The 2016 YPN 20 Under 40 Rising Stars in Real Estate winners. Photo courtesy of TK Images.

Dane Gates – Berkshire Hathaway
HomeServices Anderson Properties
Dane’s top-producing agent/broker grandmother was his inspiration for a career in real estate. As a kid, he accompanied her to place signs, drop off marketing materials and remove lockboxes. After college, she encouraged him to get his license and mentored him as he started out. She obviously instilled strong values in Dane, as he says, “I drink, eat and sleep real estate.” Well, not entirely. Dane also drag races, rides motorcycles and likes to hunt, fish and travel. He’s won several car shows and races. But he’s also a dedicated family man who, as a new dad, is enjoying time with his son, Jase.

Eric Pham
John Daugherty, REALTORS®
Eric wanted to be a real estate professional for as long as he can remember. Growing up in Bellaire, he was energized by changes around him. He explained: “I watched as older homes in my neighborhood were torn down and rebuilt, transfixed by the idea that vacant land could be transformed into vibrant, useful living space. As a boy, I would get as close to construction sites as I was allowed and observe the work, captivated by the process. It occurred to me that each house had its own personality and energy, constructed from details that would ideally be matched with just the right homeowners. That set me on my path to real estate.”

Evan Compean
Champions Real Estate Group
Evan secured his real estate license in 2012, but his experience in the business predates that.He bought his first property at the age of 21 – a triplex outside The Heights that he still owns – then started flipping homes and keeping some as rentals. His business acumen was born in the entertainment industry, where he handled marketing and sales duties for a music company. Evan’s knack for problem-solving and enthusiasm for taking on challenges make real estate life a perfect fit, and he vows to treat all clients the way he would want his mother to be treated.

Gina Tran
RE/MAX Exclusive-Sons and Daughters Team
Gina owes a debt of gratitude to her brother for convincing her that real estate was her calling. “I found my passion,” said Gina. “I fell in love with the experience of finding beautiful homes for my buyers, negotiating the best price possible and found great joy in seeing families grow into the homes. My greatest challenge was opening my own brokerage in 2013 not knowing I was pregnant with my first child and, 18 months later, pregnant again with twin boys. It absolutely brought its share of challenges. I continue to overcome them by taking it one day at a time, the teamwork of an amazing and supportive husband and hiring the right talent.”

James Krueger
Krueger Real Estate
James has conquered two major challenges during his real estate career: shyness and transitioning from agent to broker. Waiting tables/bartending helped with the first, teaching him important customer service skills. For the second: “I struggled greatly with the idea of losing the personal contact with clients and taking on the responsibility of holding other people’s livelihoods in my company,” said James, “but I overcame that by looking outside of myself and seeing how I could impact my agents and their careers. Going from just me to over 50 agents wasn’t only my greatest challenge in real estate, but the greatest challenge of my life.”

Jena Turner
Intero Real Estate Services
Jena started out as a general contractor and project manager for rentals inside The Loop. Her parents renovated and built several homes during her childhood. “I learned a lot about construction and got my negotiating skills from my father, who was a salesman,” explained Jena. “I always joke that I laid my first tile floor while in diapers.” Jena finally transitioned into the retail side of the business and hasn’t looked back. “In this market where first-time home buyers are being priced out of the market and they are purchasing homes with work needed, my previous experience as a contractor is not only helpful, but absolutely necessary.”

Julie Yau Tam
Lyn Realty
Who leaves a distinguished, decade-long career in TV news to join her mother’s real estate brokerage? Julie Tam! Coming up each day with stories, coordinating coverage and reporting on breaking news, writing on tight deadlines and speaking eloquently on camera prepared Julie to multitask, juggling multiple deals at once and appointments back to back. “I’ve always had an interest in entrepreneurship, so continuing the family business that I had grown up in was a natural fit,” said Julie. “I enjoy helping first-time buyers find a starter home and seasoned buyers build or find their dream home. It also brings me great joy to help a renter find a home to rent and later buy their first home.”

Kimberly Johnson
Leyco Real Estate
As a third-generation broker, Kimberly is carrying on her family’s real estate legacy with a unique twist. She’s armed with land development knowledge gleaned from her father’s civil engineering and surveying company as well as her grandfather’s work as a county commissioner and rancher. As she puts it, “I’ve had days where I am showing beautiful houses in a dress and heels in the morning and then change into cowboy boots to show large acreage in the afternoon.” Kimberly has taken the family company founded in 1978 and successfully integrated new technology and social media to boost business.

Kimberly Stephens
RE/MAX 1st Source
For Kimberly, getting into real estate was the result of a lunch conversation with a REALTOR® friend. “She told me she thought I would be great at it,” explained Kimberly. “I admired her, but because of my situation, I knew it would be a struggle and laughed it off. I was a stay-at-home mom with a one-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl who was blind, autistic and had cerebral palsy. How could I possibly be a successful REALTOR®? The next day I thought, why not? I had a hard-working husband who could support me and help care for my children, and the thought of doing something that could be financially rewarding and give me self-worth and independence was intriguing. I took a leap of faith and am glad my husband went along with my crazy idea.”

Kristina Newcomb
RE/MAX Professionals
For Kristina, it’s all about helping people. After a successful job with a medical practice assisting patients with care plans, finances and next steps, she made the leap to real estate. As with her medical experience, REALTOR® life has allowed her to build lasting client relationships that have led to true friendships. “I know how to laugh at myself and am always real with my clients,” explained Kristina. “I try to always have fun through the process because, let’s face it, buying/selling a home is stressful and usually something people dread. I want every client to walk away with a smile and a peaceful heart because they know that I did my very best for them.”

