Rebecca Stevenson gives tips on real estate

Rebecca Stevenson (Photos: James Mitchell)

Coldwell Banker realtor Rebecca Tulloch Stevenson has just signed on as a BUZZ columnist to provide tips and insights into Jamaica’s real estate market.

We sat down with her at Outpost Republic located on Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston, to find out about her life as a realtor and a little bit more about the real estate game.

“…Money should never determine the level of service the client gets, when you give people good service, you reap satisfactory rewards.”

– The insightful Rebecca Stevenson

BUZZ:  Why did you become a realtor?

Rebecca: I got into the real estate market business about 6 years ago. I was persuaded to enter it by my good friend Kaili McDonnough-Scott who is also a realtor. She said, “ Look, you can sell so why don’t we do this real estate course together.”
We both love properties and home décor and are businesswomen and I went from there.

BUZZ: It is evident that you have a passion for what you do. Tell us about that passion?

Rebecca:  It really comes down to trying to help people. I love meeting people and I do think the real estate market should be demystified. It is not just for the elite. Being a realtor is never boring. Every day is an adventure.

BUZZ: You appeared on the HGTV show House Hunters International. How did that come about and tell us a little about that experience?

Rebecca:  I have appeared on House Hunters twice. The first time I was in the business all of four months! I really didn’t know too much about the business but my friend Odessa Chambers said, “Hey Rebecca, I heard you got your real estate licence. HGTV is looking for an agent. Why don’t you do it?”

I had to audition for the part and I must say that was fun but having said that I do have a background in drama. It was a great experience and I have good memories of working with my first couple, Kevin and Cassidy, ex-pats from the U.S. coming to work in Jamaica who needed a home.

House Hunters called me back to do the show two years ago when I was pregnant with my son Hunter. I had reservations because I was 6-months pregnant at the time but they insisted that they wanted to work with me again.

BUZZ: Right now many young persons are interested in the property market, which seems to be enjoying a boom. You have said people should be looking to rent where they live as opposed to concentrating on ownership. Could you explain a bit further for our readers?

Rebecca: Sometimes it’s OK to own something that you rent to someone else but you rent where you live. What I mean by that is when you sit down and go through the numbers, it can work in your favour if you are renting somewhere, paying a nominal sum which I would consider anywhere below J$150,000 a month. If you can keep your rent below that, then you’re golden.

Then what you do is save for your deposit; buy a property that you then rent out to someone else. The rent you do collect can be used to pay down the mortgage.

That rental income should be at least 90 per cent of your carrying costs, which are your mortgage and maintenance fees.

As Jamaicans, we have been caught up in this idea of homeownership and having land. We need to take the emotion out of it and focus on how real estate can help build up your asset holdings. We must pay better attention to assets, not liabilities. Nobody wants to be house poor.

BUZZ: Anya Levy has said that there is a surplus of units on the market and that there is a danger of creating a real estate bubble. What is your take on this?

Rebecca:  Real estate developers are not stupid. They do not build indiscriminately. They know where the demand is. Both my partner and I believe there is around 3 to 6 months supply of apartments and that is fine.

Today people have more choices. There are so many options for two-bedroom apartments and townhouses, which should be empowering for consumers. It is more an issue of choice rather than oversupply.

“Being a realtor is not about salesmanship; it is about expertise.”

– Rebecca Stevenson in an interview with BUZZ

BUZZ: What should you be looking for in your real estate broker?

Rebecca: You have to vibe with your broker. When you are working with a broker you really need to trust that person and so confidence is key. You have to find a realtor who is doing their ABCs and I consider that ‘Always Be Caring’.

The realtor shouldn’t be concerned solely about the money from the deal. The money should never determine the level of service the client gets.

I have found, when you give people good service, you reap satisfactory rewards. If I do a good job, the client tells people about my level of service, which in turn grows my business.

You need a realtor that knows the market but more importantly, one that listens to you. You don’t want someone showing you apples when you are shopping for oranges.

Being a realtor is not about salesmanship; it is about expertise.

Look out for Rebecca’s real estate tips here on BUZZ, coming soon.