Carla Farley formed her own real estate company – Corban Realty Group – in 1994 after working as an agent for Century 21.
“I thought well, you have a broker’s license, just be your own brokerage,” Farley said.
She has also become a key voice for the real estate professionals in San Diego as president of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors – the first black woman to head the organization.
Active in the New Creation Church of San Diego, Farley also is a deeply religious person as evidenced by the name of her real estate business.
“Corban means a gift consecrated to God. For me, that was my mantra, that everything that happened would be contracted to God,” Farley said. “God always sees about me, he definitely sees about me.”
She also is a board member of the National Association of Realtors, a board member of the California Association of Realtors, and a member of the state organization’s fair housing task force and president of Smart Coast a nonprofit established in 2019 “to promote and advocate for private property rights and smart land use policies in coastal regions,” according to the group’s website.
If that wasn’t enough, Farley is a board member of Rebuilding Together San Diego, chair of the Ambassadors Foundation – a charitable foundation established by the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors; a member of the Land Advisory Group of the San Diego Housing Commission, and a member of the Government and Finance Committee of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.
Because of all those activities, Farley has scaled back her real estate business for now to a staff of two – herself and an assistant.
Since becoming president of the local Realtor’s association, Farley said she sells from eight to 10 homes a year.
At her peak with as many as six employees, she said she was selling 18 to 22 homes annually.
“I stayed small on purpose. I’m not trying to get into growing this big office,” Farley said. “I always want to sell.”
Farley was born and raised in San Diego, living at various times in Southeast San Diego, City Heights and Barrio Logan.
“Before it was Barrio Logan, it was just Logan,” Farley said.
A graduate of Lincoln High School and San Diego City College, Farley worked in accounting and as a licensed vocational nurse and a medical clerk before getting into real estate.
She credits several mentors for her success – Margaret Miller of Century 21 Teamwork and Ulysses and Donna Shiepe, brokers and owners of Foster Hamilton Real Estate in Bonita.
“We all started at Century 21 Teamwork in the day,” Farley said.
The mother of three sons, Farley said she became a real estate broker in 1989 because it was a job where she could work and still spend time with her children.
Her husband, Michael, is a Navy veteran.
“It was having three kids and figuring out how could you work and be there for the kids. They were little,” Farley said.
In becoming president of the Association of Realtors, Farley hopes to serve as a role model for others.
“That’s huge, with all things going on now, here you have a Black female from Lincoln High School has risen and become president of the association,” Farley said. “It definitely is a business that I think Black people have a tremendous role in. I think they become leaders in helping the communities in home ownership. Home ownership invigorates communities.”
As a Black woman, it hasn’t always been easy for Farley.
“Unfortunately, I have to give 100%, 120% to match somebody else’s 90%,” Farley said. “It takes money in this business to get started, so you have that roadblock in addition to being a Black female.”
Farley said she has encountered discrimination in her career, not always overt- “just in how you’re treated, the unspoken rules, how you’re referred to.”
“It’s unfair, but what are you going to do? You can either wait for many, many years down the line for it to change or you can go ahead and show them,” Farley said. “I don’t buy into (being) the victim.”
Farley’s advice to Black men and women who want to get into real estate is “You have to have some tough skin.”
“I think all Realtors have to have tough skin but when you’re dealing with these other things, you really have to have tough skin, tough skin and some grit. Your grit has to be a little bit more.”
Farley handles all sides of real estate deals and property management, but she specializes in probate sales – handling property that goes through probate court.
“It’s a very unique little niche,” Farley said. “I sat down and tried to figure out what is the one thing that you can really do well. That one kept showing up.”
Despite the challenges she has faced, Farley said real estate has been a rewarding career.
“The one thing that says why you do this is when you hand the keys to that family or that person and you see you played a role in changing that person’s life, especially if it’s their first home, you become part of their life,” Farley said.