But did you know that Ismael tried to purchase snow boots in anticipation of winter snowstorms in San Diego? He was age 18 at the time, a new member of the U.S. Navy.
“I was born in New York but grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, and I had never been to San Diego” said Ismael. “It was October 1974 and I was stationed at the 32nd Street Naval Station. I was shopping at a store in Downtown San Diego and I asked the clerk to show me some snow boots because I wanted to be ready when it would start snowing the next month. He laughed at me and said it doesn’t snow in San Diego. At first, I didn’t believe him. As a kid, I hated shoveling snow. I called my mother and said, `I love you mom, but I’m not coming back home because I want to stay in a place where it doesn’t snow.’”
Ismael served six years in the Navy, retiring from active duty in 1980. That same year, he married his wife Ruth. “I spent months trying to get her to dance with me at the disco nightclubs in Tijuana, and she would always say `no.’ Finally, one day she said `yes,’” Ismael recalls. “I proposed the day she graduated from dental school.” They just recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.
Ruth still works as a dentist in Tijuana. “My wife says I am her worst-ever patient,” said Ismael. “I had bad experiences in the Navy with dentists so I hate needles. My wife will start to work on me and then I will say `that’s enough for today.’ It takes me a year to get something done that would normally take only a few weeks.”
They have raised two sons, Ismael Jr. and Emmanuel, both of whom graduated from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and now work with Ismael, age 59, as a family team called the Betancourt Partners at Century 21 Award. Before real estate, Ismael worked at UCSD’s Printing Department. He switched to real estate to help pay educational expenses for his sons. “I was fortunate to go to Holy Name Catholic High School back in Reading and I wanted our boys to go to St. Charles Catholic School in Imperial Beach,” said Ismael. “Also, real estate gave me the time to be involved in our boys’ school events, like coaching their basketball teams.”
Ismael says he truly enjoys being a real estate professional. “This is more than a job. We are changing people’s lives for the better. We know that home ownership helps in so many ways, much more than just financial. I am grateful for my first broker Vince Davies (a former PSAR president), who taught me the importance of helping others.”
Ismael said he recently helped a family purchase their first home. They had lived for seven years in a one-bedroom, one-bath mobile home with two parents and three children. “When I gave them the keys to the front door, the mother couldn’t believe her children would have a back yard to play in,” Ismael said. “When we help people get into a home, it’s just as rewarding for us.”
Ismael also enjoys PSAR. “I believe in agents helping other agents. Building bridges makes our industry better and helps all of us get ahead. PSAR encourages cooperation and professionalism in our industry. Our members treat each other with respect. I have made lifelong friendships through PSAR.”