes.com the short version of how you rose through the ranks to become a top 6% sales producer for your company?
Roh Habibi: Well actually I’m now in the top 5% of the whole San Francisco Association of Realtors out of 4,000 agents! There is no secret sauce; I worked 18 hours a day 7 days a week for over 2 years without taking a break or a vacation. In this business you have to be present, dressed for success, consistently meeting new people and letting them know what you do for a living and how they can help you as a new agent getting started. The most difficult thing is making it to 5 years. That is my goal.
As an Orthodox Muslim, how do you fit daily prayer and observances into your hectic professional life?
Roh Habibi: It takes priority. After a while you get the hang of it. I plan meetings around prayer times and when I can’t I will excuse myself to make the prayer (they only take a couple of minutes). Apart from that, I do my meditation and my reading in the morning, at dawn, So, I manage.
What would you like fans of Million Dollar Listing San Francisco to know about your spiritual life and how it has shaped you?
Roh Habibi: Spirituality for me is everything; it’s what inspires morality, honesty, and integrity to the highest level. I want my clients to know they can have 100% trust in me because I hold myself to that same degree even when no one else is watching.
Do you plan to take your real estate passion and ambitions oversee at some point, as in international deals or international real estate development?
Roh Habibi: Most definitely. The Habibi Group is going international! I would love to do more deals all over the world and get new clients from all over the world.
Why have you chosen to remain in California’s Bay Area to raise your family and work? What does the area offer you on a personal level?
Roh Habibi: Once you plant deep roots, it’s hard to move anywhere else. We have been here since the mid- 80s. My whole mom’s side of the family is here, my business is here, my friends and colleagues are here. My teacher, mosque and Islamic environment are all here. Don’t get me wrong. I would love a little bit of Hawaii, New York City, or Orange County in my life, but the bay area is home for me.
Tell us about your favorite room in your own home and how you spend your time in there?
Roh Habibi: My favorite room in my house is my study. It’s filled with books, a very comfortable chair and ottoman. It’s well lit, and I spend time in there working, learning, letting (his daughter) Zahra play around and cause havoc!
Lastly, what was your favorite highlight from season 1 of Million Dollar Listing San Francisco, and what can we expect from season 2?
Roh Habibi: The whole show was amazing for me from A-Z. I am completely thrilled that I got the chance to participate in something going down in history. Season 2… you’ll just have to wait and see what I have up my sleeve.