What’s your backstory?

It all started when I relocated from my home in Colombia to Florida with my mother.  My upbringing wasn’t the easiest. From a very young age, I was heavily bullied by my classmates 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. For as long as I can remember, I have been motivated and naturally driven to accomplish the tasks at hand, which at this time was school and work.  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 a deal for $1.4M 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.

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.

I know this is not an easy job.  What drives you?

I have two motivating factors that drive me and that contribute to my success as a Real Estate agent.  The first is being able to build my own portfolio so that I can get out of the ‘Rat Race’ as described in the book ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’.  Real Estate is one of the safest ways to invest and make residual income, and what motivates me every day is the thought of not having to work later on in life.  My goal is to have my money work for me, and that’s something I aspire to get closer to with every sale and every relationship that I make in the Real Estate business.  My long-term goal is to have a baby, a healthy marriage, a beautiful family, and not having to work so that I can dedicate all of my time into being a Mother. But in order to achieve that, I must first secure enough residual income to live off of, and that alone is a huge motivating factor for me.

Another thing that drives me is being able to share my knowledge so that others can eventually own their own home and use it to make residual incomes for themselves if they so desire.  I want to show people the in’s and out’s of Real Estate and teach it to others as it was taught to me. There is so much valuable information and insight to be learned in this business, and what motivates me is the idea of paying it forward so that other people can live their best lives without having to worry about what they’re going to do for work.  Being able to help everybody become aware of the benefits of Real Estate is one of my goals in life, especially young people like myself. 

For social media influencers in particular, I often ponder the idea what would happen if Instagram were to disappear tomorrow.  Would they lose everything, or do they have a backup plan? Have they invested their money earned from social media wisely? It’s ideas like these which motivate me to share my knowledge with the world, simple things like what a corporation is or how much money people could save on taxes if they knew how to incorporate write-offs, that drive me to be the best that I can be in my line of work. Most people don’t know much about being able to invest and then put that money to work for you.  They don’t know anything about opening up a separate account for your business. There are so many things that end up being correlated with Real Estate that people aren’t aware of, so for me I want to be able to help educate people as to what they’re missing out on.

Is there a particular person you are grateful for that has helped you get to where you are today?  What lessons did you learn from them?

My ex-husband played a pivotal role in my transition into the Real Estate business.  Before he introduced to me Real Estate, I was working on getting my bachelor’s degree when I met him.  At the time, I was applying to go into the Police Academy in hopes to eventually become a Police Officer.  My goal at the time was to get my degree in Criminal Justice, go on to get my Master’s degree in either Accounting or Business, and then try and get into something federal like the FBI or the DEA.  

After finishing my degree at 20, I got my Real Estate license and completely fell in love with the business.  Within my first full year in Real Estate, I closed over 30+ transactions, and worked closely with my ex-husband’s investment properties. Eventually I branched out on my own.  Not only did he introduce me to the world of Real Estate, but he proved to me that I was able to make something of myself without putting my life at risk and that I could make an independent living while still chasing my long-term goals of one day having a family.

Another person I am incredibly thankful for is my business partner Claudia.  Not only was she one of my first mentors, but she has been there for me throughout the entire process of me battling the issues in my personal life.  She has always been very patient with me and watching out for my best interest.

How do you push through your worst times?

When the going gets tough and I feel unmotivated, I refer to my vision board for inspiration.  My vision board is a visual representation of both my long- and short-term goals which I update constantly.  As I mentioned earlier, my long-term goals have to do with building my family. I aspire to bring a child into this world and look forward to becoming a parent and spending all of my time with my family while making residual income from my investment properties on the side. Another long-term goal is having a consistent six-figure income each year and owning multiple investment properties. 

Also on my vision board are my short term goals, which include things like the car that I want to buy, the house that I wanted to purchase, a new book I want to read, or a new skill that I’d like to obtain.  Another short-term goal that I have is to become a Broker. Although I am a Real Estate associate and have my own team inside the brokerage, I am in the process of getting my Brokerage license to become a Broker associate.  Looking at my vision board helps me set my intention each day so that I’m able to stay focused and on target with my long- and short-term goals.

Early on in my life I learned to always be thankful, even when the situation seemed grim.  Growing up, my mom and I didn’t always have food on the table but then suddenly we’d find a $50 bill in our jeans or $20 in the purse.  Through all of the mental and emotional struggles, I taught myself to never lose hope because I realized at the end of the day that it could be worse.  My biggest coping mechanism is staying balanced, which for me consists of yoga once or twice a week and then doing guided meditation at night.  

I, like a lot of other people, suffer from anxiety and what’s helped me overcome that is embracing the natural energy that surrounds my life, both the good and bad.  Keeping track of my checks and balances is super important to me, and in Real Estate I’ve learned that most of the time you’re battling your own personality and self-identity, especially when it comes to interacting with unruly clients.  So to de-stress and re-center myself, I like to tap into that energy and ground myself before I make any decisions that I might regret in the future.

Maria Camila Betancur