How Fredrik Eklund is expanding his bicoastal real estate team into a new market during a pandemic

How Fredrik Eklund is expanding his bicoastal real estate team into a new market during a pandemic
  • Fredrik Eklund is the cofounder of Eklund Gomes, a prominent bicoastal team within high-ranking real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman. 
  • Despite the volatile real estate market brought on by the pandemic, Eklund is expanding his team to Orange County, California, and taking on two new heavy-hitting team members in the process. 
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Eklund shares his experience growing his business on the west coast during a pandemic, and what he sees for the near future of the market. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Fredrik Eklund is expanding his real estate empire to Orange County.

Just one year after his move to Los Angeles, the top-producing agent and "Million Dollar Listing" star has decided now is the time to grow, and is setting up two OC expert agents in Downtown Laguna Beach. 

The new additions, former top Sotheby's agents Ariana Gaffoglio and Seth Nelson, come to Eklund Gomes from Stanfield Real Estate Group, having approached Eklund and cofounder John Gomes with the idea to partner despite the volatile real estate climate brought on by the pandemic. 

Having sold more than $150 million in real estate last year alone, Gaffoglio and Nelson are among the top-producing brokers in the region, and have previously ranked in the top 10 nationwide. In addition to seamlessly fitting in with the Eklund Gomes team, the pair brings a portfolio of 14 listings, some valued at tens of millions of dollars.

For the Eklund Gomes cofounders, the opportunity to expand was a no-brainer.  

According to Eklund, many transactions and price points in Orange County average higher than LA, even though the OC market represents about a third of the LA market. "Price points are actually crazy," he said. 

The team's Orange County expansion is the fifth major market Eklund Gomes has grown into outside of top areas in New York and Florida. "It's very exciting," Eklund said. "Growth is good as long as its profitable." He said the southern California market is a substantial focus for the foreseeable future, especially given a push toward California living amid the pandemic.

"LA is very, very active," Eklund said, mentioning that there have been bumps in the market given the pandemic, but that the last two to three weeks have seen incredible sales and increased market activity. "As wealth moves around and high-net-worth people don't need to be on their offices, the big beautiful oceanfront properties like Laguna and Newport will keep increasing in value. There's inventory in prime locations and lots of buyers."

"The $10 million to $25 million range is very active," Eklund said, adding that the Orange County market lost up to 30% of its inventory during the pandemic. "I think we're going to have an incredible fall despite the pandemic and election year."  

Though Eklund Gomes has always operated under the guise of keeping Manhattan as its main market, expanding has been top of mind for the cofounders for a while, he said, as sellers increasingly flow freely between markets. "People are buying collections of homes," Eklund said. "As we see froth in the stock market, its the perfect time to dabble in real estate." 

While places like New York have suffered from the pandemic, the California expansion also speaks to the importance of diversifying business interests. "We didn't want to put all of our eggs in one basket. It was organic to go out west and to Miami, buyers were going there. We got tired of referring," Gomes said. "The OC expansion is so inspiring because the market is so strong." 

As for the future of the New York market, Eklund Gomes' home turf, Eklund said, "I really believe in New York, I always have. It's so dramatic, but it'll reach a bottom, hopefully soon, and come back fast and swift."

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