“I’ve always had this sense of giving back, and that’s what I love about Santa Barbara,” says Renee Grubb, the owner of Village Properties Realtors. “I’m impressed by the number of nonprofits and how many giving people live in this community. When we first opened Village Properties, we wanted a real estate company that gave back, and we decided the focus was going to be children and education.”
In 2002, after Renee had met teachers that used their own money to buy basic supplies, Village Properties established the Teacher’s Fund, which empowered instructors to buy classroom staples that were not otherwise covered by school funds.
The idea exploded: To date, the nonprofit Teacher’s Fund has granted more than $1.6 million dollars to Santa Barbara County public and private school teachers, requiring only a simple form about why supplies are needed and why. “It’s extremely gratifying,” says Grubb.
Renee is also recognized as one of the most trusted real estate pros in town. She co-founded Village Properties in 1996 with Ed Edick and it’s now the largest independently owned real estate brokerage in Santa Barbara County, with 180 agents. They aimed to be tiny, but had 20 agents in one week of their 1996 launch.
This past summer, Renee took full ownership of Village Properties. “It feels good,” she says. “We know how to support each other and keep everyone happy.”
I’ve long admired Renee for her tenacity and support of various causes in our community, from the South Coast Business and Technology Awards to the American Heart Association. She showed up to our lunch with a festive sweater that’s bedazzled with red bow and a bell, proclaiming, “Everyone can hear me arrive.”
Renee was born in Long Beach, to Irish and Spanish parents. She greatly admired her grandmother, Trinidad, who came to live with them when she was 11. “She had such patience, compassion, and understanding,” she recalls. “She is who I strive to be today.”
After graduating from Lakewood High and attending Long Beach State for two years, Renee married Ed Grubb and moved to Santa Monica. A tennis player on scholarship to UCLA, Ed was also handy at construction, so they started flipping houses in the 1970s.
Many were surprised that they could stay together during such stressful fixing and flipping. “We are both very patient personalities and easy going,” she clarifies. “What’s the point of screaming and yelling.”
In 1983, they decided to move to Santa Barbara while their two daughters were in grade school. After years of working for various firms, Renee launched Village Properties in May 1996. “It took a little bit of planning,” she admits, but it’s always been a family affair. “My daughters were teenagers when we first opened. They answered the phones and helped around.”
Today, her daughters live in Santa Barbara, and Renee has five grandchildren. She explains, “I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason.”
Renee Grubb answers the Proust Questionnaire.
What is your current state of mind?
What is the quality you most like in people?
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
I dislike it when people are self-absorbed and cannot see others point of view..
What do you like most about your job?
The people I get to work with and meet.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Taking my grandchildren to Disneyland.
What is your greatest fear?
Speaking about a subject I have no knowledge about and forgetting my notes.
Who do you most admire?
It is hard to choose just one person. I admire people who overcome difficult situations and rise above them
What is your greatest extravagance?
Taking my family on nice trips when I can afford it of course.
What do you most value in friends?
That they are there for me.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Sorry, usually for being late! I apologize, so, so sorry, usually for being late! Sorry, I meant to get back to you sooner!!!
Which talent would you most like to have?
To sing, but not in front of people.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
More disciplined on what I eat. Eating healthier!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children and grandchildren.
Where would you most like to live?
Right here in my home in Santa Barbara.
What is your most treasured possession?
Family and friends.
Who makes you laugh the most?
What is your motto?
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
On what occasion do you lie?
I fib only to spare someone discomfort.