Broward Council of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS



The Power of Determination: Broward County Realtor Wins National Honor on Third Attempt

by | Jul 19, 2017

By Chris Umpierre


Saria Finkelstein’s heart skipped a beat when the email arrived.

It was the email Finkelstein had been waiting for since she got into real estate in 2010. Its contents disclosed if she had reached her goal of becoming one of the nation’s 30 most-influential Realtors in the country under the age of 30.

Finkelstein was quiet as she stared at the email during a buyer’s consultation.

“Aren’t you going to open it?” the home buyers implored.

Finkelstein took a deep breath, clicked on the email and yelled. It was the type of scream associated with life-changing events, the type of scream where you can feel the person’s joy.

Finkelstein, 29, had been named to REALTOR® Magazine's prestigious 30 Under 30 Class of 2017. The Plantation, Fla. Realtor was one of two MIAMI Association of REALTORS® members to be honored (Cervera Real Estate’s Karen Elmir is the other). More than 500 Realtors applied to the magazine, a bimonthly publication from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Overjoyed, Finkelstein rushed to open her office door and found her coworkers smiling. They were holding champagne bottles, balloons and 30 Under 30 cupcakes. Her colleagues had ran to the store when they learned the news a few minutes earlier.

Seeing her coworkers crystalized the honor’s significance. The victory wasn’t just a win for her; it was a win for the 28-person Plantation, Fla. team. It was a victory for her grandparents, who owned a brokerage for 35 years. It was a win for people who rebound from failures. Finkelstein cried as she embraced her aunt and best friend Laurie Finkelstein Reader.

“The best part about this, to be honest with you, is that Saria won on the third try,” said Finkelstein Reader, the CEO of the Laurie Finkelstein Reader Real Estate Team. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of people try a big challenge once and that’s it. Saria never quit. We talk all the time about failing forward. The most successful people on this planet have the biggest failures.”


Failing Forward

Every year Saria put 30 Under 30 on her vision board and was committed to succeeding no matter what it took.

Finkelstein didn’t want to be named one of the nation’s top 30 Under 30 Realtors for fame. She wanted it for her team, for validation of everything she was doing as a Broward County Realtor.

The first year, she made it to REALTOR® Magazine's top-50. The second year was a disappointment that quickly turned into determination.

“Failing was really what fueled me to kick up my business in a way that I didn’t think was possible,” Saria Finkelstein said. “It made me want to earn that title.”

First, Saria hired an assistant, then a showing agent and finally a professional MAPS business coach. The business coach pushed her out of her comfort zone and challenged her to think bigger. How could she turn her business into an empire? The assistant took over daily tasks so she could focus on income-producing activities.

Prospecting, negotiating contracts, sitting in buyer’s consultations and going to closings; those would be her priorities. Anything else would take her away from her mission.

There were growing pains. The showing agent, for instance, had to learn the showing agent model so Finkelstein could stop showing properties. Finkelstein would only see buyers at the buyer’s consultations and closing.

She also attended more real estate classes and leaned on her core Realtor fundamentals, the advice she learned from her aunt and grandparents.


Family Affair

The Finkelsteins know about resiliency. Saria’s grandparents — Maury and Marilyn Finkelstein — owned a Florida real estate brokerage for 35 years.

Grandpa and Grandma prevailed through Florida’s many up-and-down real estate cycles. Marilyn Finkelstein, 75, still works for the Plantation real estate team. Marilyn Finkelstein is one of the company’s 19 Realtors and literally “runs circles around the company’s listing agents.”

“You need to write down ‘Grandma/Bad Ass,’” Saria Finkelstein said with a laugh. “My grandmother will go to open houses and say, ‘Let grandma show you the house.’ She has this way about her that is so old school but she is also very technologically savvy. She presents all offers in person. She is really the person who taught me the basics of the business.”

If Saria Finkelstein’s grandparents taught her the basics, Laurie Finkelstein Reader is the one who developed them.

Laurie Finkelstein Reader is Keller Williams’ No. 1 ranked Realtor in the state of Florida and is ranked No. 10 in the nation. Saria interned with her for a couple of summers, but she wasn’t serious about real estate. She only went to work for Laurie after graduating from the University of South Florida because she wanted to work with her best friend.

On her first day, Saria asked: So how much am I going to make?

Laurie laughed. And then laughed some more.

Don’t worry about your income, Laurie told Saria. Worry about learning the Realtor craft.

Laurie started Saria off in a controlled environment. “She was my appendage,” she said. Saria didn’t make much money the first couple of years as she studied the best ways to improve as a real estate agent. There were difficulties adjusting.

