Lets talk real estate. I am still too young to buy or rent, but having read articles about the resilience of the real estate market during the pandemic, I became very interested in learning more and wondered about how local real estate agents were doing and their experience with the pandemic.
Who better to ask than an expert and a top ranking realtor? I got an opportunity to chat with Mrs. Jaya Duraisamy, a passionate and a dedicated realtor who is the top agent in the Keller Williams group. Mrs. Duraisamy has helped several families find their dream homes in the area. Talking to her was motivating and inspiring, and it helped me realize that simply walking in the direction of the dreams is not enough, it takes dedication, hard work and a love for leaning to make dreams a reality. Learn more about Mrs. Duraisamy’s path to lifelong learning below.
Shreyas: Hello, Mrs. Duraisamy, could you introduce yourself to the blog and talk about your journey to becoming a real estate agent?
Mrs. Duraisamy: My name is Jaya Duraisamy. I came to the U.S in 1996 as a computer programmer, I got married in 1998 and my husband came and joined me here in 2001. When I was growing up my dad had a lot of rental properties, so I grew up collecting rent and taking care of the tenants when I was very little, like, six, or seven years old.
So, for me, real estate is in my blood. I knew I wanted to go into real estate, but becoming a realtor was more of an accidental thing. So in 2006, I started investing in real estate property investments. In the beginning, I lost money, but later on, I became very successful. In 2009 I got laid off from my IT job. I think I never was an IT person really, I did my master’s in computer science just to have opportunities.
During this time, I started to buy foreclosed properties, fix them up, and rent them out. Since I got laid off, I had a lot more time to continue these projects. I soon realized that I loved it and I wanted to try out real estate. There were not many Indian salespeople at that time, so I knew that I might not be very successful. I tried it for 3-4 years and soon I became the top agent in this area. So, becoming a realtor was more of an accidental occurrence.
Shreyas: You’re a very successful real estate agent. Did you face any problems due to being a minority, woman, or moving to the U.S. from another country?
See, I never felt different as a woman. When I was working in IT, most of the teams consisted of only males. So, in a way, I got used to being the only female in the room. Real- estate was a similar experience, but I started meeting more women on the sales side of things. However the numbers were still very small. So, gender never really bothered me, and I really never considered it a factor. In regards to being a racial minority, there were some problems that I continue to overcome. I try to fight any presumptions with my successful track record. At the same time, I think this is a country of opportunity. I am not sure if I would have been as successful in India. Along with this, my husband has been a very strong backbone for my work and ambitions. Whatever I want to do, he is always there to support and help me. I think having a family that supports you and guides you can help you overcome these roadblocks related to being a minority and achieve success. Nowadays, should someone doubt me because of my race or gender, they usually change their mind after a 10-minute conversation with me. They realize that I have the ability. Sometimes, when I am talking about a sale, people ask me if my husband is at home, but I tell them that he does not know anything about real-estate. This is true, but it is frustrating to deal with people who are still so closed-minded today.
In India, I grew up in a very small town. I was the daughter of an elementary school teacher and all of my sisters had been married at the age of 18. I grew up in a very rural environment where the females would not go to college or leave the house very often. I was the first female to go to college in my family for my generation. Throughout my life, I have had to break barriers to reach where I am. I came to the U.S with bad English having grown up in Tamilnadu in a Telegu Family. I begged my father to send me to college with the money he was willing to spend on my dowry, and I paid 100% of my wedding costs. While I had many struggles, I felt like I was always ready to power through them and will continue to do so in life.
What motivates you everyday?
Motivation is a funny thing. It does not come to you by itself. Instead of what most people think, you need to capture motivation every day. The most successful people in the world, actively motivate themselves every single day. Learning is something that can be a very prime motivator. Even after leaving school, you must be sure to keep on learning. I spend around 1-2 hours listening to something that interests me, this can be about real estate or not. I currently am interested in how agriculture works, so I have watched and read many items on how this process works. Secondly, make sure to practice yoga and motivation. The top 50 business people in the United States all do this practice and for a good reason. It gives me and others inner peace.
Money is never a positive motivation to have. That is an external motivator, which will soon fade over time. It is not going to give you consistent satisfaction with your work, and your measure of success drastically changes. You need to be passionate about your work. Then, the money will usually follow suit on its own. If someone wants to get into real-estate for monetary gain, they will never be successful. A lot of people say that they wish to be apart of a certain career so they can give money to their children and grandchildren, but this is one of the worst ways of looking at it. A lot of children don’t even care about money. They will instead be looking at how much you love what you do and learning from that.
