A modern black beauty doing the damn thing! Meet Janay Thomas. A Realtor out of Central Florida, born and raised in Orlando, but went off to attend The University of Florida where she received her Bachelor of Science in Sociology and minor in Education. Committed to a promise she made to herself, that she wouldn’t stay in Florida, two weeks upon graduating she packed her things and went to NY where she lived for 3 years. While in NY she taught for a year and worked for a non- profit organization under the District Attorney’s office.
Ms. Thomas eventually made her way back to Florida where she taught at an elementary school within the Apopka area. However, something was off. In our phone interview she stated that she felt as though “something was missing and that I needed to make a change in my life.” Ms. Thomas went on to express that Real Estate had been an interest weighing heavy on her subconscious for some time, she just hadn’t acted on it. I asked Ms. Thomas what was the “it” factor that made her decide to finally pursue it.
“One day I decided I needed a change in my life, something new and refreshing! On a Monday, I had an epiphany life needed to be different. I literally enrolled the next day in a real estate course.”
At what point did you decide that you wanted to pursue Real Estate and when did you fall in love with it?
“I kind of always knew. The first time I realized wow, this is really happening, is when I passed my real estate exam on the first try. I fell in love with Real Estate when I started to see the smiles I would put on my clients face when they completed the purchase of their first home. It’s truly an amazing feeling helping someone’s dream become a reality.”
After passing the exam, what’s next? What was the process like as far as turning this vision into a reality, transitioning from teacher to Realtor?
“Next step was to find a broker. I took a class called “How to Find My Broker” to make sure I made the right decision. Choosing the right broker plays a vital role in your success the first year of real estate. Essentially, this is a process where the broker interviews you and you interview them as well. Making sure you both are a right fit for each other.”
What were your key deciding factors on choosing a broker?
“Education, mentor-ship, and ongoing training. I wanted to make sure I had ongoing training that would prepare me to be the best agent I could be. I also looked for a broker that offered a welcoming and family environment.”
A broker has a large role within Real Estate?
“Yes, the broker plays a large role for any Real Estate company. My broker provides educational resources, training, handles legal compliance, marketing services, mentor programs, and much more.”
What about commercial property?
“I can do commercial. It’s very different than residential. It can be a longer and more tedious process in some instances.”
I’ve always associated the title Real Estate Agent with those in this field, never Realtor. What is the difference between the two?
“A Real Estate Agent is anyone who is licensed to help people sell or buy properties. On the other hand, a Realtor is a Real Estate Agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).”
People tend to associate Real Estate with Airbnb, do you mind clarifying whether or not this is so?
“I believe there is some association between the two. Real Estate owners are now purchasing homes to produce another stream of income. These homes can then be managed by Airbnb, through their property’s management sector.”
It’s not a real interview if we don’t connect on a personal level! Janay briefly shared her personal thoughts on being a black woman in this field, her personal strengths, a little of her upbringing, and essential advice as it relates to real estate.
Do you feel being a black woman and pursuing this career is more tedious?
“No. Not for me personally. My personality catches anybody. The only challenge for me has been my natural hair. I feel that when my hair is big and curly people look at me differently, whereas when it’s straight. This is not a battle per se but definitely something I have noticed, but as far as being black in Real Estate, I think it’s an advantage for me honestly. At my firm it makes me stand out.”
What would you say is a personal weakness and what steps are you taking to overcome?
“I’m my biggest critic. I’m way too hard on myself and I worry too much. There are times where I need to pray more and worry less. I’m accepting that I’m going to make mistakes. I have those Woo-sawing moments where I come to the realization that I won’t know everything – and that’s okay. I learn something new every day – it’s all a part of the process.”
What would you say is a personal strength?
“How motivated I am to be successful. Once I put my mind to something, it’s going to happen.”
Do you feel your upbringing had a significant role in you pursuing this field?
“Not at all. Growing up my family taught me to get an education, get a job, and retire from that job. My mindset is different now that I have networked and realized that’s not what life is about. Real Estate has pushed me to be an entrepreneur. Having a entrepreneur spirit was not taught to me growing up.”
What’s your advice for anyone interested in entering this field?
“Just make sure it’s something you are passionate about and you aren’t just doing it for the money. Real Estate takes time to produce income, it is not quick cash. It takes time to build your clientele, make connections, build your brand, and overall create an image for yourself.”
Janay’s drive to get what she wants and how knowledgeable she is of her field just adds to why she is definitely a woman to know! She travels out state to network, view properties, and essentially build a referral database. You can catch her using her social media platform to build her brand and inform people the importance of credit, steps to purchase a home, the mortgage process, and so much more. Janay’s company also offers an amazing program called the Heroes Initiative that can save you 20% on your home purchase. For more inspiration or information on Realtor Ms. Janay follow her social media platforms!