Getting to know Drew D’Angelo from Bravo’s ‘Real Estate Wars’

Drew D'Angelo

Drew D’Angelo was born to be a realtor. Growing up in Orange County and Los Angeles, his stepfather taught him the ins and outs of the real estate business and he spent the next 17 years making a name for himself in this competitive field.  Blend his experience with his great looks and perfect sense of style and it makes sense that he would be called on to star in Bravo’s newest hit series Real Estate Wars.

Real Estate Wars follows ten agents from two warring real estate companies: McMonigle and Relegance.  The drama is pretty juicy as these people and their sometimes eccentric clients are trying to make a sale in one of the world’s most valuable locales.  As with most reality shows, these people do not always get along.

There are rivalries, feuds, vendettas, lots of money at stake, beautiful people and a stunning location.  D’Angelo, who is one of part of the McMonigle team might have the role of the peacemaker in the show.  That means that he is the nice one.

Drew D’Angelo, a senior associate of the McMonigle firm and costar of Real Estate Wars, dished with Michelle Tompkins for TheCelebrityCafe.com about his experience in real estate, his love of Orange County, what makes Real Estate Wars so juicy, why everyone lives vicariously through Hunter, what he likes to do for fun, a cute story about how he met his wife and more.

Michelle Tompkins:   So let’s start with where are you from?

Drew D’Angelo:  I was originally born in Los Angeles and grew up in Orange County.

MT:  Oh, and you now still live in Orange County, is that right?

DD:  And I still live in Orange County. I live in Newport Coast.

MT:  Tell me a little bit about your childhood.

DD:  So my childhood was spent half the time with my dad in Buena Park and half the time with my mom in either Laguna Beach or OC.

I grew up surfing, playing tennis, and basketball. I mean, I’m a beach guy.

Working with the Team! 2112 Balboa. #dreamteam#dreamhomes#cantstopwontstop#newlistings#billionaire

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MT:  Now, were you always interested in real estate?

DD: Always interested in real estate. Always. Ever since I was a young child, my stepdad took me out to his property that he was developing close to Orange County and drove me out in a Bronco, which I thought was cool because it was a big truck. We pulled up over a hill and it was all dirt which if you’re five, six years old, I was actually about six and a half, that’s the coolest thing ever because you get to see these life-size Tonka trucks, tractors up on the sight and I fell in love. My dad told me what he did, he put me on a tractor and he said, “If this what you want to do when you grow up, go to school, do well, be honest, be a good person, and maybe you’ll get a shot.” And I grew up in a business, I would always see my dad in tuxedos and suits and he was like James Bond to me. So I just wanted to follow in his footsteps.

MT:  Now, what kind of training did you receive?

DD:  So when I was 21, I was asked to be my dad’s assistant and he said, “If you want to learn the business, come and deliver my mail, get my coffee, ask questions, and we’ll review at the end of the day but don’t talk.” And he taught me how to do spreadsheets by hand and input them into Excel. He taught me the development business from the ground up. I went out with all of the biologists for the floor and land surveys. I went out with the surveyors for staking for the civil engineers. I learned every single trade that goes into land development and then I learned the marketing aspect of the real estate trade and the building of homes as well. And I worked myself up from being his assistant to his assistant vice president. Well, excuse me, assistant to assistant project manager, project manager, assistant vice president, vice president and then the economy busted and then I worked my way up to being his full partner.

MT:  Okay. Wow. So you made it up the hard way?

DD:  I made it up the hard way and 17 years later, here I am.

MT:  Now, do you remember the first home you ever sold?

DD:  I do remember the first home I ever sold.  It was about a 3,700 square foot home in Newport Coast. The opportunity was given to me by John McMonigle, who’s our patriarch on the show and the leader for the brand. I remember feeling so overwhelmed because I had never sold a home ever before. So training on your CAR document which is the California Association of Realtor document and learning how to do that and pull comps is much different than going out and actually selling a product. But I was relieved because I knew who the builder was, I knew how to sell value on being a home builder myself. So I just sucked it up, grabbed myself by the bootstraps and went after it. I got in escrow for a record-setting sale and we ended up selling it to a very lovely woman and it was a great experience. And after that, I never looked back. I’ve set a record in every single community I’ve ever sold a home in.

MT:  I’m sorry, what does “set a record” mean?

DD:  So the highest price per square foot for either the floor plan, highest price ever sold for the model type, or in the community. And that’s what it means. You set a record.

