The Real Estate Monarch: John McMonigle

Despite amassing more than $1.6 billion in sales over the course of his short career, John McMonigle is as down to earth as his friendly unassuming smile indicates.

By George Alpizar
Photography by Laura Wagner


 Part of McMonigle’s success directly correlates to his powerful marketing and advertising agenda.

It’s a tough world out there. Let’s be honest, who in their right mind would want to go into real estate today? The forecast is bleak in most of the country’s markets; buyers aren’t buying, construction has halted, and it seems as though the bottom has dropped out. But not for the top of the spectrum. Orange County’s McMonigle Group has already broken sale records this year after obtaining more than $500 million in sales in 2007, despite a sales staff of barely a dozen.

Fierce competition has recently arisen amongst the country’s best real estate brokers to bear the weight of the McMonigle Group name on their business cards. Top agents from around the country covet an exclusive position within the real estate firm so that they can continue to close high-profile, high-priced deals despite the current recession. To deal with the high level of applicants, John McMonigle, the man behind the brand, referenced a page from Trump’s highly successful book and developed a Top Agent program that rivals The Apprentice in its competition styles.

McMonigle launched Top Agent this May. Five candidates spent four weeks in a boot camp-style luxury real estate training program led by Bob Braun, a renowned real estate trainer. The winner, Danielle Snyder Potter, was hired by the McMonigle Group, where she will join an award-winning team that is on track to smash their previous sales records. The remaining four will join the team at Coldwell Banker Previews International: not a bad consolation prize.

Potter certainly has reason to celebrate her win as she will be joining a team that has accumulated $1.6 billion in sales since its inception only four years ago. “The McMonigle Group sold more than $500 million in luxury real estate in 2007 and is having a record year thus far in 2008,” McMonigle explains. “While no segment of the market is completely immune from the current economic climate, the ultra-luxury market in which we specialize is less impacted than others.”

While some businessmen attribute their savvy business skills to intuition, McMonigle learned the real estate ropes from former sales pro Bill Feeny. Leaving his childhood home of rural Oklahoma for cosmopolitan Los Angeles where a boom in luxury real estate was brewing, McMonigle knew he had much to learn about the real estate game. He sought and found a friendship with Feeny, a top real estate producer in Newport Beach. Feeny became McMonigle’s mentor, teaching the aspiring agent the importance of having a respected and supportive team, something that McMonigle has instilled in his own companies.

McMonigle’s entrepreneurial spirit came alive when he co-founded Strada Properties, now a division of Coldwell Banker. With Strada, the future real estate genius began implementing Feeny’s teachings, creating a model that would later serve as the successful foundation for the McMonigle Group.

“At Strada Properties, I was able to test and incubate the McMonigle Group business model, blending a most attentive level of client service previously experienced only at smaller boutique real estate agents with the branding and marketing approach normally reserved for Fortune 500 firms,” says McMonigle.

McMonigle brought to the industry ideas of superb client service, responsive negotiation skills, and complete understanding of market conditions. Setting a new standard with both buyers and sellers, McMonigle sold Strada Properties to Coldwell Banker in late 2003 and began preparations for his own company, the McMonigle Group.

The company’s main offices are based out of Orange County, but the McMonigle Group maintains both national and global affiliations. McMonigle has created a system that symbolizes success in a grandiose way, and as other companies are feeling the burn of a slumped economy, this does not appear to be an issue with McMonigle Group. Six months into the year, the real estate tycoon is reporting record sales, prompting him to believe this year’s sales will total much higher than last year’s astounding $500 million mark.

Part of McMonigle’s success directly correlates to his powerful marketing and advertising agenda. A strategic marketing plan is developed for each listing; the plan features many facets, including advertisements on the website and database outreach to some 9,000 affluent clients. This aggressive campaign has helped to make one of the most visited websites in the luxury real estate market. Eye-catching advertisements in various publications coupled with smart event marketing with fellow luxury brands result in extensive publicity that McMonigle believes every property owner deserves.

The group’s success is enhanced by their partnership with Monarch Estates, a developer of luxury residences founded by McMonigle. McMonigle oversees the construction of superior homes boasting inspirational architecture and detailed craftsmanship, like the ones he sells. By undertaking a different aspect of the real estate business, McMonigle has enriched and expanded his knowledge and skills of home sales by understanding the specific goals and objectives of luxury developers.

Reaching the top spot in the competitive Los Angeles market is a nearly impossible feat; maintaining the top spot year after year is harder still. McMonigle and his team are constantly dreaming up new and innovative ways to ensure they maintain their prime spot in the real estate game, one of which is television. McMonigle has appeared on several popular shows sharing his expertise. After an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in which he mentioned the Portabello Estate, many interested clients came forward to inquire about the property, a noteworthy achievement considering the property’s $75 million asking price. After his television appearances, web traffic skyrocketed, boosting hits to over 23 million, an unheard of number for a real estate website. McMonigle’s media appearances combined with consistent promotion, such as exclusive quarterly advertising supplements in luxury publications, is all part of his $1.8 million marketing plan, an impressive figure that only an agent of his caliber is able to afford.

While McMonigle seems to personify the notion that he’s all work and no play, don’t be fooled; he believes in the importance of having fun in the business, and can always be found with an astute smile on his face. After all, with two ultra successful businesses under his belt and a prominent place in the Los Angeles market, who wouldn’t smile?