As told to Danielle Accovelli | Photography by Andrew Kraus
Growing up in a family heavily involved in real estate, James Sanders learned the industry’s many ins-and-outs at a young age. After earning a degree in real estate finance from USC, Sanders quickly rose as a top agent for RE/MAX Estate Properties, where he has been a consistently high producer for over 20 years, earning numerous accolades, including induction in RE/MAX’s Hall of Fame.
Here, Sanders talks with DIGS about his passion for selling real estate, key values as a broker and involvement with the South Bay community.
How has growing up in the South Bay area helped shape your real estate career?
I grew up in Palos Verdes in the late 70s and was part of an active real estate family. There was never a dull moment; it seems like there was always a real estate emergency while we were on the family vacation. From a real estate development perspective, I have seen the physical landscape of the South Bay change dramatically over the years. Most of the fields in Palos Verdes that I grew up playing in are no longer there, and there were only beach bungalows in Manhattan Beach. I love development as long as it has a concise, long-term plan for the community. The Peninsula has done a great job of maintaining open space, but Manhattan Beach has seen the most dramatic change.
You are known for your determination to produce results. What fuels this inner drive?
I have a competitive spirit and was taught to always do the best I could. I have been involved in sports from a very early age and became involved in extreme sports after college. I have flown over 100 miles in my hang glider and have swum the 1.5 miles from Alcatraz Island to the aquatic park in the San Francisco Bay. Giving up has never been an option. We all have a limited number of days and I always try and make mine a perfect ‘10’!
How has your business background contributed to your success in the industry?
I received my real estate license in the late 80s and my broker’s license in 2001. Becoming a successful real estate salesperson taught me the fundamentals of the business. We have seen major changes to the real estate transaction and the way the consumer shops for homes. Having a good understanding of the real estate transaction has helped me respond to the needs of agents, and more importantly, consumers. This experience has helped me in leading one of the largest RE/MAX franchises in the United States.
In what way did receiving the President’s Award in the first year of your career impact its future?
Rewards are nice, but helping people is really what this business is all about. Once I understood that this business is about serving others, my work no longer felt like work! I truly believe the more you give, the more you receive.
What are some of your key values when it comes to working with clients?
Honesty, fairness, calmness, enthusiasm, persistency and, first and foremost, always serving the best interest of clients.
Can you expand on your involvement with the RE/MAX Nautica Malibu Triathlon?
Last year our company gave over $100,000 to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and I’ve been participating in triathlons since the early 90s. When I found out the Nautica Malibu Triathlon raises over $1 million per year for Children’s Hospital, I formed a RE/MAX team to support the cause. We had over 20 RE/MAX agents participate this year and raised over $13,000 at the event. It’s nice to be able to give back!
How about your involvement in the South Bay community?
We support all of the South Bay communities. We have recently sponsored everything from drought tolerant gardens to all sorts of sporting events. We also tend to support many local community events and school functions—our education system not only helps our kids, but helps bolster property values, too.
What is the most important lesson you’ve taken from the real estate industry thus far?
Be honest, be kind and be courageous!
Words to live by when selling real estate…?
Come on, we live in paradise! Location, location, location!