Raju Chhabria’s love of Palos Verdes began on a fateful day in 1984. Recently moved to the South Bay from Bangalore, India, he headed up the hill to meet a man about an enticing real estate job he had seen in the paper. The job was bogus, but the location was anything but. “I was disappointed that the job ad was not what it seemed,” says Chhabria. “But I looked around me, and said, ‘This place is beautiful.’ I drove around and ended up on an oceanfront street—Paseo del Mar.”
“IN 1986 OR ‘87, I HAD A CLIENT THAT WANTED TO BUY A HOUSE FOR $5 MILLION IN PALOS VERDES, BUT EVERYTHING WAS SO OLD AND BEAT UP. I WAS KIND OF BUMMED THAT I COULDN’T SELL HIM A HOUSE. THAT’S WHERE IT STARTED. I DECIDED, I’M GOING TO START BUILDING HOUSES, ONE BY ONE.”
Over $3 billion in career sales
He was a top agent at Shorewood Realtors every year from 1995 to 2014 before starting his own brokerage
Chhabria has lived in Palos Verdes for nearly 30 years
Like many things in his life, Chhabria made it happen by a combination of iron will and work. He had already tasted success as a young entrepreneur in India when he took over an uncle’s flagging wholesale fabric firm after college, and managed a quick turnaround by implementing innovative new offerings, such as delivering products directly to clients, rather than have them schlep to the busy wholesale market to pick them up.
For Chhabria, it was love at first sight. “‘Someday, I want to own a house on this street,’” he told himself. Five years later, he did.
So the confidence was there when he embarked upon his new career in the United States, first attending real estate school, which he credits with providing key early mentorship. “My real estate teacher was agent Paul Allen from Century 21,” says Chhabria. “He taught A to Z about real estate. He was one of the best educators and teachers.” Armed with his license, Chhabria started selling homes successfully and, in 1989, purchased his Paseo del Mar dream home for $1.2 million.
A booster as well as a long-time resident of the area, Chhabria has raised his family in Palos Verdes with wife Philomina (sons Neil and Anand Chhabria are part of the business), and today, nearing 35 years in local real estate,
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF RAJU CHHABRIA
As told to Wendy Bowman | Photography Courtesy of Paul Jonason
If you were to tally up time spent in the residential real estate industry by seasoned agents Ron Wynn, Steve Sawaii and Fiora Aston of WSA-Coldwell Banker, Santa Monica, you would have a combined total of 100 years. Add to that their constant collaboration and expert research skills—not to mention the support of Coldwell Banker’s vast network of resources—and you have a team that is ready and able to provide their clients with the most accurate information available when it comes to making the proper decisions about buying and selling a luxury home on the Westside.
“We are confident that our brand—WSA and Coldwell Banker Previews—provides our clients with the most superior representation without exception,” says Aston.
And that’s proven: These respected and savvy partners are consistently ranked in the top 1 percent nationwide as part of Coldwell Banker’s Elite designation known as Society of Excellence, and among the company’s top-100 producing agents in Southern California. The Wall Street Journal also has named them among the top 100 agents in California. Here, the esteemed trio speaks with DIGS about working together, the Westside luxury market and more.
Fiora: In 2011, I was approached by Steve and Ron asking if I would like to form a partnership with them. At first it came as a big shock. All three of us had been in the business for a long time, all top producers of the company. Ron and Steve are icons in the business, and I always had a lot of respect for them. Following our invigorating meeting, I had one sleepless night and then woke up in the morning and knew this was a perfect opportunity. During the past few years, we have all gained so much from each other. We complement each other immensely. Each of us has our own unique strengths. I am very creative and artistic, particularly when it comes to marketing. We are fortunate to have our own boutique private office across the street from Coldwell Banker’s Montana Avenue office.
Steve: I had the opportunity to partner with a major real estate company on the Westside. However, when I was approached at the same time by one of the top producers in the country—Ron Wynn—I knew we would have something very special. The three of us have been able to collaborate on many issues and have created an amazing brand within the Coldwell Banker brand.
Ron: For years, the three of us have collaborated to the benefit of our clients, always believing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We mutually agreed to give this marriage a try, and the honeymoon has been going on for years. It is the best thing we have ever done, for ourselves and for our clients.
Fiora: Throughout the years, we each have built a reputation for excellence in service and integrity. By joining forces, we were confident that our combined efforts would ultimately create more fruitful results for our clients. That is summed up in our mission statement: “Solutions by Collaboration.” Our mission is to serve our clients as their trusted advisers, committed to the highest standards of integrity, confidentiality, performance and accountability.
Ron: Our goal is to provide the best service, marketing and networking, implementing the finest strategies for our buyers and sellers to achieve their goals, all while actively participating in our local community on a daily basis. We are all about community.
Ron: Each of us has worked all over the Westside. Many of my sales are in Brentwood and Santa Monica, but I’m in Cheviot Hills, Westwood, Mar Vista and Beverlywood as well. I guess you’d say I’m everywhere!
Steve: From Beverly Hills to Santa Monica and from Malibu to Westchester.
Fiora: I go wherever my clients look for my guidance.
Steve: The biggest changes we have seen are with the cities’ restrictions on growth and over-building. However, with the beautiful climate conditions and cultural diversity, this coastal town has been, and will continue to be, one of the most desirable locations to live and work.
Fiora: We have a complete understanding of the Westside, constantly monitoring inventory and conducting research to best serve our clients in a changing and challenging market. As a Previews area director, I bring to the partnership the latest micro and macro market information.
Steve: I have always been, and remain, totally hands on at all times. I attend every inspection and personally host open houses almost every Sunday.
