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Started from the Bottom: Persistence pays off for MIAMI YPN Chairman Jorge H. Fernandez

by | May 23, 2018



By Chris Umpierre

MIAMI Staff

 

Unemployed and unproven at the peak of the Great Recession, Jorge H. Fernandez did something unorthodox. He offered to work for free at a Miami real estate company.

“I told Caribe Homes, ‘Let me come in and clean the floors for you,’” Fernandez remembered. “Let me clean the toilets. Let me hang out. I want to learn real estate. I want to learn.”

Fernando Martinez, the principal of Caribe Homes Realty and the 2013 Residential President of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI), took a long look at the 22-year-old Fernandez and gave him a quick response.

No. No. No. You can’t work here.

It was 2010 and real estate nationally and locally was near its nadir, crushed by the housing bubble and bad credit. There were no Realtor jobs. But Fernandez didn’t give up. He kept asking Martinez. After two weeks, Martinez relented.

Martinez took the Miami native under his wing, allowing him to sit in on every meeting. After a long day of work, Martinez would continue the real estate lessons with his prodigy. Eight years later, Fernandez is a top Realtor and the 2018 MIAMI Young Professionals Network Chairman tasked with leading South Florida’s next generation of Realtors.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I would be here without Fernando Martinez,” Fernandez said.

 

Finding his Passion

Like many of us growing up, Fernandez wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. He listed his major as economics when he enrolled at Florida International University in Miami, but later decided it wasn’t for him. He transferred to Florida State University in Tallahassee and went through three majors (economics, nursing and psychology.)

He had a passion for numbers, but wasn’t sure which career to pursue.

He had always thought about real estate. At age 18, he had secured an appraiser’s license.

When he moved back to Miami in 2010, Fernandez wasn’t sure what he’d do for income. His best friend started working for Caribe Homes, South Florida’s largest privately owned builder/developer. An idea jumped into Fernandez’s head.

 

"This Kid Really Wants It”

Fernandez wanted to work for free for Caribe Homes. He just have to convince the boss. After two weeks of hearing no from Martinez, Fernandez finally heard something different. Martinez (pictured above with Fernandez) agreed to meet with him at a Cracker Barrel in Florida City.

At the meeting, Martinez gave Fernandez an overview of the industry. Fernandez didn’t know much about real estate. His view of the career emanated from TV shows. Martinez gave him the reality. Martinez taught him how Realtors got paid, about commissions.

Martinez agreed to give the kid a shot. Fernandez offered again to clean the toilets and floors.

“To be honest, I didn’t end up doing that much cleaning,” Fernandez said with a laugh. “I mean I took out the trash a couple times, but when I got to the office Fernando and I just hit it off. I think he saw I was genuinely intrigued about real estate. He sat with me countless hours. He said, ‘Wow, this kid really wants it.’”

Eventually, Martinez let him sit in on every one of his meetings. Architects, land superintendents, bankers. Fernandez heard it all. Martinez broke down the industry and showed him how builders view property construction loans and more.

After a few months of working as an intern at the firm, Martinez surprised him with a check. You earned it, Martinez told him.

 

Real Estate is about Relationships”

Fernandez kept growing his passion for real estate and eventually signed up to get his real estate license. Fernandez, who earned his real estate license in October 2010, was off and running in his new career as an associate at Caribe Homes.

The first year, like for most Realtors, was a challenge.

“I needed to find my value proposition,” said Fernandez, borrowing a phrase from his good friend and Real Estate Sales Force (RESF) CEO Jorge Guerra Jr., the 2018 MIAMI Residential President. “I was 22 years old. I was lacking experience and lacking knowledge. I was a baby. I had to find a way to make customers comfortable in me so they can make one of the largest investments of their lives.”

 

Fernandez’s answer: Go to school.

Fernandez signed up for myriad MIAMI Realtors classes. He took and earned his broker’s license. He took and earned his Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation. Only Realtors who successfully complete more than 90 hours of comprehensive training can be called GRI. These agents are considered the elite of the business. It is the No. 1 real estate designation in the industry.

Fernandez listened to Martinez, who is a member of the Builders Association of South Florida and the Latin Builder Association. For Martinez, real estate is about building relationships.

“Fernando never talks with someone and goes straight to business,” Fernandez said. “There’s the personal aspect to every relationship and Fernando is genuine about knowing about you. That’s what I learned the most from him: real estate is about relationships.”

 

Helping the Next Generation

Like his mentor, Fernandez wanted to volunteer his time to help South Florida Realtors. He joined the MIAMI YPN board. In 2018, he was elected MIAMI YPN Chairman.

Fernandez is part of a fast-growing MIAMI YPN group that has expanded its offerings of seminars and real estate camps for new agents. This year, MIAMI YPN has a four-week long Game Changer Series where YPN leaders help the next generation. A new YPN All-Stars campaign was launched where new agents can become All-Stars and get special pricing for events as well as an All-Stars hat and shirt.

“When I first got into this business, I looked for a sense of belonging. A sense of ‘Hey, I’m not in this by myself,’” Fernandez said. “It was crucial for me to find other individuals who have my same mindset. People who take the business as seriously as I do. It’s what MIAMI YPN is all about.”

In his year as chairman, Fernandez wants to continue bringing together the young professionals in this industry while giving them the opportunity to keep growing so they can become the leaders.

Sounds a lot like what Fernando Martinez did for a young Realtor in 2010.

 

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FERNANDEZ BIO

Name: Jorge H. Fernandez

Board position: 2018 MIAMI YPN Chairman

Employment: Realtor at Caribe Homes Realty

Achievement: Fernandez quickly became Caribe Homes Realty’s top sales agent which gave him the credibility to become the company's broker of record.

Did you know? Fernandez loves Key Largo. Whenever he needs a break from real estate, he will head to the Keys to fish and take in the beautiful scenery.

 

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Getting to Know Our MIAMI Leaders is a project by Chris Umpierre highlighting the 2018 presidents and chairmen of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI). The leaders are: Chairman of the Board George C. Jalil, Residential President Jorge L. Guerra Jr., Commercial President Brian Sharpe, Broward President Patricia C. Anglero, Young Professionals Network Chairman Jorge H. Fernandez and JTHS-MIAMI President Barb Fox.

Read all the profiles at www.MiamiRealtors.com/Leaders

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