Agent of Change

Realtor® Alison Clay-Duboff gets real with clients when life gets crazy.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Written by
    Laura L. Watts
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

Behind every real estate transaction there is more than a story. There is always a fascinating—and sometimes tragic—backstory.

Real estate is more of an emotional business than most realize. No two transactions are the same, and there can be many roadblocks, laws and restrictions to navigate. Often the process is a mental roller-coaster for everyone involved—including the real estate agent. Add to that a life-altering circumstance, and the stakes become even higher.

“After years of guiding my clients through some of their most challenging times in their lives, I never thought I’d be in the exact position of the client sitting across from me,” shares Alison Clay-Duboff, president of Salty Water Properties, Inc. and Realtor hanging her license with RE/MAX Estate Properties in Manhattan Beach.

A Road Less Traveled


During her 16 years of real estate work, Alison has shepherded hundreds of clients down the path of homeownership or supported them through the sale of a personal residence or income property. While most Realtors are prepared to deal with the unexpected and offer a certain skill set to do so, Alison brings to the table a collection of experiences that cannot be garnered by a course, designation, online lecture or podcast. She has sold and purchased her own property, so she knows the demands and emotions her clients endure. And she truly gets what loss, grief and undesirable change are all about. You could say Alison is an expert at problem-solving.

Before becoming a Realtor, she studied at George Washington University and the American University in Paris. She has lived in the United Kingdom, St. Barts, France, Sweden and Saudi Arabia. As a child she traveled the globe with her adventurous mother, and as an adult she has experienced such destinations as India, Peru and the Amazon jungle.

But her recent life-altering experience is the most poignant of all: the untimely death of her spouse, Ken Duboff. With the lessons she’s learned during this arduous year, Alison is uniquely equipped to assist clients going through intense changes that may impact their real estate decisions.

“I remember sitting on the couch at my home with a client who was widowed,” she shares. “He had moved forward with his life after several years and wanted to sell the family property. He carried so much guilt in his heart about stepping away from the memories and history in the home. I sat quietly and listened. He needed to discuss his future goals with me. It’s a delicate walk between real estate resource and shoulder of empathy. I believe I was able to figuratively hold his hand through the emotions and lead him to the other side: the sale of the family home and the purchase of a stunning home in Palos Verdes with forever views of the ocean, where he launched his new life.”

A Guiding Light


As Alison moves forward day by day, she draws on the strength she gained during this challenging time to fully support her clients beyond the practical requirements of a real estate deal. “I am equipped to pilot clients through the unexpected pitfalls of major life changes, such as brain fog after the death of a spouse, confusion and vulnerability that can lead to rash and serious financial ramifications like the unnecessary sale of a beloved home,” she says.

A 2020 survey from Century 21 shows that the majority of home buyers and sellers say they value and confide in their real estate agents more than a therapist. Alison is the ideal sounding board for clients deep in transition. They may be dealing with a variety of emotions surrounding compromises, negotiations, letting go of their former lives and learning that their expectations may be unrealistic—as well as loss, grief and disbelief. “I will stay with you through the process,” she reassures, “offering both compassion and guidance throughout your real estate and personal journey.”

Whether it’s a divorce, a death in the family, moving to a new country, the need to downsize or upsize, an inheritance or lack thereof, or simply the desire to travel—these situations introduce many complications that influence real estate choices. Alison provides logical and creative problem-solving skills—along with a strong emotional foundation—to diffuse challenges and see the solution clearly.

As she continues to explore her new normal, she stays busy with work; her two Bouviers, Babu and I.V.; her new grandson, Angus; her travel plans for her next adventure; and the book she’s writing, which will be released this year. She continues to give back—supporting the elderly, the Beach Life Festival, the Children’s Miracle Network, Carson Animal Shelter and various other organizations.

Even in the shadow of grief, through the changes life brings her way, Alison is doing what she loves: helping clients find new possibilities … and finding a few herself.


Alison Clay-Duboff  |  Salty Water Properties, Inc.

1040 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach
310-200-3037  |  alisonisrealestate.com  |  DRE #01786922

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