Nancy Almodovar
Nan and Company Properties
Nancy was inspired to get into real estate after watching her parents and, later, her husband establish successful businesses in the industry. She learned about selling, developed a strong work ethic, and put those skills to use in the fashion retail industry before applying them to real estate. Nancy didn’t learn to speak English until she was six! She’s been in real estate since 2003, and in less than two years, has built a formidable luxury real estate company with an impressive roster of philanthropic efforts, recipients of which include Houston Children Give Back and St. Anne Catholic School.

Nicole Lopez
Intero Real Estate Services
“One of the best career moves I ever made.” That’s how Nicole describes becoming REALTOR® after handling sales for homebuilders had her working 80+ hours a week when she really wanted to spend more time with her young daughter, Alyssa. Now she’s selling new homes and loves it. “In an area where so many other REALTORS® are intimidated, I have kept connections and can confidently show and guide my clients towards making informed decisions when buying new. Another strength has been in decoding inspection reports. My homebuilding knowledge has helped immensely in explaining the differences in ‘building code’ and legitimate deficiencies.”

Randy Olive –The Loken Group, Keller
Williams Signature
Randy is a textbook case of how to learn and grow from experience. Serving as a youth pastor taught him that people always come first and that everyone has a story to connect to. Working as a sales leader at Paul Mitchell, he mentored students on how to generate leads for clientele and prepare a business plan. As an oil industry sales manager, he learned that handling objections is about asking the right questions and keying in on motivation. He had no assistance buying his first house and therefore did a lot wrong. “Every client is a relationship to master, not a transaction to close,” said Randy. “They trust me to advise them properly and treat them how I would want to be treated.”

Sally Walden
Habitation Realty
From debate team in high school to managing apartments as an adult, negotiation has always been a part of Sally’s being. Also, being a single mom gave her a burning desire to succeed. “My first year in real estate was tough,” admitted Sally. “At the beginning of 2012, I had $21 in my bank account and was on food stamps with a toddler. I worked my tail off and that was the first year I made six figures, something I never thought I could obtain.” Sally’s secret to success is consistency. “In this day and age, where people can jump in and out of things so quickly, people are starving for consistency.”

Seth Caplan
Beth Wolff REALTORS®
Seth grew up in a family that has been in real estate for generations, dating back to before the Republic of Texas. Real estate, development, and the pride of owning one’s own land has fascinated him forever. One of his greatest accomplishments as a REALTOR® has been selling a $2 million estate in Hunters Creek in just seven days. After closing, the seller, whom he represented, dubbed him “The Concierge of Real Estate.” Seth serves on the TREPAC committee and enjoys being a part of an organization that protects the rights of property ownership in a free market.

Tiffany Markovsky
Sky Real Estate Professionals
Tiffany’s successful 16-year real estate career is the result of taking a potential obstacle and turning it into a driving force. She admits that she always had a fear of rejection and failure, however as she built her knowledge and confidence in the business, it helped other fears fade away. “Overcoming the unknown is a challenge,” she said, “so my commitment to ‘care of client’ helps me be transparent to overcome the fear.” Tiffany is also an excellent listener. “We all know the answers, however, every transaction is different and the needs of my clients are important. By listening I can serve them well.

Tim Shanahan
Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty
Tim swapped a spatula for a lockbox, leaving his job as a chef to enter the real estate world. But he admits the food industry prepared him for the time-sensitive deadlines demanded of REALTORS®. “The sense of urgency I learned as a chef has without a doubt helped me be a successful agent,” said Tim. “I think that my patience and communication skills differentiate me from the rest of the pack – not just being in constant communication with a client during a deal because that really should be expected. It’s also about simply and clearly explaining all the moving parts that comprise a real estate transaction.”

Tonya Kiliddjian
RE/MAX Associates NE II
Committed to working hard, helping others and setting no limits, Tonya considers real estate her destiny. As a young girl, she helped her father run his brokerage, and later assisted with his land development business. At age 12, Tonya bought her first piece of land from him for $2,500. “I worked in the office, went to meetings, cleared land, drove tractors and was an overall workhorse (making $2.25 an hour),” she explained. “Once I earned my land, I found someone to lease it from me, and have owned it ever since, so I guess you could say real estate was my first experience and passion.”

Vanessa Martin
Intero Real Estate Services
Growing up in a trailer that her mother rented for $400/month, wearing clothes from Goodwill and receiving Christmas gifts from local charities are experiences that stay with Vanessa to this day. Eventually, her mother landed a job that enabled her to buy a house, changing life dramatically for Vanessa and her brother. “I believe those experiences are the foundation of what helps me be a successful REALTOR®,” said Vanessa. “I can empathize with my clients, and understand that no matter their situation, their lives are about to change. I can choose to be a positive influence for them, and position them for success in whatever is next on their journey.”

Victor Lofinmakin
Tarl Anderson Properties
Victor credits his service in the U.S. Navy for the work ethic to which he subscribes in real estate as well as his ability to decipher complex problems. He particularly enjoys working with buyers. Though an unconventional practice among top producers, Victor finds he brings tremendous value to buyers. “My business strategy is to focus on the huge African diaspora market in Houston,” he explained. “In addition, I educate my community about real estate and finance regularly, which has made me an authority.” As a matter of fact, Victor is often sought out to speak publicly on these topics by churches and other community groups.Victor further demonstrated his leadership by becoming a TREPAC Major Investor!