How Donald Bren Became a Real Estate Billionaire

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Donald Bren

Considered to be the wealthiest real estate tycoon in the USA, Donald Bren began his own company with the beginning purchases of land to build houses on and expanded with two other companies as the first steps to growing his fortune. 

The First Steps

Born in 1932, he has a movie producer father who married an actress after divorcing Donald’s mother, who in turn married an industrialist. Working summers for his father’s real estate development business, he had an early introduction to building wealth through real estate. He was taught that property would build value over time and has taken that advice to grow his own real estate business. 

25 Years of Age

When he was 25 years old, he used a bank loan to fund his company and then built the first house to be flipped, followed by a string of successful home flipping. While working his own business, he was also working as the president of a property development company that created a planned community. 

The 1970’s

In 1970 he sold his company for over $30 million, and when the value of real estate began to drop only two years later, he repurchased the company he’d built for only $22 million.

Further Investing in The 1990s

By 1996 he had purchased all remaining shares of the Irvine Company that he had originally bought into with five others in 1977. He purchased shares from each of the other shareholders in the years between and has continued to grow their properties and develop communities throughout Anaheim, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Irvine.

As he continues to grow the Irvine company, they currently own over 110 million square feet of property. This includes a collection of office and commercial space and apartments, hotels, marinas, and golf courses. This diverse portfolio allows for income to continue in other streams when there are slow periods in others and the size of the holdings are large enough to maintain the company value. 

Additional Growth

Growth outside of the area has included expansion into West Los Angeles, San Diego, Silicon Valley, Chicago, and even into New York City with almost complete ownership of the MetLife building. 

Donations and Support Through Philanthropy

With donations and supports of over $1 billion over his life, the Donald Bren Legacy of Giving Award was created to show appreciation for his efforts and those who followed the same path. Additionally, with $200 million donated towards educational charities, schools, and other efforts, he is focused on investing in education to create a better future.

Turning Loans Into Billions

Throughout his career, Donald Bren has turned a $10,000 loan into a net worth of over $1 billion and has designed some of the most iconic neighborhoods in America. Using that success to support local schools, arts, research projects, and conservation efforts, he has used his skills to both build his own wealth and help the community around him. His fortune was made with a skill for developing solid business decisions to grow through real estate booms and recessions.