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Real estate careers provide unlimited opportunities for young people

Young adults are seeking opportunities in Mississippi’s thriving real estate market for a variety of reasons.

Greg Peters, 27, is a mortgage loan originator with Dryades, a full-service mortgage company in Gulfport. He graduated from Mississippi State University in 2000 with a degree in business administration with an emphasis in insurance, marketing and real estate. He worked with Wells Fargo in Colorado for two years before moving back to Mississippi to take the job with Dryades.

“The pay and flexible schedule attracted me to this finance company,” he said. “Also, I like getting out and meeting people. It’s definitely good.”

Peters says it takes a while to get going and he advises anyone entering the field to keep pushing and not get discouraged. He plans to get involved with the chamber of commerce and other local organizations and to attend civic events. “Things are starting to pick up and my goal is to do more business,” he said. “My wife and six-month-old daughter are definitely motivators!”

For Nicole Nezat, also 27, real estate was a career change. After earning her license, she’s been selling real estate with Coastal Property Pros of Gulfport for a little more than a year. She formerly worked with her family’s coffee shop business, Nezaty’s, which has three Gulf Coast locations. “I always wanted to sell real estate, so I took the class and the exam and I love it,” she said. “I especially like selling to first-time home buyers and working with them.”

She also likes the flexible hours of real estate that allows her more time with her children.

Andrew Geotes, 26, also made a career change when he became a licensed real estate appraiser in 2003 after working as a construction company foreman.

“It’s like day and night from the construction business, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it,” he said. “I absolutely do not regret making the change.”

The Gulfport resident said he made the change after a cousin, who’s an area manager with AmeriQuest, suggested he check into several career paths including appraising.

“I checked into everything he recommended,” Geotes said. “For what can be made for the time invested, you can’t beat appraising. I saw that the potential to make money is there.”

He admits it’s an up-and-down business, but says he likes being plugged in to the rise and fall of the real estate market. In the future he hopes to obtain additional licenses to keep growing. “Being an experienced appraiser would definitely be a real plus to get into real estate investments, and my background in construction helps, too,” he said.

Geotes is an independent contractor with Huffman Appraisals of Gulfport and says he doesn’t regret making the change from construction. “I have to get my name out there so people know me but the best is still ahead,” he said.

John Jones, president of the Mississippi Association of Realtors, says there are great opportunities in real estate but young people should be aware that it’s not an 8-to-5 job and often requires long hours that include nights and weekends.

“The hardest thing I have to get across in real estate classes is getting students to understand that they must grow,” he said. “They must realize that it may be four to six weeks before they get any money after a contract is signed.”

The Pascagoula Realtor describes the course he teaches for the association as a “nuts and bolts class.” He requires students to develop plans and budgets.

Dr. William Hardin, Robert Warren professor of real estate at Mississippi State University, says a lot of people go into real estate because they have an interest in being entrepreneurial. “There’s a direct correlation between how hard you work and how much you make,” he said. “For others, it’s because there’s a family history in real estate. Everyone goes into it for different reasons.”

On the down side, he says the attrition rate is staggeringly high for people who only earn a sales license and start selling. He recommends a college degree for anyone serious about entering the field.

“Typically, anyone who just gets a license is not in it after three years,” the professor said. “Study after study supports that earning a college degree is best in the long run. The world is getting very complicated and people want someone in real estate who can add value to the transaction and help in numerous ways.”

Dr. Charles P. Cartee, a professor of finance at the University of Southern Mississippi, says real estate is a good field for young people. “It’s lucrative and has unlimited opportunities,” he said. “They can learn one field and then move into other areas and possibly command high consulting fees. I see my former students doing well everywhere I go and that’s my edification.”

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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