Two top-notch agents, Mary Gray and Mykah Larkins, have joined Berkeley Hills Realty. They are not only longtime business partners, they’re related: Mary is Mykah’s aunt. “Mary and Mykah combine the wisdom of age and the enthusiasm of youth,” says Berkeley Hills Realty co-owner Tracy Sichterman. “They make a great a team.”

Mary Gray: on Being of Service

Mary grew up in the Pacific Northwest and moved to the Bay Area in 1979 to work as a hospice nurse before switching to real estate. She worked with Mason McDuffie and Marvin Gardens, acquiring a list of loyal clients, especially around El Cerrito, where she lives.

In her real estate work, Mary uses the same intuitive skills that served her as a nurse. “I’m good at walking in other people’s shoes,” she says, “especially in times of stress and transition.” Mary says she is also good at “listening below the surface,” by which she means hearing what her clients tell her while intuiting their deeper hopes and wishes.

Mary, who is in her early sixties, is especially fond of the elderly. “When I was little, my mother and I lived with my grandparents,” she says. “The old ladies on the block taught me to play canasta before I was five, and I appreciated their wisdom and beauty.” She loves to hike and read, Mary says, “but relationships are what interest me most-and will remain so forever.”

Mykah Larkins: Learning from the Best

Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1970, Larkins forged her connection to the East Bay when she moved in with her aunt in 1986. Mary Gray was an agent with Mason McDuffie then, and would become her mentor and business partner. When Larkins decided to go into real estate in 2003, her aunt was there to help. “I would get a stager, pick the colors, and do all the preparation work,” she says, “but Mary had been through many markets and she knew exactly what was needed.”

Search All Homes For Sale

At the time, the real estate market was booming. “Mary started training me at a time when the seller’s market was amping up,” says Larkins. “In the beginning, a house would typically get a few offers and sell for $20,000 over the asking price. But pretty soon houses would get 16 offers and go for $150,000 over the asking price.”

The pace was frenetic. “We got houses ready in three weeks, put them on the market for two weeks, and have them close escrow three weeks later,” says Larkins. “Six to seven weeks from start to finish, and you were done.”

But during all that time, Gray was preparing her niece for the slowdown she knew was sure to come. “In a down market, those houses will just sit around,” Gray warned her. “You can struggle to set the right price, do all the same preparation work, and a house might still take three months to sell.” Says Larkins: “Way back then, Mary was already training me for the market we’re currently in.”

Larkins is a great communicator, and she knows the East Bay intimately. “I live and work and play right here in the El Cerrito-Albany-Berkeley area,” she says. “My entire life is here. My children go to school here, and I’m on the PTA; I know the community really well.”

Two Heads are Better than One

Mary and Mykah—sometimes called the “M & M team”—think of real estate as not just a business, but also a service. “A house is most people’s greatest asset and buying or selling it is hard on them,” says Mary. “It’s a privilege to help somebody through the process.”

The women also form something of a mutual admiration society. “Mykah is smart and creative,” says Mary. “We’re very good together.” Both women are detail oriented, and committed to helping their clients accomplish what they want. “We’re going to sell your house, or find you one,” says Mykah. “Either way, we’re going to get the job done.”

To contact Mary Gray and Mykah Larkins:

Mary Gray: 510-524-9888 x40; mary@berkhills.com.

Mykah Larkins: 510-524-9888 x40, 510-520-6692 (cell); mykah@berkhills.com.