The Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) has honored the winners of its fifth annual NextGen REALTOR® Group (NRG) 20 Under 40 Rising Stars in Real Estate Awards.

Awards went to 20 Houston-area real estate professionals 40 years old or younger who demonstrated excellence during the past year in the areas of sales, leadership and community involvement. The winners, all members of HAR, represent what the selection committee considered an overall well-rounded REALTOR®


Here is the complete list of 2014 winners along with excerpts from their applications:

Andrea Saavedra – GAVA Homes & Loans, Inc.
“Born in Mexico City, I arrived in the United States in 1991, aged 16 and in the flush of youth. I attended Furr High School in Houston from 10th through 12th grade. I hardly spoke any English; but after a lot of hard work, in 1994, I graduated with Honors and was 18th in my class amongst 166 students. Unfortunately, due to limited family means, I was unable to attend college. But I was undeterred and after several attempts at finding alternate routes to a college education, I remained enrolled in English classes at Houston Community College.

“I have been dedicated to growing and moving my company towards a state of constant progression. One way I’ve achieved this is by employing individuals who have a keen desire to learn the ins-and-outs of real estate. I am a single mother of two, so employing people I can trust and depend on, has given me more time to focus on getting involved with my community, as well as allowing me more time to partake in church fellow-shipping and focus on what is truly important to me.”

Chase Coleman – RE/MAX 360 The Chase Team
“My greatest challenge is managing people. I am constantly looking and searching how to challenge my team and keep them motivated. We have team outings and I reward them for good work. They are just as important to our business as I am. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am. Not only does this apply to my team, but it’s also a challenge with all the other people that are part of the transaction, including the client, vendors and other agents. Every transaction is different, so being good with people is a must in this industry.

”My team and are committed to doing charitable events every quarter. My first year in business we joined the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and it was extremely satisfying. As the team grew, the plan was to do more. The first quarter of 2014 we put on a toy drive for The Children’s Miracle hospital and delivered the toys to the kids. This was an amazing experience and it won’t be our last.”

Chris Mastrangelo – Habitation Realty
“I started in commercial real estate in the cutthroat Manhattan market at the age of 23, specializing in high end office buildings and investment sales. Everyone else was much older than me by 10 or 20 years. During this time, I dealt with clients who also had years on me both in age and experience. I still use tools for investments that I learned from these veteran real estate professionals. This taught me to run the residential business with that same proactive and aggressive nature that the New York market fosters. I learned that to be a top producer; it was essential to be proactive and never leave the basics.

“We do several large charity events every year where we are able to raise funds and toys for Child Advocates. I also encourage all of our agents to host as many charity events as possible at our office. Being that our office has several animal lovers, we also host several dog adoptions at our office every year.”

Clint N. Nabors – Heritage Texas Properties
“I am a leader within my company and with other community REALTORS®. I strive to offer help, advice and to be a mentor to those that I work with. I am always willing to share business strategies, ‘secrets’ and lessons learned to anyone who is willing to learn! I speak very often, at least every other month, within my own company at training events and panels for new and seasoned agents. I spoke on a panel about building teams at the NRG luncheon in July.

“I have served as a volunteer head coach for soccer and baseball within my neighborhood for 8 seasons. I also love to serve with my church on rebuild projects around the Houston area. I sponsor the Fairfield Sports Association every year, the Candy Cane Fun Run benefitting the three elementary schools in Fairfield, and the Running for Greater Things Fun Run supporting adopting families within our community. I am also a sponsor and member of the American Heart Association’s Men Go Red for Women in Cypress.

David B. Atkins – John Daugherty, REALTORS®
“Every transaction is a building block for my reputation. I recognize that I cannot take a break with one client as that single block can make my entire ‘wall of reputation’ fall down. My HAR feedback is a badge of honor. It was perfect 5s until one client, gave me a 4. But reading the feedback, it was the best 4 I could have hoped for. There was a great song in the 80s, ‘I can’t drive 55.’ My theme music is ‘I strive for 5s.’

“This year, I sent off 2,500 10×13 envelopes to my sphere of influence with a pre-addressed postcard allowing my clients to choose a charity that I would make a donation on behalf of them. The top four charities were: Habitat for Humanity, Houston Hospice, Child Advocates and Citizens for Animal Protection.”

