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Elaine Culotti: “Buying the worst house in the best neighborhood”

The most important thing is to make it possible for every family to have a path to owning a home. A first-time home buyers government plan. Create plans so banks are insensitive to lend. Property tax should be fixed. Each state should be careful not to overtax big spenders or we lose them and their […]

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The most important thing is to make it possible for every family to have a path to owning a home. A first-time home buyers government plan. Create plans so banks are insensitive to lend. Property tax should be fixed. Each state should be careful not to overtax big spenders or we lose them and their tax dollars.


As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elaine Culotti of Discovery Channel’s “Undercover Billionaire”.

Real estate developer, interior designer, founder of house of rock, and farm to table farmer, Elaine Culotti has been cast on discovery’s second season of “undercover billionaire” which premieres Wednesday, January 6th at 8pm et/pt. This season, the successful entrepreneur, bets $1 million that she can go undercover in a random us city, start her own business with just $100 and top the million-dollar mark in just 90 days.

The American dream is still alive, and this time, three self-made entrepreneurs have set out to prove it. Each of the “undercover billionaire’s” three tycoons will once again start from scratch to prove you don’t need anything but drive and good people to build something big. With only 90-days and nothing but 100 bucks in their pockets, they will put one million dollars on the line to go undercover and build a thriving million-dollar business for a small town in the us. What might be daunting to most is a challenge happily accepted by Elaine Culotti. In an ‘art imitating life’ experience, Culotti’s own mother was an orphan who was put out on the streets at the age of 18 with only $100 to survive. Culotti harnesses her mother’s resilience and moves forward in the challenge with her own intense determination, no visible fear of failure, and an uncanny ability to get her way.

A serial entrepreneur since the age of 14, Culotti broke into the male-dominated construction business and bulldozed her way into becoming one of the industry’s biggest players. She doesn’t let anyone or anything stop her from achieving her goals. Culotti has developed and built everything from luxury homes to casinos and hospitals.

Culotti grew up a military brat, traveling throughout Europe with her English-born mother and Irish-American father. She attributes her sense of style and drama to those younger years in German castles, English farmhouses, and the wonderful towns of renaissance Italy. She opened her own business importing antiques, collectibles, textiles and architectural elements then branched out to begin her own design firm, retail store and manufacturing facility over 15 years ago. Elaine’s experience in design has given her the ability to manage projects from start to finish for her clients. One of the projects she is most well-known for is the iconic house of rock in Santa Monica, which she designed and organized into a pop-up designer showcase and luxury event space before she sold it.

Culotti also owns the 40-acre big z ranch in Fallbrook, where she grows everything from palm trees to fruits and vegetables. Deeply passionate about the food we put in our bodies and the local farm workers who grow it, Culotti has partnered with local farmers to make it easier for fresh food to be sold directly to consumers without the middlemen of big box stores. Each week she puts together packages of fruits and vegetables grown on the ranch and delivers them directly to consumer’s doorsteps. In a time where American farmers are desperately struggling [r20.rs6.net], her vision is to build permanent farmer’s markets across the nation where local farmers and the community can meet and do business.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the real estate industry?

It was always important to me to love my environment so owning it secures my investment in my utopia.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?

Being an existential billionaire!

Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

We all need to believe in ourselves to have real security. It’s a false narrative to think money is the only currency. I knew that it was not the only currency but now I proved it.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now?

Of course, I am!!! Farming is my passion and people need good food. We have plenty here in the U.S. for everyone. Music is my love and we are combining food distribution with music, 🎶 get ready..

How do you think that will help people?

We will feed people and keep an open supply chain for small farming. We will do it in a way not done before.

What do you think makes you stand out?

I believe in my ideas and their ability to grab ahold of you. I don’t give up on anyone or anything.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Oh yes, my mom and my dad to start. They loved me and encouraged me… I’m blessed to have that start…

Can you share a story about that?

Many stories. I use my dad’s sayings every day! What a dare devil!! My mom is a marvel because she had nothing and it did not matter in that she never felt sorry for herself…

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The real estate industry, like the veterinarian, nursing and public relations fields, is a woman dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in real estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?

We are homemakers at our core. This is an organic phenomenon. Why deny it? I love being a mom… there is no substitute. So, before we do the math, take out of the workforce the amazing women that choose, yes, choose. Because it’s important to stay out of the workforce. Then do the math… We are killing it as women. I believe 100% of the women get the jobs they go after if they are qualified. Often, they are as best a hire as any man. No contest really!!! Lol

What 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?

As individuals we must be accountable for our actions. As a company we must share a common goal to be successful. As a society we must find the good in gender differences and embrace it. All three should be transparent, be kind, put forth effort,

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I can say a few very funny things. I miss my stilettos 👠 and my push-up bras but the most important is they underestimate us.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the real estate industry?

I can list 30 things! My top 3 are location, location, location.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry?

After covid, yes! A shortage of prime property, a stressed banking system, and inflation.

If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

The most important thing is to make it possible for every family to have a path to owning a home. A first-time home buyers government plan. Create plans so banks are insensitive to lend. Property tax should be fixed. Each state should be careful not to overtax big spenders or we lose them and their tax dollars.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?

Show up, listings need attention, effort, it’s a sales job. You have to hit it hard. It’s not dating, hard to get does not pay off.

Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “real estate insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the real estate industry, what would you say?

Buying the worst house in the best neighborhood. If your emotional about it, it’s probably the house for you. Work is good, it’s an opportunity to make it yours, don’t be afraid if a home needs work. Do the math, the location and entitlements are the most valuable sometimes.

Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Undercover billionaire is a movement… I have said it!! It’s about existential wealth. It’s about the currency of confidence, security, health, art, dreaming, opportunity…being ready…

How can our readers follow you online?

Check out @lipstickfarmer

Thank you so much for joining us!

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