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Meet Jeanne Rajabzadeh, 51, a St. Paul, MN-native who's now one of more than 200 Realtors working in and around Los Gatos trying to reap the rewards of a rebounding housing market.
Single-family home sales are increasing in most of the South Bay with new buyers taking advantage of reduced prices and Realtors receiving multiple offers, she explains.
The real estate business, however, hasn't always been this positive.
According to Rajabzadeh, single-family home sales began reviving toward the end of 2011 and now in the first quarter of 2012.
But for almost six years, beginning in 2006, this married mother of two grown children says her business was probably the most affected by the economic downturn.
Going into Real Estate
Rajabzadeh, who studied at Iowa State University and met her Iran-born husband there, got into home sales after owning several small businesses.
Her last job before beginning her career as a Realtor was running a catering business in San Jose's Evergreen Valley with a friend, which she says she gave up because it was physically taxing.
When she bought her home in Los Gatos in 1997, she became interested in real estate and started working as an assistant for agent Diana Crawford—now a Realtor for Intero. The women remain good friends to this day.
She notes that the decade prior to 2006, when the slump began, was a boom time for Silicon Valley real estate.
In 2006, Rajabzadeh remembers how those interested in buying or selling their homes delayed their decisions.
Another sign of the recession was how so-called short-sale homes, when a house is bought for less than its current loans, and foreclosures began affecting neighborhood property values "so even if homeowners were in good standing they saw their equity vanish overnight."
What did that mean? "If you're not buying a new house, you're not buying carpeting, new furniture, bedding and all the related industries began suffering as well."
To survive the recession, Rajabzadeh says she had to accept that during the slowdown she would have to serve some of her clients as an advisor instead of routinely selling at the peak of the housing business.
"Our job today continues to mainly be a guide for families and present them with all the facts, data and help them come to a decision that's best for their families," she says. "Sometimes that means telling your clients to stay in their homes and do nothing."
Rajabzadeh explains she also got creative with marketing. During the good times, clients came to Realtors for their services; during the bad times, when buyers and sellers were unsure, her outreach included social media networks such as Facebook, staying in closer contact with clients and other outlets.
She also had to learn to adjust her business expenses realizing lower commissions were now a reality and became more patient with extra paperwork required by banks to close deals. She also broadened her reach.
While based out of the Coldwell Banker office on North Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos, she defined a territory that includes the whole South and East Bay going were potential buyers were looking.
It's all been worth it, she says. "I help people make the biggest decision for their families. It's great to be a part of that," she says. "For me, being in real estate is about being a trusted advisor."