That of Idee & Immobili is a story not only about real estate, but also and above all about people and their dreams. Leonardo Viviani is one of the three founders of the agency, which today has as many as three locations, but which started from the bottom and over the years has been able to grow and renew itself, even in the face of the greatest difficulties.

We had Leonardo tell us the fascinating story of Idee & Immobili himself, asking him to also share with us details about his past and his origins: enjoy your reading!

Leonardo Viviani real estate agent in Florence and founder of Idee & Immobili

Leonardo, what was your inspiration for becoming a real estate agent?

“My grandfather!” says Leonardo proudly. “He was not really a real estate agent, but in his day he was involved in mediating the buying and selling of land and livestock. I often accompanied him, and from a very young age I came into contact with the figure of the broker, attending negotiations and meetings.”

An inspiration, then, rooted in Viviani’s childhood and developed not so much around the idea of the real estate market, but rather the important concept of mediation, which we will discuss later in the article.

As is often the case in the best success stories, the beginnings start from the “bottom.” In this case, from a 12 sq. m. office. Do you want to tell us how it was?

“In 1993, a good friend of mine was working as a real estate agent in Florence, but he wanted to stop commuting from Prato to Florence, so he wanted to return closer to home,” Leonardo explains.

“He asked me to open a real estate agency together, and I, mindful of my experiences together with my grandfather, said yes! In order not to burden our parents too much, we started from the basement of my house, making a very small 12-square-meter office out of the garage.”

Asking him in more detail what it was like, starting from such a “modest” and contained reality, Leonardo shares with us some fond memories of those years.

“I really liked the idea of starting from the bottom, literally in contact with the earth almost. The room was small, but very cozy and warm. Even though we were hardly in it – in those days the most salient parts of buying and selling did not take place in the office, but outside -, we had made sure to furnish and organize it to make it beautiful and … ours.”

He concludes by talking about the first real estate “conquest,” achieved shortly after opening the agency: “After just one week, we closed the first sale-I still remember the street, on Via del Fiordaliso-and I was the one who closed it!”

How have you managed to grow the real estate business over the years?

“Right from the start, and then also with Idee & Immobili, the key was believing in what we were doing and investing in ourselves and the business, always looking ahead,” Viviani explains.

When we talk about the real estate crisis we always tend to mention the 2008-2009 crisis, but Leonardo reminds us that even in the early 1990s the market was extremely difficult, so much so that a real estate agent friend of his father’s, when he found out that Leonardo had opened an agency, called him crazy.

“Still, we were not deterred. Within a year of opening our 12-square-meter office, we moved to Via Roma, also in Prato, opening an office ‘on the street.’ It was more spacious and professional, precisely because we wanted to think big, but … we had no bathroom! We used to go to the one in the bar across the street.”

In addition to the desire to do more and more and better, Leonardo emphasizes the vital importance of human contact in those years. “Today buying and selling is done inside the offices of real estate agents, but back in the day everything was done in the home of the seller and also the buyer. Knowing how to work with people and doing it with passion and transparency has led us to grow a lot.”

Idee & Immobili real estate agency in Tuscany with offices in Florence, Prato and Sesto Fiorentino

What was the most difficult moment you faced in your real estate career?

“The crisis of 2008-2009, no doubt,” Leonardo explains. “In 2004 I separated from my partner and, together with Bruno Pradal and Romolo Antoni, opened Idee & Immobili, in East Prato.”

“From 2004 to 2008 everything went extremely well, we experienced a real estate bubble period in Italy. In September 2009, after returning from summer vacation, we noticed that the phones weren’t ringing. The market collapsed and all the agencies went down.”

Faced with Leonardo, Bruno, and Romulus, there are two paths: drop everything or take the bull by the horns and move on.

“Unlike the period in the early 1990s, I found myself facing the crisis with all the responsibilities of an adult on my shoulders, between family and children. It was hard, but we chose not to stop and re-invest everything we had managed to put aside in the four years of the bubble.”

And here, we immediately connect to the theme of the next question….

How have you dealt with the housing crisis in recent years and what strategies have been adopted to overcome it?

At a very difficult time when real estate agencies were closing crushed by the crisis, Idee & Immobili invests in its future and grows.

“In 2010, so in the midst of the crisis, we opened a new location, in Sesto Fiorentino, ‘taking advantage’ of Bruno Pradal’s background and experience in the area.”

“In 2013, so ten years ago, we took the plunge and opened in Florence as well. I was in charge of running that location, despite knowing almost nothing about the city and the difficult rules of its real estate market. We rolled up our sleeves and never gave up.”

What are your future plans for your real estate business?

“Without a doubt, continue to increase the agency’s headcount by introducing new qualified and talented agents to the team.” Thus, Idee & Immobili confirms its tendency to invest where others lag behind: investing in passionate and eager employees is always a great way to continue to grow and to keep the agency’s name high.

“I don’t deny that in the pipeline is the desire to expand again, perhaps to Florence or … who knows, maybe even to another city!” concludes Leonardo.

The 1 million question: what is the secret to success in real estate? What advice would you give to those who want to pursue this career?

“I may be trite, but the secret for me is to do this work with passion and love. Contrary to what many people think, mistakenly, it is not an easy profession: it is tiring and can be fast-paced. If there is no desire to do it, for real, you don’t get far,” Viviani explains.

Leonardo, in fact, is tired of the lack of transparency and professionalism over the years in the real estate environment. In his view, it is crucial that the real estate agent is not just a “door opener,” but a true broker: a professional who knows the market, interprets trends, and can offer practical and human support, while also showing great problem solving skills.
So, yes to transparency, fairness, and the desire to connect with customers not only from an economic point of view.

“From this point of view, even the schools themselves need to question themselves. Today we are witnessing a lot of theory, but little practice. The work of the agent is ‘sold’ as something simple and almost without responsibility. But in this way the quality of the work falls and clients become increasingly suspicious of this figure,” Leonardo explains.
“I am for increasing the professional classification of real estate agents, while also introducing more accountability.”

The team at the Florence office of Idee & Immobili