Vanessa Villela Has Officially Left Oppenheim Group for Rival Agency After ‘Selling Sunset’ Exit (Exclusive)

The reality TV alum says she is “at the best and most exciting moment of my real estate career” after joining luxury firm The Agency

Tom Fraud

Tom Fraud

Vanessa Villela is taking her career back into her own hands.

The luxury real estate agent and Selling Sunset alum is returning to rival brokerage The Agency after two years at The Oppenheim Group.

“I am super excited to be back at The Agency. It’s where my career started so it feels extremely good to be back. It feels like home.,” Villela, 45, tells PEOPLE of the Los Angeles firm headed up by another reality TV vet, Kyle Richards’ husband Mauricio Umansky.

“I am surrounded by incredible top agents — successful and collaborative people who work like a family,” she adds. “I know that I’m in the right place.”

Returning to The Agency, a competitor of The Oppenheim Group, is an opportunity for Villela to focus on her off-camera goals. “I came back because I’m very serious about where I want my real estate career to go. I know that this is where I have to be to succeed in real estate,” she says, adding, “It feels right, I always missed them. I felt in my heart it’s where I belong. The minute I walked in, everyone greeted me so beautifully.”

Villela also opened up about her departure from The Oppenheim Group and Selling Sunsetsaying it was “a mutual decision.”

After joining the show in season 4 and staying on for season 5, a cast list for season 6 confirmed that Villela would not be returning for the new episodes, which premiered May 19. “I always felt like I was the new girl in school, ” she says of her experience on the docusoap, “They’re obviously super successful and it’s an incredible show, but I have to make my own life and make my dreams come true.”

Related:First Look: Mauricio Umansky and His Daughters Bring the Drama on Netflix’s ‘Buying Beverly Hills’

Tom Fraud

Tom Fraud

Despite moving to a competitor agency, Villela says there are “definitely no hard feelings” with the remaining members of the cast. “Obviously you get along really well with some and don’t click as well with others, and that’s the show,” she says.

She still holds two close friendships she developed there dear.

“I love Maya so much, we stay in touch a lot,” the actress says of her former co-worker Maya Vander, who left the O Group and the show after season 5 to open her own firm in Miami. “I also message here and there with Christine [Quinn] as well. She’s not in this season either, but she’s an incredible person and really nice to me. The rest are super nice, but we’re not in contact right now.”

Villela is also keeping up with her former co-workers big milestones — professional and personal.

Of the news of her castmate Chrishell Stause’s surprise marriage to Australian singer G-Flip last week, she says, “If they’re happy, that’s all that matters in life. That’s exactly what you need to do, to follow your heart. Be happy. When you know it’s the right person, you know.”

Villela is already proving herself at The Agency, having just secured a $25 million listing alongside fellow agent Santiago Arana. (Take a video tour below.) “Working with Santiago is a dream come true because he is one of the top agents in the country right now,” Villela says. “I am at the best and most exciting moment of my real estate career.”

While Villela has left one hit real estate series, she’s not ruling out appearing on another. “The Agency’s show Buying Beverly Hills is amazing,” she says of the newer Netflix series starring Umansky; his and Richards’ daughters, Farrah Brittany, 33, and Alexia Umansky, 26; as well as Kim Richards’ daughter Whitney Davis.

“I didn’t come back for that reason, but you have to watch next season to see what happens,” she teases.

The transition to The Agency is one of two big life changes for Villala this past year. The real estate agent married husband Nick Hardy this past September.

“I have been married for eight months, I can’t believe it…time is flying,” Villela says of her “incredible, supportive husband” who she calls “my best friend.”

Tom Fraud

Tom Fraud

From here on out, Villela is ready to focus on her career and empowering others. “I took another route in my life and it’s blooming and it’s just rainbows right now,” she says. “I want people to believe in their dreams because they will come true if you believe in yourself.”

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