TAMPA BAY, Fla., Feb. 14, 2020 – There’s a lot to love about Florida, and Florida Realtors® showcased some of the Sunshine State’s best qualities to a 74-plus member delegation of the Spanish International Realty Alliance® (SIRA) this week, just in time for Valentine’s Day.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 12, 2020 – Florida’s housing market wrapped up 2019 with more sales, higher median sale prices and more pending inventory compared to the year before, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.Read More »
MIAMI – As a Cuban immigrant, Justine Jimenez Garcia, broker-owner of Countywide Properties ERA Powered and a coach with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), knows how important it is to mentor young Latino students on the possibilities for success.
“My alma mater is Miami-Dade Community College, so I wanted to give back,” she says.
Jimenez Garcia’s parents came to Miami from Cuba in 1970. “My parents saved enough money washing dishes and cleaning hospitals to buy their first home,” she says. “A couple years after that, my father became ill and passed away. Having that home meant safety to our family.”
That prompted her to get into real estate in 1994.
“When I got into the business, I had a very good role model as a broker. I saw that if you worked hard, long hours and knocked on people’s doors and introduced yourself, you had a very good opportunity of controlling your own destiny,” says Jimenez Garcia, who was named a Top 250 Latino Real Estate Agent by NAHREP.
Knowing how hard it is to be successful in business, Jimenez Garcia wanted to help students see the possibilities and opportunities out there for them.
“I work with college students,” she explains. “I let them come into my office and teach them how to network and market themselves. I serve as a role model. I give them a roadmap into being a business owner and starting out. It opens the doors for them. It opens their eyes.”
One of Jimenez Garcia’s first mentees now is a successful attorney practicing real estate. Jimenez Garcia also shows students the benefits of homeownership.
She says, “There are studies that say that kids born into a rental household are more likely to rent, and the ones born in a home that is owned are more likely to own. We can change that by mentoring young people and teaching them about how important it is to own a home. My ultimate goal is to have the Latino community grow their wealth and have more than 50% of them own homes.”
Jimenez Garcia also speaks around the country educating Latino entrepreneurs on how they can build their businesses.
“Access to capital is a big issue for Latinos,” she says. “It’s something that NAHREP is trying to work on through its wealth project: The goal is to develop more Latino millionaires and help businesses grow.”
The path to success is education, Jimenez Garcia believes. “I just completed the National Association of Realtors®’(NAR) C2EX program, and I highly recommend it to all Realtors®.”
Overall, she encourages Latino students to look for any and all opportunities.
“I tell them to keep their eyes open and get out and network,” she says. “There’s a program I talk about a lot. It’s in collaboration with Stanford and it empowers Latino entrepreneurs to grow. It’s called the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative. I want to spread the word about those programs. Volunteering in your community will make you a stronger business leader.”
And, that, says Jimenez Garcia, is worth the hard work and long hours she puts into her business and the community.
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ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 27, 2020 – The U.S. economy continues to grow – and Florida’s economy is doing even better, outpacing the nation’s growth, according to economic experts who spoke to a crowd of more than 400 Realtors® at the 2020 Florida Real Estate Trends summit during last week’s Florida Realtors Mid-Winter Business Meetings.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 22, 2020 – The holiday season was a time of good cheer for Florida’s housing market, with more closed sales, higher median prices and increased pending sales plus more pending inventory in December 2019 compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 25,557 last month, up 23.8% from December 2018.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 16, 2020 – Florida Realtors® congratulates several leaders in Florida real estate for being named to the 2020 Swanepoel Power 200 list of the most powerful leaders in residential real estate.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 14, 2020 – Real estate helps drive Florida’s growth, and figuring out what lies ahead in 2020 is a key question for policymakers, residents and Realtors. That’s the focus of this year’s Florida Realtors® 2020 Real Estate Trends summit, which also will feature a panel discussion on the latest trends in construction and development.Read More »
TAMPA, Fla. – Rick Harris, CEO and president of Richard Harris & Associates Inc. in Tampa, is no stranger to the highs and lows of raising a child with Down’s Syndrome.
“My son, David, started with UPAR, now called The Arc Tampa Bay, when he was a baby in the infant stimulation program,” says Harris. “He’s now 38 years old and lives with five other adults in an Arc group home.”
