IN January 2018, two mothers – Jamiyla Narinesingh, 31, and Leia Jardim-Lue, 32 – rejected a custom which suggests business and friendship are incompatible, when they invested into the relentless real estate industry.
Yet, not only did it work, their company, Next Step Realty, had since created a network of close friendships among its directors, agents and clients, who are mostly women, with the understanding of each other’s and their clients’ needs.
They were close friends before Narinesingh and Jardim-Lue came together and formed the company in December, as directors.
And, while many a start-up takes blood, sweat and tears, before any light is seen, they started off okay.
The hardest part, Jardim-Lue said, was choosing a name
“Honestly Jamiyla and I really barely butt heads,” Jardim-Lue told Newsday.
“Even though we were friends, we didn’t even realise actually that we had such similar views on everything when it came to our job and the company. If something was not agreed upon, we never had and still never do have any sort of issue rectifying and discussing with each other.
The pair knew each other for over a decade. They were in the real estate industry for about two to three years each before joining forces.
“We’ve been through different stages of our lives together and we wouldn’t have expected to start a company together. We never even realised that we had a mutual interest in real estate. It really and truly just fell into place, and worked perfectly into our lives’ schedules.
“We make a great team,” Narinesingh interjected. “She’s like my sister. I cannot imagine doing this without her. Both our careers seemed to be aligning so working together only made sense.”
Shortly after activity picked up, they scouted for talent, looking for agents with similar circumstances, who are just as committed and share their values.
They recruited several other women, Tricia Dookie, Dariela Govia, Jamie Romeo and Teri-Leigh Bovell, all of whom also brought professional experience and their own sales techniques.
The agents are all between 30 and 41 years and four of the six are mothers.
“Because we spend majority of our time on the road – between work and mom life doing kid’s school and extra-curricular drop offs – we had an office being totally under-utilised.
“So (now) we actually have an at-home office attached to Jamiyla’s home, close to where we’re all based (with) easy access in Diego Martin.
The agents currently rely strictly on commission as free agents.
Their website says, “The dynamic duo Jamiyla and Leia decided to put their heads together to start a forward-thinking real estate company. The duo not only focuses on their clients but their agents ensuring fair treatment.”
Jardim-Lue clarified, saying, “You work on commission and you’re a freelancer as an agent for the company. The company (provides) a support group, listings et cetera, but you are responsible for building your own network of clients, and what not.”
Although agents are responsible for most of the work in sealing a rental or sale, she said, “sometimes agencies take a greater percentage of the commission towards the company.
“Jamiyla and I know the hard work an agent puts in and we have decided when we did our structure to give the greater percentage to the agent. Without our agents, our listings can’t be rented or sold.” She and her co-director also work with the same commission-based structure as their agents, and she said, “what we do for us, we also provide for them.”
While the company targets no particular market, as each agent has her own clientele, it has seen a higher number of enquiries from young women
“We are about finding homes for people. Sometimes it’s people we know. Sometimes it’s complete strangers. I think women may be drawn to us because they feel a sense of security or comfort knowing these realtors understand my situation and what I need, Jardim-Lue said.
“Don’t get me wrong. We also get stories from the male clients.
Some men, she said, prefer to do business with women, who are typically more detail-oriented and conscious of what the client wants to rent or purchase.
“We are all young adults. We have the vigour to create our lifelong careers and in real estate.”
Narinesingh said she loves having a team comprising only women.
“I feel like when investing in real estate it isn’t only a financial decision but it can also be very emotional, be it renting or buying your first property,” she said. “Women tend to connect more. We love going through the motions with all our clients. (It’s) not just rewarding for them but also for us.
Jardim-Lue added, “We understand as young individuals, ourselves, what a lot of our clients experience when looking for homes. So we give it our all to assist every step of the way – as best as we can.”
At the turn of 2020 the covid19 pandemic hit at what couldn’t have been a more inopportune time for their enterprise, which by then had its foot lightly on the pedal.
“Being fairly new, and not being able to operate for a couple months, we had been impacted badly,” she lamented.
“But it gave us the opportunity, with time on our hands, to think out of the box and create new ways of marketing ourselves,” she said. “As well as to take approaches we wouldn’t have had the time to work on before.
Prior to the ill-timed interlude, she said, “… things weren’t going too bad at all. Some agents (were) busier than others but we constantly lifting and assisting each other in any way we could.
Narinesingh added that the company has gotten many calls for rentals and sales. “But most people are now even more careful. And they are definitely looking for a great deal,” she said.
The forecast remains unpredictable, said Jardim-Lue.
“Because the stay-at-home has been lifted, I think its still too soon to evaluate (the overall situation) because some people still have deals with their landlords who’ve really been great to them through the covid(19) period.
“And I believe between July (to) August is when people will again start back feeling confident about moving (forward),” Jardim-Lue said.
Either way the tide turns in the immediate future, the bond the company’s personnel have, is more than enough to weather a storm and more.