Hillory Chung – Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty
“Throughout my real estate career, I have continued to grow, get education, and succeed. I have continuously worked for my clients, and had some wonderful success over the past several years. With my Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program (TRLP) coming to a close, I feel this opportunity will allow me to use my skills to help the NRG in the coming year. I know that my affiliation with HAR will only help me continue to grow as a REALTOR® and professional.

“From day one, my goal is to educate each buyer and seller to maximize their time, as well as mine. I have a very good track record of working with buyers for only a short time before they find their dream home. My children and my church are very important to me, and therefore I spend many hours volunteering at River Oaks Baptist School and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.”

Jay Clemente – RE/MAX Top Realty
“I got in real estate at a very young age of 24 and the national average was typically a little older so that made my clients skeptical of me in their real estate business. Since then, I made a promise to myself to always learn and stay abreast of the market. Dedicating myself fully to the business and knowing the market well through mentorships of those that have been in the business longer than me have catapulted me to become one of the main go to real estate professionals in my community.

“I am a proud sponsor of Filipino Young Professionals Youth Scholarships. I have helped raise over $100,000 towards Children’s Miracle Network. We also were featured in the news for our fundraising for the Typhoon victims of Hurricane Haiyan and continually help them to this day. I am also a major sponsor of FilHoops, a Filipino-American basketball organization which comprises several basketball teams which create health and solidarity within our cultural community.”

Jennifer Wauhob – Better Homes and Gardens Gary Greene
“I am very proud to be a graduate of the 2013 class of TRLP, a fantastic program that taught me leadership skills as well as inspired me to become more involved in my state and local associations. This year I am serving on the advisory boards for NRG, TREPAC, and the Big E. I have enjoyed serving so much at HAR that I have applied to serve on several TAR committees as well. I believe that “iron sharpens iron” and anytime I have the chance to work alongside other dedicated real estate professionals it helps me grow as a REALTOR®, a leader and a business woman.

“One of the things that I have enjoyed most since moving to Houston is my involvement in the Houston Junior League. I spend many hours each year serving on committees and councils, performing in the annual Charity Ball and taking part in our initiatives to better the Houston community.”

Kathryn “Kat” Robinson – Keller Williams Realty Southwest
“My business strategy is to be genuinely invested by giving sincere service to each and every person with the Nov14_Houston_REALTOR_cvrgoal of closing 40-50 transactions a year. In order to accomplish this I must work hard, work smart and be deliberate with my conversations, marketing and schedule. Technology is irreplaceable in my business! Using HAR’s tools such as the gateway search and the app are things I use on a daily, if not hourly basis. Clients are always impressed with these tools as it puts them in the game of finding a home. This creates a team effort on finding homes, which makes victory even more sweet!

“My charitable involvement includes giving to my local church with special gifts to the youth program which helps provide scholarships to youth camps throughout the summer. I have recently fallen in love with the Art League of Houston, which provides a venue to the local arts and a safe haven for art related therapies and classes.”

Kim Scott – Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS®
“My business strategy is to keep the customer in the forefront of everything I do and the business will come. I remind myself daily that while I may be in their lives for a few months, this house will likely be their home for the next seven years and it’s my job to make sure we find the perfect fit. As my business grows, it is paramount for me to maintain the levels of customer service my clients have become accustomed to.

“My husband and I started a charity project in 2009 to help provide Christmas presents for children at the Houston Women’s Shelter. The shelter is a safe haven for women and children escaping domestic violence. We organize an event every December at local Build-A-Bear locations to build bears for children. Every year we have grown the event and for the last four years my office, Coldwell Banker United Atascocita, has participated as our office charity event. I have also served as our office chair for the Komen Breast Cancer Walk.”

Lacey Cannon – Heritage Texas Properties
“Eleven years ago, my family’s lives were turned upside down when my dad suffered a severe stroke, leaving him completely paralyzed on his right side. Well, if that doesn’t shake things up, I don’t know what will! It taught me to never become complacent. The comforts of life were stripped away and we had to reassess, regroup and retrain to learn to do things we never thought we’d be doing. In a business and market that is continuously changing, it is important to be ever adaptive like a chameleon. A devastating event tends to bring beautiful lessons, strength, knowledge and patience. We have been caregivers ever since and it may sound strange, but this has brought our family even closer. This proves that having a positive mindset and unwavering work ethic is helpful in overcoming periods of adversity in both my personal and business life.

