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Inspiring Conversations with Karina Duke of Temecula Livin Homes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karina Duke.

Hi Karina, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
At the age of 19, I began my banking career at Home Savings of America as a bank teller. Being bilingual in an area with a high Spanish-speaking population was very rewarding because I was contributing to making a difference in people’s lives. Home Savings became Washington Mutual and with that merger, many doors began to open up for me within the banking world. After holding five different promotions and positions in a six-year term, I landed a managing role within the bank. Even though the opportunity to manage a great team was very rewarding, it didn’t compare to the gift of working directly with people. I quickly discovered that my passion and mission in life was to guide and help people reach financial success, so I became a Washington Mutual Licensed Financial Advisor.

However, life’s plan was for my family and me to relocate to a new area and for me to explore a new career by becoming a Mortgage Loan Originator. This position meant that I still got to work directly with people, but now the goal was to guide them through the difficult process of getting a mortgage loan to help them to attain homeownership, the American Dream. Originating loans also meant that I got to partner up with many Real Estate agents. Many of those partnerships were not as smooth nor successful as I would’ve liked, and I got to see and experience the horrors of working with unprofessional and unethical agents. I cannot tell you how much their unprofessionalism cost our clients and their families. I, however, also got to experience the immense joy and rewarding feeling of closing the loan for these new homeowners. And it’s that feeling that remained in my heart and which planted the seed to someday become a licensed Real Estate agent.

Unfortunately, the mortgage meltdown pushed me away from the business, and I spent the following years raising a family, moving to Temecula, and growing relationships in my new community. One day, as I was doing laundry at home. I was trying to decide on an audiobook to listen to. The title Shark Tales by Barbara Corcoran piqued my interest and an impulse to hit download. The book grabbed my attention and by the culmination of the book, I’d made the decision to obtain my Real Estate license! Having already gone through a similar process for my state license Financial Advisor, I drove myself (and my family) to distraction as I studied for the real estate exam at my own pace and in my own way. At that time, I was also working as an Instructional Assistant for the Temecula Valley School District while still being a Mom and a Wife. All that hard work and studying paid off, and I was able to pass the state exam on my first try.

I didn’t search for a brokerage right away when I got my license. My daughter was headed to college, and I was overwhelmed with all the paperwork involved and campus tours, applications, and planning. It was not until six months later that I began to interview brokerages in the area. I honestly had so many doubts, I allowed the Impostor Syndrome to get the best of me. I wanted to be the best for any client that would come my way. When I finally worked up the courage, I landed with one of the brokerages I really had a vision of myself working for, even before I interviewed with their broker. I’m still in the same office, working every day to become the best Realtor®️ for my clients. And just as fate had planned, that brokerage is now Corcoran Global Living… Sounds familiar?? Yes, it was the company that Barbara Corcoran founded in 1979. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Faith? Absolutely! As you can imagine, I am extremely grateful to be where I am. Every experience in my life, professionally and personally, has brought me to this very moment. Just like it was 22 years ago, the eagerness and desire to help people has made me who I am and who I’m going to become in this career. My client’s well-being is my number one priority, Period!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy. I’ve known all along that to get the desired results. One needs to work twice as much. Nor growth, change, or success are easy. If anything, it’s the complete opposite. We, unfortunately, live in a 15-second attention span era. We see an entire experience in a 15-second video clip, and we assume that’s how life should be. We scroll to the next clip and immediately forget what we saw fifteen seconds ago. My last 22 years of experience have not been easy, but they have not been bad either. The tears, being discriminated against by my gender & ethnicity, failures, hardships, mistakes, sleepless and endless nights of school exam preparedness, having missed some of my first child’s milestones, her first steps, her first words, a divorce, a broken heart and hours and hours of therapy, have been the price to pay to become who I am today. I do not regret any minute of it. If I had to go through the exact thing twice to end up where I am. I would do it in a heartbeat.

I have learned to appreciate life and its tough lessons. I have learned to live each life’s phase in its present and gladly move on to the next. It’s part of living and becoming. But I would never say that my life has been easy nor that it has been tough. It just has been a life that I have been very fortunate to live.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Temecula Livin Homes started with an Instagram blog I created in 2017, @Temecula_Livin. The purpose of this blog was to share with visitors and newcomers about what Temecula has to offer. As the blog grew, it slowly began to take the shape of its own. It morphed into a blog to support the local businesses by exposing them to the visitors that were using my blog to plan their visit to Temecula and the Temecula Wine Country. Next thing you know, I began to respond to many direct messages (DMs) to help visitors plan their visits. Even now, I still respond to their questions. I make recommendations of places to visit, services to use, etc… So Temecula Livin became a brand with which I have become a supporter to the community and its people!

