Nicoleta Forbes | St Petersburg Real Estate Market, Douglas Elliman

Introducing @Forbes.Nic 

Nicoleta Forbes is a dedicated realtor with an intimate knowledge of the St. Petersburg area. For nearly a decade, she has been helping families and individuals from all walks of life find the property of their dreams. Whether you are looking to buy or sell, Nicoleta’s expertise and devotion to client satisfaction make her the perfect person to guide you through this exciting time in your life.

Nicoleta believes that a well-educated client is an essential part of a successful transaction. By offering every client a personalized consultation, Nicoleta gets to know them on an individual level so that she can tailor her services to each client’s unique needs. Because no two transactions are alike, Nicoleta brings a fresh perspective to every meeting. As a result, clients can expect top-notch, personalized service every time.

Nicoleta was born in Romania. After relocating to the United States, she earned her degree from HSU in Arkansas. Eventually, she was drawn to Florida, where the beautiful weather and clean air offered her an opportunity to start her new life. Nicoleta is looking forward to continuing to serve the amazing community that makes St. Petersburg so special.

Tell our readers more about you, and what brought you specifically into real estate.

I was born in Romania. Like most immigrant stories, my dad fled over here and then my mom, my sister, and myself got to come over when I was two years old. That’s why I don’t have an accent. I grew up in Arkansas and then I moved to Atlanta with the company that I was working for, which was J.Crew, to help open up a store there. 

Long story short, I got back into property management. The apartment building that I was working for at the time was for sale. I worked there for about a month and they were like, “Hey, guess what? The apartments have sold, You get a severance package. There you go!” So I was like, “Oh, great. Well, what am I going to do?” One of my friends who was doing real estate said, “Hey, since you’ve got time and money now why don’t you do real estate? I think you’d be good at it.” And I said, “Okay. Well, I guess. As you said, I have time and money, I could do it. What the hell, let me try.” So I did the real estate class and passed my test. I was like, “Well, I guess I’m doing real estate, so here we go.” I’ve been doing real estate since 2013. 

What type of real estate do you do?

My main focus is new construction and multifamily condos and townhomes. A lot of my buyers are purchasing condo buildings in Downtown St. Petersburg where the price point is over $1 million. I also love doing listings at any price point. 

Walk us through your journey to entrepreneurship.

I’m Romanian, so it was always like, “You’re going to grow up to be a doctor, attorney, or a teacher.” That was it. I did teach for one year and then I was like, “Ugh, this is not for me.” And that’s really funny because I actually love teaching. I’ve got two mentees at the moment. I just couldn’t teach high school kids. Then I fell into real estate and ended up loving it. I’ve been here for 10 years now. In real estate, no day is ever the same. You’re constantly getting to meet new people. Every client I work with has a different story, and in some way, I’m impacting their story.

My parents were risk-takers. They moved to a country where they didn’t speak the language and they made it. They’re my heroes, especially my mom. She’s a huge mentor for me. I look at what she went through and how she became who she is. I have to do better. My parents didn’t sacrifice everything they sacrificed for me to not be better.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

My husband was my mentor in real estate; that’s how we met. He was a great mentor, but I should have listened more. I thought I knew what I was doing. I should have taken more advice from people that had been in it longer than me. That’s what I would say to my younger self. Early on, he was like, “You need to get your systems in order because once you start growing it’s going to be too hard.” And I was like, “Oh, well, I’m not busy enough; I can do this.” I didn’t really treat my real estate business as a business from the get-go. 

It took me having to get busy to realize that I needed to treat it like a business because if not, I was going to get run down. So I think setting it up as a business and treating it as such from the get-go was probably the most important thing that I should have listened to that I didn’t. Running a real estate business is a business, even if it doesn’t seem like it to the person looking in from the outside. 

When did you start to own the fact that you are a business owner?

It was around 2016, in Atlanta. That’s when I started working with him. It was not because it wasn’t my mindset at the time, but because he was doing it. He was like, “You gotta get on board.” And so I did. And that’s when I started to see, “Oh, this is what this means. I get it.” When we moved to Florida and I was doing it on my own I already knew what I needed to do. I had to learn the hard way. Now, it’s structured from all aspects. It’s not just being structured with the clients. It’s being structured in my finances, knowing all my numbers, knowing how I handle clients, and having a routine. This business is very flexible, and that flexibility can sometimes turn around and bite you. It’s kind of like a double-edged sword. You have all this flexibility but you also lose routine and structure. Because you are a small business owner, you need routine and structure to be successful. 

Why did you decide to go with the real estate brand that you’re with today? 

