As told to Danielle Accovelli
Photography by Kieron McKay
With an industrial real estate broker as a father and a natural talent for closing a sale, Sean Dinneen seemed destined to work in the industry. After a successful career in commercial real estate, Dinneen made the bold move to residential real estate, focusing on the buying and selling of homes in the South Bay and becoming a top-producing agent in the area.
Here, Dinneen shares with DIGS his residential real estate expertise and passion for the place he calls home—the South Bay.
How did you get started in real estate?
I grew up with real estate, so I knew I would end up doing it in some capacity for my career. Before he retired, my father, Dennis Dinneen, was a very successful and well-respected industrial real estate broker in the South Bay. He opened the South Bay office for Lee & Associates in 1990. After graduating from college, I worked for the Xerox Corporation, helping build a solid foundation for my eventual career in real estate. After Xerox, I began working with a small commercial real estate firm representing major institutional landlords and mom-and-pop owners, helping them buy, sell and lease their industrial warehouses. I knew I eventually wanted to work with my dad at Lee & Associates, but wanted to cut my teeth on my own before I did. I went on to fulfill a lifelong goal to work with my dad before he retired and, as you can imagine, it was a lot of fun! After working in industrial real estate for over 10 years, I switched to residential, down here at the beach, where I grew up. I started with South Bay Brokers, where I was fortunate to learn under the guidance of Jack Gillespie and Jim Van Zanten, the company’s very knowledgeable founders.
Why focus more on residential real estate?
Residential real estate was always in the back of my mind, and I always wanted to work at the beach. After working in commercial real estate, I was still young enough to shift focus, so I went for it. Since I grew up here, I really enjoy helping people find a home, and for them to be able to experience the same beach lifestyle that I very fortunately enjoyed.
What makes the South Bay market so covetable?
Too many factors to list. It also depends on where you are in life. For families with children, schools are a big factor. In more of a macro sense, the extremely healthy lifestyle and accessibility. No matter the time of day, you see people out being active. Whether it’s running, walking the dog or surfing, there is something for everyone here that adds to their quality of life. Also, with South Bay’s close proximity to LAX, the mountains and the desert, there are no limits to what you can do. There have been a number of times when I have been up in the mountains snowboarding in the morning and at the beach in the afternoon. Not too many places where that is possible. It’s pretty amazing.
What’s your advice to families looking to buy a home in the South Bay?
Have patience. Especially for first-time homebuyers, this type of strong market can be very intimidating. Multiple offers, usually from buyers who have missed out on other homes, make for an accelerated buying process. In a more balanced market, buyers have the luxury of taking a breath, and a more normal deal cycle, with maybe a round or two of negotiations. Now, for a property in demand, you really need to go “all in” the first time to edge out other buyers.
How has being born and raised in the South Bay contributed to your success?
Having been very fortunate to spend my whole life here, I’ve immersed myself in all aspects of life in the South Bay. I have an intimate knowledge and true passion for the area that I can share with my clients to help them find an area that suits them best. At one point or another growing up here, I knew someone who lived in almost every part of the South Bay, and this experience allows me to share my insights about a specific area.
How does your experience in commercial real estate give you a competitive edge?
When in the commercial side of the business, I worked with everyone from large institutional landlords to small mom-and-pop owners. Working with such diverse clients has taught me how to navigate complicated nuances in a transaction to bring it to a successful finish. Occasionally, a client may be selling or looking to purchase an investment property, and with my background and expertise, I am able to not only look for and help underwrite a residential investment, but a commercial investment as well.
Elaborate on your work with Giveback Homes.
I am a proud, donating member of Giveback Homes. Through Giveback Homes, my clients and I partner to create social change through buying or selling a home. I make contributions from commissions I earn to build homes for families in need. When my clients buy or sell a home, they are directly responsible for helping build one for a less-fortunate family. It is very exciting!
What do you enjoy doing when not selling real estate?
I enjoy spending quality time with my wife, Teresa; playing with our 2-year-old daughter, Gracen; cooking; golfing; playing beach volleyball; and spending time in the desert or up in Lake Tahoe.