If you look at me outside, you won’t realize that I am someone pursuing a passion or is successful. This motivation must come from within you. There is nothing wrong with showing off your money, but a lot of times, it is not needed for success. Take Steve Jobs for example. He wore very simple clothes and is still one of the most successful people in history.
Focusing on the pandemic, we were in a lockdown from mid-March to around May, and things started slowly picking up from there. Could you give us your experiences then? What were some things you learned?
Pennsylvania was in a complete lockdown in real – estate very quickly compared to other states. Governor Wolf locked the real-estate down completely, whereas it was considered an essential business in other places. This meant that we had to delay many things after the pandemic hit. Some of my clients lost money, and some sales were stuck in the middle. It was a sad time.
After this sudden wave of change, I was forced to do nothing for a while. At this point, I realized that I can survive by doing nothing. I always thought that I needed to be working and moving to keep myself happy and active, but during the pandemic, this was not an option. By embracing this change, I have become a little bit calmer and less stressed.
Another thing I realized was that it is better to have a few strong connections with friends over many weak connections. I have become more deliberate in who I am friends with because I don’t want there to be an artificial connection. Being connected with people takes energy if you are doing it right, and with social media, we embrace the quantity over quality mindset quite often.
The third thing that I enjoyed/learned during this time was having my children around me. Due to my work, I was a little bit detached from them, and most of the things I taught them were through example, as my husband was the major caregiver. This guilt went away because I got to spend a lot more time with my children.
My children have become workaholics after me, which is not a good thing in my opinion. You should not take yourself so seriously, and enjoy life. My daughter has picked up on my work ethic, and she is one of the most hard-working people in my house.
How did the pandemic change the real-estate market?
After the lockdown, we thought that the housing market was going to plummet, and everyone was going to lose their jobs. However, people working from home wanted bigger houses to live in, and a change in scenery. Like in my house, we have four office rooms where everyone is on call. I am working, my husband is working, and my children are attending their university classes. Once the government removed the quarantine, the market dipped a little bit, but then sprung back larger than anyone ever predicted. The housing market is on fire right now. I have had 15 new buyers this week, and not enough homes to match them to because everything is being sold so fast, and getting multiple offers. I don’t see the market slowing down any time soon, which is very surprising considering the current situation.
How has the pandemic affected you personally?
My mortality is something that has been on my mind more than usual. I look a lot like my grandmother, who died in a car accident at just 59 years of age. That has been a traumatic event that I remember since university. She was like a mother to me, and I would say I was more connected to her than anybody else. So, mortality has always been a part of my thinking, and now even more so because of COVID-19. Some of my friend’s parents have died because of this disease. I know someone who had died just 4 days after being infected. These are people I have grown up with, and it is very sad to live through their passing.
All humans have one goal, which is service. We are meant to serve causes, each other, our passions, and ourselves. My service in life is to my children, to my clients, and my work. I used to be apart of the investment side of real estate, but I changed my path and I continue to grow with it. Thinking realistically about my time on this earth keeps me going. I know what impact I want to have on the earth, and I continue to work toward it, to make myself and others happy. You might not have enough time, so follow your dreams today, not tomorrow.
Don’t waste your time on things that give you pleasure, but not true happiness. I hardly ever watch TV. For me, working toward something I love or learning about something makes me truly happy. It’s all relative to what you love and what keeps you satisfied and happy.
For example, I love learning about elephants. If you ask me, I will know almost every fact possible to know about elephants. They are majestic creatures that fascinate me. Instead of doing something that will entertain me in the short term, I will learn more about elephants as an example, which will make me happy in the long term.
How do you think real-estate is going to change in 2021?
Many realtors believe that the market will slow down soon, but it shows no sign of stopping. As I said before, I have had 15 new buyers and cannot even link them to houses. I didn’t and don’t have a crystal ball, but my reasonable mind told me that house prices were going to come down, and people would lose their jobs, but that didn’t happen. The government also artificially reduced the interest rate so that the market could come back up, but of course, that was never really a problem. I always tell my clients what I am feeling, and things have changed dramatically from last spring.
What are some words of advice you have for people wanting to pursue a dream or get started in business/real-estate?
I keep telling this to other people, but you need to be passionate about what you do and know why you are doing it. Things like money, leaving a legacy, these things are not sustainable. In a business, you are going to be working 15+ hours a day, at the start, end, and middle. Even on vacation, I need to know what is going on, I cannot just switch off my phone or computer to relax. You need to know your purpose. To add to this, follow the advice that I mentioned before. Practice yoga and meditation, and always be in learning mode. Try your best to not be stressed out, and make sure to be truthful to yourself and others. Don’t get through life cheating, because at one point or the other, people will see through your fluff. Be authentic, pursue your dreams, and live life with abandon.