Keith Kyle of South Bay Brokers
As told to Danielle Accovelli
Photography by Kieron McKay
After rising to the top in a successful sales career, Keith Kyle found his true passion in real estate—and in the South Bay. A Hermosa Beach resident for 17 years, Kyle has cultivated a client-driven philosophy focused on building long-term relationships. Here, South Bay DIGS chats with this top-producing agent about his market-savvy, staying on the leading edge of technology, and passion for the place he calls home.
South Bay DIGS: How did you get your start in real estate?
Keith Kyle: My wife was actually the one who thought real estate would be a perfect fit for me, and she was certainly right. I started in 2006, which was toward the end of the real estate bubble, and it quickly became a very challenging market. However, from 2007 on, I have been a top producer and my business has grown every year since.
SBD: What, specifically, makes you so passionate about the industry?
KK: It’s hard not to be passionate about real estate, as it allows me to play such a big role in what is ultimately one of the biggest decisions in people’s lives. Real estate is a great long-term investment; for some it’s purely a financial decision, but for most of my clients it’s a life decision—helping them find a home that will have an impact on the rest of their lives.
SBD: Briefly describe your philosophy as a real estate agent.
KK: To put my clients’ needs first. It sounds a bit cliché, but it really is central to the way I work, and in my eyes it has a direct correlation to my long-term success. It has allowed me to build long-term relationships, which has meant repeat clients and a great deal of referral business.
SBD: You have lived in Hermosa Beach for over 17 years. What makes the area so appealing for homebuyers?
KK: Hermosa Beach and the South Bay offer an incredible lifestyle that is hard not to love. We have the weather, the beaches, the award-winning schools, and we’re close enough to LA, the Westside and Hollywood to make it ideal for commuters, but with a much more relaxed pace of life. Something I love about the South Bay is that it is a destination town, which means that the people that live here do so by choice and most share a similar passion for the beach lifestyle.
SBD: How has your passion for the South Bay community contributed to your success in the industry?
KK: In any job that involves sales it makes a huge difference to truly believe in what you’re selling, and the beach lifestyle and sense of community in the South Bay is something that’s easy to be passionate about. We have fantastic towns here in the South Bay with great schools; it’s hard not to be enthusiastic… It really is a great place to call home. That honest passion is seen by both homebuyers and sellers, which has translated into a very successful real estate career.
SBD: How does your expertise and knowledge of both the local market and area give you a competitive edge?
KK: Not only is it critical to have a realtor that knows the intricacies of our local cities and neighborhoods, but with so many homes selling off market, my connections with other top local realtors are equally valuable to my clients.
SBD: Your goal is to have long-term clients. How do you cultivate these lasting relationships?
KK: It’s all about trust and looking at every relationship with a long-term mindset. Ultimately, when I put my clients’ long-term goals ahead of my own, it helps develop clients for life. This can mean telling a buyer that they should hold off on putting in an offer on a home that’s not quite right, or telling a seller that they should wait until a more high demand time of year. It’s likely cost me a sale or two, but ultimately it’s earned their trust—earned clients for life— and has helped grow my business through referrals.
SBD: What are your firm’s main areas of expertise?
KK: Our agents are all full-time and very dedicated, and our focus is primarily on residential real estate in the Beach Cities. However, with the recently announced merger with Vista Sotheby’s International Realty, we will have an even greater focus on the local luxury residential market.
SBD: What distinguishes your firm from others in the same market?
KK: One of the many things that separates my business from others has been my long-term focus on technology and how it can help both my clients and my business. I have always tried to be on the leading edge of online marketing, using everything from professional property videos to customized property websites to social media. I want to make sure that the world sees my clients’ home in the very best possible light.
Manhattan Beach realtor Matt Pernice represents buyers and sellers of South Bay homes and apartment buildings. South Bay DIGS chats with this water-loving family man about the local market, its rising residential real estate prices and his favorite outdoor activities.
AS TOLD TO CONSTANCE DUNN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAUL JONASON
South Bay DIGS: What inspired you to get into real estate?
Matt Pernice: While going to college to get my biology degree, I owned a personal training company to pay my way. One of my best clients was a tenant representative for a national commercial brokerage firm. He convinced me to get my license to augment my income in order to pay for college.
SBD: How do you utilize your finance background in your real estate career?
MP: I’ve always excelled in mathematics. I guess it’s just in my blood; my family is filled with mathematicians. I tend to use these skills on the fly to help educate clients in the moment. A large portion of my business is commercial apartment sales. The ability to combine my people skills—selling luxury residential homes at the beach—and my business skills—selling commercial apartment sales—makes for a very balanced work environment that is challenging, but very rewarding.
SBD: What other aspects of your background give you an edge in real estate?
MP: I’ve always been a people pleaser. I’ll do everything and anything to make sure the client is happy. Going the extra mile for my client before, during and after the transactions is what separates me from other agents. I’m not the type of agent with two or three assistants. I want to interact with my clients every step of the way to ensure they are pleased with the outcome. I enjoy the day-to-day ups and downs of a transaction.
SBD: What factors are currently influencing local residential real estate?
MP: The finance answer: the contraction of interest rates and inventory, as well as rising prices, are the key factors influencing our local marketplace. The personal-interest answer: we live in a prime vacation environment. There is a lifestyle in the South Bay that cannot be surpassed anywhere in the country. Local actions, such as keeping businesses local, supporting longtime South Bay business owners, beautification actions and public safety, are key factors in residential real estate.
SBD: You’ve been in real estate for over a decade. Any local trends during that time that have surprised you?
MP: The appreciation over the last two years has been unbelievable. I’m more of a conservative, but it’s hard to argue the price trend. Just when you think you’ve seen the highest sale, the next will surpass it.
