Meet Hugh

The family business. It’s how many professionals begin their careers, regardless of industry, and it’s common to see in real estate. However, sometimes agents realize success both because of and in spite of their family name. Hugh Cornish is a third-generation real estate expert in Silicon Valley, and to say he faced high expectations in the industry would be an enormous understatement. Yet, the expectations may not have been the most significant challenge to establishing his career.

“Cornish & Carey was started in 1935 and was the biggest residential real estate firm in Northern California before it merged with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. I wasn’t exactly encouraged to go into the business. However, I realized early how very fortunate I was to have deep roots in the Atherton, Portola Valley, Menlo Park and Woodside areas; these have contributed to my success” says Cornish, who is in the top 1% internationally for Coldwell Banker and No. 125 nationally by REAL Trends “The Thousand” for 2017. “I give credit to my father and grandfather for my success. They both worked tirelessly and established strong reputations in our community.”

Hugh Cornish
“I had the advantage of having a name everyone knew. It got me in the door, but I had to build my own reputation.”

Cornish quickly overcame the challenging start to his career by focusing on good, old-fashioned hard work and keying in on what people in Silicon Valley, and particularly, his local area of Atherton, Menlo Park, Portola Valley and Woodside, are seeking: information.

“The turning point for me in my career was finding a way to really benefit sellers and buyers and empower them with knowledge,” says Cornish, who works out of the company’s Menlo Park office. “Twenty years ago, I started writing an annual report. At first it was only a few pages; now it is almost 30 pages long. I also do a monthly newsletter and quarterly and half-yearly versions of the report. This report has become something that homeowners in the area look forward to and keep so they can refer back. In a real estate market like ours, being informed is everything.”

What’s in a name? Quite a bit, if you’re a third- generation real estate professional in an area in which that name is synonymous with real estate royalty.

Those annual reports helped position Cornish as an authority in the business. He now has more than $2 billion in sales — something he couldn’t have anticipated when he first launched his real estate career. “When I first started, I spent five years in commercial real estate, but I never really loved the ‘product,’” he says. “When I switched over to residential real estate, I set about overcoming the challenges of starting a career on my own with a legendary name to live up to. What I found, however, is that residential real estate allows you to deal one-on-one with real people and make a difference in their lives. Thirty years into my career, that is what continues to drive me.”

Hugh Cornish (CalRE# 00912143) is affiliated with the Menlo Park office and can be reached at 650.619.6461 or

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