(The author is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed
are her own.)
By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
NEW YORK, April 12 Sally Forster Jones has sold
about $4 billion of luxury real estate in Southern California in
her nearly 40-year career, but she credits her success to hard
work and thrift rather than an opulent lifestyle.
The president of Aaroe International Luxury Properties in
Beverly Hills said her parents, Polish Holocaust survivors,
always instilled in her the importance of saving and investing
in real estate. The family immigrated to the United States from
Germany, where Forster Jones had been born in a displaced
In 2011, she helped broker the $85 million sale of a
123-room house in Los Angeles that had been built by the late TV
producer Aaron Spelling. The initial listing of $150 million set
a record at the time.
Forster Jones recently shared some of the lessons she has
learned and is passing on to her six children and 12
Q: What did you learn about money from your parents?
A: My parents came to the United States as immigrants, and
they taught me to save and invest. They worked very hard and
saved every dollar that wasn’t spent on food or rent. They
invested in multifamily properties, and we would live in one
unit and rent out the rest.
I moved around a lot growing up, as my parents bought and
sold various properties. I was 12 when I ate out at a restaurant
for the first time. We didn’t have much, but I never felt
deprived, and I was motivated to work hard and strive for
Q: What has running your own group and business taught you
A: It is so easy to spend and get carried away. It is
important to have budgets and stick to them. Know your bottom
line, and create a solid business plan.
Q: How did you get the right team in place to help achieve
your financial goals?
A: I have a knack for understanding people. Residential real
estate is a people-oriented business, so my ability to read and
understand people has ultimately helped me to hire and pull
together the best team possible.
You have to surround yourself with the smartest and most
talented people. Having a great team and being able to delegate
really allowed me to grow my business and ultimately achieve my
Q: Have there been mistakes that you’ve learned from?
A: I passed on purchasing a home once, and for years I
avoided driving down the street because I was still upset about
the missed opportunity. But you have to be willing to let go of
those regrets and move on to new and better opportunities.
Q: How do you give back?
A: It is so important to give back to the community, with
both money and time. I give to charities and causes ... but I
also think it’s incredibly important to give back by sharing
your experience and mentoring others who are new to the business
or just starting out.
Q: What lessons do you try to pass down to your children and
A: It was very important to me that my kids understood the
value of money. They grew up with a lot more than I did, but I
always made them work for their allowances, budget, and save for
I taught them to have a good work ethic and to not take
anything, including money, for granted. I’m proud of all of my
kids because they all really do have good values and strong work
ethics, and I see that they are passing that on to their
families as well.
(Editing by Beth Pinsker and Lisa Von Ahn)