Everyone wants to live a life of purpose. However, only a few people do it, and even fewer do it successfully and consistently. One of them is Julie Neira, the CEO of Julie Helps Veterans. Known for her authenticity and undying passion for her work, Julie’s determination towards giving back to veterans is simply unmatched. Her life and business style revolve around making life easy for veterans, which will always remain the center of her life. Even after having done a lot for the veterans, Julie is in no mood to relax and aims to take her contribution to the next level.
In an interview with PerceptivX, Julie shared how the real estate business chose her, her vision, and her plans for the future. Below are the highlights.
PerceptivX (P): Thank you for doing this with us, Julie. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your organization, and your leadership style?
Julie Neira (J): “I have been in real estate for the last 5 years and established “Julie Helps Veterans” over 3 years ago. My leadership style is one of example. It took me many years to find my niche and purpose.. I believed what was in my heart was right for me. I tried not to conform to what others were doing, but rather, I followed my heart to give back to others. My family and my faith have been key factors in my success. Without either, I don’t believe I could’ve achieved what I have.
Our tagline is “Every House Sold Helps A Local Veteran”. For every house sold, a donation is made to a local Veteran-focused nonprofit. The nonprofit is chosen at the end of the year through a thorough vetting process, and the check is presented in the first quarter. As a woman of faith, I am led to serve others through my real estate business. I am trusted by many and commended for my faith, honesty, integrity, and effective communication skills.”
(P): Real estate is a tough industry to survive. So, what makes you shine above others, and despite all the challenges, what keeps you going?
(J): “I believe the focus I put on others is what sets me apart from the 8,000 agents currently in my market. The fact that I am a Homes for Heroes® Affiliate and give back 25% of my commission to: 1) Military Members (active, reserve, Veteran), 2) Teachers; 3) First Responders; 4) Firefighters; 5) Law Enforcement Officers; and 6) Healthcare Workers when they buy or sell a house with me as their agent.
I do this for multiple reasons. I am a Veteran spouse, and it is a way for me to express my gratitude for the doctors and nurses who were there for my daughter and me when she was diagnosed with pediatric cancer; my brother was a firefighter, but his career and way of life were abruptly brought to a halt when he was injured lifting a patient; my grandfather, father-in-law, and great uncle, a Purple Heart recipient, also served our great country; my daughter is now a registered medical assistant; and I am surrounded by many friends and wonderful people in my life who have served or are currently serving.
I recently launched a YouTube Channel named Veteran Businesses of the Lowcountry on which Veteran and Veteran spouse local business owners are interviewed every month. The VBOL team consists of myself as the host and Veteran spouse, my co-host Chase Mason; a Marine Veteran and Steven Buckner; our videographer and the owner of Graph It Up. We have the interviewee do a Civilian Business Shoutout at the end of each exclusive interview so this initiative has the potential to impact the community as a whole.
There is so much about what I do that excites me! 1) The fact that others have placed their trust in me for one of, if not the, largest purchases they will ever make in their lives.2) I am always learning in this industry. 3) Every person is unique, and therefore, every transaction is as well.”
(P): Can you share any life story of yours that you think would motivate our readers?
(J): “As I share my story, my only hope is that it will inspire others to take that big leap of FAITH. I was in sales at Ashley Furniture Homestore, making a good living by all standards, and after 4 years of employment, I needed surgery. During my six-week recovery period, I reached out to a friend who was an office manager for a boutique brokerage in West Ashley. I asked her to arrange a meeting for me with the broker in charge to discuss the steps required to obtain my real estate license. Little did I know that God had a different plan for me that day!
A week later, I met with the broker, and after an hour of talking, I left excited about my future endeavors! On my way home, I called my husband, excited about what was to come. I decided to speak with Kelly Bramble at the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors and ask about the timeline of licensing classes. Walking around the corner, I saw someone with her arms stacked with notebooks, so I waited to introduce myself until she entered her office to inquire about classes. Kelly shared that classes were scheduled to begin within the next 3 hours and asked me if I wanted the one available spot. I was hesitant, but she also informed me that the next licensing class would not begin for another nine months. I wasn’t ready to make such a rash decision, so I decided to call my husband, Bill. He was as amazed as I was! At the time, I was dealing with recovery and recuperation, but the classes would only be a few nights a week. I was overwhelmed with fear, but I knew the odds of this happening were rare, so I signed up. I went home to get ready and called the broker to share the news. She was excited for me and told me to let her know when I passed the exam. I now see I needed that encouragement to reach the finish line!
A couple of weeks into the classes, I went for my follow-up doctor’s visit and was informed the biopsy came back negative! The doctor had no answers as to how it happened, but I knew. My faith continued to grow exponentially, and shortly after the classes ended, I drove to Columbia and took my state licensing exam—and passed!”
(P): What’s your take on the current market, and what, according to you, is hampering the industry?
(J): “The market is leveling out due to the extreme seller’s market recently endured. We are still in a seller’s market due to the current supply and demand, but I can only speak for the Charleston market when I say we have a strong and resilient market due to many factors. One, we are a military installation; two, multiple industries are choosing South Carolina as their corporate footprint; and three, people want to live in the Lowcountry because it is amazing!
My concerns within the industry are directed at the agents, who look at people as a paycheck. Every day, as an agent, you deal with people’s livelihoods.There are two complaints I hear from the public most often: 1) The agent is only looking out for themselves, and 2) There is no communication throughout the process. Unfortunately, you can’t teach a person empathy.”
(P): How important is customer satisfaction in the industry? What advice do you have for aspiring real estate entrepreneurs?
(J): “In real estate, as in any other customer-oriented business, it is essential. When I work with a buyer or seller client, I strive to ensure the burden of the transaction falls directly on me. From our initial visit to closing; I make sure everything is handled and it is a seamless transaction. I hold many roles in the transaction, and they only have one.
To aspiring real estate entrepreneurs, I would say work together cohesively. This is a cutthroat business, and therefore, there is a lot of negativity and downright hateful actions taken toward fellow Realtors. I am friendly from point A to point B and everywhere in between; we are one another’s greatest allies.”
(P): What remains your top priority for the future?
(J): “To continue to help others through real estate and maybe one day, open my own brokerage. I plan to help anyone I can achieve the “American Dream.” As a proponent for Veterans and a Homes for Heroes® affiliate, I will continue to represent them as I would anyone else; my business is built on faith, integrity, and honesty, and they are the driving forces behind my brand.”