Four Northeast Florida real estate professionals and homebuilders are flourishing.
As the saying goes, everybody has to start somewhere.
Occasionally, people trying something new for the first time will falter and fail. However, there are those occasions when a rookie will surpass all expectations and shine.
These four Northeast Florida real estate professionals and homebuilders fall under the latter.
In a matter of only a few years, they proved themselves capable of being successful in their respective careers.
For November, Realty-Builder is featuring area rookies who already have made a substantial impact. In next month’s edition, the newspaper will publish a list of the top 40 individuals under 40 in the region who work in the same industries.
Lynn Mattingly: Making the transition from organizer to real estate agent
As the wife of a career Navy man, Lynn Mattingly traveled around the country and world.
The 53-year-old Jacksonville mother of four packed up and moved her family 17 times within a 21-year time frame, buying and selling their latest house to make way for another place to call home, at least temporarily.
The couple started their journey together in Jacksonville in the late 1980s and decided to return as Mattingly’s husband, a helicopter pilot, originally is from the area.
Before they left Northeast Florida, Mattingly obtained her real estate license and sold homes for about a year. But then life happened. Specifically, their four kids.
Mattingly chose to be a stay-at-home mother and raise their children. These days, those four kids now range in age from 16 to 26.
Since coming back to Jacksonville in 2009 and finding a home in Atlantic Beach, Mattingly decided to return to work. She became a professional organizer, helping people de-clutter their lives.
After doing that for several years, Mattingly had the desire to try her hand at selling real estate again.
She knew her experience and knowledge of selling and buying many homes over the years would help, as well as being able to help people be organized throughout the transaction.
“Being my age, even though I’m fit, I didn’t want to do that much physical work. Professional organizing is a very physical job,” she said.
Therefore, she found an agency she was comfortable with and provided the training she wanted, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty.
Mattingly recently celebrated her two-year anniversary with the agency and is on track to sell about $3.5 million in real estate this year, twice the amount she sold her first year on the job.
Her advice for other Realtors is to treat others as they would like to be treated, not how you would like to be treated.
“Real estate transactions should not be about the agent,” she said. “Realtors can kind of get in the way of the deal. Sometimes you need to step aside and figure out what’s the goal of the client.”
In addition, Mattingly said she is the type of agent who stays in almost constant contact with her customers because she wants them to be informed every step of the way.
Jason Beard: Moving from working for builders to becoming one
With the exception of being born in Texas and living outside of Florida for a short time, Jason Beard is essentially a Jacksonville native.
At 42, the father of three daughters has been in Northeast Florida the majority of his life, attending Nathan B. Forrest High School (renamed Westside High in 2014) and later receiving an associate degree in business administration at Florida State College at Jacksonville.
During and after college, Beard worked as a lineman for JEA but realized he wanted to do something more fulfilling when his first daughter was born in 1999.
Beard started buying, renovating and flipping homes in the region and decided to get into selling real estate for local and national homebuilders.
In 2007, Beard started working on the sales floor for Taylor Morrison Homes. In 2008, he took a job with Mattamy Homes, working his way up the corporate ladder to become the vice president of sales.
Beard held that position for six years until he decided to strike out on his own.
In April, he founded Madison Homes, named after his youngest daughter. Instead of relying on angel investors, Beard is funding the venture himself.
Beard also is the company’s sole employee, with the exception of his friend, Michael Towne. Towne holds a general contractor’s license and agreed to come on as a silent partner.
Unlike the big homebuilding companies that have limited choices in the type of houses or neighborhoods to choose from, Beard plans to serve a niche by offering options that people may not be able to find elsewhere, like those customers who already have land available but want something different than a cookie-cutter plan. And he’s already found success in offering that.
One of his first set of customers wanted to build a custom in-law suite on their property and were having difficulty in finding a builder that could help them. Beard was able to offer exactly what they wanted.
“One of the first things I thought of when starting this company, I want to build homes the way people want to live, not the way I think they want to live,” Beard said.
Beard said his goal is to figure out a client’s needs, wants and lifestyle and then design a home around that.
He’s doesn’t want to build hundreds of homes, but between 15 to 20 a year. Since starting out just months ago, Beard already has multiple contracts in hand.
MaryAnne Rodriguez: Elementary school teacher finds a new career in real estate
MaryAnne Rodriguez knew she couldn’t continue to serve as an elementary school teacher when a student punched her stomach during her pregnancy.
The 29-year-old, who had been teaching at Title I schools as part of Teach For America, realized she had to find a new profession despite her love of teaching. Plus, she knew she wanted a job that allowed her to raise a family.
“I am a very self-driven and a very self-motivated person,” she said. “I asked myself what could be a career that the harder I worked, I could make more and have time for family.”
Her conclusion: Real estate. So in 2013, after three years as a teacher, Rodriguez started out as a real estate agent with Keller Williams.
She said she soaked up all the knowledge and training that she could.
After a while, Rodriguez formed a team through the agency, with her leading two agents.
They had a satellite office and started doing things their own way. Eventually, Rodriguez realized that she needed to break out on her own.
Two years ago, she got her broker’s license and founded Root Realty, bringing the two agents from the team with her. Before long, she would hire seven other employees, all female.
Rodriguez said she didn’t intentionally hire all women, but that she started the agency with the goal of allowing its employees to have their children or even pets at the office when needed.
“As a woman, it’s very difficult to create that perfect balance of work and family,” she said. “So it was very intentional to create a space where both of those priorities would be welcomed.”
Last year, the agency did $20 million in sales.
In 2018, it already had sold $24 million in real estate, she said.
Rodriguez has been approached to franchise her agency, but she has no interest.
“I prefer quality over quantity,” she said. “Growth will happen but will be strategic growth.”
Nick Kausch: Following in his father's footsteps to become a land development manager for Toll Brothers
In only a few years, Nick Kausch has made it far in the construction and homebuilding industries.
At 25, the former New Jersey resident already is a land development manager for Toll Brothers in Jacksonville.
He is in charge of building three of the national homebuilder’s latest Northeast Florida single-family communities: Julington Lakes, with 466 residential units; Coastal Oaks, with 900 units; and Edison, a 265-unit community recently announced for eTown.
Kausch said Toll Brothers has two other local housing development projects in the design phase that should be announced soon.
Kausch, whose father was in the construction industry, knew long ago that he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps. During his college years in Pennsylvania, Kausch worked on construction sites, driving and operating heavy equipment, laying sewer and stormwater pipes and loading dump trucks.
He credits those years as helping him move through the industry ranks quicker than most. His advice for others is to get as much experience as possible.
“But don’t sacrifice what you’re doing to take part in 20 other things,” he said.
Kausch said he is the type of supervisor who would not ask an employee to do something that he would not do, because while he asks a lot of his staff, he’s done the job.