She helps fulfill the American Dream of owning a home
If you are a Filipino immigrant in Georgia, looking for a place to settle in, you may have heard of Gemma Llanes Neumann of Palmer House Properties. Neumann has been a real estate agent since 2015, but that’s not how she made her start.
She eventually became interested in real estate “because I know I can help clients fulfill their dreams of having their own homes,” Neumann explains. In America, having a home is the fulfillment of the American Dream.
“I chose Ms. Neumann because she can adjust to the price that we can afford. She is very patient in finding the home or business area suited to your budget without compromising the quality of a home. And most of all, she is very patient in explaining things,” attests Myeleen Buguaoan, a nurse in Atlanta.
Gemma knew that she wanted to live in America someday or after college. “When my dad retired, he migrated to the U.S. so that his children would have the opportunity to reach their goals and better life. And ultimately the American Dream,” Neumann shares.
As a child she watched movies and TV shows, read books and did projects in school about the U.S., nurturing her own American Dream early on. She studied Business and Marketing because she knew that it would open doors to opportunities.
Neumann’s father served as a member of the Philippine Commonwealth Army under the United States Armed Forces. He served during World War II.
Born in Tabaco, Albay, Neumann was petitioned, along with her siblings, by their parents and immigrated in 1987.
I thought since I am a college graduate I can get a higher position right away. However, in the States you need both work experience, skills and education to work your way up the ladder and to get promoted or apply for a higher position,” Neumann explains.
Neumann landed a part-time job in sales at Emporium Capwell in El Cerrito, California first while looking for a full-time job.
“There’s dignity to whatever job you hold or do and that you can be proud of who you are,” Neumann says.
At the time, there was no internet, and like millions of job hunters, Neumann would rely on the local newspaper or go to the City, State, or Federal buildings to look for civil job openings. Her first job was as a full-time teller at Great Western Bank in San Francisco in September 1987.
She did not think about discrimination, and her parents never said anything about it.
“Maybe they wanted us to focus on working hard, be respectful, grateful for the opportunity we are living in the States and be law-abiding citizens. I was busy learning the ropes of life and gaining work and skills experience. ” Neumann says.
But Neumann admitted facing subtle discrimination due to her accent.
She lived Milwaukee for a while, working in the financial field as an Options Trader Specialist and Sr. Account Administrator at Wells Fargo Financial Advisors.
Since 2004, she and her family have lived in Buford, Georgia. While her kids were growing up, she was a stay-at-home mom, before working part-time at Gwinnett County schools as a substitute teacher in 2005-2013. She then became interested in real estate.
Every state has different real estate rules and policies in real estate. In Georgia, Real Estate professionals are overseen by Georgia Real Estate Commission (GREC). To become an agent, one has to attend Real Estate School, take the state RE test, pass and earn licensure. Annually, the agent has to continue completing Continue Education (CE), Code of Ethics and pertinent classes to maintain license and designation.
Neumann started from scratch,, dispelling the illusion many people have that being in real estate is easy because of what they see in TV shows. But the reality is different. There are many aspects, steps, legalities, contracts, financing, knowledge, negotiating skills, etc. called for.
“I have to build my clients, market myself, improve my skills, distinguish myself as effective, knowledgeable, trustworthy, reliable and focused on providing my clients outstanding and
personal service,” Neumann explains.
In Georgia and the other Southern States, homes are more affordable compared with the West Coast and East Coast markets as these states typically have higher real estate prices and costs of living. It is more difficult or might take a longer period for immigrants to buy a home there.
In Georgia, immigrants arriving on working visas, such as nurses or skilled professionals, have a better chance of getting their first home because of the low cost of living there, according to Neumann.
“Before the pandemic, the real estate market was stable. Since the pandemic, the market has shifted due to the influx of people to southern states, which include Georgia, causing a shortage in available houses and delays in new home constructions. The higher demand leads high home prices. The last two years saw bidding wars. For sellers, homes are getting multiple offers and going under contract within days” Neumann explains.
Real Estate Agents are guides
Real estate is one’s most expensive investment. Thus, the need for someone to represent, negotiate, guide and help one through the transactional maze. It is also very important for an agent develop a good working relationship with both the buyer or seller agents to complete a successful sale for all parties.
Real estate agents research, filter, and review many homes specific to the clients. They suggest pointers, home styles, growth, accessibility and locations. The agent guides them so they can make the best decision for their needs.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to help many first-time home-buyers, and that is such a satisfying and amazing feeling. I see the joy and a dream coming to realization for a single lady, single mom or young couple.”
Her advice to Filipino immigrants who want to buy homes in the U.S.:
“Either as a single person, couple or young family, it is very important that you have your heart on being a homeowner and to rent only temporarily while you preparing to buy your home. Listen to advice and be open to options of the area where you may want to live. There are various loans available that you can try to qualify for. Save money for a down payment. Buy only necessities, keep your credit score good and job employment are just some points to remember.”