I had zero doubt that my Real Estate business would become an extension of that brand. I still support our local businesses, our residents, and our visitors. I respond to those who reach out with questions considering relocation and give suggestions to the places to visit or the local communities that might fit their family’s needs based on the information they provide. I have become quite the Temecula area and a relocation specialist.

One of the things that you should know about me and one that everyone tells me when they meet me is that they appreciate my simplicity and my energy. For some reason, the word Realtor®️ makes people believe that one should be serious, boring, or very egotistical. But when people get to know me, they’re surprised by the contradiction of who they thought I was. Don’t get me wrong. I am very professional when it comes to home buying or selling transactions or when I have to stand up for my clients. I do take my job seriously, and I make sure that I guide my clients to make decisions that are in their best interest. But I’m also a real human being. I love to laugh, drink wine and try all kinds of interesting food. I am a total foodie, and that’s the reason I have to work out!

I always tell people that I specialize in helping entrepreneurs and families make informed Real Estate decisions, and let me tell you why… I have worked with many entrepreneurs and families before; I know my fellow entrepreneurs sometimes face different challenges that a salaried buyer or seller doesn’t. I have a wonderful team that is fully equipped with the knowledge, tools, and systems to help tackle some of those issues. I work well with families because I understand the dynamics that come with it. This doesn’t mean I don’t work well with investors, single buyers/sellers or empty nesters. On the contrary, my previous experience at the bank working with investors fully equipped me to work well with everyone that needed my help or guidance. Communication is very important to me. I constantly communicate, but if my prospective clients do not work well, do not communicate or if there’s no chemistry between us. I have no problem letting them know that they’ll be better off working with someone else. I’m not into wasting people’s time, nor would I ever force a relationship/transaction for the sake of money. I want to wow my clients and create long-lasting relationships if that’s not the direction we are headed. There’s no basis for us to work together!

What were you like growing up?
I was born in Durango, Mexico. I came from very humble beginnings. I grew up surrounded by a very large family, and thanks to that, wonderful childhood memories are treasured in my heart. Much of who I am today is because of my childhood. I learned to appreciate anything that was given to me. I never took anything for granted because I understood the sacrifices my parents made to provide for my siblings and me. I have always been hard-working, active, curious, and creative. I remember feeling like I wasn’t understood by my parents because, honestly, I was a little too much… I would take things apart just to put them back together for the curiosity of understanding how things worked.

My imagination would take me on amazing adventures, and I would allow my creativity to make toys out of anything. I would spend hours at the sports park playing sports with the boys, whether it was soccer, volleyball, basketball, etc. I loved listening to very loud music as I cleaned the house. My sister and I didn’t have chores. We had the responsibility to maintain the house spotlessly. My Mom made sure that we knew how to organize, clean and wash. At the age of ten, my parents acquired their first film camera. I still remember when the salesperson was instructing my Dad on how to use it. I took it over and would take endless pictures of anything that was in front of me. My parents have many childhood photographs of my siblings and of the two of them, but not many of me since I was the one capturing the memories. Let’s not talk about all the film that went wasted because of my photography mishaps.

At age 14, my life went through a huge change. Not only was I trying to figure out who I was as a person, but to top it off, I had to figure it out in a foreign country. I had to learn a new language, become familiar with a new culture, and I had to start from zero. I learned to stand up for myself, to focus on my goals and to believe that I was capable of success! I used to get lost and very much felt identified in some of the lyrics of Nirvana. Of course, Kurt Cobain was my biggest teenage crush! His music was my escape from my clouded reality during my relocation phase. I still remember being told that I had to repeat a grade to be able to graduate high school. I refused and did everything in my power to graduate with my actual graduating class. I attended all four years of high school, including all summer schools in between, to be able to graduate on time. I met my goal and graduated with the Class of ‘97. Also, during my senior year, I earned early release from school since I had met all credits required for graduation. It might seem something insignificant to be proud of, but to me, it was proof of what I was capable of accomplishing if I set my mind to it.

After my high school graduation, I ended up marrying my high school sweetheart. At age 18, I was a married working college student. Once again, my life had to undergo another life-changing event, but that’s another story… One thing is for sure, that life-changing event helped me mature and saw life from a different perspective. I stopped being a teenager to become a woman. All I had to do was to keep moving forward. I’ve never seen myself as a victim of circumstances because I always find a way to come out victorious. My childhood was perfect in many ways because it equipped me with the tools, the love, the mentality and the strength to stand strong. I am a very happy woman, Mom, wife to my second husband, friend, and daughter because I am so thankful for the life I’ve lived so far. I know it only gets better from here.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
All images belong to Karina Duke’s Photography

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