Leo Nordine single-handedly brokered the most residential real estate deals in the county with 308 units sold but that isn't the only thing that sets him apart.

"Everybody makes fun of me," Nordine admits. "I live in a one-bedroom apartment, even though I make good money."

Nordine and his wife, Molly, reside upstairs from their seaside office in a Redondo Beach building that also houses the Chart House restaurant. "I'm sitting at my desk and looking out at the water," Nordine says. "I step out the door and I'm in the sand. Forty feet away and I'm home."

That setup is perfect for Nordine, a surfer who interrupts his 80-hour work weeks to catch a few waves. He's also a vegetarian. "I focus on my health and eating well. That helps my business," Nordine says.

Don't expect Nordine to drive a fancy car or dress in expensive duds. He refuses to wear a tie and squires new clients in Molly's '81 Porche 911, but usually tools around in a '72 Plymouth Duster. And when he doesn't have appointments, Nordine sometimes hangs around the office in shorts.

He also eschews voicemail, with a live person answering the phones 14 hours a day.

"Top producers have such tremendous egos, 90 percent of them," says Greg Snider, assistant vice president for Lawyers Title Co. But Nordine, he says, "is laid back and genuine. From talking to him, you'd never know he does the volume he does."

In addition to brokering residential deals, Nordine is an investor. But unlike many other buyers who sweep up properties in order to build sprawling modern developments, Nordine calls himself the "anti-development real estate guy. I buy charming old beach cottages, and rent them out to keep builders away from them," he says. So far, he's snapped up more than a dozen.

Nordine represents buyers only and employs five in his office, including a buyer's agent who shows his listings.

Nordine's deals last year which totaled $65.7 million, putting him in third place in terms of deal value included everything from million-dollar homes in Santa Monica and Rolling Hills to a $15,000 tear-down house on a small lot in South Central Los Angeles.

Nordine lists properties all over the county. At any one time, he has about 50 deals in escrow and 75 listings. Current listings include a Bel-Air home listed at $3.7 million and a vacant lot in Silverlake, offered for $17,000.

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