Dave Walsh bought his first property in 1980, a modest three-bedroom house in San Jose for $ 67,500.

Decades later, Walsh has risen through the ownership and career ranks. This modest house he owned is worth $ 1.2 million, and Walsh is now president of the California Association of Realtors.

It is a pivotal period for its industry. The median price of a single-family home in California hit a record high of $ 814,000 in April, and the housing shortage and rising prices show little sign of abating. Building permits have been declining for several years, and construction is becoming more and more expensive.

The deal is unlike anything Walsh has seen in his 41 years as an agent. “It’s really a level of crisis,” said Walsh, who will be president of the CAR until December. “How can we stop this? “

Walsh has been active in building code reform efforts to spur housing development and fair housing policies. Yet challenges persist beyond the production of housing.

Walsh also set a goal for the statewide association to push for fairer housing rules to correct past legislative efforts that limited home buying opportunities for people of color. “California has a problem that we have to work with,” he said.

This interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.

Question: You obtained your real estate license in 1980. How has the California market evolved?

A: I used to believe that I could buy a house from anyone, because I was good at what I did and I knew the market.

I was familiar with the financing. And I can help people find the right kind of financing for their particular financial situation. And I knew the markets that were up and coming. And it might not be the perfect neighborhood today. But it was becoming an emerging neighborhood.

Today, frankly, I cannot say the same. It’s hard to have a home for someone. I feel like the market has changed so much for buyers.

Question: What happened between 1980 and 2021?

A: We stopped building enough homes in 2005. As of that point, we haven’t built enough to meet housing demand in California. And by the way, over the past five years, for every year in a row, we’ve built less every year. So even in the midst of this crisis, we are still not building enough housing. What you have are the properties (prices) that are rising so fast that we just can’t keep up.

It drives out the middle class and allows the “haves” to have more and the “have-nots” to have less.

Question: What about the argument from slow growing community members and landowners that the solution is to move jobs from Silicon Valley to California? It’s a pretty strong feeling in the suburbs.

A: I hear this argument all the time. The (owners) want to maintain their quality of life without any increase in density. And the solution they come up with is, “Let’s just put the jobs in Stockton. Let’s put them in Modesto. Let’s put them in the central valley. ‘

It’s easy to say “let’s put the work elsewhere” and people will go there. Well, maybe they will, maybe they won’t. I’m not worried about (Tesla CEO) Elon Musk leaving California. I’m worried about the next Elon Musk leaving California, whoever he is.

Question: What response do you get from Sacramento?

A: I have regular conversations with our elected officials at the federal level, as well as at the state level, and they all know we have a huge housing crisis.

Housing bills that are going to pass must contain a union work component. Well, union work adds (cost). And I’m not anti-union, I’m just a housing pro. I want us to find ways to develop affordable housing. And when you start adding eligibility costs, union labor costs, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) litigation costs to any type of housing, all of a sudden it’s a mistake to say that it is affordable. It’s just not affordable anymore in California.

Question: What are the main goals you have for this year as president of the California Association of Realtors?

A: I have been very singularly focused on fair housing. There is a large book, (The color of the law) by Richard Rothstein. I read this book… and it changed my entire focus on housing in California.

We have a huge challenge to help people of color get involved in housing in California. (Previous generations of real estate agents) haven’t been the biggest proponents of this in the past. We helped create legislation or at least support legislation that made it difficult for people of color to acquire housing. And we argued (what) ended up being redlining. Ultimately, we were roadblocks for people of color.

So it is my goal, and it is the goal of my leadership team this year, to take concrete steps to improve fair housing opportunities for people of color in the state.


Age: 66

Family: wife and four children

Hometown: Born in Toronto, raised and educated in Silicon Valley

Education: Willow Glen High School, attended San Jose State

Employment: Walsh has been a 41-year-old real estate agent with several Bay Area real estate companies. He is vice president of Compass and director of sales for the San Jose office.


1. Walsh is a frequent traveler to Europe, enjoying visits to England where he has family. “I could be living in London in the blink of an eye,” he said.

2. At one point, he held the record for the most expensive home sale in Los Gatos, a $ 12 million mansion.

3. Walsh was born in Toronto. His father moved the family to Sunnyvale in 1959 to take up an engineering position at Fairchild Semiconductor.

4. He sold his first house in San José to friends: a young house painter and his wife, an elementary school teacher. A young couple today with similar careers, he said, could not buy a similar house without financial help from their parents.

5. “I eat, sleep and drink real estate,” he said.

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