With backgrounds in everything from social work to horticulture to construction, each of our team members has their own unique expertise and perspective. And, in this series, we take a moment to introduce you to each one of them. Today, let’s get to know Nilda Bernier and learn what it’s really like to be a realtor.
What drew you to your job?
“Becoming a realtor has been a very emotional journey for me. Before living here, my family and I lived in Puerto Rico. But, in 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated our city and forced us to move. Thankfully, we had family members that we could stay with temporarily. And, though leaving was very hard, staying with them really helped us – because it gave us the time we needed to find a new house that was perfect for our family.
To find our new home, we researched everything. We researched different cities, different neighborhoods, different styles, and different price ranges, and I became immediately immersed in the process! Eventually, we found the home that was right for us. Because of this experience, real estate stayed in the back of my mind even after we moved into our new home, and a few years later, I finally decided to take the leap of faith and enter the industry.”
What did you do before real estate?
“I did a lot of things before becoming a realtor. While living in Puerto Rico, I worked as a Traffic Manager in a medium size company. I was in charge of the purchasing process, imports, exports, and customer service. Soon, I advanced to a new department and worked in the new products development process and quality assurance.
While working there, I started to study law and eventually became an attorney working mainly in Civil and Family Law.
Later on, I also worked in a large company. I worked there as a Traffic and Customer Service Representative for the Caribbean, and I was soon promoted to a Contract Negotiator. With that position, I became in charge of the negotiations related to raw materials, services & MRO.
And, after moving to the US, I continued in the International field and worked as an International & Domestic Freight Analyst. I did that for 3 years before moving into real estate and becoming a realtor. And all of my experience using teamwork, research, and determination to solve complex problems helps me today as a realtor. Today, because of my expertise, I’m able to help my clients navigate the many complexities of the real estate market.”
What’s something you wish you knew when you started in real estate?
“This may sound obvious, but you can’t ever rely on images alone of a property! And, to be honest, this really surprised me. And it surprises my clients too. It’s so easy to swipe through photos of a home and get excited about a property, only to be disappointed when you actually see the property in person! The exact opposite can happen too. Clients have disregarded a property just because of the pictures, only to love it when they finally walk through the home. So I always caution clients to keep an open mind and to not get too excited or dismissive until actually seeing the home in real life.
Another thing that’s surprised me is the wealth opportunities in real estate. If you have good real estate knowledge and/or someone that can guide you through it, there’s a lot of ways to build wealth. For instance, there are so many programs and resources available to help you afford housing, like programs that help you with your credit and with your down payment. And once you have your home, there’s lots of ways you can leverage your home to gain new loans, credit, and wealth in the future.”
What’s something you wish more people knew about real estate?
“Most people assume real estate is simply about buying and selling a property, but it’s so much more than that! Real estate is really about building wealth and creating financial freedom for you and your family! I know this because I’ve experienced it. Growing up in a house of 3 children with my single mother, I learned at an early age that not everyone has the opportunity to learn about the benefits of home ownership. But I want to change that! I want to give everyone the opportunity to reap the benefits of home ownership and to show people that real estate really can help give you and your family financial freedom.”
How do you stay updated on real estate market trends?
“Staying updated is a constant process! I am always keeping up with the newsletters from the Wisconsin Realtors Associations (WRA), and I’m always furthering myself with continuing education through classes, conferences, workshops, books, tutorials, and basically anything else I can get my hands on.
I also like to network with people involved in each aspect of the home buying process. For example, I work hard to build relationships with people involved in lending and finance and even with realtors from other companies. Being plugged into this outside network helps me see trends and patterns, and it helps me know what’s really happening in our community.
But, my largest source of knowledge definitely comes from my own team. I am very fortunate to be part of such a diverse, collaborative team. We’re constantly asking each other questions, sharing our experiences and insights, and learning from each other.”
What’s one of the hardest problems in real estate today?
“I would say one of the hardest problems today is affordability. The effects of the crazy market we saw last year has really made it hard to afford a home in certain areas. The ripple effects of COVID-19 rapidly drove up market value, and that increased market value then caused a parallel increase of taxes and other expenses. The ripple effects also contributed to the inflation we’re all feeling, and now trying to stop that inflation has led to higher mortgage rates. All of that to say, many intersecting forces have combined to make a lot of neighborhoods difficult to afford for a lot of people.”
What gets you out of bed everyday to be a realtor?
“What motivates me everyday is the deep, personal fulfillment that comes from helping someone find or sell their house. Yes, with real estate, there is excellent financial potential for me and my family (and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was also a motivation!). But, helping people is the driving force behind my work.
Buying or selling a house is a big, emotional journey. There is excitement, anxiety, joy, heartbreak, and everything in between! But, when you finally find that special house, all the hard work and emotions payoff. And it’s an absolute joy to see how happy clients are when they finally get the keys and walk through the door of their new home for the first time. And when I hand them the keys, I always feel so honored and privileged to have been their guide through this life-changing journey and to have helped them on their road to more financial freedom.”