Beach runs and “Hollywood-quality” videos fill day for Carmel agent Tim Allen

Coldwell broker discusses “selling a lifestyle” in a luxury second-home market

Agent Tim Allen Discusses “Selling a Lifestyle” in Carmel
Carmel agent Tim Allen (Tim Allen Properties Team, Coldwell Banker Realty)

Carmel broker Tim Allen was Coldwell Banker’s top agent in 2023, besting 52,000 agents with $243 million in residential sales last year, according to the firm. Some of the big-ticket luxury sales that contributed to that total include a rare Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home that sold for $22 million in February 2023 and the architecturally significant “Butterfly Home” that went for $29 million in July. 

Allen grew up in the Carmel area and he and Lynn, his wife of 34 years, raised their three children there. Calling himself a “real estate addict,” he said he bought his first investment property at just 24 with down payment help from his parents and seller-backed financing. Allen said he continues to have a hard time passing up an opportunity when it comes his way, and if listings he loves don’t sell after a few months, he has been known to buy them himself.

He has a special affinity for Pebble Beach, where he said he is the only realtor to have an office at the golf course’s Lodge hotel. He sold five of his properties to buy one of only a few homes on the 18th Hole, he said, a “generational” hold that he plans to pass along to his children. It rents for $120,000 a month in the spring and $150,000 a month in the summer, according to the rental listing site, and is one of several ultra-high-end rental properties that Allen owns and manages.

“I’ve always believed in real estate, believed in this market, so I have collected and kept as much of it as I could,” he said.

Here is a typical workday for the broker-investor, in his own words.

5:30 a.m. My wife Lynn jumps out of bed and gets on the treadmill in our bedroom. When I hear the drone of the treadmill and her singing along to her music, I know it’s time to get up. 

Agent Tim Allen Discusses “Selling a Lifestyle” in Carmel
6:15 a.m. (Tim Allen Properties Team, Coldwell Banker Realty)

6:15 a.m. Now that we’re empty nesters, we live in mid-Carmel Valley. But I started this great morning routine about 10 years ago when we were living on the beach in Carmel so our kids could go to high school and meet up with friends without having to drive the roads into town. This routine was transformational so I still do it even though we are now about seven miles away from the beach. 

My dog Brick and I drive in and get a coffee. I start running the dunes a little bit with the coffee in my hand and get my heart pumping. I get the negative ions from the water. My dog is running around because it’s an off-leash beach. I see people and say hello. I get this little energy burst every time, and it’s just an incredible way to wake up. When I don’t do my beach run, I feel out of kilter.

7:15 a.m. I often go to the office straight after the beach. I have 11 people on my team and I like to come in and start knocking out emails when it’s quiet. 

7:45 a.m. I drive home to shower and get dressed. I’m usually doing a lot of voice command texting on my way to and from the office. I actually have two offices, one on Junipero in downtown Carmel — that’s the main Coldwell office with about 45 agents — and then I also have an office at Pebble Beach in the Lodge. 

My history with Pebble Beach goes back a long way. At least 10 years ago, they had a 90-lot development and I won the business, but it was a tough time to sell lots. A developer was supposed to buy 80 percent of the land, but ended up backing out. I called the CEO or VP at the time and said I would buy two of the lots and put together a syndicate to buy two more. I took that risk, along with my partners, of investing over $20 million. 

One of my weak points is I work less off a budget and more off of investing whatever it costs to do something right. So the investors made a profit and their money back on the development, but I didn’t make a big return. I did get the brokerage commissions and I kept one lot that I built on for myself. I still have it. Plus, it got the lot program off the ground and the lots are now sold out. 

The individualized custom homes that are there are so much better than if one builder had bought it and put tract housing instead.

9:30 a.m. I’m usually back in the office meeting with my team. Many of them are people I’ve worked with or known for 15 or 20 years. They’re not intimidated by me at all. They let me know how they feel and I let them know how I feel. But it’s a benevolent dictatorship; essentially I make the final decision based in part on their input and they respect that. 

12 p.m. I’m a brown bagger. My wife makes me lunch every day, usually a sandwich or leftovers I heat up and eat at my desk. 

I generally don’t do big client lunches or dinners because we don’t do a ton of face-to-face business. The majority of our clients don’t live here, though we have seen three or four shifts in how much people use their Carmel homes since the pandemic. At the beginning, when people were escaping the cities, my experience was intense. We had a big influx of buyers during that time and prices bumped up. 