“I had to create a new relationship with a person who was my role model my whole life,” Saria recalled. “There were a lot of tears. It was very hard in the beginning. But now I feel so blessed to work with my aunt, grandma, two of my cousins and so many others.”

Sky’s the Limit

In her fourth year of real estate, Saria Finkelstein started to see rewards. Her Realtor fundamentals — which includes bringing a red carpet to the closings of all of her clients — and her outgoing, caring personality make her one of South Florida’s top Realtors.

Finkelstein registered a sales volume of $16.1 million with 57 transaction sides in 2016.

But earning the 30 Under 30 Realtor title isn’t just about numbers. It’s about how influential you are in the community.

Finkelstein volunteers as a MIAMI Broward County Board of Governor. She also founded the MIAMI Broward Young Professionals Network, which helps young Realtors learn the craft through training seminars and networking events.

In 2016, she launched one of the first chapters in the country for Keller Williams Young Professionals so she can continue to help mold the younger generation of realtors and lead them to the path of success.

Being involved in the community isn’t something new to Saria. She has been heavily involved in the Becca’s Closet organization since it’s origination in 2003, at the age of 16, when her friend Rebecca Kirtman tragically passed away. For the last seven years she has been on the Board of Directors to ensure her friend Becca’s dream continued to live on.

Finkelstein loves coaching Realtors her unique team within a team model of building a real estate business. She speaks at Realtor conferences around the nation and conducts countless social media webinars to help real estate professionals.

Finkelstein teaches the model that has helped her family business grow from $30 million in annual sales to $150 million. The Keller Williams Plantation team uses Keller Williams’s millionaire real estate model book. She does training calls with different teams and webinars.

“If I can help one or two people in this business, then it’s all worth it,” Saria Finkelstein said.

Saria Finkelstein is also a “proud gay woman” who has made a difference in the community.

Saria organized a Broward blood drive in the wake of the horrific Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, a tragedy that killed 49 people. To help the victims, she sold “Love is Love” t-shirts that she helped design. Saria wrote about the tragedy in a social media post. Afterward, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale asked her to speak at the Pulse memorial.


The Tiger

Saria Finkelstein is excelling in this ultra-competitive industry because she’s always learning, is client focused, helps others and is tough.

“My most important advice to young Realtors is to learn before you earn,” Saria Finkelstein said. “Young Realtors want to jump in so quickly that they don’t take the time to take classes at the board or at their brokerage. Make sure you build a strong foundation first.”

Through her volunteer work with the MIAMI association, Saria is paying it forward to other Realtors. The nation already knows about her team’s ethics and goodwill.

In 2013, Laurie Finkelstein Reader’s real estate team, including Saria, won a $1 million Powerball lottery. Everyone in the office purchased the tickets except for one employee. The group collected $83,300 each after taxes. After celebrating the news, Finkelstein Reader sent a text message to the other 11 co-workers asking if they would be willing to share a part of their winnings with the new employee, and they all agreed.

The goodwill story became a national headline on every U.S. network. The story showed the world how caring and big hearted the Finkelsteins are.

“My (late) grandfather used to call me ‘Tiger,’” Saria recalled with a smile. “He used to say, ‘Tiger, you are going to be so great in life.’”



MIAMI Association of REALTORS® 30 Under 30 WINNERS

Realtor                                                                          City                                                                          Office                                                                                                      Year

Karen Elmir                         Miami                                   Cervera Real Estate Inc.                                        2017

Saria Finkelstein               Plantation                           Keller Williams Partners                                             2017

Nelson Duque                   Miami                                   Fortune International Realty                                     2015

Paul King                          Sunny Isles Beach               IST Realty                                                                2011

Frank Rodriguez               Miami                                   Citigroup Realty, Inc.                                               2007

Viktoria Telek                    Miami Beach                      Rise Realty                                                                 2006

Katrina S. Campins           Coral Gables                       K Real Estate Group                                                   2004

Kimberly Gomberg          Coral Gables                       Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate                   2003

Miguel Flores                     Coral Gables                       Platinum Properties International Inc.                      2003

Robert Meneses              Miami                                   Westvest Associates Inc.                                             2002

*NOTE: Offices are where the Realtors were working at the time of selection

See a complete database of winners at:



Name: Saria Finkelstein

Age: 29

Company: Keller Williams Realty, the Laurie Finkelstein Reader Team in Plantation, Fla.

Association: MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI)

Fun fact: Saria was one of 11 Keller Williams Partners Plantation coworkers who won a $1 million Powerball lottery in 2013.  Everyone in the office purchased the tickets except for one employee.The group shared the winnings with her.

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