It was the summer of 1972. Wendie and I were living in a modest guest home rental in Montecito. We had been working at the Chart House restaurant in Santa Barbara, and we had risen to head cocktail waitress and headwaiter respectively. Working evenings gave us the opportunity to surf at the Ranch all day (we had access as the developer’s photographers) and get to the Chart House in time for an evening shift.
It was our way to enjoy the Ranch, and I could spend time learning to surf the new shortboards that had come into vogue only a few years before. By this time I was no longer riding boards I shaped for myself, and I was getting a new shaped blank from John Bradbury every four to six months (design changes were taking place at a rapid pace as shapers around the globe freely and eagerly traded new techniques). John had learned to shape from Reynolds Yater, and he had a small crew trying out his ideas… some at Rincon and for a very few lucky souls, at Hollister Ranch.
The Hollister Ranch sales program had started about six months earlier, and Dick LaRue (MGIC’s sales representative) had sold only six of the 133 parcels of 100-acres. Dick knew that I had my real estate license that I had achieved the year prior at the urging of my mother… a successful real estate broker in Palos Verdes. She felt I needed a fallback in case the Chart House job went away (which it did… 18 years later when we opened Hollister Ranch Realty).
Dick was giving agents a 10% commission if they would bring him a buyer. It turned out that he was giving great terms. With 10% down, one could buy a parcel and have no payments for one year (the payments were to be made annually for 20 years). He urged Wendie and me to use the 10% commission as a down payment giving us HR ownership for one year with - essentially – nothing down. In our early twenties, we decided that even if we lost the parcel the following summer, we’d be able to enjoy the Ranch and spend a few more years repairing our credit.
So, we bit. I needed a broker to represent me since I was then only an agent. My mother (the best mother anyone ever had) came to the rescue again. Another Palos Verdes broker friend of hers had opened an office in Montecito. Introduced to him, I worked out a deal whereby I would hang my license with him. I would give him $500 of the commission so that I could use the remaining $9500 for the down payment (Wendie and I had saved up some for the remainder).
So, we went into escrow in July, and on August 14th, we closed escrow. With less than $1000 in the bank, we bought a $100,000, 100-acre parcel. Parcel 3 is a truly beautiful location with panoramic 270° views from the top and picturesque Cojo Canyon covered with a virgin creek and numerous specimen California Live Oak trees at the bottom. With less than $1000 in the bank, it turned out to be the best risk we ever