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Building Relationships Over Transactions with Maria Camila Betancur

What’s your backstory?

My story kicks off in third grade when I moved from Colombia to the United States. As the new girl with a language barrier and heavy accent, I was always bullied throughout Elementary and Middle School. High School was no different and the kids were outrageously cruel. I was eventually transferred to Coral Glades High School where I was able to identify myself and find friends. The bullying eventually stopped and I became extremely focused. During High School and College, most people knew me for my drive and determination. I was able to balance multiple jobs and complete all my homework.

Immediately after school I would go to my job as a server. My weekends were occupied by a second job at a retail store, another serving job at a BBQ restaurant, and also playing soccer for the city. Home wasn’t an easy environment either, but I’ll spare you the details. At 17 years old, I moved out of my house and rented a room from one of my friends. I enrolled in an early admissions program which allowed me to start college the summer of 11th grade without needing to attend senior year of High School. Although I graduated with my class in 2015, I was already in my second year of College at Broward Community College. At 20 years old, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Business.

My initial goals were to finish school and become a police officer while continuing my education with a Master’s degree in hopes of eventually landing a job with the FBI or DEA. However, along the way, I was introduced to Real Estate and quickly fell in love with it. Through all my trials and tribulations I finally found joy in what I do. On my first full year in Real Estate, I was fortunate to close my first million dollar deal where I represented the buyer. That was one amongst my 30+ transactions that same year, providing me with plenty of exposure to quickly become very knowledgeable in the field and well-known in the Luxury Market. 

Going on my second year of Real Estate, my friend, Claudia Tejeda, and I decided to open up our own brokerage, Tejeda Real Estate. Claudia had been a Realtor for ten plus years, so her knowledge along with my drive gave us great foundations to embark on this project. In my third year of Real Estate I founded my own team within the brokerage, The Macabi Group. Currently composed of four agents, The Macabi Group has mastered the field of investment properties, diligently researching hundreds of properties for sale and only selecting ones with high return on investments. Although the luxury market is the backbone of my clientele, I welcome all types of clients and emphasize developing lasting relationships, resulting in repeat referral business. I feel extremely fortunate to wake up every day loving what I do and being able to mentor and inspire others to follow in my footsteps. Although I have managed to accomplish a great deal of success, I am still a work in progress.

What made you decide to choose this career path?

Initially I chose this career for the flexibility it provides. My dream has always been to have kids at a young age and be a present mother. I also chose this career path because it served as the perfect outlet for my hustle, ambition, and determination.  There are no shortcuts in the Real Estate business, and because I’ve always been a self-driven and adaptable learner, transitioning into this career was something that happened naturally for me. Throughout my career in Real Estate, I’ve learned that my success is the product of what I put out, and Real Estate has allowed me to flourish and become the best version of myself.  Even before I got into Real Estate, I always told myself that as long I am hustling I would eventually make it, and to this day I’ve continued to apply that idea into everything that I do.  

Another reason why I chose this career path was to teach and mentor others.  Real Estate has opened up so many doors for me financially, spiritually, and in my personal life that have had a monumental impact on my mental health.  I aspire to continue learning how to maneuver and find my place within the Real Estate community as well as showing others how they too can do the same. There aren’t many young, working professionals who know the first thing about Real Estate and the financial implications it has, and by choosing this career path I’ve assumed the responsibility of sharing its potential with the world, as its something that motivates me to excel and continue growing every day.         

Can you share a story of a funny mistake you made and what you learned from it?

Although not necessarily a funny mistake that I made, I did go through something in Real Estate that helped me learn a very valuable lesson about the business.  I was dealing with a client from Ohio who was in the market for a short-term rental property here in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We found the apartment, showed it to him, and eventually went under contract, but thereafter we ran into many problems with the seller.  The seller, a French-Canadian, had trouble speaking English so from the start we had issues communicating. To make matters even more frustrating, the seller’s agent is Spanish and spoke no French, so they were unable to communicate in a way that was effective.

