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She Can Drive A Sweet Bargain

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Kara Courtney, Windermere Homes & Estates

You may know NSDCAR REALTOR® member Kara Courtney as a recipient of a 2016 REALTOR® Award of Excellence for the Oceanside area. She helped coordinate two NSDCAR community service projects consisting of members painting portions of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Oceanside and San Marcos. Kara also serves on the NSDCAR Oceanside District Council.

But did you know that Kara started developing her negotiating skills as a child?

“There used to be a small convenience store in La Costa that had the best cookies, it’s no longer there,” said Kara. “My favorite cookie as a kid was white chocolate macadamia nut. My mom would wait outside the store and give enough money to buy just one cookie as a treat after school, but I would walk out with two or three or more. Most of the time, I would just ask nicely for extra cookies. If that didn’t work, my favorite line was `I see that you have a lot of cookies and it’s late in the day, you don’t want to sell day-old cookies tomorrow morning, do you?’ Eventually, I became a regular and made friends with all the clerks, so getting the extra cookies became easier.

“Looking back, I was developing some of the negotiating skills that I use today. I’m determined person. I know that hick-ups can happen with any transaction. But, if one way doesn’t work, then I’ll try another or even another. I can be creative and find a way to get what we want by focusing on how to make it a win-win for everyone. Last year, a large majority of my buyers paid less than what their home appraised for. I generally don’t give up until we have success.”

Kara, 30, grew up in Carlsbad. She attended La Costa Meadows Elementary School, Aviara Oaks Middle School and Carlsbad High School (class of 2005). She graduated in three years with a bachelor’s degree in Communications from California State University San Marcos. “I met some of my college requirements with AP tests credit in high school and from passing tests instead of taking the classes in college,” she said. “In college, when I had the option of taking any two classes to satisfy the credit requirements, I chose real estate because I always had an interest in the industry.”

Her first job after college was with San Diego-based Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill restaurant chain, now called Rubio’s Coastal Grill. She spent six years (2008-2014) working in the corporate office starting as a marketing assistant. She was later promoted to associate marketing manager. “Part of my job was to manage the purchasing and printing of marketing materials for about 200 restaurants,” Kara said. “After I qualified a new vendor, then I would find more cost affordable options and negotiate better deals for the benefit of the company. Because I had contributed to the company by saving a lot of money, I was honored by Ralph Rubio himself with the Founder’s Award.”

While still working at Rubio’s, Kara finished up her last real estate course at Palomar College. “All the real estate classes I took through college and books I read solidified in me that I had the right skills for real estate,” she said. “I have an amazing great uncle Tom who was very successful as a commercial real estate investor. He knew how to add value to a property. I grew up admiring him a lot.”

Kara said her goal was to earn her sales license before age 25. “I passed the test 13 days before my birthday,” she said. “My first listing was my own house that I lived in with my husband, so I became my first client. We sold a fixer-upper we had bought a few years earlier. The day it closed was my last day at Rubio’s. We made enough profit from the house sale to pay the bills for a while until my real estate business got established.”

Today, Kara works at Windermere Homes & Estates. Her husband Jesse is a custom woodworking contractor who specialized is building custom kitchens. Kara says she is grateful for the work of NSDCAR. “I love our Association because it’s about collaboration and the success of our members. We are like-minded in our tenacity, friendliness, desire to learn more and make an impact in our client’s lives. Plus, we want to help our community for the better. REALTORS® can pave the way to make our communities an even better place to work and live.”

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