In 2004, I made the decision to leave my job in high tech and become a real estate agent. It wasn’t a decision that I took lightly. I had been in the industry for 5 years, and I did enjoy it. I enjoyed the people and the challenges, but while I was working for a data network equipment company something happened that made me feel that I needed to do something else.
The economy was bouncing back after the 2001 crash, and the company I was working for started to interview new applicants for positions that were opening up. As one of the leads, I was part of the interviewing process. I will never forget one particular interview with a candidate that was probably in his mid 50’s. He had a long resume and had worked with some big names in the valley. Most of his experience was with older technologies and he wasn’t a great fit for what we were looking for and sadly never got a callback. I felt bad for him. He had been out of work for a while and was desperate to land anything. I couldn’t help thinking about what would happen to me in 30 years.
Real Estate was something I was always interested in. I had seen members of my family do well investing in real estate and I decided that if I was going to make the change now would be the time.
At the time I didn’t know anything about real estate, I was just 27 years old and didn’t even own a home. To me, the industry was dominated by individual agents and it seemed like anyone could get a license to sell real estate.
I quickly noticed there were two classes of real estate agents. Agents who were professionals, they really knew the areas they worked, understood the process, and the legalities. They provided value and had their client’s best interest at heart. And a second class that seemed to be running around with one focus, selling the most homes possible.
I didn’t want to fall into that second category of agents. To me, the industry already had a used car salesman type stigma, and if I was going to set myself apart from most agents I had to provide value beyond being a good salesman.
Since I didn’t know much about real estate, I really had to think about what it was that I was selling, what is a home? I started to realize how important the home I grew up in was in shaping who I was.
My parents and my sister and I immigrated to Santa Clara in 1977 from Brazil. We had family here and they helped us get started. After a few years, my parents were able to buy a home on a janitor's salary and the money my mom made from cleaning homes. It was a small home but the greatest thing about that home was it was just 3 doors down from my best friends. They were a family with 3 boys and they took me under their wing. I was this little Portuguese boy who could barely speak English and they were all older than me. They taught me how to ride a bike, play football, baseball, go fishing, how to fix things, they took me camping, mountain biking, to the beach. We went on so many adventures, and those experiences gave me the confidence I have today to do anything.
That’s how important a home and a neighborhood can be.
To stand out, I need to learn as much as I could about homes, areas, and neighborhoods. If I was going to represent a client on a home purchase or sale, I wanted to make sure they were going to get value from that experience and hopefully they would feel about their home, like I felt about mine.
So it began. I door knocked neighborhoods, toured homes as much as I could in every area, I would host open houses throughout the valley from Palo Alto to Morgan Hill and even Fremont.
Meeting with property inspectors I would follow them around the home and ask every question imaginable. There were a few times when I put on coveralls and crawled under the house and they showed me what they were looking for, and how to spot dry wood and subterranean termites.
When I would meet with contractors or foundation experts, I would grill them on their processes and ask questions to understand why a home was experiencing certain issues.
I would visit the city planning department to ask questions about permits and gain an understanding about how they functioned, what their requirements were and their processes.
In the last 15 years, I had been personally involved with hundreds of kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects, and 2 new home construction projects.
I was learning everything I could about real estate and business was growing. More and more referrals from satisfied clients were coming in and all of a sudden everything stopped.
I didn’t know a single agent that wasn’t going through a tough time when the housing market crashed in 2008. It was an uncertain time for everyone, and for a young agent, I didn’t know what to do.
Several months went by without a paycheck. Trying to make sense of what was happening, I started to read about economics and follow certain economists who really had a good understanding of our financial system.
Although the times were tough for everyone, I stayed busy. I built a real estate blog, I continued knocking on doors and meeting neighbors. Whatever opportunity came my way I worked on it even if it wasn’t going to deliver a paycheck. I was building good relationships.
The market was tough. There were lots of short sales and bank-owned homes on the market. Working with homeowners, I would help them update their homes so their homes would stand out on the market. Owners were reluctant to stage homes because of the cost, so I added it as part of my service knowing that my listings would sell higher than the others on the market.
Over time people started to notice my results. How fixing homes up, staging them, and with good marketing, I was selling homes for much more than other agents in the area.
When the market started to turn around, that is when business really started to pick up. I went from a struggling agent to one of the top agents in the valley.
Coming out of that experience I gained a better understanding of how the economy works, how monetary policy is critical to the economy. I still follow the same economist I did 10 years ago and watch his weekly videos. After 15 years of being in the business and recognizing the cycles, I learned the patterns of when a market is picking up or starting or slowing down.
It's been a long journey of learning and experiences. I am no longer the young new agent in the office who worked 15 hours a day. I just turned 43 last year, I’m married, and have 3 kids. I operate a team of agents and staff now, that help me continue to help and service my clients.
What excites me now is taking my business to the next level, our team is doing such great quality work, and providing a level of service that I am proud to put my name on.
We are continuing to learn and better ourselves, continuing to help clients in hope that they will look back someday and realize what their home meant to them, and how it influenced their lives.