'76, Social Sciences, '77, Behavioral Sciences
Real estate broker, co-owner of Coldwell Banker Realty in
At the time of Lowell Overton's graduation in 1977, lack of jobs in his area of study fatefully prompted him to follow a friend into local real estate. Less than two months after receiving his second bachelor's degree from Cal Poly Pomona, he got a real estate license, and the successful realtor has not looked back since.
"I was young and I didn't think anything was impossible," Overton says. "I was also impressionable and I had just been taught the work-study ethic, so I knew how to study and take tests, and my mind was open from learning."
A '76 social sciences and a '77 behavioral sciences graduate, Overton tackled his new occupation with ingenuity and eagerness.
"I went out and bought a bunch of books on successful realtors, entrepreneur-type people, and adapted their concepts to me," Overton says. "Plus, my behavioral sciences degree taught me the foundation of being able to work with people, no matter what career you're in."
Overton's success came early in his career. He stuck to his own work philosophy and excelled beyond his expectations in the business. Among his sales strategies was targeting niche markets, which brought him a certain amount of local celebrity.
"I started working with a younger group of people," he says. "I became known as the 'Condo King.' Condos made me the top agent in the Goldenwest company."
By 1992, Overton was sixth in the nation in sales and number one in the nation among 38,000 agents at Prudential Real Estate Affiliates. In one year, he personally closed $35 million in residential income and 187 houses - averaging a house sold every other day. He has been among the top-10 Prudential real estate agents in the nation more than 10 times.
"When I started, interest rates were very high, everybody was older than me - I was 23 at the time - and everybody told me how good it used to be, how good it was before I started," he says. "I didn't know any better, so I just worked hard and I waited for the market to get better."
And get better it did. The savings and loan crisis in the late 1980s gave Overton a windfall opportunity in corporate real estate that he was lucky enough to take advantage of.
"A part of it was being at the right place at the right time," he says. "I was prepared, I was successful, I was known, and the banks started giving me properties to market. I was catapulted, but I still had to do the work."
Overton rode the corporate real estate wave until 1998, when the California residential market began its recent boom. At that point, he acquired half interest in his Coldwell Banker brokerage office.
"It's a challenge every day, but I've seen the majority of variables in my career, and I pretty much know how to handle them," he says of his accomplishments. "You never get strong by swimming downstream, you get strong swimming upstream."
As long as interest rates remain favorable, Overton says, he is optimistic about the housing market. Although rates have gone up slightly, he believes that the market has survived it.
"Everything I've seen in my career has gone in cycles. Rates are high, rates are low," he says. "As long as the Fed doesn't raise interest rates significantly, I am optimistic about the California housing market."
A San Gabriel Valley native, Overton admittedly enjoys being involved with Cal Poly Pomona. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2002 for his outstanding university involvement and professional achievement; he has endowed three CLASS scholarships; and has contributed funds for a bridge in the new Japanese Garden.
Of his academic support, Overton founded the Behavioral Sciences Department Endowed Scholarship Fund as well as the CLASS Alumni Chapter Endowed Scholarship Fund. He has also endowed the Lowell Overton President's Council Scholarship for CLASS.
"You can feel and see the return on this type of investment," he says. "In this situation, 100 percent of the money goes to the student. Every time I do something for this school, I've been paid back many times more than what I've given."
Overton recently helped orchestrate the CP sign enhancement, an effort he is spearheading with the Alumni Association. After a discussion with school officials and other alumni about creating a lasting symbol of school pride that clearly distinguishes Cal Poly Pomona from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, he saw to it that plans for another P to the CP sign get underway.
"I figure if anybody is going to be pleased and not upset with us altering the CP sign, it's going to be one of the original builders," he says of discussions with Warren "Skip" Tyler, who directed the original CP. "Skip was very pleased that we were enhancing it and stabilizing it and adding another P."
In June, artist renderings of the CP sign enhancement were unveiled, with the letter construction scheduled for completion in March 2004.
"I walked up there this year for the first time, and you immediately get a sense of the enormity of it," he says. "I had a whole new sense of something that had been up there over 40 years and was a student project. That's why I feel very strongly not to tamper with it, only to enhance it."