Last week I had a chance to catch up with Imperial Beach native and owner of Costa Modern Properties, Genie Irish. Irish has been in the real estate business for nearly two decades and recently opened her own brokerage to help locals the way she knows best – connecting people with the perfect home and their own piece of Americana.
“I come from entrepreneurship,” Irish told me. “My grandfather owned his own ranch and farm in Mexico and mom owns her own company in Coronado. That hustle started from an early age seeing my mom hustling; working to build her own life and I saw that when you work for yourself, the sky’s the limit.”
Irish got her start in real estate working as an assistant at a firm in Coronado in 2003. She decided to quit school when her dad was in his last stages of cancer and she stayed home to help him and her family through that time. Irish knew at that point she didn’t want to return to college and instead began climbing the ladder in the realm of real estate.
“At some point I felt I’d outgrown not having my own brokerage, my own name and brand that I identified with more,” she mentioned. Once Irish had made the decision to take the plunge and create her own, she went to a sub-brokerage tech company called Side to help her develop her brand. “It took about 6 months to decide on a name, which was actually the hardest part,” Irish recalled. “Sometimes names were already taken, or just not creative enough.”
But the lengthy process was worth it for Irish who wanted to create something representative of her and the clients she would be serving. “[Costa Modern Properties] is completely me in so many ways. The word “costa” equates to living in IB on the coast, “modern” for a more modern approach to real estate with clients.”
With Costa Modern Properties has come full creative control for Irish when it comes to marketing. Irish, who values the responsibility that comes with having your name attached to something, was happy to take that on and move past the part in her career of working under a different name and brand. “This is like my baby,” she laughed. “It keeps you accountable knowing it’s solely yours, all you. There’s responsibility that comes with that, but also flexibility and creativity as well.”
For Irish it also comes down to how she can use Costa Modern Properties to help others in her community. “I love the opportunity to provide home ownership,” she said. “When I get to hand people their keys, they’re no longer renters – they don’t have to worry about if their dog is allowed, or if rent will be raised, asking if they’ll still be there next year – they can say, ‘this is ours’ and that’s super critical. That feeling is overpowering.” Irish hopes she’ll always be able to work with Costa Modern Properties’ buyers because the work is so rewarding. Growing and living in Imperial Beach, Irish is well-acquainted with the homes and communities around IB and South Bay areas and finds it even more gratifying that she can help those connections and the communities grow and thrive.
Even as a hometown representative, however, Irish is mindful of putting in the hard work and being respected as not just a neighbor but as a professional. “Coming from a small town, it’s easy to want to have lax business practices because everyone knows you, but in reality this is your life savings,” she explained. “I may be a hometown girl, but I do business at a high level, the same as you would expect from an agent from La Jolla, New York, or wherever, but knowing it’s still coming from someone who has your best interests at heart.”
Irish knows she’ll be seeing some of her clients for many years to come, and that in many cases, will have an intimate knowledge of the history that comes with a property a family is selling or buying; that they grew up there, that parents passed away and it’s time for the family to sell the house, that a family buying their first house is more than that, it’s settling into a home for the first time.
“It’s one thing to have a heart and another to do your job well,” Irish mentioned, who strives to provide the best possible service for her clients and fellow locals, whether new or longtime members of the community.
When the pandemic hit, Irish and her team put a focus on how they could best be a resource to clients both in and out of the office. When they weren’t helping clients with homes, they were helping communities at food centers and with meal sharing efforts. “It was hard to imagine growth during this time but we almost doubled our business and kept in touch with everybody,” she said. “People were pivoting and that’s what we did, too. Now we can talk on Zoom and interface in other ways when we can’t meet in person and when we came back as essential service, we were able to move things quicker.”
Still, Irish misses the client appreciation and social events that draws her to real estate – street fairs, photos with Santa, and other events that allow for more client interaction at a social level that have been put on hold for the time being. “I look forward to getting back to client socialization and being able to have open houses consistently; getting back to being a part of their lives again,” Irish said.
She has a great deal of appreciation for the role her community has play in her life and development. “I really want to thank the residents of IB that have been so supportive of the growth of my career and understanding that although it’s a relationship based business, they can appreciate my caliber of work at the same time. That means a lot to me because my business is 100% referral based.”
To learn more about Costa Modern Properties, Irish, and her team, visit https://www.costamodernproperties.com/, or the company’s Instagram @costamodernproperties. Irish can also be contacted by phone at 619-796-9100 or via Instagram @genie_irish_realtor.