’02 BA Communications
Patrick T. Smith Achievement in Service Award
With two decades of experience in the real estate world, Paul Chaffee understands the negative perception of professionals in his industry — that they’re only interested in service to themselves and their definition of “giving back to the community” is selling someone a piece of property as soon as possible so they can move on and sell the next one.
Not wanting to get painted with that stereotypical brush, Chaffee has worked overtime throughout his career to prove he’s different. He’s certainly done just that. In fact, it probably would take less time to review and sign closing documents than to detail all the ways in which Chaffee has selflessly supported both his alma mater and community. Some of the highlights:
He has served on the executive advisory committee for the Lied Center for Real Estate; served as the Lied Center’s mentorship and internship chairman; assisted in recruiting instructors to teach in the Lied program; developed partnerships with relevant trade organizations for purposes of developing scholarship programs for Lied students; and helped revive the UNLV Real Estate Club by recruiting students through campus events and in-classroom visits.
Away from campus, Chaffee is a state director of education and training for the Nevada Firearms Coalition, a regional counselor with the National Rifle Association’s “Refuse to be a Victim” program, and a member of Boulder City Mason Lodge No. 37. On the youth front, he’s a Boy Scout Merit Badge counselor, he helped launch Camp Firefly for children with cancer and their siblings, and he’s a former board member of both the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada and the Southern Nevada chapter of Variety – The Children’s Charity.
Beyond giving his time, Chaffee also is quick to open his wallet. Among other charitable giving, he’s a 2021 Scarlet Loyal member and a former UNLV Foundation donor.
His philosophy when it comes to community service and philanthropy? It’s as simple as installing a for-sale sign.
“I don’t consider it giving back,” he said. “I consider it to be my obligation.”
When did you know you wanted to pursue real estate as a career?
A gentleman named Robert Kolesar Jr. pursued me to work in the title/escrow world, so from 2002-09, I worked for Nevada Title Company — and then the world of real estate crashed. That was the moment I chose to become a real estate broker, because I wanted to help others.
The best part about my job is finding individuals who are stuck in certain difficult situations — people who don’t know what to do or where to turn — and helping them. Don’t get me wrong: The money is great, but the stories are better.
Real estate is not the life for everybody — you never know when you’re going to get paid, you never know if a transaction is going to close — but the thrill is knowing it’s up to you to get up, go out there and make something positive happen. I wake up every day unemployed and choose to take on the world.
What’s the biggest personal or professional challenge that you’ve had to overcome, and how did that experience shape you?
A lot of us, both inside and outside the real estate business, were hit hard by the Great Recession. Those were challenging years for everyone. But I believe you create your own life and reality. So recognizing that time was an opportunity to create a foundation from which to build, I went out and became a real estate broker, did a triathlon, wrote a book, and got married.
Author G. Michael Hopf wrote the book Hard Times Create Strong Men, and I chose to be one of those men. Those tough times made me appreciate what I have now and helped me understand that things always change, and it’s up to me to evolve with the times or risk becoming extinct.
What inspired your boundless community involvement and desire to give back, especially as it relates to UNLV?
I live by a quote that comes from — of all things — the movie Fight Club: “You decide your own level of involvement.”
Here’s the thing: Do you want a better community? Then get out there and do something about it. Want students to have a better university experience? Then get in there and help create that experience.
During my college career, I wish I had someone who told me how boundless my opportunities were. Now I can be that person for today’s students — to paraphrase the starfish story: “I can make a difference for this one!”
If you could go back in time, what’s the one piece of practical advice you would give to your 20-year-old self?
Invest as much as you can in real estate in Las Vegas! All kidding aside, it would be to find a good mentor. Surround yourself with people who will help you achieve your goals, not talk you out of them. And remember: As boundless as the possibilities are, you only have a finite amount of time on this earth, so make the best of it!
What does the phrase “Rebel spirit” mean to you?
Be daring. If you want something, go get it, and don’t take no for an answer. And when someone says you can’t do something — because eventually someone will — be daring and show them you can.