When there’s nothing more to lose

By Jason Furnari-Ferzola, Broker/Owner, EXIT Realty Island Elite, NY

Some people say, “You never know where your life will take you.” I know now… that this statement is a symptom of a “reactive life;” an obstacle when you believe it. The truth is, we can’t wait for life or for someone else to shake things up, in order to make moves.

Not so long ago I was squatting in a one-bedroom apartment and worrying about what my next move would be. Money had been tight for some-time, and although my partner and I had both been working, our income was never substantial enough to stabilize. Our cars had both been repossessed at one point or another, bills were mounting, the rent was now being paid late and we hardly saw any of our friends.

Working a thankless job, living paycheck-to-paycheck can force you to either succumb to depression or make a major life-pivot.

There was a brutal heat wave near the end of my lease the year that everything changed for me. The central air-conditioning had failed, and although we had signed a maintenance contract with the leasing company, they informed us the entire system needed to be replaced, and they would not do it while we were living there. It seemed like a clear, cold signal from the universe that something needed to change. Soon after, while arguing renters’ rights, and being served papers, we received an eviction notice. This was the first time in my life I felt truly scared. We were homeless. We needed to move, move fast, but we had nowhere to move to.

I do not give up. On anything. Before things had gotten worse, I had been watching real estate reality television, following the lives of successful and respected brokers, doing what they loved and making the kind of money I had only dreamed about… and it occurred to me that I could do this just as well. I had opinions, a critical eye, a strong work ethic and—as it turned out—nothing more to lose. It was time to try something else. To be my own boss.

I left my restaurant job and poured the rest of the money in my account into the real estate course. I studied day and night, consuming videos, articles, and success stories and built my confidence back to where it belonged. My fridge was empty, but I knew then that when I passed the necessary exams, I just needed to find an opportunity to prove myself and my life would be full again.

The day my exam results were posted I thought I would absolutely explode. My hard work and late nights had paid off. I was ready to go out and find an office to hang my license, but I did not know exactly how to start, what I would need or what to look for.

As it turned out, the agent who sold my mother’s home in Florida was with EXIT Realty and she referred me to the company. There was something truly special at EXIT. The first thing I noticed was that any fear I had left disappeared. EXIT felt like home; I was greeted with open arms, and when I signed on, I saw a clear path ahead. EXIT has the education, the network, the mentors I needed and the culture that supports me to this day.

With the right company and office behind me, I started turning my life around. I worked hard, showing homes to my sphere at first, then listing, and soon I partnered with the few amazing agents who would make up my first team. Commissions started coming in, bills started getting paid, I invested a lot back into the business, especially into marketing. I broke into the Top Producer’s List and was given the opportunity to teach a successful Agent Bootcamp, which allowed me to start giving back to other agents and really express my growing passion.

After three years of exceptional success—for which I am extremely grateful —the opportunity arose that I had been working towards. I was asked to open and run a new brokerage. EXIT Realty Island Elite opened our doors in February 2019.

It has been a truly incredible journey so far. We achieved Top Office for Recruiting and for Gross Commissions in our Region in our very first year of business. We have consistently met and exceeded our sales and transaction goals every year. We run multiple fundraisers annually, including a Backpack Supplies Fundraiser, Homeless Pets Supplies Drive, Food Drive and Toy Drive. We participate in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and we sponsor two scholarships that are awarded to local high school students who are committed to community service.

With the means to do more, I invest my time and resources into enriching the environment in my office and thanking everyone who believed that I could be successful. EXIT Realty Island Elite commits to multiple team-building exercises and trips each year, Ambassador Training for every agent and an environment balancing MIND-SET and Real Estate training.

The rewards that followed my leap of determination didn’t just include the pay and security that I so desperately needed to right my life. Every time we help someone find a home, a place of safety, a roof over their head, a place where they can build their families…every time an agent goes from doubting themselves to closing their first, second, tenth deals… and believing that they are worth their dreams, I am filled with a sense of joy and achievement.

“You never know where your life will take you.”


If you want to go anywhere, if you believe that you deserve to be happy, if you know you are capable of great things, the statement needs to be replaced with, “Know where YOU will take you.”

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