Hispanic Lifestyle is pleased to recognize Entrepreneur and Community Advocate, Yvonne Flores as a 2020 Latina of Influence. Ms. Flores along with our entire list of 2020 Latinas of Influence are invited to participate in Latina Conference taking place June 2, 2020 in Ontario, California.
‘Sink or swim,’ ‘do or do not’ – these are the mantras that have guided and inspired Yvonne Flores over the course of her professional life and that have spurred her rise in the world of real estate. This determination to take the initiative has also compelled her direct involvement in issues that impede underserved and challenged populations in her community toward empowering them and making their world a place of opportunity.
A lifelong native of Santa Ana, Yvonne attended Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa from which she graduated with an associate’s degree in business administration and a certificate in marketing. Her interests in real estate took root while working in 1993 in Newport Beach as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. Her deliveries included marketing materials for high-end real estate in the area. “I got tired of seeing their ‘Just Sold’ or ‘New Listing’ post cards that I delivered to homes each day and I kept telling myself that one day I too was going to pursue a career in real estate,” she said.
In 1996, while still employed by the Newport Beach post office, Yvonne took the first step toward fulfilling the desire that had sparked in her mind years earlier. She called First Team Real Estate in Huntington Beach and enrolled in their training program. The following year she left the postal delivery field to pursue a real estate career full time. Determined to succeed, Yvonne threw herself into her new professional life driven by her ‘sink or swim’ perspective. “If there was something I didn’t know about, I’d make sure I’d learn about it, even if it meant staying up reading and learning till 3 a.m.,” she said.
Her first sale was a $69,000 condo in Placentia and her first listing was a $1.44 million Newport Beach Westcliff home. She went on to sell 28 homes her first year as a realtor. She was showcased by First Team Real Estate as a guest speaker for recruiting seminars and promoted in weekly advertisements in the Orange County Register. She successfully recruited many new and emerging realtors to the industry.
In 2006, Yvonne earned her real estate broker’s license and a few years later created Westcliff Properties in the Artists Village of downtown Santa Ana. The real estate and property management company is thriving and is accredited with ARM designation by the Institute of Real Estate Management. Yvonne is also a CRE Advisor/Property Manager at SVNIVanguard, a commercial real estate firm. Between 2008 and 2016, Yvonne aided in flipping more than 350 single family residences, apartment buildings, land, strip malls and small office buildings.
For love of community
Yvonne’s work ethic is not limited to her business. She has involved herself in a wide range of community service and industry activities that better her community and her profession. She is a former board member with the Santa Ana Lofts Home Owners Association and with the Small Business Development Corporation of Orange County which helps small businesses and nonprofits owned by women, minorities, veterans and the disabled acquire capital through a state loan guarantee program. She also serves on the advisory board for Downtown Inc., one of two business improvement districts in Santa Ana and is a board member with Community Engagement, a nonprofit that aims to stimulate positive social interaction in diverse communities through innovative art practice. In 2019 she was accepted into the Orange County Realtors 2019-2020 Leadership Academy where she will serve in a leadership role with realtors.
Yvonne’s love of her community is further evidenced by her grassroots efforts to support artists and the arts through Gallery 211, a nonprofit which she hosted in her own home between 2012 and 2016 to sponsor local artists by providing creative work spaces and host monthly art shows, concerts, book signings and workshops. Some of the art exhibits focused on the plight of homeless populations in Santa Ana. An ongoing art show, “Faces of Santa Ana” got its start in Gallery 211 and features paintings of the faces of homeless individuals. Proceeds of the paintings sales benefit the individuals featured in the art work. Another show at Gallery 211, “Bloom Project,” focused on mental health issues and attracted 1,200 viewers.
“The growth and development of arts programming and artist’ opportunities is important to a community because the arts helps us to explore all aspects of the world we live in,” says Yvonne.
Yvonne provides further direct community support through her involvement with Community Engagement as a board member and arts grant judge. Through this organization she has been able to support grants that bring arts classes directly to kids living in affordable housing communities, grants that provide programming for senior citizens and that support the LibroMobile which provides books written by marginalized writers who might not otherwise have opportunity to showcase their work. The LibroMobile also provides free and affordable books to the community.
Yvonne also volunteers and gives presentations at the Affordable Housing Clearinghouse which helps first-time home buyers prepare for home purchase, and works with Families Forward in Irvine helping at-risk families find homes in properties under her management. “It’s not always easy, and sometimes we have additional obstacles that traditional applicants wouldn’t have, but together with Families Forward, I know we do make a difference for the better, one family at a time.”
She also speaks at city council meetings or writes letters to council urging housing developers to build affordable housing units in conjunction with their proposed projects rather than opting to pay ‘in lieu’ fees and push affordable housing projects years down the road. “If we as a community of developers, realtors, and city councilmembers decided to work in unison, we could actually build affordable housing and make a difference,” Yvonne says.
In addition to arts and affordable housing advocacy, Yvonne also serves as a Notary Public and volunteers for the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
Self-driven much of her career, Yvonne notes that she did not have professional mentors until she began working with Michael Ocasio, president and chief executive officer of Small Business Development Corporation of Orange County. “Mike has encouraged me, supported my ideas, and helped me step outside my comfort zone in order to do more business,” she said. Subsequently, Westcliff Properties grew its managed properties portfolio from three to just under 33 properties within a year and a half. Through her mentor’s guidance, she also diversified into a small business that handles live scan fingerprinting which compliments Westcliff Properties’ continued growth as a boutique real estate services firm. Yvonne’s current goal is to double Westcliff Properties’ clientele to reach 66 properties by Dec. 31, 2020, she said. And with her dedication to success, she is sure to achieve her objective.
Nominee: Yvonne Flores, broker of Westcliff Properties in Santa Ana, property manager, arts, community and civic advocate
Statement of reason for nomination: Small Business Development Corporation of Orange County in Santa Ana is pleased to nominate Yvonne Flores for Hispanic Lifestyle’s 2020 Latina of Influence list. Ms. Flores is not only a recognized and accomplished real estate broker and property manager with her boutique firm Westcliff Properties, but is a tireless advocate for the arts and entrepreneurs, for community development, affordable housing, homelessness issues and civic engagement. She is a role model of perseverance and tenacity in achieving one’s goals, and for taking the initiative in making a direct difference in the lives of those facing major obstacles. She is highly deserving of placement on the Latina of Influence list for 2020.
Nominated by – Small Business Development Corporation of Orange County in Santa Ana and Darla M. Tucker