In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we invited Douglas Elliman agents to share their experiences and talk about the role their heritage has played in their real estate career.
Jovanni Ortiz, Long Island, NY, Real Estate Agent
How do you prefer to identify yourself within the umbrella of “Hispanic Heritage”?
I identify as a Latino, specifically of Puerto Rican and Dominican background.
What aspects of your identity are most meaningful for you? Are there cultural traditions or historic moments or other elements that are a particular source of pride?
I am very proud to be Latino for many reasons. I have great appreciation for both my Puerto Rican and Dominican roots. I feel that our culture is known for being very hardworking and driven, and I believe those characteristics have contributed to my drive for success, especially in my career as an agent.
How did you find your path to success in real estate?
Starting out in this business can be difficult for anyone, but I found it particularly challenging because of my age. I was in my early twenties at the time and was competing with more mature, experienced agents. But after a few months, I quickly realized I had an advantage: I was willing to pound the pavement and knock on doors, which at the time was unpopular. I began to build a business by focusing on expired listings and reaching out to those homeowners directly, often by going to their door.
What values or elements of your heritage do you draw strength from in your work as an agent?
Because of the hardworking and driven nature often encouraged in our culture, I believe that my “hustle” has been a major strength and contributor to my success as an agent.
What would you like your industry colleagues to understand about your experience and what can they do to be better allies of your community?
I think it is crucial that our colleagues embrace people from all different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Unfortunately, people of color still face unfair treatment because of their race/ethnicity, and it is important that we as agents do our part to make sure they are treated equally and have the opportunity to reach the goal of homeownership.
How do you think brokerages like Elliman can help foster greater diversity in the industry?
One of the reasons I chose to work at Douglas Elliman is because of its diversity, both within the organization and the clients served. I think the company does a great job of educating and training its agents on diversity, equity and inclusion.