MT:  Now, how did you celebrate your first sale?

DD:  I was just about to get married to my lovely wife, my soon-to-be wife at that point, and that money went towards my wedding. And that’s how I celebrated [laughter].

MT:  That’s a good way to celebrate.

DD:  It was, yeah. That deal needed to close, put it that way [laughter], and thank God it did. I mean, it was literally—the deposit was due, I think, or the rest of the deposit was due two weeks before the deal had closed, and the deal was postponed two weeks, so literally the day the deal closed the money went down, and some friends helped us out, too, kind of bridged the gap in between. But all of it went towards that.

MT:  How have you grown in your 17 years in the industry?

DD:  I’ve learned how to stop and pause, think before I speak, listen more than I speak, and in general, absorb wisdom. Hang out with people that know more than you, so that you can absorb what they have. I’ve learned to ask questions when they’re silent, and in general, I’ve just become wiser in my 17 years.

MTWhat are some things you do to give yourself an edge on the competition?

DD:  You give yourself an edge — I think my education and experience of doing this for so long, knowing what it takes to get a piece of property from raw land to a home, helps me in so many different ways. And understanding how marketing reports are actually done, from a marketing agency, for new home builders, understanding how to look at real-time data points on predictive analytics, and just understanding the math more than my competition, is what gives me the edge.

MT:  Do you ever research potential buyers so your pitches are more tailored to your interests?

DD:  I have in the past, if it’s a celebrity client. I want to make sure I don’t step on anybody’s toes. I don’t do background checks or anything like that. But I like to get my what we call D2, which is due diligence, on who we’re meeting with. Absolutely.

MT:  Now, do you have a story of just your favorite sales experience?

DD:  My favorite sales experience so far has been setting a record with my partner, Hoda Hajirna, who is also on the show. We are the team within our McMonigle brand called the HD team. And the first home we ever sold together was in Woodland Hills, and agents had had this on the market for a year and not sold it. We came in and I looked at the analytics, I looked at the demographic area, and I said, “It’s going to sell to a professional athlete who’s retired, who’s looking for a big home and square footage that’s value add. It’s going to sell for this price, and this is what we’re going to do, and this is when we’re going to execute.” And everything that we said we would do, we did, exactly on point, to the price, and to a professional athlete that was retired, who was a basketball player. And the experience of going through that with his people — and there are so many funny stories about how he forgot his ID, and this neighborhood is a very nice neighborhood, and they would not let him in because they didn’t believe who he was [laughter], so he had to Google himself, and pull himself up on TV, and show the security guard. And then we got a call from Paul after he closed escrow saying he can’t get into the house he just bought and those types of experiences make it fun because they’re comical, right?

MT:  Definitely.

DD:  So that was a really good experience and that deal catapulted us to now four or five deals being together where every deal that we’ve done we have again set a record in the community for highest price ever sold per square foot.

MT:  I’m sure you have some funny stories but what’s one of your worst experiences either selling or trying to sell a home [laughter]?

DD:  So actually, my parents, in all honesty, were my worst clients [laughter]. When your mom’s telling you that you can go out and hire your boss at that time who’s John McMonigle and he’ll do a better job, I don’t know whether that was motivation or what, but I’ll tell you that was the most brutal experience selling my own parents home.

MT:  That doesn’t sound fun. I don’t think I’d [laughter] recommend that one.

DD:  No. That was the absolute worst.

MT:  Now, what’s the housing market like these days?

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DD:  That is dependent upon what you’re looking at. If you’re looking at the housing market in general, the housing market is strong, particularly in Orange County. Supply is down. Demand is up. We’ve got stabilization as far as values are concerned. We’re not seeing these spikes in valuations on property that are double-digit appreciation. It’s a very strong marketplace for both first-time home buyers, move up buyers, investors and people looking for second and third homes.

MT:  Now, do you work with people who are on a very strict budget but want to find a beautiful, affordable home for themselves and their families?

DD:  I do. I work with all types of clientele.

MT:  Now, can you please tell me what is McGonagall and Relegance?

DD:  It’s so funny that you said McGonagall. Every single person says that. It’s McMonigle.

MT:  Oh [laughter]. Now that was I’m guessing my thing for Harry Potter, then.  Oops.  What are the McMonigle and Relegance teams? What are those?

