Bay Area man makes more money as a realtor than as a doctor

About 20 years later, Pourshams is working as a physician at Stanford University, and he remembers well how he’d drive home from Davis every weekend, where he’d help his father with his real estate business, work on his grueling pre-med homework, then drive back to campus. 

At 18, while pursuing medicine in his undergraduate studies, he received his real estate license, which he studied for between classes in high school (“I finished my finals at Davis, then went to Oakland and took my real estate exam.”) He went onto medical school at Ross University in the Caribbean, where he put his real estate career on hold.

“I paid for college [as a realtor], then I paid my way through the first year of medical school,” he said. He next joined a program that will pay off his remaining student debt after he works for 10 years in public health.

We in the Bay Area are all too familiar with side gigs. But Pourshams’ moonlighting as a realtor-broker is unusual, even for this expensive region. But the physician seems to enjoy the constant switching. Currently, he works four-and-a-half days a week at Stanford as a post-doc researcher. He does real estate in his “free time.”

 Bay Area man makes more money as a realtor than as a doctor

Idean Pourshams, gives us a tour of a home for sale in Menlo Park.

Patricia Chang/Special to SFGATE

Pourshams keeps two cell phones — one for medicine and his personal life, and one for real estate. Each has a different ring tone and text chime, so before even looking at his phones, he knows which hat to wear. During breaks on his rounds or in his research, he’ll respond to inquiries, check on the status of a sale or post a listing. 

“I think I’ve always been good at compartmentalizing,” he said. “I grew up doing martial arts, so my mental fortitude comes from that training. They used to push us hard and say, ‘It’s all in your mind, you can control it.’” 

The key, he says, is completely disengaging from one task to focus on the other. 

When I asked which profession made him the most money — medicine or real estate — Pourshams didn’t hesitate.

“I make more money as a realtor,” he said. “It’s hilarious, I know.” 

With that comes a drive to give back to his region. He started a nonprofit called Mina’s Wellness, focused on helping children learn to make good health decisions. And he recognizes the insidiousness of the cycle of debt and renter-dom. 

“It’s like, you need an education in order to get a job. But then you have all this debt, so you need a home so you’re not constantly paying a landlord,” he said.

He knows the cycle himself. Pourshams says he still has nearly half-a-million in debt from medical school. At 37, he’s just now starting to look at buying a house, but he’s priced out of the town where his family lives (Los Gatos).

In 2018, Pourshams founded his own real estate company, called TuuKasa. His dad handles most of the day-to-day and operates the company under Pourshams’ broker license. “Real estate,” he affirms with a laugh, “is essentially a hobby.”

 Bay Area man makes more money as a realtor than as a doctor

Idean Pourshams, gives us a tour of a home for sale in Menlo Park.

Patricia Chang/Special to SFGATE

And he’s quick to acknowledge his privilege in all of this. He says he would never have gotten into real estate if it weren’t for his familial ties. He finds much of the industry altogether unsavory. And he can’t believe the rates most Bay Area realtors charge — about 5% per sale, he says. Pourshams charges about 2% by comparison. 

Pourshams discusses this region’s housing situation with a jaded clarity. He says he “hates” realtors who drive Lamborghinis just for the image. He loathes the “Trump mentality” that some of his peers have. 

“I know realtors considered the best of the best that don’t pay their stagers. They have debt toward them, which they never pay back.” 

“For example, when these people close a deal, they tell a roofer, I’ll pay you when escrow closes,” he adds. “They don’t pay them. It’s like, you’ll have to come after me if you want your money.” 

Pourshams has even more pursuits on the horizon. He eventually wants to open a health clinic-gym, where he can teach his patients exercises firsthand. Pourshams, naturally, used to work as a personal trainer. 

In the meantime, he’s pursuing his “smaller” goals. He’s been studying law under his neighbor “as a hobby.” In the fall, he plans to take the California Bar Examination. 

“It’s not because I want to practice law or anything, I just see it as an interesting challenge,” he said. 

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