Temecula-based real estate firm lists care, concern as crucial components
Friday, March 8th, 2013
Issue 10, Volume 17.
Blake Cory, the chief executive and broker of CB International Realty, has real estate entwined in his DNA. And Michael Ochoa, the firm’s executive vice president, brings military service and more than two decades of Fortune 500 and Fortune 50 experience to the table.
The pair, as well as its hand-picked team of agents and support staff, has weathered the industry downturn and is now expanding as it carves out a niche among the franchise offices and the older, more established firms in the area.
"Each year we’ve grown, even when many real estate companies were downsizing," Cory said in a recent interview. "We’ve equipped our real estate office to be unlike anything else."
Part of that equipment is customer service and caring. While those attributes have nearly become cliché in the real estate industry, Cory and Ochoa say the concepts are more than mere buzzwords at their business.
For Ochoa, fulfilling that commitment might require a hug if a client is selling a home because of a death or divorce. It might also require other extra touches to smooth a wrinkled deal or ease an anxious mind.
"What’s really helped us is that understanding the customer is the most important thing," Ochoa said. "It’s not about the commission."
Cory echoed that view during a combined interview with the company’s two principals.
"The number one message we try to convey to the (company’s) agents is that we may be in business, but we’re here to help people," Cory said. "It’s just that real estate is your vehicle to accomplish that. We have to help some people through the toughest times of their lives."
From the start, the firm has distinguished itself from its competitors in several ways. First of all, it opened its doors amid the sharpest real estate downturn in recent memory.
In less than three years, the firm has rapidly increased its sales team and launched an in-house escrow service. The growth has been so steady that Cory and Ochoa hope to soon obtain additional office space in their Rancho Way building.
And then there’s the amount of real estate experience that Cory has packed into his young age.
"I was bred into this," he said. His aunt and uncle have been in the real estate and escrow business for decades in Encinitas. Cory said he’s been peering over the shoulder of his mother – a real estate agent and loan officer – since he was 13.
And there’s the firm’s company’s international philosophy. Cory credits much of that approach to his work for Southby’s International Realty in Del Mar. Building ties to agents and brokers in other countries can net the Temecula firm new customers and also help them to local or foreign real estate finds, he said. Economicuncertainty overseas and opportunities created by currency exchange rates draw many investors to the Southern California market, he said.
Cory lives in Fallbrook and Ochoa resides in Moreno Valley, which together gives them a broad swath to oversee as their regional area of interest.
The unique partnership formed by Cory and Ochoa is another hybrid in the local real estate industry. The pair met over a deal about three years ago and formed a mutual admiration society of sorts. Cory said he values Ochoa’s analytical approach and vast business experience. Ochoa, in turn, respects Cory’s energy, enthusiasm, quick mind and real estate savvy.
"The way I see it, it’s a yin and yang of business," Cory said. "We moved through that (recession) because we equipped our company. That has allowed our company to push forward and thrive."
The pair has become so close that they share an office and frequently seem to finish each other’s thoughts and sentences. They periodically get teased over that give and take.
"We have fun with it," said Ochoa, 54.
The company is making a splash as the regional real estate market is bouncing back thanks to low interest rates, a steadily-improving economy and a depleted foreclosure inventory, industry leaders have said in recent reports, press releases and interviews.
The once-dormant industry is surging back to life as many real estate agents are reporting brisk sales and some home construction crews are starting to gear up.
Southern California’s housing market continued its gradual rebound in January amid strong demand from investors and move-up buyers, according to DataQuick, a San Diego-based real estate tracking and information service.
The median sale price in Riverside County climbed about 25.2 percent to $226,000 in January from a year earlier, the result of rising prices, an ongoing shift toward fewer foreclosure sales and more mid- to high-end activity, firm officials reported on Feb. 23. Foreclosure activity is continuing to drop and the rate is far below peak levels, the firm reported.
"This fledgling housing recovery has momentum," John Walsh, DataQuick’s president said in the report. He said concerns have surfaced over a possible price "bubble," but he predicted "price pressures should gradually ease as more homeowners react to rising values."
Investor activity and cash purchases remain high and more buyers feel confident about their jobs, the economy. The gains so far this year follow steady growth last year. Riverside County’s sales volume increased nearly 8 percent last year compared to 2011. Temecula’s increase totaled about 8 percent. Murrieta saw a 3.5 percent gain and Menifee sales increased 1.5 percent.
Cory and Ochoa say they are pleased the way their firm is positioned as the region rebounds from the recession and the housing market continues to gain traction.
"We do aim to make a name for ourselves in the community," Cory said. "We want to take this seed and grow it from the ground up."
CB INTERNATIONAL REALTY, 43124 Rancho Way, Suite D • Temecula, CA 92590
(951) 587-9900 - Office www.CBInternationalRealty.com
CA DRE License #01884292
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