By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer & Graphic Designer
With the nature of their vocation being relocation, military personnel understand moving better than almost anyone. No other profession values a good exit strategy like they do, ensuring a safe passage minimizing damage and loss.
It’s no coincidence why EXIT Realty was so named, and no surprise that U.S. Army Staff Sergeant, Christopher Portillo, with permission from his superiors, chose a real estate career with EXIT to ensure he had something to fall back on when he retired. Having learned the benefits of passive income through his parents who’ve since retired and live entirely off their earnings from their investment properties, the idea to get licensed came while examining the closing paperwork on his last home sale. “I was like, ‘why don’t I just buy and sell my own home and keep most of the commission?’” he said of the idea that has grown into an avenue that helps his family and other military friends.
Chris obtained his license in 2021, but if his military training taught him anything, it was about trust and connection among your team, and he was looking for that same feeling in his real estate career. He knew he was onto something when he first met Franchisee, Brandy Brown and learned of the culture at her EXIT Realty Mountain View office in Colorado.
WELL SUITED FOR REAL ESTATE
Now it sounds like no two worlds could be further apart, but the truth is, the values inherent to both the armed forces and the real estate industry are more similar than you might think. There’s a servant heart at the center of both professions that makes real estate a great career for military personnel transitioning to civilian life, or in Chris’ case, on active duty. Aside from being highly adaptive, he brings a militant level of organization, discipline, and accountability to his real estate career, all of which have served him well. “We’re taught these networking skills,” he explained. “What makes [real estate] a good fit is having that connection with other military members, having that door. Once you get out you still have your veteran’s card. You stay in contact with your unit, and you can always talk about being licensed at Family Readiness Group meetings. A lot of military members, when they move, don’t know many people, and they’re not going to know many REALTORS® in their new community. They often reach out through friends in their unit for referrals. But if I’m in the unit with this license or my spouse is, I have that extra foot in the door. If you know someone in the same unit, you tend to trust them a little more because you work together, you deploy together, and you really rely on one another.”
THE EXIT DIFFERENCE
Chris would only get a few deals and several months under his belt before receiving orders for a deployment to Poland early in 2022, but that didn’t stop him from closing a deal while abroad with the help of his broker and fellow EXIT agents. “I never worried once about things being unfair, or about not being paid. I never had any doubt in my mind about any of that while I was deployed. Brandy reached out to me to see how I was doing out there, and she sent me care packages. It’s why I love EXIT so much because it’s like the military. It’s a sense of belonging. It’s an awesome place to belong to.” This certainly took a lot off Chris’ mind as he not only had to prepare his family for his departure this time, but also his clients as well. After receiving his orders, he immediately reached out to Brandy and the office, asking for help. “The office made it very easy to transition when I was focusing on being out there and not worrying about my clients back here,” he shared. Since his entire client base is made up of military personnel, they understood his call of duty without question, but he still took his computer and everything with him saying, “Thank God we had internet where we were located so I would still reach out, still do emails. I used different platforms like WhatsApp, and Messenger because I didn’t have an active cell number in Europe. I was eight hours ahead and I would make sure that I reached out at a reasonable time.”
THE HARD TRUTH
It sounds incredible, but the reality according to a 2021 National Association of REALTOR® (NAR) report, is that three percent of today’s real estate professionals are also active-duty service members. It puts agents like Chris in a unique position to not only assist active duty personnel and veterans, but also educate them on the programs available and the benefits for the military because several are still unaware. He feels a responsibility to help service members get into real estate earlier. In Chris’ experience, most wait until they think about owning a home when they start a family, or they might assume they won’t qualify even if they were interested.
For the rest of this story and others check out The EXIT Achiever magazine or text ACHIEVER to 85377.