PAJARO VALLEY—Long-standing realtor Renee Mello was recently named Realtor of the Year for 2021 by the Santa Cruz County Association of Realtors.
A broker associate with Keller Williams, Mello, a third-generation Watsonville native, said she was stunned and “truly honored” to have been picked out of a list of more than 1,488 realtors.
In January she was presented with SCCAR’s distinctive glass trophy.
“I actually thought I was having a heart attack when I was singled out,” she said. “My heart was racing that much. This is not about real estate production; this is about being an integral part of the community and actually contributing to the community and the association.”
Mello previously served as president of SCCAR in 2018, when the group merged with the Pajaro Valley Association of Realtors, and had also served as vice president the prior year.
With a record of selling more than 200 homes over the past 20 years, Mello also served as a director with the California Association of Realtors for the last six years.
As a director, she represents Santa Cruz County as part of the tri-county area of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties known as “Region 10.” Mello was the regional chair in 2021 for the California Association of Realtors.
She currently teaches local realtors how to use the new residential purchase agreement.
She also recently joined the Freedom Rotary Club, in addition to her serving on the Board of Directors for the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Foundation. She has also served as President of the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2002 and 2015.
“As realtors, we understand real estate is not just about buying and selling homes,” Mello said. “It’s also about making the atmosphere in which homes are bought and sold and advocating for property rights.”
When asked what advice she would offer to homebuyers, Mello’s answer came swiftly.
“The biggest thing is this: What is it worth to you? Most homes [that] go on the market are priced as a starting point for negotiation,” she said. “I can’t tell you what it is worth; I may be able to tell you what may win the bid. But if it’s not worth that to you, why even do the paperwork?”
Mello stressed that her biggest passion is representing people in the adult village in the Pajaro Valley.
She was raised on a farm in Watsonville and attributes her work ethic to the summers spent picking berries, tomatoes and apples.
Mello earned a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and her master’s in marketing from Golden Gate University. She got her real estate license in 1986.
She started her career at Fort Ord in the personnel department as the Vietnam War was winding down. She also worked a number of years as a computer salesperson and her last job before joining real estate full time was at Bank of America.