Agents of Change: Creating Hispanic wealth through education and mentorship
Justine Jiminez Garcia, a Cuban immigrant who has built a successful real estate business, now works to help the next generation succeed.
Editor's note: Across the country, agents are giving back to their communities and their industry. Here, we shine a light on people creating positive change and inspiring others to look for ways they can make a difference as well.
Justine Jiminez Garcia remembers rice and beans for dinner, a box of donuts for dessert and not being able to buy her school yearbook like the other kids. Those memories of going without have infused much of her work as the broker/owner of Countrywide Properties ERA Powered in Miami.
When asked of her passion, she didn't skip a beat: "Creating Hispanic wealth!" And real estate, she said, is an important way to do it. "Real estate is about homeownership and generational wealth and being able to pass it from generation to generation."
Garcia is also passionate about teaching Hispanics — especially young women — about entrepreneurship and how to make and grow money.
And she does all this as a member of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and a NAHREP 10 Certified Trainer.
"I think it was all the struggles that I had," Justine said of what powers her work.
She and her family arrived in the United States from Cuba in 1970. Two years later, her father, a dishwasher, bought the family's first home and insured it on the advice of a mentor. He died in 1976. It was hard for her mother, Elsa, who worked as a cleaning woman in a hospital. They had the house, but little else. Simple things that other kids enjoyed — orange juice and potato chips — were beyond her reach. So was the annual yearbook.
That is why she makes sure kids who need them, have them. "I go to the counselors at schools and ask, 'What kid can't order a yearbook?' It marks you, all of that struggle."
For 20 years, she has employed young women at her real estate firm, teaching them how to answer phones, prepare open houses, run comps, do market analysis and figure out the return on investments and loans. The goal is to expand Hispanic inclusivity in the industry.
Not all have followed her into real estate, but that doesn't matter.
"They have graduated as attorneys, having masters degrees in medical fields," she said. "I don't want them to make the same mistakes I did. They leave me with a sense of how to go about their lives."
Garcia was recently appointed as vice chair of NAR's Multicultural Committee and spoke at NAR NXT about what Latinos bring to the U.S. economy. "If you had seen the people in that room," she said. "After that session, we had a line of people wanting to get involved and they wanted to hear more."
She has served on the Residential Board of Governors of Miami Realtors, and was just elected as its 2023 president. "Me, this Latina girl, an immigrant from Cuba," she said.
With over 60,000 members, it is the largest local realtor association in the nation.
Her involvement in NAHREP has a huge impact on her work as an agent. Banks know her and refer her to clients. Other clients come after hearing her speak, or hearing about what she's done for young women, and feel a kinship. "If you speak their language and say a few words in Spanish, they already love you."
"All the things you do without taking money can bring you money," she said. "People think they're too busy to volunteer, but when you volunteer, you get so much more back."