David’s entry into the group home came at a time when, says Harris, “We were overwhelmed with his care. He became violent and needed to be in a group home. It took three years to get him transferred [to the home], and we were lucky because sometimes you have to wait 10 years.”
Because of this, Harris got involved with The Arc Tampa Bay hoping his real estate experience could help the organization create more housing for the developmentally disabled.
Harris served as the volunteer President of The Arc Tampa Bay, a $12 million nonprofit that runs housing and educational programs for about 275 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.
The Arc TB runs 18 group homes and a 22-unit apartment complex that house more than 150 people. These facilities require remodeling, renting, and sometimes buying and selling, which is made easier with Harris’s real estate expertise. In addition to the years of experience he has accumulated through his real estate business, Harris has earned the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and General Accredited Appraiser (GAA) designations from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
He has helped The Arc increase its revenue by $250,000 a year.
“He most certainly has put his real estate knowledge to good use,” says Steve Heller, a past president of The Arc TB. “He just puts his heart and soul into trying to do good for our organization and for people who can’t help themselves.”
The Arc TB runs an art studio, offers classes such as drumming and cooking, and has a work center with assembly lines. “We’re trying to make it so they reach the highest level of independence,” says Polly Stannard, president of The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation. “Managing and making sound decisions for all these facilities, Rick has truly lent his training and his talents to better our organization.”
Harris also thinks about the big picture. “Often with a nonprofit, you’re inundated with your day-to-day operations, and you may not be thinking about this global perspective and bringing some business expertise into the mix,” says Hauenstein. “His insight into the markets and the value of the properties we’re going to invest these nonprofit dollars into have led us to make wise decisions.”
Harris adds, “[Our clients] are special. They have unique talents that a lot of people don’t recognize. One of the artists has autism, can barely speak but has such talent in expressing himself through art.”
At the art studio, Michael Minieri, 56, who was born deaf and has intellectual challenges, wields a paintbrush and colored pencils to create artwork for an annual art show, where some artists sell paintings for as much as $1,400. Without The Arc, “He would have been drawing randomly,” says Carl Minieri, Michael’s father, whose two sons live at The Arc TB. “They do a great job of watching over [them] and giving [them] a great quality of life.”
More than 100 people have found work through The Arc TB’s Supported Employment Program and Work Center, where they may assemble hangers, for example. And about 30 people work for local businesses like the movie theater. “Every one of the 250-plus people we serve is different, but all should be valued in our community,” says Sheldon Hershman, executive director of The Arc TB, who also notes that Harris has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to upgrade their properties.
An ongoing challenge for Stock, Harris, and other board members is balancing the budget, especially when state and federal funds are shrinking. “Costs to operate are increasing faster than funding,” says Harris. And yet they also want to pay their employees fair wages. During Harris’s service as president, The Arc increased compensation for direct-care staff from an average of around $9 an hour to more than $10 an hour. To make this happen, Harris advocated for additional funds from The Arc TB Foundation and added a grant writer to find funds for capital improvement projects.
Harris also took on long-range planning and created a wish list for each property. One goal, which he received a grant to pay for, is to use solar energy to save money. (The annual electric bill for The Arc TB is $130,000.) “With every good idea, you have to have a plan to execute it,” says Harris. “I feel my experience in real estate and leadership has benefited our organization and brought it to a higher level where we can afford to help [more people].”
Harris remains committed to helping the people at The Arc TB live their most productive and joyful lives. “These are the less fortunate who people think have nothing to contribute to society. But they do. You have to find that talent and bring it out.”
The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) named Rick Harris as a Good Neighbor Honorable Mention Award winner in 2018. Parts of this article were reprinted with permission of NAR’s Good Neighbor program. Learn more about The Arc Tampa Bay at thearctb.org.
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ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 8, 2020 – Do you have kids currently in college, or maybe one who is about to graduate high school? Are they interested in a possible real estate-related career? Then find out more about the Student Scholarship Program offered through Florida Realtors® Education Foundation Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that provides real estate-related educational scholarships. But act fast: The application deadline for this year’s program is March 9, 2020, at noon.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 19, 2019 –Florida’s housing market reported more single-family home sales and higher median prices, as well as increased pending sales and pending inventory in November 2019 compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 21,842 last month, up 6.1% from November 2018.Read More »