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Baker_BakerIn 1975, Barbara Baker was raising small children, and, like many in her position, wanted a career that allowed her to work the hours she wanted in order to also be fulfilled as a wife and mother. Real estate was the perfect solution.

Not that the idea came out of the blue. Baker had long had an interest in homes, beginning when she came over to the U.S. as a 13-year-old immigrant from Germany.

“The fact that you can make a difference in someone’s life was really important to me,” says Baker. “My dad didn’t speak a word of English when we moved here, so home was really important to me.”

Today, Baker is the owner of Realty ONE Group Southwest in Temecula, Calif., an “agent-centric” firm that takes its cue from her 35 years of experience in the industry.

The community is still somewhat new, lacking homes with 50- or 60-year histories, which is causing somewhat of an inventory shortage. However, the market is experiencing a comfortable appreciation factor right now, reports Baker.

“When I first came here in 1981, we had 3,100 people, but now we’re a destination city between Old Town and Wine Country, so we’ve changed,” says Baker. “I have over 300 agents right now, and there’s always room for growth.”

Operating out of a 9,000-square-foot main office, which Baker is part owner of, the firm also has an escrow department, offering buyers and sellers a full-service range of tools.

“Agents are attracted to our firm because of the culture of the company,” explains Baker. “I have an open-door policy and am here for agents when they need me. We generally support each other and care about one another.”

Baker also believes in being a non-competing broker, with all leads going to her agents. “I understand that if they do well, I do well; without them, I’m an independent broker, nothing more,” she says. “This is my second family, and they’re important to me. Their success is my success, and we’re here to help develop that.”

Although Baker admits she’s not much of a technical person, the firm has a great technology program for its agents, thanks to Realty ONE Group.

“We have a lot of millennials coming into the industry who are very high-tech, and I think it’s important that they understand that technology is fabulous,” says Baker, “but we’re also in the people business, so it’s about building relationships. When you combine the two, you have a really good working system.”

Vitals: Realty ONE Group Southwest
Years in Business
: 4
Size: 1 office; 320 agents
Region Served: The Temecula Valley, Calif.

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