Ron: Each of us is different in our approach and in our personal lives. We complement each other in an almost magical way. I am a great negotiator. My passion is to work with attorneys and business managers, with whom I have immediate chemistry.
Ron: We don’t think there is such a thing as the ultimate luxury real estate broker. Understanding our clients and their goals is a function of good listening, knowledge, excellent skills and technology. All three of us are blessed with a superb network of loyal and diverse high-net-worth clients.
Ron: Before even meeting us, our clients look to our combined 100 years of success and testimonials from friends and colleagues as the ground from where to start. Our WSA and Coldwell Banker Previews platform consistently supports our solid foundation characterized by integrity for decades, with thousands of satisfied past sellers and buyers as proof.
Steve: My clients know that I will go above and beyond for them. I am happy to help them with any problem that may arise during the process of selling and buying a home. They know I will always help them find a solution.
Fiora: I have been involved with Team In Training for many years. It is an amazing organization that helps train you for triathlons, while saving the lives of people with leukemia and lymphoma. WSA has also been active in the fight against crime in Santa Monica. I also donate funds to Westside Children’s Center, another unique organization that serves the needs of children and their families in L.A.
Steve: One of my philanthropic involvements is with Lighthouse Medical Missions’ Walk to Africa. We raise funds to send teams of doctors with medical supplies to the families in need in Africa, as well as to other underdeveloped countries.
Ron: We all believe in giving back. We support many local, national and international charities, including participating in more than 30 local school fundraisers every year. We often donate a portion of our commission to the charity of our client’s choice.
“Our mission is to serve our clients as their trusted advisers, committed to the highest standards of integrity, confidentiality, performance and accountability.” —WSA Team
Ron: WSA is a brand within a brand. No other team can offer the services that WSA can provide. Each of us brings our own special qualities to the brand, giving a complete spectrum of benefits to our clients.
Fiora: We plan to keep collaborating, helping many clients and having an outstanding outcome as always.
Steve: I see us growing as a team and in our ability to help people achieve their dreams.
DIGStv met up with Raju Chhabria of Shorewood Realtors in the South Bay of Los Angeles at his Torrance office to discuss his success and a couple active projects.
In 2015, Raju Chhabria was nationally ranked in the Top 15 Realtors by sales volume, selling nearly $300,000,000 in home sales in the Southern California real estate market. Raju talks what helps him stand apart from other agents. Then Raju Chhabria takes DIGS through a couple of his recent listings listings in Palos Verdes Estates and Manhattan Beach.
As told to Constance Dunn
Photography by Kieron McKay
Maupin Realtors / Maupin Development
In 1958, Douglas Maupin moved to the South Bay with his family. Twenty years later, he began selling residential properties in the area. South Bay DIGS chats with this easygoing surfer about his decades-long adventures in local real estate and land development.
South Bay DIGS: So you’re an area native?
Doug Maupin: I grew up on Rockinghorse Road [in Rancho Palos Verdes]. We moved here in 1958, my family did. We used to hike for hours. My mom would pack me a peanut butter sandwich, I’d go to my friend’s house and we’d walk up George F Canyon and we’d come back six or seven hours later after exploring caves. It was a great place to grow up.
SBD: You’ve been in real estate for a long time.
DM: Since 1978. My wife Nancy and I just got back from Hawaii, where we spent about six years and all I did was surf. She was pregnant and I said ‘Uh-oh, I better get to work. Party’s over.’ I was living in a little rental in Lomita. I was a manufacturer’s rep and
I saw my friends buying houses and their values going up while my rent money going out the window. I thought to myself, ‘I like this real estate stuff.’ So I got my license.
SBD: Eventually you moved into developing.
DM: I started out just like every realtor, sitting open houses, taking phone calls, trying to solicit houses for sale. The first deal I made was to a friend who was a framing contractor. The idea was that I’d find him a good deal on a piece of property, he’d build a house on it and I would get to sell it for him. So I started working on land deals right off the bat.
SBD: What’s a current area of specialty for you?
DM: Although I’m good at marketing homes, and I enjoy that aspect of it, about half of my business is looking for land opportunities, and enhancing the value of that land.
SBD: Looking back through the years, is there something that has consistently surprised you about local real estate?
DM: Yeah, it’s so resilient. Even in the toughest times of real estate, houses along the beaches, houses with views, were still going up in value. So this great area—with terrific schools, retail and emergency services—is a wonderful place to live and bring up kids. As a result, properties are very valuable.
SBD: Any trends you’ve noticed recently?
DM: A lot of the new properties, view properties and super-prime properties are being bought by foreign investors and nationals who want a piece of California to enjoy while they’re here. Also, there’s still a scarcity of real estate in the
South Bay, therefore high prices.
SBD: Any hot local areas to watch?
DM: I really think that Carson could come up big. It has a lot of land, a lot of commerce and a lot of industry. If Carson could manage their city correctly, they could be a dynamite city. They’re working on it. But the beaches, from Palos Verdes to Manhattan Beach to El Segundo, are gold and always will be.
SBD: Speaking of the local area, what are some of your favorite hangout spots?
DM: We have our favorite restaurants, like Red Onion—where I was a busboy in high school—or the Beach City Grill. I like the Portuguese Bend Club as a beach, that’s a great place to hang out. And I surf all over the South Bay, from Palos Verdes to Manhattan Beach. Every weekend, as long as there are waves, I’m in my car with my boards.
SBD: Any advice you’d give to a realtor just starting out?
DM: When anyone asks me if I think they should get into real estate, my answer is always ‘Yes.’ It’s a great profession. It’s so fun to wake up in the morning and think, ‘Boy I could sell a house today and make [a chunk of change]. And you can.