Nostalgic Beginnings

Reading the Associated Press Q&A on Barbara Corcoran made me a bit nostalgic on the history of my own beginnings in real estate.

I initially began my career in an effort to solve some of the problems in Los Angeles. I started with teaching Business Law in South Central Los Angeles. Well, then, you know how it goes … I fell in love, married an actor, put my career on hold, and flew to South America to be with him on a movie shoot. When I returned to the states, I took an opportunity to work for Western Airlines as a stewardess and continued to fly part-time for the airline while continuing my teaching career.

At that point, my husband and I had moved so many times that the practice of house hunting was really enjoyable for me. A dear friend at the time suggested that I would make a great realtor and wanted me to work in her boutique firm, Jack Hupp and Associates.

When I became pregnant with my son Brandon, it made sense to me to make real estate a career. Subsequent to passing the real estate exam, I was then offered a job of “Travel and Appointments Secretary” to former Governor Pat Brown during his son Jerry’s first gubernatorial bid. I continued to do real estate on the weekend with my partner at the time, Letizia Gellis and throughout California with the Brown family during the week.

My first office real estate sales meeting was just after Jerry Brown was elected in November 1974. What an exciting world it was for me – I loved it from the start! In the first year, I didn’t sell any houses although I completed several difficult leases. I was really determined to succeed and worked around the clock to learn the business. I was always the first one in and the last one to leave at the end of the day. I will always remember my first open house in ‘The Flats of Beverly Hills’ where the house was a virtual teardown with nowhere to sit! Not one person showed up, but I wasn’t discouraged.

In 1976, I made my first million dollar deal which, in those days, was pretty unbelievable. It was also the biggest sale in town — $1.2M for the magnificent Sonny and Cher Estate. My business then completely mushroomed. In 1978, I resold the same house for $4.2M; nearly double the highest price in the United States for a residence! In 1979, Harleigh Sandler, the largest realtor in Beverly Hills, approached me to start a division exclusively representing sales above the $1MM mark. We made worldwide news with the concept. The division, which I was head of, evolved over the years through ownership by Merrill Lynch, Prudential, and a partnership with Jon Douglas. Finally, in 1995, it became Coldwell Banker Previews International.

I’m so proud of my successes and fortunes. I have been the top producing agent throughout my career. Last year, I closed the highest residential sale in the United States, Le Belvedere, listed at $72M in Bel Air, and as of June 1, 2011, I am #1 for Coldwell Banker for 2011 out of 97,000 other agents worldwide.

Pursuing a career in real estate was one of the best decisions I ever made. I have truly enjoyed the last 30 years and I am looking forward to what the future has in store for me.

Joyce Rey
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