DD:  So, Relegance, I think they wanted to take real estate and the acronym for that which is RE and apply that to elegance. So, hence Relegance which is kind of lame and then the McMonigle team is just named after John McMonigle.

MT:  And does he have a big firm?

DD:  Well, we right now are 100 agents strong and I’ve known John for about 20 years. So he was my parents realtor as they were buying and selling homes in Newport Beach when I was growing up, and after I had come out of the downturn of the economy and he’d come out of the downturn of the economy, I had a raised about $40 million of private equity and ran a fund and that fund was predicated upon strategic acquisitions in the coastal marketplace and triangulation of investments and I ran into John on one of the investments that was looking at his group. At that point, I had decided that I was going to out and get my license and my wife now, who was not my wife then, I had just met her, was the one that encouraged me to get my real estate license because we were giving so much money away and taking away from the bottom line on our buy flips. And so I joined John’s team and we never looked back. When I joined we were only about 17 people, 18 people and he’s built that over the years to 100 people strong.

MT:  So, this question should have been asked a while ago, so forgive me but what is your actual job title now?

DD:  Senior associate. Yeah. I wear various hats. So every single day I’m a husband, a dad, a land developer and real estate agent.

Welcome Home to The Ardley Estate at 15 Ocean Ridge in Newport Coast. My partner @hodarealty and I are so pleased to present this opportunity to the brokerage community and our clients. Call the HD Team for a showing or contact us @hodarealty and @drewdangelo . Brokers open scheduled for: 9/21 11-2 and open house: 9/23 1-4. We'd love to have you there. Also check us out on #bravotv newest hit #Realestatewars which premiers on Bravo , October 5. #love what you do, do what you love and always do right! #themcmonigleteam#anoherHDvision#HD#missionHD #LifeinHD#ONLYTHROUGHCHRIST #luxuryrealestate #lifestyle #newportcoast #pelicanridge #newportbeach #notyouraverageagents #excellence #lookwhatgoddid#dreamteam #partnership#focus#mogul#bravotv #Realestatewars

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MT:  Now, please tell me about Real Estate Wars.

DD:  So Real Estate Wars is a show that is like Million Dollar Listing. I’m going to say Million Dollar Listing-esque. The difference between us and them is that we are two teams competing against four of the same clients and same listings within a demographic and geographic area. So we don’t have specific farming areas. All of Orange County is what we’re fighting for. It takes place and shows the dynamics and some of the beef that Jo-Jo has with John and Kylie has with John. And there’s not one person in Orange County that doesn’t have an understanding of who John McMonigle is. I mean he’s sold $6 billion of assets in the Newport Coast.  If it wasn’t for the Irvine company and John McMonigle, I don’t think it would exist, to be honest with you.

MT:  What makes Real Estate Wars different from the other kinds of shows out there?

DD:  There’s more personality, which makes it more interesting. You don’t get so focused in on one person. It tells the story about a team and how the dynamic of the two teams operate internally and externally. And it differentiates from all the other real estate-related shows because the geographic area — Orange County has never been featured, with the exception of the Orange County Housewives, in a show predicated upon real estate only. And this really showcases the California Riviera area, which, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, all of the coastal communities are.

MT:  I’m going to word it this way – what’s your role on the show? Are you the nice one, are you the mean one?

DD:  I’m definitely not the mean one [laughter]. Absolutely not. I’ll leave that title to Jo-Jo for sure. Yeah. She can sling as much mud as possible. I’m more of a guy that, again, pauses and asks other people to think before they speak. I’m more of the peacekeeper. And as you tune in and as the storylines develop, I hope that that comes out and sheds light on that aspect of it, how I approach things with class.

MT:  What makes the show good to watch?

DD:  The juiciness, the drama, of course, but above and beyond all of that, I say the juiciness and the drama because you can’t away from that. I mean the opposite team is always saying something to try to get under our skin and we’re handling it with class. But what supersedes all of that, in all honesty, is the geographic area. We feature Laguna Beach and Newport Beach primarily, and those are just two of the most beautiful places, I think, in the world.

MT:  What is the worst thing you’ve seen or heard someone do to make a sale?

DD:  I’ve never been part of the worst thing ever, but I’ve heard of agents sleeping with clients and then divorce happening as a result of that, particularly in this area because we are a small knit community. And that’s just tacky. That’s not something that you do. You’ve got to keep it in your pants, so to speak.