“I look at real estate as a way of life. It’s a constant 24/7 business, but when integrated in your life, it just becomes a part of you. My living quote is, ‘Go where your heart is, do what you love and make a difference whenever you can.’”

Larry W. Brooks – Brooks & Davis Real Estate Firm, LLC
“I have always been self-employed. My life experiences revert back to my college years with my peers and as a president in different organizations as well as being a strong athlete when it came to sports, so me being a great people person allows me to be able to serve and work with a variety of different people.

“I am a part of many different organizations within the community, state and nationally. I have sat on many real estate advisory boards. I am a board member at HBREA, Houston Black Real Estate Association. I am a member of the TREPAC, NRG Advisory Group, MLS Advisory Group, as well as NAHREP, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. I am a very active member with my church, Windsor Village Methodist church. I volunteer and serve with several organizations throughout the community, SFA Alumni Association, Houston Hope, NAACP, Rebuild Houston, Houston Kappa Alpha Psi, HAUL, and 100 Black Men just to name a few. And of course the NRG Christmas Party for the kids.”

Michael Gonzalez, RE/MAX Evolve
“As anyone can tell you, there’s only so much you can do on your own. There comes a point where you must create efficiencies in order to reach the next plateau; you must have a great team to get to the next level. Learning how to keep a high level of client satisfaction as the business grows has been the biggest struggle for me. In order to overcome this challenge, I have ensured that I have the right people working WITH me. The assistants that work with me are really great, and they understand the importance of keeping every client happy.

“My team and I like to represent our RE/MAX office as members of The Woodlands Chamber of Commerce by attending meetings, functions, and donating to various charities they support. We also donate to the Children’s Miracle Network every month. In addition, I always support my team by attending and donating where they choose to be involved in our community.”

Nicki Huprich – RE/MAX Leading Edge
“In this business it is all about being consistent in everything you do. When you are consistent, you get results. My greatest challenge is my age. I do my best to prove that age does not matter. I work in a second home market where the average age REALTOR® is around 65 and the average age customer is around 50. I have to work a lot harder at proving my professionalism, knowledge and work ethic when competing to get a listing and gaining a customer’s trust so I can convert them into a client.

“I am a Big Sister with the Gulf Coast Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation and a member of the Galveston Island Humane Society. For every transaction I close, I make a contribution to the Texas Children’s Hospital in the name of my client. I run at least two races a year, not only to stay active but because each one is for a good cause. This year I am running in the New York Marathon and to do so I have to raise over $2k for Team for Kids.”

Nicole Brende – Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty
“Since I am still considered a “newbie” in real estate, I consider that my greatest challenge. In order to create a name in real estate it is essential to quote ‘set yourself apart’ from other professionals. My past clients will report I am a great communicator, accessible, friendly, and really care for their best interests. I use my past experience in TV production and social media to market properties and myself.

“I love being involved in my community. My friends and I ‘party with a cause,’ so to speak. In December, I put together and hosted a Toys for Tots toy drive event at Mr. Peeples restaurant in Midtown. My co-chair, Lori Geshay, and I raised thousands of dollars, truckloads of toys, the event was glamorous and well attended, Santa too and a special visit from our US Marine’s. I am also a young professionals member for The Women’s Home organization. I am on the host committee for their August fashion event “Renew and Redux” as well as helping with their event “Downtown Abbey” in November.”

Ram King – RE/MAX Fine Properties
“One of the biggest factors in shaping me into the agent I am today comes primarily from my time in the U.S. Army. Some of the major core values the military drills into you from day one is integrity, loyalty, selfless service, duty, honor, and personal courage. Every day I wake up, I do my best to live up to these values and practice it with all of my clients as well as my agents.  In this business, I believe it is paramount to live by these standards as you are not supposed to be in this for yourself but instead for your clients. We are the trusted advisors and are the ones they look towards for guidance, honesty, and the ability to get them through their transaction with the best possible outcome.

