Latina Entrepreneur: Guadalupe Silva, Broker Associate/Realtor | Coldwell Banker

Image courtesy of Guadalupe Silva.

Image courtesy of Guadalupe Silva.

“No one can tell me my limit”:

Guadalupe Silva—From Apple’s Cutting Edge to Coldwell’s Top 100

Guadalupe Silva

Broker Associate/Realtor

Coldwell Banker Residential Broker

1096 Blossom Hill Rd #200

San José, CA 95123

(408) 676-6678


by Perlita R. Dicochea

I met Guadalupe Silva at a real estate convention a few months ago. She was at the booth for the National Hispanic Organization of Real Estate Associates (NHORA), along with her daughter. She told me, “Where do I know you? I recognize that little face!” It turns out she knows my oldest brother from undergrad. She must have met me when I was twelve-years-old. I learned about her career transition and wanted to know more about her path.

Mrs. Silva earned her degree in computer science at Santa Clara University and was one of the first Latina computer engineers at Apple in the mid- to late-1990s. She began her real estate career in 2000 and for the last two years made the top 100 lists among Coldwell Banker’s 4600 Northern California agents.

Q: How did you get into real estate?

A: Computer engineering is very intense—it’s thrilling, it’s exciting, you’re on the cutting edge of technology, but it’s very demanding. I was in operating systems—it is non-stop, constant changes. I loved my work. I traveled a lot. But after having my second child, I could not keep up with the technology. I was overwhelmed. That’s it—I was overwhelmed. It was hurtful to see my kids spend more time with the babysitter than with mom. So I resigned. I took some time off and I was raising my kids.

Real estate was an accident. I was focusing on my family and at that time my parents were looking for an [real estate] agent that spoke Spanish and cared. One evening at dinner we were talking about how awful their agent was and we were saying, “Why are we working with this person? We need a good agent.” Everyone at the table turned to me. They told me I needed to do it. Our tax preparer told me where to go—I went to Chamberlin—and before I knew it I had taken my classes and was preparing to take the exam.

It just happened that a week before I took my exam, I ran into an old friend of mine from college and she recommended that I work with a small broker that she knew, so that’s where I started.

I was so excited. I told all of my friends and they trusted me. I didn’t know anything about the contract. I was on my own and I did five transactions my first year. My broker was so impressed. I started with a small broker but now I realize the leverage and resources one receives from a corporation. The training and support, there is no comparison. I think back and, had I known the difference, I would have switched to Coldwell sooner.

Of course, later I discovered that at Apple I could have transferred to a less demanding position. But I didn’t know. I didn’t even get a severance package or anything—I just resigned. But, well, things happened the way they did.

Q: Was your husband supportive?

A: Oh yes. He knew before I did that I needed to leave Apple. He saw what I was going through. I was the one who took time to realize what I needed to do.

Q: What was the greatest challenge you faced?

A: Learning the contract and what needed to be done. Every contract is unique. There is not any contract I’ve done that I would say, “Oh, this is just like that other one.” And every buyer is different. Every buyer has [his/her] own needs. And that is the focus, meeting the client’s needs. Yes, you earn the compensation, but after you meet your client’s needs and do what needs to be done.

Q: What is the greatest advantage of real estate?

A: The flexibility of time. We schedule our appointments. I worked from home when my kids were little. I would make calls and clients didn’t have to know that I had a little one crawling on the floor. I would schedule things in the evenings. My husband would come home around five p.m. and then I would go to my appointments. My mom helped a lot—she was my angel. My mom helped me in the daytime. If I ever needed to leave the home for work, she would watch my kids. En paz descanse.

I loved engineering, but I am passionate about real estate. It’s been an amazing experience. You help people achieve an American Dream, it’s an important moment in life. You know, I keep in touch with at least seventy percent of my past clients.

Q: What advice do you have for other Latinas who want to become entrepreneurs in real estate?

A: The income level that one can earn—I probably would have never achieved at Apple. There is no glass ceiling [in real estate]. At Apple there is only so much of a raise one could achieve and there were limited possibilities for moving up. In sales, by far, no one can tell me my limit. I set the cap on my income. ♦

Guadalupe Silva offered blessed gifts of guidance and encouragement throughout our meeting. Her eagerness to share her experiences inspired me to think, “Yes, I can be my own version of that.” We all need a bit of that brightness from people every now and then to help us turn a new leaf or take on that next challenge.


Perlita Dicochea earned her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies with an affiliated discipline in Environmental Economics and Policy at U.C. Berkeley. Her current research focuses on non-profit efforts to integrate environmental justice approaches within climate change research and policy. Send Perlita comments and suggestions for future stories at and follow her on Twitter: @dr_perlita