MT:  Well, I was going to ask. You mentioned that you’re married. Do you or the other agents date potential buyers?

DD:  No. No. I am married, happily, and none of the other agents— Leo’s married, Hoda is engaged, Hunter’s single. What Hunter does, he’s the young one who can go out and do whatever he wants to do. And John, John’s married. We live vicariously through Hunter, I’ll put it that way, and at that point, God bless him.

MT:  Okay [laughter]. Now, do you guys all get along?

DD:  We all get along, we’re family. John, Leo and Hunter are like my brothers, and Hoda’s obviously my partner and my best friend and my sister. And we all operate as a family which makes us the dynamic that you see that’s translated through the TV, we hope, based upon the way that the show was filmed, is you see that stark difference. My favorite thing that I like to say is “contrast creates clarity.” They are the perfect contrast to our clarity, which is “we are a family, this is how we operate, and we do things together and for each other, and we always do the right thing.”

MT:  Did you have a choice on whether or not to be on the show or not?

DD:  I was cast. So the story goes that one day I’m driving in my car and— Let me just start with I always kind of wanted to be on TV since I was a kid, I mean who doesn’t, right? So I was like, “Oh, it’d be really cool.” But it was like, when you’re 18 it sounds really cool. When you’re 37, 38, it’s like, “that’s not really reality. I’m a dad of three.” And you never think of it. And I’ve got some pretty humorous friends, and I’ll leave it at that. So some of the phone calls I get sometimes are hilarious. So I thought this was one of those hilarious phone calls, and it’s somebody from World of Wonder Productions saying “Look, we want to cast you.” And I was like “World of Wonder? That’s the lamest name ever.” Right? And I’m like, “Who would say that? Is this a porn audition? Is this one of my friends?”

Yeah, right. And I’m thinking, I’m going “Oh my God”, and I’m laughing. And she’s like “No, this is not a joke.” And I’m like “Oh, okay.” I’m like, “Let me call you back.” So I call John McMonigle, I’m like “John, what is going on? Is this legit?” Thinking that he’s going to be like “I have no idea, Drew.” And he goes “No, I told them you’re a rock star and you should be cast on the show.” And I said “Show? What is this?” So I call her back, and I’m like “Look, here’s the deal. I’m so sorry that I hung up on you but what can I do?” And it went from literally me sucking up, to getting on a Skype interview, right? Kind of putting my foot in my mouth, and going through the process. And they just asked me the usual I guess casting questions. “How’d you get started? Who are you?” They told you how to pep it up. She said, “Can you look into the camera a little bit more?” And apparently, that was good enough. I thought I totally bombed it, I’m like “I have no shot whatsoever.” Couple weeks passed by and here we are. “Hey, you got cast, you’re going to be part of it, so-and-so will reach out to you from the network.” And we went lightspeed ahead. We got green-lighted and we were going.

MT:  Now how much of the show is organic versus a producer says “I want you guys to fight”?

DD:  No, the producers never asked us to do anything that was not organic. They wanted us to be as human if you will as possible, and not be actors, because we’re not actors. We’re real estate agents, and we have fiduciary obligations to our clients. So they wanted us to be as natural as we possibly could, and that’s what we did. So literally, the screaming and the drama and the comments that you see coming from—I won’t name names, but a certain individual on the other team. Those are what she does and how she speaks, I believe.

MT:  Well, I have a feeling even though I haven’t seen the show, I just have a feeling I know which name it’s going to be [laughter].

DD:  Yeah. Just without naming names, I’m just going to say that perhaps person there—we’ll just go with that.

MT:  That works just fine. Now, when you’re not working, what do you like to do for fun?

DD:  I love to surf. I do. It’s my happy place. I shortboard, I longboard. I’ve surfed my whole life. My stepdad taught me when I was about five years old and I stuck with it. And I was a former teaching professional for tennis, so I love to play tennis when I can. I work out every day at a gym called The 12, which has a huge following. And those are the things– I like to be active. I like to be outdoors and I like to make sure that I’m in shape.

MT:  Is there anything that you want to add about your family?

DD:  Well, my family is fantastic. My wife, Marjorie, is an amazing part of my life. I mean I fell in love with her at first sight. And I’ve got a funny story to tell you if you’ve got two minutes.

MT:  Please. We’re good.

