• Datta Khalsa

A Real Estate Retrospective

50 years ago this week I showed up in this world, a product of the Summer of Love. From my humble beginnings as a hippie kid, it is doubtful that anyone back then would have guessed that - of all things - I would now be passing the milestone of having spent more than half my life in real estate.


Considering that, when I was growing up, real estate wasn’t a profession I knew even existed, it took a series of fateful coincidences to land me in the career path that has shaped my adult life and brought me levels of success and fulfillment that I likely could not have attained otherwise.


After an 8-year college career with little direction, I had returned to the Monterey Bay area to dabble in my father’s construction business in Monterey, but the physical rigors of construction didn’t feel like a match for me after years of scholastic learning and I much preferred the culture of Santa Cruz, so I decided to move up here instead.


On the other hand, his investments in real estate intrigued me greatly. I was impressed with the concept that you could buy a property and have rental income carry your mortgage while the property’s value increased over time. I got a real estate license to learn more about such practices and also because it seemed a good opportunity to be able to earn commissions along the way as I learned about investment.


Looking back on my first real estate interview, it proved to be formative if somewhat traumatic experience at the time. Within a few minutes of meeting me, the broker had said, “I’ll give you a job here, but you’re going to have to cut your hair, ‘cause you look like a damn hippie and nobody is going to buy a house from you.”


I thanked her for her time, bought a tie at Mervyns on the way to my next interview to prop up some semblance of a professional appearance, and got hired later that same day at a larger firm across town. From there, I made it my mission to prove that broker wrong. In the process, I became their Rookie of The Year and won their top agent award multiple times over the next 10 years—all without cutting my ponytail.


Early on, the thrill of competing with my fellow agents, and being able to earn the trust of clients to represent them in the largest purchase of their lives kept my attention wrapped up with the profession of real estate. But over time, the example set by my father eventually brought my focus back to the basics of investment in real estate as a means of building a portfolio that can build a stable financial future.


Along the way, I have managed to build not just a career but also an amazing circle of family, clients, friends, peers, and teammates. And with every passing year as we continue to figure things out and improve our outlook, we improve our level of enjoyment, our contribution to each relationship and to each situation in which we participate. In the words of one of my early mentors, “As long as you learn as you go, it just gets better.”

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