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    Monday, March 20, 2023

    Unassuming Mystic Realtor recognized by national trade association

    Real estate agent Luis Rodriguez in front of a house in New London that he is listing, on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, . (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Mystic ― Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Luis Rodriguez joined his American mother in Windham at the age of 16.

    He remembers touring Windham High School and being amazed that it had a swimming pool and a gymnasium, features he raved about when he spoke to family and friends in Puerto Rico. At Windham High, he learned to speak English without the benefit of bilingual classes. His mother insisted he only enroll in classes in which English was spoken exclusively.

    “Needless to say, the first year was not too productive, but it forced me to learn,” Rodriguez said.

    Decades later, the 54-year-old Rodriguez, who eventually found his calling as a Realtor, has been recognized for his productivity. In June, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals ranked him No. 82 among the top 100 Latino real estate agents in the Northeast, a 10-state region encompassing the six New England states as well as Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

    The 2022 honor was based on Rodriguez’s 23 residential transactions in 2021, which didn’t even represent his best year. In 2020, he said, he closed on 35 deals.

    According to his colleagues in the Coldwell Banker office in Mystic, Rodriguez is reluctant to call attention to his success.

    “He doesn’t advocate for himself. He’s so good, I think he should make sure everyone knows he’s so good,” Lynne Hubbard, the office’s brokerage manager, said recently as she pointed out Rodriguez’s notices on the office bulletin board.

    “I’d like to think I’m humble,” Rodriguez said. “As a Realtor, I should be boasting more but I don’t.”

    Considered self-employed despite his affiliation with Coldwell Banker, Rodriguez lives in West Hartford and chooses to commute to and from the agency’s 80 Stonington Road office and proudly considers himself “a product of Windham.” Licensed to sell real estate anywhere in Connecticut, his territory for the most part includes Hartford, New London and Windham counties.

    “I love the management, the area, the location,” he said of Coldwell Banker’s Mystic office and the market it serves.

    Rodriguez didn’t pursue a career in real estate until 1999. After graduating from high school, he began studying civil engineering at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich but left after one year. He attributes the shortness of his stay to a language barrier.

    “It was technical, a different level of English,” he said of the material. “It was my fault. I didn’t ask for help.”

    Rodriguez “bummed around” for a time, working in carpentry and construction, and then became a salesman for a distributor of frozen foods. When a manager there left to start his own company, Rodriguez accepted an offer to follow him and became a manager himself and then a regional manager.

    Given the sales experience he’d gained, his mother suggested he try real estate, a business in which she had long been interested. He took the requisite class, obtained his real estate license and soon noticed Latinos were not being adequately represented in the homebuying process.

    “I saw I had a niche,” Rodriguez said. “The Windham and Norwich areas were growing markets at that time. Latino buyers would look for a Latino agent. I’m able to have a quick start.”

    He said his Puerto Rican background tends to put Latino homebuyers at ease.

    “It provides them with a level of comfort knowing that the person they’re talking to about one of the biggest purchases in their life has gone through the same process before and has navigated the roadblocks imposed on you, whether purposefully or not,” he said.

    Rodriguez, a Realtor by virtue of his belonging to the National Association of Realtors and pledging to adhere to its code of ethics, said it’s important for Realtors and real estate agents to develop a network of professionals ― lenders, attorneys, paralegals, appraisers, inspectors ― who can earn a buyer’s trust. If any one of the professionals fails to do his job, it can torpedo a sale.

    “Agents who are successful have that network in place,” Rodriguez said.

    In his 23 years in the business, he has heard tales of discrimination against Latinos but said he has never witnessed it.

    “I assure them the likelihood of it happening is not high,” he said, referring to those he represents. “I don’t pay attention to it. When I put an offer in, I make sure I’ve done everything I can do. If a seller rejects an offer, I don’t even know why.”

    The biggest reason for Rodriguez’s success is likely his work ethic.

    “My thing is, I’m a hustler,” he said. “I’m known in my office for being a high producer. If I have to drive an hour to show a property, I drive an hour. Whatever a client’s needs are, I try to fulfill them. Some Latino buyers want Latino attorneys, lenders, inspector, appraiser. I make sure language is not a barrier.”

    If he can’t negotiate a deal, it’s not for a lack of access to resources, he said. And that’s his approach with everybody, not just Latinos.

    While some real estate agents pursue the profession as a second job or a sideline, Rodriguez does it full time. Only the pursuits of his family ― wife Ivana and sons Luka, 10, and Milan, 4 ― take precedence.

    “That’s why you only see 23 transactions,” he said.


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