DD:  So when I met my wife, I actually had a date at the party we were at. Okay. On her way and the date was running late. And her best friend was my investor partner’s schoolmate. He was going after his second or third master’s degree at UCI. And I had gone to her parties over the span of her getting her master’s degree, which is about two-and-a-half years. And I had never met my soon-to-be wife, I had never even known about her. But I had known her friend and her friend was really cute. So I’d always try to  — I was single at the time and divorced and had my kids. And I don’t say looking, but I was dating. And this girl walks in — and the date that I had, by the way, was my best friend of 17 years. And we had dated on and off through our 20s and whatever. And this girl walks in and I literally stopped what I was saying and doing and walked directly over to her. And I gave her the look, as best I could, to be like, “Hey, check me out,” and she wanted nothing to do with me. And that was her way of kind of pushing me aside and she went to her friend. And throughout the night, my partner gave me a Post-It note and said, “Look, I know you’re shy, but go give her your number.” And so I go to try to give her my number and she says, “I thought you left,” and so on and so forth. So when the sun hit her face on the left side, it lit up her face like a galaxy, really. And it was something that’s indescribable. And that has never stopped.

And now, we’ve overcome challenges that we’ve had financially, we’ve overcome everything that we’ve had together because we are together. And we have a beautiful three-and-a-half-month-old Caleb now, we have custody of her stepkids, my children from my ex-wife, and life is just beautiful. And it all happened when she came into my life.

MT:  I think she’ll love to read that part, so yay [laughter]. Let’s hear it for the wife. That’s always great.

DD:  Well, they say behind every great man, there’s a better woman and she is better.

MT:  That’s a nice thing to say. Is there any charity work that you’re involved with that you wish to mention?

DD:  I love the Jessie Rees Foundation. There was an event that Relegance held and it just really touches my heart, the story of Erik Rees. The American Cancer Society is a charity that I donate to. Wounded Warriors is something that I donate to. And then through my church, which is named Celebration Center, we always go down and support one of the orphanages in Mexicali, Mexico. So I’m one of the youth leaders for our church and I couldn’t be happy in doing that.

MT:  How do you like people to connect with you?

DD:  I mean the easiest way to get in touch with me is through social media avenues, Instagram @DrewDAngelo, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/drew.dangelo.9 . We do have a website, which is themcmonigleteam.com, and you can always reach us through that. Now, if you’re talking about on a personal connection, you’ve got to get to know me first.

MT:  That’s fair enough. What are some of your professional goals?

DD:  Well, by the time I’m 40, I’d like to have a couple million dollars. My main professional goal is to provide a life of legacy for my children, teach them how to earn, learn and give back, but most importantly, to provide for my family because when I’m all said and gone and everything is said and done and I’m somewhere and I know I’m going to Heaven, I would hope that my kids can look back and their kids and say Grandpa or Dad really did it right, and that’s what’s most important to me.

MT:  What’s next for you?

DD:  I don’t know. I’m going to ask for a coffee for sure right now after this interview.

MT:  Is that going to affect your ability to go to sleep?   Oops, it’s only 3:30 p.m. there.

DD:  Yeah. It’s only 2:30 p.m. What are you talking about? I’m not like 80. Come on. [laughter]. Geez, I’ve got grey hair, but not that much. Relax.

Are we going to go to Denny’s for the Early Bird special now? What? [laughter]. So I think what’s next for me is I’m just going to try to utilize this opportunity that’s been so graciously given to me to better my career, better the brand and do more for my family.

MT:  You mentioned that you were on the tennis circuit. Was that in LA or Orange County?

Yeah. I played a lot in LA tournaments, too, but primarily what got me started is I needed money when I was going to junior college, and so I started teaching tennis, and I got exponentially better teaching tennis than I ever did playing tennis, and then I got offered a full ride to USC, to UCLA, and I didn’t take it because I was like, “I need to go figure myself out, Dad,” right, and it was the stupidest decision ever. That’s the one regret I have in life is not accepting that scholarship. But, yeah. So I ran a couple different clubs locally and their junior programs, and then Dad swooped me up and said, “You’ve taught yourself how to run a business. Let’s see if you have what it takes to run mine.”

MT:  Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to add?

DD:  You tell me. I think we’ve had an excellent conversation. I’ve made you laugh a few times, which was my main goal.

Follow the adventures of Drew D’Angelo on Real Estate Wars on Thursdays on Bravo.

[Images of Drew D’Angelo by Bobby Quillard]

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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.