A Novelist’s Nook
She moved from a square house in the suburbs of Ohio to a round house on the beaches of Malibu.
Novelist Kaira Rouda writes from a room with a view of the ocean, her dog nestled in an open drawer, a Pilate’s machine by her side. This trailblazer paved the way for women in business, guiding female entrepreneurs in her bestselling first book, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. (They were the ones without the pink covers.) Her latest novel, In the Mirror, was released on May 1. Prior to writing, Rouda and her husband started Real Living, a national real estate franchise company with a comprehensive and integrated suite of resources aimed at helping brokers, agents and their clients successfully navigate through the home buying and selling processes. Girl’s Guide to Real Estate founder Joda Mize talked to Kaira about her writing space, her real estate agent, and her advice to her daughter.
Like you, many women these days work from home. Talk about the importance of having your own space.
The key for women is to make their own space. So many women are so reluctant to claim a space for their own in their house. They find themselves stuck in a kitchen in a corner. If you want to run a business, you deserve your own space. One time, I had a corner of the playroom. There was a baby gate so they could do their own thing, but I had my own space, my own desk, my own purpose.
What is your space like today?
I have a desk that faces the ocean. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. It’s pretty amazing to me. There’s a deck off it as well. If I’m not on the computer, I can go outside and sit in the sunshine. I’ve found my dream home office. I have my view, my desk, my computer, my Pilates machine…and I have a top desk drawer that my small shihpoo likes to sit in. (she laughs.)
When buying a home, how do you know if it’s the right work space for you?
I don’t know the specific rules of feng shui but I know how I feel when I step into a space. If I walk into a space and it makes me feel comfortable…we hadn’t bought a house for years. We were renting. When I walked into the door of this house that we finally bought, I just knew. I said ‘Oh my gosh, this is it.’ It’s that heart space feeling, you can see yourself working in one of your spaces. Even if it’s not the designated office, if it’s a spare bedroom…if you walk into that space and say ‘I can picture myself working here…’ that’s the key to me.
If your daughter were going into the real estate market today what advice would you give her, as a young woman?
You know, my son wanted to buy right away. Hopefully my daughter will be just as lucky as my son is, and get the job of her dreams right out of college. For me, it’s renting and trying to save up that down payment. That’s what he’s working on now. Home ownership is so essential. We were talking about co-signing with him and helping him out, but he really wants to do it in his own. That’s just such an important step in life and an important way to feel like he’s making it. That’s his number one goal. Find an apartment that is in a safe place, not too expensive, so you can start saving money. And when the time is right, if you’re in college, even if you’re renting in college, you still don’t have the feel for the real world, yet. You need a couple of years to figure out a more comfortable idea of what you can afford.
You’re a master when it comes to understanding the female mindset, professionally and personally. You’ve blogged about ancient Chinese philosopher and poet Lao Tzu’s famous quote: “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you re and you know what you want.” Talk about the doubts and fears of the single women when buying a home.
It really starts with trusting the real estate agent. I was profoundly influenced and impacted by the wisdom and incredible insight of predominantly female real estate agents. These women not only brought their professional business brand to every transaction, but to everything they did. The good female real estate agent is a gift to the transaction as well. I always found great success working with a woman. They could always understand intuitively what I was looking for. Is this the right decision? If you find the right agent, that agent is going to be able to help you navigate all that and shift the insight. When we moved here from Laguna Beach, this agent, she and I, we had the best time, not only looking at houses, but sharing our life stories. She got to know me. You do know what you want deep down, but you have to find that courage to go for it. That’s where a great real estate agent can help you.
What changes have you seen in home buying process since buying your first home in 1991?
Our agent was a male, and he was more of a traditional sales person in the sense that he knew everybody, was always on the phone. To me, the transaction was very paper intensive. It just was not transparent at all. Real estate agents had all the information and carried it really close to them. Real Living launched at the same time the internet started and brought transparency to everything. That whole entire process switched practically overnight. Everybody tried to figure out where it would all settle. To me, it was interesting to see if agencies could adapt to technology. That was perhaps a foreign notion to people back then because you would see real estate agents branding with phones in their ears, or glamour shots. It was fake, not about who they were as a person or what their passions or expertise were. Now, it’s not just about real estate, it’s about what you are passionate about. I’m a real estate agent, but I volunteer at school. You have to connect with your clients on that level. My real estate agent I subsequently picked was based on shared passions, community service. The notion of being that same person at the office as you are at home and out in the social setting is critically important. That took a long time for agents to understand. Not that the sales pitch doesn’t have to be good. But it has to be deeper than that and more real than that.
Share you experience about moving across the country.
We lived on the same street in Burlington, Ohio from the time we got married to the time we moved. That was four kids and a lot of years. Moving to a different house was kind of strange. We rented a round house in Malibu, then a second house in Malibu. We were looking to buy, and then my husband got transferred to Irvine. Then we wanted to rent in Laguna Beach. Then we moved to a beach cottage. Each step along the way, it was like a lesson in home styles and what we wanted and liked. My youngest son said he’s never moving again!
*This piece was edited for content and clarity.