I’m with Douglas Elliman. I kind of fell into it. Someone that I was partnering up with had decided to go to Douglas Elliman, so I said, “I guess I’ll check it out as well.” When I took the meeting I really didn’t have any intention of moving there, but the broker I met was amazing. Her name is Megan Lacombe. She is the epitome of a girl boss. She’s so fierce. She’s fantastic. From the very first meeting with her, you could tell that she was going to be amazing to work with. So that’s how I ended up there. Honestly, it was more so the broker herself, not necessarily the brand. I mean, the brand is fantastic; that was the icing on the cake. But the broker, she was amazing. She’s why I am where I am today. 

Did you have any women mentors in the industry or women who helped you grow?

Megan Lacombe is one. Another mentor is Pam Ahern, from the Atlanta office. She does new construction and new construction was the niche that I wanted to be in. She has been a huge mentor for me. We call each other. I talk through scenarios with her. I ask her how to best handle things. I ask her if I’m doing things right. It’s great. She’s a great mentor, and I’ve learned so much from her.

How do you find and keep your inner balance in the midst of chaos?

I recently started going to church on Sunday mornings, and that has been something that has helped center me. I know that Sunday mornings are my church days. I go with my mom and my husband. We go to church and then we go have lunch. That helps me start my week. It sets the tone for my week. That’s how I keep my chaos down. This business is very chaotic. You’ve got 50 things going at once. So for me, that calm and that peace start on Sunday mornings at church.

Do you have any non-negotiables in your daily schedule to set yourself up for a successful day?

Every evening before I go to bed, I take a hot bath with Epsom salt. That’s how I wind down for the day. It gets me fresh for the next day. I wake up early every morning, and I have little power sessions with my husband. We sit and talk about our aha moments, good moments, bad moments, or anything we want to talk about. We do that every morning before I start the day, just to connect with him. That’s a non-negotiable. He is my priority. And that’s actually part of controlling the chaos. I do my Sunday things, my hot baths at night, and then my morning sessions with my husband. 

What big visions are you manifesting in the near future?

On the personal side, my husband was diagnosed with Lyme disease a few years back. Being an advocate for the Lyme world is super big for me. We went through a lot of hell because of it. In 2019, we went from being comfortable, and doing what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it, to being broke. We had to sell our house to be able to pay for his medical bills. We hit rock bottom. Between 2018 and 2019, we spent over $150K in medical expenses. We had to rebuild again. Lyme disease is so debilitating for people. It’s a burden financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. That disease knocks you on your ass. It’s so hard. Anytime I hear of someone going through that I have a soft, special place for them in my heart because I know what that journey is like. So, being an advocate is huge for me. 

This year, one of my visions is to start a nonprofit called The Lyme Project. My main goal for this project is to help people, who have been misdiagnosed with other diseases that Lyme mimics, get proper testing. Because I feel in the Lyme world half of the battle is being properly tested and knowing that you actually have Lyme. My husband was misdiagnosed for about four years before we found out what was wrong with him. That was four years that he could have been healing versus trying to figure it out. On the business side, it’s to continue to grow my business, partner up with people regularly, and continue to grow in the new construction realm. That is probably my favorite niche in the real estate world.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently selling a little boutique in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s a townhome community called Innovation Townhomes, and it’s 26 units. If anybody knows anything about Downtown St. Petersburg, it’s blowing up. It’s fantastic. Everyone’s moving here from New York, New Jersey, Chicago, California, just all over. We’re on the map now. It’s no longer a hidden gem. The price range is $750,000 to just a little over $1 million.

What is your superpower? 

Taking care of the people I love. That’s my personal superpower. My business superpower is customer service. I’m super big on customer service. I can’t even emphasize how big I am on customer service. My very first job was as soon as I got out of college, and everywhere I have worked since then has all been customer service oriented. Our pay was directly dictated by our customer service level. I am huge on customer service.

What tips can you share on delivering the best customer experience in the industry?

No matter the price point, buying a home is the biggest investment that some people will ever make in their life. For me and my husband — and especially with what we’ve been through — our home is our sanctuary. It’s our safe space. And I’m sure a lot of people feel that way as well. For some people, it may be the only investment that they ever make. 

So I’m helping them with their biggest investment as well as something that is as sacred as my home is to me. Helping them find a home, or selling them a home, is something that I don’t take lightly. Customer service comes into play because it’s not just turning into another transaction. In my mindset, this is a huge investment for these people. It’s their home. It’s where their child is going to take their first steps. It’s where they play ball in the yard with their dog. It’s where a family member is healing from cancer. There are so many things. Knowing that helps me provide good customer service. It’s very personable. Real estate is 100% personable.

For more information, visit her website here.

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