Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing writer and editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Real Estate Sister Act
Learn how three sisters under the age of 30 have built a top-producing team in the Coachella Valley region of California.
October 18, 2017
Bahareh, Bita, and Sara Kamoei aren’t your typical 20-somethings. These three first-generation Persian-American sisters have already built a thriving real estate company from scratch in their first decade of adulthood.
They jumped into the business on their own, with no help from family members. But today, they’re among the top producers in the Coachella Valley area of California. They say the influence of their mother’s enduring nature gave them the tenacity to grow their brokerage, which produced more than $20.7 million in sales last year.
Bahareh Kamoei Baty, 29, the eldest of the sisters, is the broker-owner of BBS Brokers Realty in Palm Desert, Calif. Born in Iran, she was not even a year old when she fled the country with her mother, Masoumeh, a human rights activist who had been imprisoned for speaking out against the government. “She decided that despite all dangers and obstacles, she wanted to escape to America so her children could one day live in a free nation,” Bahareh says. “She is the bravest person I know, and she has always motivated me to chase after my dreams.”
Bahareh and her family have lived in the Coachella Valley since immigrating to the U.S. Her sister, Bita, was born a year later, and Sara came after another two years. Bahareh attended the University of San Diego with plans to become an attorney. She took a gap year before law school, interned at a law firm, but soon felt an overall sense of discontent in that field. So, she ended up going to work for a brokerage in 2008 and became an assistant for an agent who was handling a significant number of REOs. That agent took Bahareh under her wing and taught her the ins and outs of the business.
When the agent she worked with became ill, Bahareh took care of her workload, which sometimes included more than 30 properties in the pipeline. She handled cash-for-keys agreements, evictions, and even helped industry veterans at other companies with REOs. But Bahareh admits it was like learning to swim in swelling ocean waters.
Bahareh herself got her broker license in 2009 in hopes of one day opening her own company. After assisting with more than 100 REO sales, she decided to move on and work at a boutique brokerage, Rimrock Properties, in more traditional residential sales. That’s when Bita joined her in the business.
They quickly gained momentum at that office, working together as a team and helping other agents as well. About three years later, Bahareh knew it was time to make plans for her and Bita to run their own company. She figured out how to get incorporated, what insurance they needed, wrote up a business plan, came up with branding, and devised a workflow system. In February 2015, their younger sister, Sara, joined them as they pulled the trigger and opened the doors of BBS Brokers Realty.
“We each bring something to the table that makes us a good, cohesive team,” Bahareh says. “Real estate is a calling.”
Bita’s main focus is to monitor the inventory in their market, as well as to understand all their clients’ needs and wants so they can jump on a property when it’s available. She’s also Bahareh’s right hand when it comes to writing offers and keeping their office organized. Sara is licensed, too, but her major focus is marketing and public relations. Bahareh leads the team and handles a lot of the selling. If you walk into their office, you might see one of the women jumping on a small trampoline—Bahareh says it’s to keep the blood flowing. But sales are also flowing. As of July 2017, the trio brought in a hair shy of $10 million for the year, more than $1 million above where they were in 2016. Now they expect to surpass their 2016 volume of $20.7 million.
“I think we’ve gotten to a point where our market has recovered,” Bahareh says. “Everything has come back to life; properties are back with the pride of ownership.”
She appreciates helping people willfully sell their homes, as opposed to selling in distress during the most recent recession. She recalls that it wasn’t easy to call the sheriff to make sure properties were vacated, or to find abandoned pets inside foreclosures. Those painful moments early in Bahareh’s career helped her develop a keen understanding of the emotional relationship people have with their homes—and what it means to lose everything.
The sisters run their boutique firm as a family business with an intimate feel. A large percentage of their business comes from referrals. Between the three of them, someone is always available for their clients. “Overall, if you want to be successful, you make it work around other people’s schedules,” Bahareh says.
They work with both buyers and sellers, with a particular focus on first-time buyers, relocation buyers, and retirees. Investors seek them out due to their knowledge of distressed properties.
Their immediate goal for the coming year is to continue to build a scholarship fund for their former high school, Coachella Valley High School, where they were students roughly a decade ago. They donated $1,000 this past school year, and from that stemmed a partnership with OneFuture Coachella Valley as their first alumni match donors. The sisters have a goal to raise $10,000 for 2018, which will be matched for a total of $20,000. “We’ve always wanted to be a company that gives back,” Bahareh says. “Success is when you’re able to help someone else.”