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Almost Too Good to be True
A luminary with a fairy-tale career, the legendary Joyce Rey continues to lead by example.
Joyce Rey was never Snow White, but she still created a storybook career for herself. It has allowed her to help others live happily ever after as well. Rey, the head of the Estates Division of Coldwell Banker Previews International in Beverly Hills and the regional executive director, is well known in the world of luxury real estate for hermany successes, not tomention her role as amentor and philanthropist.
Last October, Rey was recognized with the Extraordinary Philanthropist Award at the annual Luxury Real Estate Fall Conference, and earlier this yearwent on a field visit forUNICEF to Bhutan andNepal. Rey was invited to join the organization nearly six years ago by former First Lady of California Sharon Davis and serves on the U.S. Fund fot UNICEF’s Southern California Board of Directors.
“I’ve always been eager to help others,” says Rey. “All the jobs that I’ve had involve dealing with people; helping people, handling people, servicing people. As a Realtor, that’s yourmain preoccupation.” Rey embarked on her real estate career after first holding jobs as a business law teacher, flight attendant and political travel-andappointment secretary. Her path was not easy; Rey’s father died during her first week of college as a freshman at USC. To help with expenses while in school, Reyworked as a sales clerk at a luxury department store and as a Disneyland ticket seller, joking that the position of SnowWhite was taken already.
While teaching, Rey was hired as a part-time flight attendant, working holidays and summers. During a flight, shemet her husband, actor Alejandro Rey. She eventually gave up teaching to travel with her husband, who passed away in 1987, and became a Realtor at the at the suggestion of a friend.
“I liked it from the first moment, but I didn’t sell a house until I was in the business for a year,” says Rey, laughing. “It didn’t happen right away, but I was patient. I liked what I was doing so much that I never had any self-doubt about it. I didn’t even think about getting discouraged.”
In 1978, she sold the former estate of entertainers Cher and Sonny Bono for the highest price ever paid for a U.S. residential property and a year later co-founded the first company to exclusively represent properties more than $1 million. She is a four-time recipient of the Pinnacle Award and has accumulated approximately $2 billion in sales, including the highest sale in the U.S. in 2010.
“The most exciting part ismaking a deal; putting clients together, finding just the right property, and having clients happywithwhat you’ve done for them,” says Rey. “That’s the greatest satisfaction.” Rey also takes satisfaction in her charitablework,which includes volunteering for the Los Angeles Library Foundation and the St. Joseph Center for the homeless. In 2008, the American Cancer Society selected her for its Spirit of Life Award.
On her trip forUNICEF, Rey got to see firsthand the organization’s health, education andmedia programs at work in South Asia. “Itwas so inspiring and heartening to knowthemoney is so well spent and the people are helped so enormously by the extensive programs there,” says Rey. “I came away with enormous admiration for the people who work in the field, and their good efforts, and tremendous satisfaction with the results that UNICEF is achieving.
“I also took away a great appreciation for my own lifestyle and good fortune.”