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Open house with Vidya Kulkarni

by Nirmala Garimella

Our first meeting takes place in Vidya Kulkarni’s open,airy and strikingly well decorated home in Acton. A long drive way leads to a beautiful colonial, shaded with tall maple trees affording a serene and peaceful look to the house. A carved Buddha statue in her backyard amidst a tiny island of water gives an air of sublimity to the surroundings. Step inside and you enter into a big open living room that is elegantly furnished with eclectic pieces of art . There is an inviting dining table in the middle and a modern kitchen at the far end that looks made for someone who loves to cook. The room is flooded with light from a huge window that offers a beautiful view of the woods behind. It seems almost cozy and chic at the same time.

They say a home says a lot about you. Vidya seems to have defined her own personal style to her home. Fine classic furniture with accent rugs and sophisticated accessories echoes her elegant style. A book on “Outstanding Women in the Twentieth Century” adorns the coffee table that seems to somehow fit in with the general ambience. Vidya offers a welcome with the same warmth that she infuses in her conversation. One minute, she is answering the phone, showing me around and making me a cup of hot tea. A moment later, she is inviting me to sit and talk while discussing her work and her family. She is direct in her approach and clear about her aims. One reason for her success she says is ” I have always treated each of my customer as the only one” and she adopts a holistic approach to dealing with her clients. “I want customers to come to me not because I am an Indian, but because I am good “ and believes that this philosophy of hers has assured a certain measure of success and satisfaction. Indeed as Vidya puts it , success for a real estate agent hinges on one’s ability to listen, to offer advice and to dig gently but deeply into clients needs, hopes, fears, dreams and expectations.

For more than 22 years, Vidya Kulkarni has been a real estate agent serving the areas of Acton and its nearby communities. She is affiliated to ACTON REAL ESTATE CO. INC. and has been a consistent multimillion dollar producer with years of experience and specializes in international transferees and in property management, This is an area that Vidya definitely feels she has an edge over other realtors. She has in the course of her experience in the business realized that the need of immigrants and their approach to buying a home is totally different “Although I now consider this country my home, I am able to empathize with people coming from different countries and they can identify with me. It helps both of us. I am able to understand all their special needs in looking for a home.” As an example Vidya relates how Indians are particular about having a Pooja room, a large kitchen and also a guest room because of the concept of extended families and visiting parents from India. These are issues that they feel comfortable discussing with me and I am always trying to make sure that they are met” she says. The real satisfaction for her, however is to lead the client to a new understanding of their needs and to provide an insight that will foster a new approach to choosing a home.

I ask her if Vaastu is a big priority here too like in India,andVidya agrees it is so. To better understand it Vidya tells me she has recently read a whole book on the subject. And has actually found a rational reasoning behind it. “Most of it is common sense”, she says. According to this book , Vaastu is a science of the magnetic field. The human body is a magnet and it should not clash with the magnet of the earth. There are reasons why we should shift our pillows toward a certain side which will ensure good sleep, and why houses must face either east or south. “I respect other people’s beliefs “says Vidya and so in the same tradition she often allows her clients to call up India for auspicious closing days as contracts here are legally binding and cannot be altered. However Vidya admits with a smile, each belief can sometimes have a remedy with an antidote like boiling milk and performing a pooja in some cases.

Why real estate ? I ask Vidya. She laughs easily and begins to tell me how it all started. ” It all began when we were living in our first house in Acton” Sheelendra,her husband had just been transferred to New Hampshire and the company had taken us on a tour of the houses that we could pick in that area. The real estate agent gave us such royal treatment that my husband quickly remarked that this was a perfect job for me. Although finally the move was not made at all and the Kulkarni’s remained in Acton, it was a moment that resulted in a breathtaking opportunity.” I am a people’s person and my husband immediately recognized this strength in me. Vidya says

Looking at her and her cheerful and energetic self, I am not surprised , Vidya manages to draw you into her view and you just get engaged with her charm, her confidence and then you discover that she is indeed capable of a career of this nature. Both husband and wife at that time enthusiastically enrolled in the course. Her license came through soon enough and Vidya was off on a fine start. It was a struggle, initially she admits. “ In any business you have to work really hard, there is suffering, moments when you get hurt, , you stumble, but yet at the end of it, you get up and get on and in course of time it pays off”. Now she has reached a point when people call her and ask her for advice of various matters, sometimes beyond the realm of her business and she is always willing to help. One day, she recalls, a friend of hers remarked whether she did not get tired of all the phones that keep coming in consistently. “ I told her that I am happy that they call me. I worry only when they don’t.” says Vidya laughing.

In a realtor client relationship, bringing issues relating to design or construction aspects to the home isn’t out of the ordinary. After all, a realtor is the first person that one deals with, in buying a new or existing homes. In such situations, Vidya is resourceful in guiding her clients to contact the right people in the business, sharing her own knowledge of information and taking a lead in the community.

Vidya has also remained an active member of the local Indian community , organizing the annual Diwali parties and other cultural events. Now she says, she likes to remain in the background as she has already earned herself a place among the people she knows. ”I like to promote other people and I am comfortable being in the background as I have been here long enough for others to know me”

Now as a well known real estate agent , Vidya enjoys the luxury of working in her own home. She was one of the earliest Indians to enter into this business. A large number of her clients within a 10 mile radius are Indians and they account for 60% of her business.” I have learnt that if you plan well, you can balance your work and family very well. I also have to thank my husband Sheelendra who has been extremely supportive of my decisions and my work. My daughter, Neha who is now studying at Dartmouth is herself a strong independent person”, and Vidya attributes it to her own experience of emerging out and making a niche for herself. “When I joined the Boston University to do my Masters in Organizational policy, I realized that I was already doing what was being taught.. I was certainly going in the right direction. I had a really good counselor, and was able to enrich my learning through real life project experiences. Even now if I am not available, I connect my clients to great brokers around the area. I have access to a lot of realtors around the nation and presently my biggest desire is to offer a service where I can match up people all across to good realtors and great neighborhoods. My greatest achievement has been that a lot of children of my clients are now grown up and they come to me for advice, this is the level of trust and confidence that they have in me.”

Her journey from then to now, of handwritten printouts to emails and technology is a metaphor of the success and ease that has moved into her lifestyle today. “I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I love my work and find it exciting. There is a great unpredictability is this business and a surprise element that can either make it a great day or a normal one. The anticipation of which keeps me going, Vidya muses. Vidya’s honors include broker of the year, top producer, certified buyer representative and the Realty Guild Sales Volume Award. Her energy is infectious and I leave with the unmistakable impression that her passion for her work is what makes her, what she is today.

For more information about Vidya Kulkarni go to www.vidyak.com

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Vidya Kulkarni

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