WHY I BECAME A REALTOR©
I’ve always wanted to sell real estate. I used to watch Carleton Sheets infomercials when I was living in Manhattan in the 90’s and dreamed about being a real estate investor. I was a single Mom to Sunny and knew I wanted to have a secondary career (motherhood being the first). In 2000, I met and married the love of my life, Manny, a widower who had three beautiful children of his own. Frances was only 15, Carlo was 14 and Elizabeth was barely 12. When 9/11 happened, we decided to uproot ourselves (Manny and his kids moved from Manila) and we all settled in Kissimmee, Florida, where my 3 sisters and their families lived.
We gave birth to our daughter, Inez, in June 2003 and just barely 3 months later in October 2003, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Brain Cancer. To this day, Manny and I don’t know how we managed, having 4 other young kids to take care of while practically living in the Orlando Regional Hospital Pediatric Oncology ward for 2 and a half years of treatment for Inez. Living near our extended family proved to be a priceless decision. Chemo was administered every three weeks with transfusions and testing every other day. After 22 chemo treatments and 2 major brain surgeries we were blessed with her complete healing. Our doctor says it was by faith alone that she was healed. She is now almost 15 and 8 years cancer-free. She plays the piano, loves writing, dances tap and lyrical and loves to listen to Broadway musicals.
It was during the first year of Inez’s treatment that I decided to get my real estate license. The flexibility of the hours gave me the freedom to be a Mom first and build a career second. A real estate career gave me a sense of dignity, purpose and hope of better days. When I became a REALTOR© in 2005 with OSCAR, I was welcomed into my REALTOR© family who educated me, mentored me and groomed me for leadership not just in the association but in my community as well. I could not have built a successful career without OSCAR. As I transitioned from residential to commercial real estate, my memberships in CFCAR, WCR, CRS, CRB and CCIM proved to be life changing. The value of my REALTOR© membership goes far beyond the programs I participated in. I’ve built friendships and a network of REALTORs© who supported each other and whose heart is in building and protecting the communities we serve. I could not be more grateful and proud to be a REALTOR©.
LATASHA AND ALLEN
My husband, Manny, and I met Latasha and Allen when they made application to rent one of our personal rental properties. Latasha worked 2 jobs. During the week, she worked at Wendy’s and in the weekends, she cut hair at JC Penney. Allen was a Teacher at Poinciana High School and was the Assistant Coach of the Wrestling Team. Our son, Sunny, was Captain of the Wrestling Team in High School and of course that was near and dear to our hearts. Latasha and Allen risked another application fee despite being turned down by many other Landlords. Their credit was bad and their income barely made the required ratio. They came with great character references, though, from JC Penney and from the Assistant Principal at the High School. They shared that they have been living in a motel, husband and wife on one bed and their two young kids on the other. Every thirty days they had to pack all their belongings and move out for three days before moving back in for another thirty days. So we took a leap of faith and approved them to move in to our rental. I can stiremember the day when we opened the door to our 2-bedroom, family running in, kids jumping up and down saying “Mom, Dad, we’re finally home”. You see, when we lay our heads down at night, we are grateful for the opportunity to provide a safe and permanent home to their beautiful family. But my story pales in comparison to Realtor Cynthia Shaeffer who raises money every year to provide beds to kids who are in need. Or my own WCR Chapter in Osceola where year after year they raise funds to support local non-profits or collect luggages to give to foster children who move from home to home. Or my dear friend and REALTOR© leader Cheryl Lambert who has devoted her life to non-profits to promote affordable housing. Or our dear REALTOR© Champion Sherri Meadows who, because of her heart and passion for “housing for all”, inspired NAR to adopt a policy supporting programs for homelessness issues. This is not just my story, not just your story, but our story and I think it’s time for the world to hear the true REALTOR© story.
HOW I TRANSITIONED TO COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE
Having participated in “Leadership Osceola” in 2011, I came upon an opportunity to interview for a substantial commercial land listing in my market area. By partnering with 2014 Land REALTOR© of America, Ben Crosby, whom I networked with at Florida REALTORS©, we were awarded the 13.5M commercial listing contract that jumpstarted my commercial real estate career. Consequently, as my interest grew from the mentoring of Ben, I joined CFCAR to surround myself with more commercial practitioners and to learn more about the CRE Industry. It was in 2014 that I joined the CCIM Central Florida District where I applied for the CCIM Mentorship Program and became a CCIM Candidate. I was fortunate enough to have been paired with Robin Webb as my mentor who after a few months hired me to join NAI Realvest in Orlando. Robin, in 2017, became the Global President of CCIM. Transitioning from a Managing Broker and top producer of Remax Premier Properties was a difficult decision but with the education and support of REALTOR© Commercial Associations like CFCAR and the CCIM Institute, I was able to slowly rebuild a successful real estate career.
BALANCING THE BUSY LIFE
People ask me all the time “how do you do it?”. I have a successful career and a wonderful family. And I always seem so busy. I put a lot of time in volunteering for my REALTOR© Associations and my community. During my younger days as a single Mom, feeling overwhelmed and not going anywhere, I remember reading Stephen Covey’s “First Things First”. This book changed my life. I realized my calendar is my greatest ally and identifying the “why’s” of my life gave me a better sense of how to spend my time. Mondays, at 6 am after I drop off Inez at the school bus stop, I get my head in the game of commercial real estate and have a separate business plan for the week. Volunteering takes up a good portion of my calendar but frankly, that is my “me” time. I feel fulfilled knowing that I can share myself to others. From Friday nights to Sunday night, I am with my family laughing, talking, cooking, watching movies and just simply loving on them and them loving on me.
I heard somewhere that it’s like filling a jar with big rocks first, then followed with the medium and small rocks then filling the spaces with sand. If you fill the jar with sand first, you have no space for your big rocks and smaller rocks. This is how I live a full, happy and content life. This is where my peace comes from.