Original family knows ins and outs of Rancho Santa Fe


For three generations, Clotfelters have sold Rancho Santa Fe real estate.

Reginald Clotfelter began selling original plots of land for the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company in 1931. When he wanted to retire 40 years later, his son, Tom Clotfelter, took up real estate as second career to continue the strong reputation of the family name. Now, his sons, Cutter and Chaco Clotfelter are brokers for Willis Allen.

Being in business that long, there’s bound to be some repeat customers.

“We’ve sold the same property 12 times,” said Tom Clotfelter. “Twice to the same woman with different husbands.”

Neither Tom nor his sons expected to become part of the family business, but all three gravitated towards the opportunities real estate offered in the place they call home.

Having grown up here, the Clotfelters apply their intimate knowledge of the area to help clients find their dream home.

“It’s very rewarding to have so much knowledge in driving anywhere around the Ranch, to know the properties, know the owners, the past owners, the trails,” said Cutter Clotfelter.

Growing up

Rancho Santa Fe’s population has grown dramatically since Tom Clotfelter was growing up during World War II, building tree houses and helping make beds at the Inn.

Even since he began selling real estate in 1970, the houses have gotten bigger and more expensive.

While his father could draw up a contract on a single sheet of paper, his sons have reams of documents to finish.

While some elements of the business have changed, the reason why people move to Rancho Santa Fe has not, Chaco Clotfelter said.

“People come here for space, the golf course, the trails and the crickets at night, the smell of orange blossoms and eucalyptus,” he said.Chaco and Cutter Clotfelter experienced an evolving Rancho Santa Fe in the 1970s and 1980s, but still spent their days outside, learning to hunt and fish.

They rode their bikes to school, and took the bus to the beach.

At the time, there was no direct route to Del Mar, so they would have to ride an hour-and-a-half to Oceanside and then down the coast to go surfing. Father and sons left Rancho Santa Fe for college and work. They all came back.

“Moving out from being here you realize how awesome it is,” Cutter Clotfelter said.

Community tradition

The Clotfelters are one of the few original families still living in the Ranch. Reginald Clotfelter, and his wife, Constance, are recognized as community pioneers. They helped found many groups, including the Rancho Santa Fe Rotary and Country Friends, and serving on several planning groups, the association and school board.

Following in their footsteps, the family remains active in the community, especially, the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society.

Chaco Clotfelter is currently serving as the society’s president.

“History is my hobby,” he said. “Our idea is to preserve the heritage we have here with oral interviews and photos.”