After getting under contract you typically have 15 days to inspect the property and do your due diligence as a buyer to make sure everything is in order before proceeding any further.  We did our inspection and ran into a few minor problems with the air-conditioning, the air-handler, the AC controller, and a window that needed to be fixed, which I relayed all back to the seller’s agent in a timely manner . The seller’s agent said that everything would be taken care of so we put it all into writing in an addendum, and then on the day of the final inspection she told me that she wasn’t able to get a hold of the seller tp sign because she was mourning a death in her family, but that seller verbally agreed to all and would get it signed as soon as she was able ti be infront of a computer.  

In the meantime, I decided along with the buyer and seller’s agent that we would work in good faith and we’ll just continue on without asking for an extension since it was verbally agreed.  Weeks after the inspection, the seller’s agent finally got a hold of the seller who then came back and said she wanted over $2,000 for said items to be addressed and furniture to be left behind which was originally included in the sale.  It became this back and forth conversation that eventually led to the seller asking for a lot more money that was not initially agreed upon in our written agreement.

My client was super understanding. I offered $1,000 of my own commission, as did the seller’s agent to try and compensate for what seller was asking for. Long story short, what I learned is to always work in good faith but always think that others aren’t and to make sure that I cover myself and my client rather than working with expectations that others will do the same.  I should have covered myself and extended the extension period instead of being understanding, because messages don’t get relayed the right way and people change their minds and don’t always work in good faith.

What do you think makes your company/personal brand stand out?

My company, the Macabi Group, is a team I built inside Tejeda Real Estate after my second year in the business.  I have three agents right now and plan on recruiting two more to join the team. What I do is mentor them and facilitate their Real Estate careers the best way that I can with the insight and knowledge that I’ve learned throughout my career.  I strive to create a solid foundation for my team so that one day they can take what I’ve taught them and use it to better their careers in the Real Estate business.    

My personal brand, specifically my following on Social Media, is also targeted towards mentoring others.  I found through my work in Real Estate that I am a person that young girls look up to and I try to capitalize on that with every post that I make.  Everyone tells me that they want to be like me but what they don’t see is all the work that I put in behind the scenes to achieve the level of success that I have achieved.  I’ve become a mentor on social media answering questions for girls and guys interested in learning about Real Estate, entrepreneurship, and how to create residual income. I feel as though I’ve embodied a motherly roll talking to these people about life and about business because most of what they are asking me was never taught in high school or even in college. 

 The most common question that I get is if I am an Instagram model? and I tell everyone absolutely not.  What I do tell them I am, however, is a smart Realtor. I understand the value of a good post, and the fact of the matter is that sex sells.  Nobody wants to see you post a picture of a house on social media. It will not get engagement and it will not get likes. But if they see a good looking girl with a lifestyle picture, men will flock to the page because she looks good and women will come to the page because they like her sense of fashion.  However people are brought to my profile is irrelevant, but where I hit them with value is in the caption of all of my posts. My personal brand is unique because everything I share is calculated and done for a reason. I use my looks to attract and then share my knowledge in the caption to help educate people and retain an audience which will eventually become my clientele.  I’ve sold a great amount of properties just through Instagram because I portray myself in such a way that people will trust me and relate to my lifestyle before I ever mention anything related to the sale. Social media is addictive, and my brand utilizes that addiction to help me generate leads and ultimately make me money. 

What’s a quote that you live by?

A quote that I live by is “Build relationships, not transactions.”  Throughout my Real Estate career, I’ve learned that the best way to sell is to not sell at all.  The way that I see it, the most important factor in making a sale is ensuring that the relationship is made and preserved before anything else.  Instead of prioritizing the sale, I strive to build and foster a healthy relationship with my clients to prove to them that I’m not just after their money.  I simply offer my services, ask them what it is I can do for them, and then facilitate their needs the best way that I can without ever asking for anything in return.  I prioritize building rapport and fostering a meaningful relationship first, and then when that person needs a Real Estate agent I’m naturally first on their list. It’s a simple tactic and an even simpler quote, but it’s one that I live by and one that has helped make the majority of my sales in Real Estate.  

Maria Camila Betancur

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