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Our prices didn’t go up as fast as other places that have now softened, but they haven’t really come down either because there’s such little inventory.

Agent Tim Allen Discusses “Selling a Lifestyle” in Carmel
3 p.m. (Tim Allen Properties Team, Coldwell Banker Realty)

3 p.m. I’m in and out of the office all day, depending on client needs. When a client calls and says they’re thinking of selling their house, I want to be able to meet with them that day. 

Plus, some of these bigger listings require tremendous prep work, including a whole new level we’ve gone to with our social media and digital campaigns. Our videos are Hollywood-quality and we make them in-house with our own designers and editors. We want our launches to be more captivating and engaging than anyone else’s. 

We just did one recently of a 1923 Spanish Revival home that used to be famous for its fox hunts where we had equestrians on horseback come in and tour the property for the video.

We had another video listing a few years ago around Christmas time that went viral. We had a news reporter-style person saying, “Breaking news: Santa is leaving his sled to come to Pebble Beach to shred.” And we show Santa and Rudolph, which is me and Brick dressed up, driving up to the house in a white VW van, getting up in the morning and eating cookies and hot chocolate for breakfast while we look out at the waves, and eventually surfing.

It got on this private equity guy’s screen in the Bay Area and he called me. He and his wife came down and bought the house for $16 million. They weren’t even looking on the Monterey Peninsula, they were looking in Santa Barbara, but that video engaged them.

They later got divorced, which was sad, but it meant that I got to sell the house again, this time for $17 million.

You want to get to the essence of what you’re selling. We’re not selling real estate; we’re selling a lifestyle. 

Some of my biggest competitors are still caught in the objective, bean-counting bricks-and-mortar aspects of value and they’ll tell people what their houses are worth. That is a joke. Houses are worth different amounts of money to different people, especially what we sell. So if you find the right buyer that puts a higher value on those subjective intrinsic aspects, that buyer will pay more and get a better value than the market, per se. Lifestyle is how you appeal to these people. But then when you do that, you’ve got to make sure you pick up your darn phone.

5 p.m. I’ve got a lot of energy and I need major stimulation, physically and mentally, every day. My birthday is 7/11/60 but I’m starting to tell people it’s 7/11/80 because I think age is just a number. So around 5 o’clock I put my phone on Do Not Disturb mode and I jump in the deep end of my pool. I put my ear buds in and crank my music, usually some Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Santana, Led Zeppelin, maybe some Adele. 

I keep my head above the water and do my crazy dancing to the music. It’s an amazing workout because you get cardio, resistance and stretching. I’ll close my eyes and I’ll literally go into a different place, but I’ll also think about my day and things I can do for my business.

Agent Tim Allen Discusses “Selling a Lifestyle” in Carmel
6 p.m. (Tim Allen Properties Team, Coldwell Banker Realty)

6 p.m. After about an hour, my wife comes out and splashes me to let me know it’s time to get out and she’s got a nice cold Blue Moon for me on the side of the pool. I know everyone likes fancy IPAs, but I love Blue Moon. So I take that to the hot tub and check my texts. I will text people from my team mostly, or some clients if I’m still on my first beer. 

My staff is very careful to filter anything that comes in after 6 o’ clock because I might come up with something crazy. I come up with big picture ideas when I’m in the pool working out. These are bold and sometimes they’re scary because everyone’s afraid to fail. It’s so important to be curious, inquisitive and open to new ideas. It’s what makes life worth living.

7 p.m. Lynn and I have dinner. We sit and talk and I try to unplug from work. Lynn is a great cook. When we first got married she couldn’t scramble an egg, but she loves cooking and learning and she watches a lot of cooking shows. She experiments on me and I love it. I avoid carbs as much as I can to stay in good shape, but I love my beer and my good healthy fats. 
9 p.m. I try to get into bed by 9 and go to sleep by 9:30 if I can. Sometimes we’ll watch an episode of “Succession” or a nature documentary, but we’re homebodies. We do go out sometimes, but I work a tremendous amount. I love it, but there’s only enough time for my workouts, my business and my family — I just became a grandfather last year and it has changed my whole life. So there’s not a lot of time for social engagements. I don’t even golf!

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