Local Focus: Life at the Beach Drives Local Realtor

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Chris-Brigandi008Most realtors don’t have a surfboard and an electric guitar in their office—but then, most realtors aren’t like Chris Brigandi.

Brigandi is a true “local boy makes good” story. After stints in the music business and laboring as a roofer, Brigandi worked his way up the real estate ladder to become one of the most successful residential real estate entrepreneurs in the region. His company, Arbor Real Estate, specializes in Newport Beach properties, particularly beachfront homes.

Why beachfront?

“My great grandmother bought a beach house in Balboa in 1936,” said Brigandi, 52. “She paid $7,200 for an oceanfront house right by the Balboa Pier. That was when there was a wood boardwalk and no parking lot. At the time, you could buy a bay front lot on Lido for $2,500 and they’d give you an inside lot as a signing bonus. She could have bought three bay front lots, but at the time, the bay was not dredged. My mom, who went to Newport Elementary in the early 40s, can remember walking across the harbor at low tide. When I was a kid, we’d pull muscles off the pilings at low tide and fish with them, catch fish and cook them that night. I lived a beach life.”

He still does, but now it’s in a house with his wife, Christy, and their five children, all of whom were born at Hoag Hospital and attend local schools.

Local is a watchword with Brigandi, whose five decades in Newport Beach have made him familiar with the territory and residents. That knowledge has helped him during his real estate career—a career he stumbled into in 1987 when he was applying (unsuccessfully) to be a property manager. A Cannery Village realtor agreed to let him sell real estate, so Brigandi got a real estate license and started selling houses. As he got better, so did his commissions. Eventually, he started Strada Properties, which he sold several years ago to launch Arbor Real Estate.

Brigandi has sold homes to a handful of celebrities and musicians, and is a partner in A Restaurant (he also rebuilt it with many historical nuances intact). He has his hand in a few projects, including homebuilding, which he said is a sliver of his business, but a recognizable one.

Some people might label Brigandi a character, but character is what Brigandi is all about.

“I want to make sure the neighbors have a good impression of us and our job site—we’re good quality people,” he noted. “I have a good reputation in the community—I want to be the good guy, want the houses I build to feel like they’ve been there a hundred years. You see people building crazy homes, I don’t want to do that.”

“Good guys win,” he continued. “Most of the people I deal with are kindred spirits to that. I tell my kids that if you’re a C student and are kind and giving and friendly and generous…I was not an A or B student, but I wanted to be kinder than anyone else. At the end of the day, we’re all humans. We want to feel that the person we’re working with has my best interests at heart.”

Brigandi is also looking out for the best interests of local charities. He supports the Newport-based John Wayne Cancer Foundation and S.O.S., among others.

Brigandi may have come a long way from his early rock and roll days, but he still has his hand in the business—his fellow partners in A Restaurant include members of Sugar Ray, he’s bought and sold houses for his friend Mike Ness of Social Distortion, and has helped one of the members of the renowned band Green Day with a real estate deal.

“Someone from Green Day does not want to go to a big Fashion Island real estate office and sit in a conference room with three guys in suits,” smiled Brigandi. “We may never have their customers, but they’ll never have mine.”

For more information on Arbor Real Estate, visit Arbor-Re.com.


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