Let's talk Home Ownership with Realtor Simeca Alexander written by Shekinah Ade-Gold
What is your career background in Real Estate?
“My career background is actually in health. I have a first degree in Dietetics and Nutrition,
and a Master’s in Public Health with a minor in Health Management. I have, however, been
in customer service and sales for over ten years, ranging from working in a call centre to a
floor sales person in a health food store; and, I have done pharmaceutical sales for about 7
Real Estate was initially my retirement plan (as I was a receptionist at a Real Estate
Company back in 2010 and that's where my interest started) – I’d just relax and sell some
houses and watch the money roll in. However, life just has a way of happening, and in 2018
my spouse and I decided to start house hunting (looking for a place to rent until we were
ready to buy). We were constantly searching the Real Estate Section of the newspaper and
had to view many places unsuccessfully, until finally, a colleague of mine (her mom is an
agent) connected me to the agent that had the house that we now live in as being listed. I just
wanted to be that sense of peace for persons looking to purchase a home, as it is a very
emotional and frustrating process.”
What inspires you in your career?
“My personal experiences, my clients and their desires. Just the end result of connecting
someone to a place of satisfaction - that gives me gratification. The want of a better future
and a life that I can design to love. I'm an overall passionate person and anything I put my
energy into, I give it my all.”
What do you currently do in your career?
“Well I'm currently a Medical Representative, where I do marketing to doctors about my
specific brand of pharmaceutical drugs. I have recently resigned, however, and come May
1st, Real Estate will be my main source of income. So I will be/ am a Realtor.”
What services do you offer?
“I represent clients who are looking to purchase, sell, rent or lease any form of real estate -
whether residential or commercial property, be it a building or land. I also provide real
estate consultation (essential advice and emotional support). I act as a bridge between clients
and any other service they may need so I also recommend attorneys, lending agencies, surveyors and valuers to assist them along the entire journey of buying or selling real
How would you break down the concept of home ownership?
“Home ownership starts in the mind; starts with the desire to own a home, then saving.
Anything that is a big investment (like a home) will take planning and saving and will not
happen overnight. I also encourage persons to "window shop" so they can have an idea of what is on the market, and compare it to what they desire so they can get to a place of being realistic. It is a very emotional journey but so worth it at the end. Home ownership is also a
form of wealth building and your first home may or may not be your last, as you may want to
upgrade and utilize the first home as an income earner.”
What is your best renting advice, especially for those earning minimum wage?
“Currently the rental market is a little gentler than the selling market. I recommend having a
roommate/ house mate (multiple if possible); that way the bills and the cost of rent can be less
of a burden. While I understand comfort is paramount, realize that this is a temporary
solution and a means to an end so if you can compromise on some things that are considered
luxury, you'll save yourself a lot in an effort to save towards the big goal of home ownership.
Renting places outside of corporate areas is also much more affordable. Think Old Harbour if
your main area is St. Catherine or Kingston, and think Hanover or Trelawny if your main
area is Montego Bay. Of course, take commuting expenses into consideration and decide if
that expense is less than the extra cost for rent.”
What organizations offer home ownership loans?
“Almost any bank or credit union. The National Housing Trust (NHT) is the main lending
agency for those looking to own a home and they have the lowest rate of 4%. However, they
only lend a maximum of $6.5M for a house and $2.5M for land per contributor (for first time
buyers). Most times (9/10) that is insufficient to purchase desirable properties.”
How would you advise readers to save towards home ownership?
“Whenever you decide that homeownership is a goal you want to attain, just start saving.
Then sit down and decide ok, I want to own a home in say, 5 years. 5 years equals 60 months.
I want to own a home that costs $20M, and the amount I need for deposit and closing costs is
about 20% of the cost of the home. So 20% of $20M is $4M. $4M divided by 60 months is
roughly $67,000.00. If this is between 2 persons, it’s a little easier. Also, search for mortgage
institutions that cover more than 90% financing. Save this amount monthly in a fixed deposit
account. You can also start with just saving 10% (for the deposit). 20% is just a big safety net
(and I don't think you can save too much). But be serious about your saving; as soon as you
are able, you'll have to be paying monthly mortgage payments anywhere between 25-40 years, so use it as practice. The more you deposit, the less you need to borrow which, overall, is
better for you in the long run.”
What are things people should know about realtors?
“We are human. And while our services to buyers are free, we should not be taken advantage
of. We work for a commission, so in the grand scheme of things, although purchasing a 10
million dollar house may seem like a big investment for you, the headache we need to go
through to find you this unicorn is most times not worth the commission we get at the end of
the day. So forgive realtors if they're not enthusiastic to help you search for anything less
than $20M. We have bills to pay as well. This is our livelihood. But with that said, not all
realtors are created equally and when searching for a realtor, make sure you find one that is
understanding, accessible and able to guide you through the journey in a way you can
appreciate. However, honestly, as I said before - if it is really in the 10M range maybe it is
best you take that trek on your own. Truth be told, those houses are far and few in between.”
What should people know about the Real Estate market?
“It is very competitive and unforgiving. But, if you play your cards right and listen to your
realtor, you should be good. It is a seller's market right now so they have the upper hand and I do agree that house prices are at an all-time high, but they don't seem to be coming down any time soon. So, it makes no sense to sit and whine and complain and watch the prices
escalate. Accept the market for what it is and plan accordingly. We as realtors have NO
control over prices, none. We are simply agents. The market, supply and demand and
personal preferences is what determines price and value (that is for another lesson in
economics). Realtors look at things objectively while those looking to buy and sell have a
higher emotional investment in the matter. So, it is best to listen to your realtor and take their
advice - we have the experience, and we understand trends.”
Is there anything additional you would like the readers to know?
“Real Estate is one of the best investments you can make, whether it be for peace of mind and
security, a place to call home, a shelter or as an avenue for passive income. It is not
something that becomes attainable overnight. The journey to home ownership can be
emotional and frustrating, bringing tears of sorrow and joy. But if you plan, get reputable
help and advice (from a realtor). It will be one of the most rewarding journeys you've ever
taken, because at the end of the day, when yuh name deh pon tikle... nobody can take that
away from you and that is just a start to building wealth.”
Where can readers find you for more info?
“I'm on LinkedIn as Simeca Alexander
Facebook: The Key Experience
Instagram: @thekey_experience (you can send me a DM on any of these platforms)
I'm an agent at Keller Williams Jamaica
(email me at firstname.lastname@example.org )
I may be contacted at (876)276-6980 call or WhatsApp.”