I was recently honored with receiving the Realtor Emeritus designation at the Santa Barbara MLS meeting. This is a National Association of Realtors (NAR) designation for a salesperson or broker who has been in the business for 40 years and who has served on local Association of Realtors committees. Yes, receiving the award means that you are an old timer, but it also means that you no longer must pay the yearly NAR dues!
I served on the Government Relations Committee for many years and then on the Statistical Review Committee for many more. I was the head of this second committee for a term. I have to say that, as dry as the “Statistical Review Committee” sounds, it was way more uplifting than serving on the Government Relations Committee. The Government Relations Committee is the front line in the constant barrage of attacks against private property rights, additional limitations and taxes. These front-line efforts are needed, but I found it too depressing.
I began my real estate career in 1978, shortly after my graduation with honors from UCSB with a B.A. degree in English Literature in 1977. I had no idea what I was going to do to make money after college, but I knew it would work out just fine. Towards graduation my parents’ real estate agent, Russ DesAulnier, asked me to think about what I wanted out of a job. I liked that! It was way more empowering than the usual “What are going to do with an English degree? Teach?” I liked Russ. He was active, likeable and had done a great job for my parents. He had also been a bullfighter in Spain. I had to trust him! I took him up on his challenge and came up with a list:
- I wanted the opportunity to make good money.
- I wanted to be a self-employed professional.
- I wanted to be well-thought of in the community.
- I wanted the opportunity to exercise my creative thinking.
Russ thought about it and suggested that I look at being a real estate agent. He said that the field offered the opportunity to accomplish all the goals I had mentioned.
After I graduated, I couldn’t think of any other viable options, so I began to seriously approach real estate brokerage specializing in investment property as a career. This was after cutting off my three-foot ponytail, a remnant of an earlier era – a sad day!
I lived in a bootleg garage apartment on De La Vina Street in Santa Barbara and bussed tables at the old Miramar Hotel in the beginning. I remember dreading the possibility of a client coming into the restaurant and recognizing me from my real estate efforts. I’d get home around 1:00 AM, sleep a bit and get into the office around 8:00 AM.
I decided early on to have Isla Vista as my farm (geographic area of expertise). No one wanted it! The Bank of America in Isla Vista had been burned in 1970 while I was still attending San Marcos High School. Memories were still fresh. I was advised by fellow brokers that it was a bad idea, that there was no appeal there. That was Ok though; it was the perfect farm for me!
So, 40 years later I have closed 250 transactions just in Isla Vista and often hear the statement that I am the “King of I.V.” My wife and I own some rental properties there. One of these I had brokered three times before wising up and deciding that I was on the wrong end of the game. I was the #1 commercial real estate agent in California in 2000 and in the top 10 in the United States with Coldwell Banker Commercial.
I had asked to speak at the Emeritus ceremony but was told that there were too many agents receiving various types of recognition for anyone to speak. I guess I’ll have to wait until the next 40-year pin! I’ll say here what I had intended on saying if I had been given the chance:
“Brokering properties is a fine career, but it won’t take care of you in your retirement. I have several boxes full of trophies earned over these past four decades. They sit in my garage gathering dust waiting for me to take them out and reminisce over those “glory days”. What has worked out far better is buying rental properties over a long period of time. These will take care of our family in retirement, not those trophies. My father told me this early on and it was good counsel. I’ll pass it on to you all.”
So, lucky you! You get to benefit by my thoughts over a long career. I hope that you use it!
Brian Bailey is the broker-owner of Central Coast Investments. He is one of the leading multifamily brokers on the Central Coast covering Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. He has had four decades of success and has been a member of the Santa Barbara Rental Property Association since 1983.