“My team and I are becoming more and more active with our community. We sponsor several school events in the Fort Bend area like the Long Horn Fun run and Dulles High School sport organization. I have also been able to volunteer at the Houston Food Bank.

“I’m very involved in community organizations such as:
PBP – Professional Business Partnership, Vice President
EXATEC – Alumni Association for Tecnologico de Monterrey, Board Member
NSHMBA – National Society of Hispanic MBAs – former Board Member, current member
SHPE – Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Lifetime Member
We also support a local charity with fundraising events: This charity helps Medically Dependent Children to fulfill their daily needs.”

Ryan Bokros – Legacy Texas Properties
“With the average age of a professional in our business being in the mid-to-late 50s, for a young 30-something to gain traction, it has been a challenge. As a trainer/ manager, I have had to work harder because of my age to gain the respect and the ears of those that have been doing business a certain way for a long time. I am thankful to my grandmother who always encouraged me that wisdom and knowledge was not something that came with age, but life experience and one’s ability to engross themselves in the things that are important to them, and to always work to be the best.

“As part of the NRG Group, I have participated in many of the rehab projects we have taken on in conjunction with Rebuild Together Houston. I sit as the Chairman of the Board for a faith-based food bank in Montgomery County. We help churches build and stock food pantries, and help them remain sustainable through donations and drives in their local areas.”

Salvador Burgueno – Champions Real Estate Group
“Everything is challenging in this business. From learning new rules and regulations to keeping up with technology to trying to find, hire and retain quality assistants or team members. But, these ever changing conditions are what keeps this business interesting and keeps me coming back for more each day. There is never a dull moment in this business, each transaction is different and each client is different. I learn when everything goes right but, I learn even more when things go wrong. I’m constantly improving my practice to make sure we learn from every mistake and continue to improve the services we offer our clients.

“I’m very involved in community organizations such as:
PBP – Professional Business Partnership, Vice President
EXATEC – Alumni Association for Tecnologico de Monterrey, Board Member
NSHMBA – National Society of Hispanic MBAs – former Board Member, current member
SHPE – Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Lifetime Member
We also support a local charity with fundraising events: This charity helps Medically Dependent Children to fulfill their daily needs.”

Stephanie Finch – Finch Properties
“My business is always evolving. In the beginning of my career, it was chase every lead that came my way. As I grew as an agent, it became quality over quantity and today I focus on targeting a very specific niche of homeowners in my own neighborhood and geographic area. As a broker/owner, one of my newest business strategies is seeking a select group of agents by offering an attractive commission structure and unique marketing to generate and then give out leads.

“I’m a Texas girl, born and raised and I have always had a love for the Rodeo. I am a member of the Calf Scramble Committee for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. I also serve as PEO Sister – Philanthropic Educational Organization is a nationwide sorority that supports the education of women all over the U.S. with scholarships, grants, awards and loans; WOW Member – Women of Wardrobe is the fundraising arm for Dress for Success Houston. We put on the fundraisers and Dress for Success supports any woman actively seeking a job.”

Susan Brock – Brock and Foster
“I have a titanium rod that holds my left leg together! I like to call it my bionic leg. This major injury from my past has showed me so much about persevering through struggles. After a freak accident which lasted only 30 seconds, I found myself riding in my first ambulance towards an emergency hours-long surgery and two-week hospital stay. I went back to college that following week, but in a wheelchair. For over a year, I rehabilitated from a wheelchair to a walker to crutches to a cane. I spent hours in physical therapy and in the gym. A friend suggested that we train together in order to complete a marathon. The idea sounded ridiculous to me, but I took her up on the challenge. It took me several years to actually complete a marathon, but I did so with tears and smiles in 2004 at the Houston Marathon. Having such a life-altering injury has changed the way that I approach almost everything in my life and has given me a strong memory to rely on when times get tough to help remind me that when things get tough, we have to keep moving forward.”

“Though I volunteer in other capacities with HISD, I am most proud of my position as a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run of Greater Houston. Each year I mentor 15 elementary-aged girls at a local public school in a program that I know has the power to change lives for good.”

A luncheon honoring the winners was held on September 22 at Bayou City Center.

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