SBD: Clients mention your negotiating skills. Can you talk more about that?
MP: I don’t think of myself as a negotiator, I think of myself as a mediator in a process where the goal is to get the most appropriate, fair deal for both parties. When we are in the middle of negotiations, I barely rest until I know my clients have the deal they deserve.
SBD: You’re part of NW Real Estate Brokers in Manhattan Beach. What makes this firm different than others in the area?
MP: Joining NW Real Estate Brokers in 2010 was a no-brainer. This group of agents has an unbelievable amount of knowledge about the local market, and there’s always someone around to collaborate with. While the business environment is very relaxed, our business tactics are fearless and aggressive. Our broker, John Chuka, is always there, anytime we need something.
SBD: What do you like to do when you’re not doing real estate? What are some of your favorite places to hang out locally?
MP: My son, Ocean Eddie, and family are my number one priority. You’ll find us almost every weekend playing on the local beach, in the water SUP [standup paddleboarding] surfing, or scootering around on the strand. If you see two man-buns flying by on scooters along The Strand, it’s probably us. I’m a bit of a homebody so I enjoy a good movie at home any day over going out.
I try to get two forms of activity in per day. Whether it’s swimming in the currents, SUP surfing the break, running on the Strand, yoga at one of our local studios or going to the gym. If it gets the heart pumping, the sweat pouring and offers a mental break—I’m in! The South Bay is the perfect environment for my family to work and play. We feel blessed every day that we get to live in such a beautiful area of SoCal, and couldn’t be any happier than we are today.
South Bay DIGS recently had the pleasure of sitting down with long-time South Bay real estate duo Steve and Ceci Watts, who specialize in Peninsula real estate.
First things first. Why did you decide to go into real estate?
Ceci and I started selling about the same time 29 years ago, but I started here in Palos Verdes and Ceci started her real estate career in Texas in 1986. I did a rehab project in Lunada Bay with my brother 1985 and liked the process. Sandra Sanders was our real estate agent so I asked her, “If I get my real estate license will you hire me.” The answer was yes and for 29 years it has been a fantastic relationship and an incredible career. Ceci had wanted to sell real estate since high school so after she graduated from college in Texas she started selling in Dallas.
When and how did you and Ceci team up?
We met on a blind date 22 years ago, were married 9 months later, and decided to do what we both love to do and do it together. Ceci has very strong marketing skills and her background of having a degree in interior design is a tremendous benefit to our working with our buyers. We have been introducing to our sellers the opportunity to update their home for sale which increases their value tremendously with Ceci’s input for design features. We are able increase our clients’ return on investment double and triple what they invest into their home.
The two of you earned your way into the top 1% of agents nationwide. What is your formula for success?
Speak the truth, show up, be creative. I have yet to find a magic formula. The added ingredient to what I previously stated is work hard and know your market
You’ve been in the business for nearly 30 years. What is the most significant change you’ve seen in Palos Verdes real estate during that time?
Technology. Our real estate market is an open book to consumers. We even have our own app now where buyers can be in front of a home on the market and pull up all the MLS data with pictures.
What does life on the Peninsula offer that other parts of Los Angeles do not?
Where do I start? I have lived on the Peninsula for 52 years and 21 of them married. There is no place better to live, whether it is to raise a family or retire, because there is so much to offer an individual. Because there are no party bars or nightlife on the Peninsula, it is quiet. The Peninsula focuses on family life. It provides an atmosphere of living in the country with access to downtown Los Angeles only 30 minutes away. There is a sense of a rural atmosphere but with the benefits of a large metropolitan city right around the corner. The schools, the theatre, one of the world’s largest ports, great sports, high school’s top ratings are just some of what keeps us excited about living on the Peninsula, and now the world-class Terranea Resort and Spa in our backyard.
Let’s switch subjects for a moment. You and Ceci don’t just live and work in Palos Verdes — you’re also active members of the community. Will you tell us more about that?
We truly appreciate this community we live in and the people who live here. We feel more connected when we give back. One event we did, which was driven by our daughter Mariah, was to organize a 100,000 meal packaging event. We raised $25,000 along with FCA from all the local high schools. Is was great because it brought 400 people together, families and children of all ages, with the goal “to help others.” One of our annual events for 13 years was bringing Santa Claus to Palos Verdes. We started this process on a flatbed truck going door to door delivering gifts to children. This became so overwhelming we then set up Santa’s Workshop in Malaga Cove, which was such a blessing for so many people throughout the years. We are currently having a great time with an event at halftime at the Peninsula High School basketball games called SUPERSHOT. These are just fun ways for us to give back to our community.
What are you doing when you’re not selling homes or giving back to the community?
Ceci and I love spending time with our two girls, Mariah and Natalie. We love snow skiing, water skiing, riding bikes, hiking, and jogging as a family. We enjoy opening our home for various events and we are very active in our Church. Ceci and the girls are involved in Las Madrecitas and Ek Kardia, trying to teach serving others before ourselves.
Do you have any predictions for where the housing market is headed in 2015?
We expect the real estate market here in South Bay to be what we refer to as “fair market for all.” For buyers, interest rates are low and prices are starting to level off. For sellers, inventory is low so buyers will be competing for good properties. There will still be strong buyer demand for those buyers who are still in the market. We expect some slight appreciation for 2015.
What about the Super Bowl — any predictions there?
I am a quarterback fan and both these guys are impressive. Not sure you can bet against either Russell Wilson or Tom Brady. I would like to be negotiating Russell Wilson’s contract when his initial 4-year deal is up. Not bad for the Seahawks who signed him in 2012 on a 4-year contract for only 2.99 million…that is a great return on your investment.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We are thankful for all the clients who have worked with us over the years and given us the opportunity to help them find the right home to create memories and raise their families.