Twenty-five years ago, in May of 1996, Renee Grubb and her business partner opened the doors of Village Properties in a single office on Coast Village Road in Montecito with just 25 agents. Four years ago this June, Ms. Grubb bought out her partner.
“We opened in the middle of the savings and loan recession of the 90s. I was managing for another company in Santa Barbara, who decided to merge, and they were bought out by another company. I was merged into a new company and I was shocked and disappointed. I was a little restless after that and I approached a gentleman that I thought would be a good business partner. We were fortunate, because by the third quarter of 1996 real estate started to sell again,” Ms. Grubb told the News-Press.
Village Properties has become a household name amongst sellers and buyers in Santa Barbara County. In 1996, Village Properties started with just 25 agents and has now grown to 185 agents with offices in Montecito, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez.
“We are able to cover most of SB County and some of Ventura County as well, we can compete better with corporate offices, who have been around for a while. We have luckily had great agents and agents with high ethics who are well liked. We try to be kind and treat our peers kindly. It’s a competitive business, but you can still do it nicely,” Ms. Grubb told the News-Press when asked what makes Village Properties unique.
Village Properties agents are highly trained, and selected for both their experience and connections to the Santa Barbara area, Ms. Grubb said. Profits are reinvested in the company and community, with agents volunteering for and donating to over 30 nonprofits, including the Village Properties-founded Teacher’s Fund that provides educational supplies to local teachers and students.
While other independent real estate firms have merged or sold to national conglomerates, Village Properties remains locally owned and rooted in the community.
“It’s so unique to be an independent company. I worked for a larger company, and when I needed something to improve the quality of the service we gave I would have to go through a lot of channels, and I always got a no. Being independent, and having just myself to answer to, I am careful with the budget, and have great advice on that. If there is something that is needed I can make that happen really quickly. There aren’t as many mouths to feed so to speak. The agents love it as well. I am always open to ideas and suggestions. If I can do it, I want to do it. If I can’t they understand,” Ms. Grubb told the News-Press.
To commemorate their 25 years in business, Village Properties has launched a rebrand of the firm. The rebrand includes a new logo, typeface, graphics and color palette used on signage, business cards, flyers, brochures and other printed materials, as well as the company’s website (www.villagesite.com). The rebrand is reflected across all the company’s marketing channels.
“What we wanted to do is modernize and evolve the graphic identity of the company to make it both current and timeless. The substance of our company – our agents, our culture, and our resources – has only improved, and we wanted our graphic identity to better reflect the culture and spirit of our people and the region of Santa Barbara. At Village Properties, all of our business stays here, the decisions are made here, and the profits are invested back into this community,” explained Billy Goldstein, Village Properties’ director of business development.
“The legacy has been focusing on what we can do to help our agents do a better job and provide better service for clients: marketing, transactions, paperwork etc. We just rebranded and launched our new website. We are constantly improving the quality of what we provide to our agents for them to be proud and competitive. I care a lot about the client, but I’m not face to face with the client. My job is to support the agent,” Ms. Grubb told the News-Press.
Annual sales volume has multiplied exponentially, from $102 million during the brokerage’s first full year to $2.3 billion in 2021, now accounting for almost one fifth of the region’s residential real estate market.
“I have a great team, and an amazing staff. I am so grateful for having the agents and the staff that I have and the support that I have. I have been through a lot of different markets. This market is pretty unique, and I’m grateful for it as well. We have a really good cooperative real estate community. It’s great to be in the business,” said Ms. Grubb.