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Meet Tomeka Givens

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tomeka Givens.

Hi Tomeka, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
One year into my previous career as an Analytical Chemist, I registered to take the pre-licensing class to get my real estate license. My schedule was “hectic” or at least that was the story I told myself… so I canceled my registration and continued to work solely as a Chemist. I say the story that I told myself because after looking back and cashing my own reality check, I realized that was afraid… and that fear paralyzed me and my decision to proceed into the real estate world.

Fast forward, I revisited real estate again after falling out of love with the industry in which I was working. My mentor at the time strongly suggested that I take the pre-licensing class. It was during the pre-licensing class that I learned about the origins of real estate… from general laws, to deeds, chattel (personal property), etc. This was when I learned that enslaved Africans / African Americans were considered chattel and were written into deeds… sometimes by name. I overall learned that racism was and is deeply entrenched into laws, especially in real estate. Every day in class helped me make sense of a lot of things I’d seen and experienced in my life from a child to today.

I was born and reared in a marginalized neighborhood called Young Park in Norfolk, VA; in a low-income/moderate income, single-parent household, I’ve seen the worse of, the worse regarding unfair practices in real estate. In fact, taking the class jogged my memory of accompanying my mother during her home buying process. Let’s just say her realtor left much to be desired regarding educating my mom during the home buying process.

This class also helped me to understand why my own mother, as well as the parents of many of my peers who were hard-working citizens were not homeowners, or at least until later in life. Learning about these inequities sent me into a tailspin. Yes, I still wanted to be an investor, but I developed an interest in helping people buy homes, and including customer service in my practice. This interest trumped becoming an investor. So, I proceeded with getting my real estate license and I became dual career, a fancy term for part-time Realtor but learned quickly that if I’m going to do this and service clients the way they need and deserve to be serviced, that I must do it full time.

Fast forward with lots of planning, I took a leap of faith and jumped to become a full-time. After becoming full-time, I became serious about the importance of attempting to perfect my craft from learning and understanding contracts and understanding the laws.

I developed an affinity towards those in marginalized communities because I’ve seen, based on history, that they need the education the most. As a product of a marginalized community, I know what their desires are in relation to homeownership and I also know what their fears are and what inhibits many from proceeding with the process of buying: fear due to lack of education, lack of trust from industry professionals (based on past precedence), money and understanding that homeownership is even an option.

Over the years, I developed relationships with housing counseling agencies and sat on various committees that support my mission to fulfill dreams at doorsteps by simply educating while navigating prospective home buyers into homeownership. Eight years later, I’m still a licensed Realtor, full time and I absolutely love what I do. I teach first-time homebuyer workshops to aspiring homebuyers with five housing counseling agencies throughout the state of Maryland.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
To start, there were not exactly. The closer I’ve come to discovering my why my how has become easier. Overall, this business is not easy, and it has not always been good to me. It’s a commission-only career, so you don’t get paid until a deal closes. Being the only person involved in a real estate transaction who is paid strictly by commission, where all other parties are paid hourly if not salary, it can be frustrating and feel like you’re the only one motivated. This is why my preferred vendors are air-tight and the best of the best, meaning they are knowledgeable in their craft, they genuinely care about our clients and they incorporate customer service in their practice.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a licensed Realtor in the state of Maryland. I specialize in New Construction Sales, Sellers / Listings, Outgoing Referrals, First – time homebuyers. I’m known for being honest, transparent and forthcoming about the home buying process. One of my mantras is I sell real estate, not dreams or unicorns. What sets me apart from others are my patience, honesty and knowledge and communication. I want readers to know that I should be the first thought regarding real estate in Maryland.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
I’ve been a sponge and absorb with wisdom from many. William Honablew, Jr., my business consultant who also happens to be the Director of Baltimore City’s Chamber of Commerce. William has been instrumental in helping me to understand that this is a business, not a hobby and I should treat it as such. He’s both witnessed and contributed to my growth from when I was newly licensed to today.

Robin R. Haynes, Financial Strategist but another one of my mentors, has been instrumental assisting me in the breakdown of what I need (financially) to build my business in order to establish business credit. My past clients who believe in me and still support me after closing by sending me referrals.

Last but certainly not least, my son Trevor for giving me permission to “make the money.” My decision to pivot my career was dependent upon his opinion. His opinion held weight because, as a single mom, I’m his primary provider and my decision would effect him. He’s also been very supportive and understanding of my sometimes crazy busy schedule and helping me get business. I closed my biggest deal in 2016 because of him… and yes, I paid him a referral fee.

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