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Broker Agent

Pete Laurence
by Amber Edwards
photography by Brad Shifflett. Shifflett Photography

There are some people who, just given their nature and character, cannot help but stand out and above the crowd. Pete Laurence, a Broker and Agent at Better Homes Realty in Walnut Creek which he co-owns, is just such an individual. He is equal parts charisma and drive. As a result, Pete has been able to amass a formidable clientele list and earn the respect of his peers.

Pete’s journey to the top of Bay Area real estate was filled with twists and unusual experiences. He spent his youth in Berkeley until 10, then Clayton where after his father’s death at 15, he worked two jobs to help his mother during the aftermath. When his mother was back on her feet and high school had finished, Pete set out on a journey that would change his life.

He hitch-hiked and hopped freights across all 50 states and visited Mexico and then Canada settling in with American Indians up in the Yukon. But when the Vietnam War broke out back home, Pete’s sense of patriotism and duty drove him to enlist to do his part. After a stint as a military policeman in Korea, Pete trained as a Green Beret and spent a year in Vietnam combat, a time he jokingly refers to as “good preparation for the real estate industry.”

Following his service, Pete returned to the Bay Area and enlisted in college to attain his business degree and eventually his real estate license. “My inspiration in running my life came from the memory of my father, but my real estate inspiration came from a book and speech by William Nickerson called How I Turned $1,000 into a Million in Real Estate in My Spare Time. The basic concept was to buy “fixers” to sell to buy more. I was so impressed that I took my savings, pay from Vietnam where I couldn’t spend it, and invested in two small houses. The process led to the realization that real estate would be a good fit for me as a career. Even at that young age I had met so many types of people from all backgrounds and levels of society, and I knew that I could get along with all of them, and that would enable me to be successful in a career that boils down to knowing people.”

Pete began his career with American Realty, eventually becoming sales manager and attaining his Broker’s license before making a home for himself at Better Homes Realty. “The draw to Better Homes was simple. Everyone there was a Broker and that brings a further degree of professionalism. They realize the importance of stepping up from Agent to Broker. Anyone who is serious about their career in real estate should become a Broker” says Pete. In addition to his Broker’s license, Pete also attained his GRI, CRS and his SRES.

Thirty-five plus years later Pete is still with Better Homes Realty “I’ve never been one to settle for less than the best for myself or for clients. It’s amazing that I’ve found a home in a company where I’m surrounded by people of the same mindset. I enjoy the dynamics in this office and wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”

Pete also donated time and grew from the experience of serving organized real estate. He has run the Walnut Creek Marketing Meeting, served on the Professional Standards Panel enforcing ethics and for several years has served as a Director on the CCAR, the MLS and the State Association’s Board of Directors.

Over the years, Pete’s name has become synonymous with excellence in his local market spanning from Orinda to Discovery Bay. “My expertise has been developed over the 50 plus years I’ve lived in this area and been fine tuned by more than a thousand transactions that I’ve created within these communities. The main reason I’ve enjoyed so much success is that I work hard and have acquired all the qualities needed for real estate. To be successful in real estate, it helps to be part `friend,’ psychologist, contractor, financial planner, salesperson and legal expert all at once. Those without the ability to find a balance within all of these qualities won’t last in this increasingly competitive business.”

His experience in the field has brought a wealth of knowledge. “There are some lessons I’ve learned in my years in real estate. The first is that it’s important to be at and sign your clients at your own closings. Title officers are no substitute for your presence and being absent will result in a loss of repeat business and referrals. The second is that gimmicks like recipe cards or sports schedules will never replace a consistent effort to stay abreast of the market and use that knowledge to the benefit of your clientele.”

It is this sureness in the common sense element of the real estate business that has allowed Pete to rise to the top of his industry. “This business is about the continual pursuit of mastery where the market is concerned. Over the years we’ve heard a lot of things–that stock brokerage firms would take over our business, slashing commissions to nothing, or that the Internet would render face to face meetings a thing of the past. The bottom line is that this is a business that boils down to people. Convenience and technology are tools for those involved in real estate, but in and of themselves aren’t enough to secure a solid transaction.” Because of his longstanding presence in the industry, Pete has seen it all. Asked about the differences between real estate 30 years ago compared to now, he releases a soft chuckle. “It’s a whole different world now. A lot more cooperation exists between agencies and individuals and technology has made it possible to do an even better job for our clients.”

The biggest change Pete has seen has to do with the economy. “When I first got in real estate I would ask people what they wanted in a home and they would go into it, how many rooms they wanted or how many spots they needed in a garage. Now we go straight to what their income is and what they qualify for. There’s a need to stay within a budget, to help people adjust their champagne tastes to a beer budget. If you do it too abruptly people will hold it against you. You have to show them property in different price ranges and let them spend some time getting educated about the market without seeming to force anything down their throats. My transactions usually go smoothly and that’s because I give my clients a solid foundation so we pick the best one in their price range before we write the offer.”

When this real estate veteran isn’t working, he enjoys golf and traveling but his main interest is spending time with his family including wife Sherie and children Todd, Alana, and Alisa, and their spouses, who all live locally. “I am blessed to have such a wonderful support system. They have all served as inspiration for me in my career and in my life.” He also keeps busy in the community, having served as Clayton Mayor (3 times), on the City Council, as President of the Homeowners Association and as head of what he proudly calls “our little Chamber of Commerce .” “It has been an honor to have been able to do so much on the civic side of things and help keep the town I love so nice and in an improving mode. There is no star or award for that, but it’s an internal satisfaction. Though it represents a lot of time and commitment, my family and friends know we’ve helped the community and made a difference.”

Pete plans to continue making a difference in his career. “I enjoy my job and can’t see retiring. It’s been a long road and one full of satisfaction. I put people into homes and help them invest after a sale, helping to improve their lives and make them more successful. I hold fast to my high standards of service and integrity because in the end, it’s not about the money. It’s about being a good person, someone like my dad, someone he’d be proud to have raised.” *

Pete Laurence
1511 Treat Blvd., Ste. 100
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Phone (925) 939-7920 or (925) 940-2777
Fax (925) 939-1939
Email: pete@palaurence.com