As a first-generation Cuban American, Donna Nazir doesn’t take her opportunities for granted. “My family escaped communist Cuba when I was a little girl with nothing but the shirts on our backs,” she says. “The communist regime forced my mother to take off her wedding ring and leave it behind because, according to them, everything we had belonged to them.
We arrived with the clothes we were wearing.” They set sail with no provisions, food or medications in storm-like conditions. “It was a mass exodus and humanitarian crisis. The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted our vessel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and saved us. We were escorted to Key West and eventually sent to a camp at Arkansas’s Fort Chaffee—famous for where Elvis got his haircut for the Army—where we were retained for six months.”
Her humble beginnings taught her the value of hard work. “Dad gave us the gift of freedom, and we were one of the lucky families who got to call this country home. The day I became a U.S. citizen, I cried. As a Realtor, knowing I am helping families live the American Dream, excites me.”
Here’s Her Strategy
Nurture a Niche
Nazir is the founder of her firm’s Legal Sales Division. In her daily practice, she works with attorneys and individuals going through divorce or probate. “These are highly complex sales that require expert testimony in court and many hours of additional training, experience, and expertise. People ask, ‘Why family law?’ but I enjoy helping people close a painful chapter with dignity and prepare for their next book. It’s helped me grow volumes as a human, a real estate professional, and a mom. Many of them reach out years after the transaction is closed to thank me once they are in a better place. It’s a great feeling to know you played a small role in their success.”
Be Compassionate in Service
Treating everyone with dignity and respect regardless of their circumstances is paramount to Nazir, whose own family wasn’t as fortunate. One day after school, her mother, giddy with excitement, said: “Clean up, we have a visitor coming, we are going to try to buy a house!” “She had clipped a Realtor’s newspaper ad that said, ‘If you want to buy a house, I can help you.’ Dad was a day laborer, my siblings and I did restaurant work, and Mom gathered everyone’s paystubs. She’s a quiet, demure woman but she got brave and called this guy, who did a preliminary phone interview. He could obviously tell we were poor. My mom cleaned the house, and everyone got home early for the meeting, but the man never showed up—no call, no show. I’ll never forget thinking ‘Wow, we are going to be homeowners!’ and then witnessing my mom’s heartbreak. That taught me what it’s like for families on the other side of the paperwork. Whether I’m selling a starter home or a mansion I give clients the same level of service.”
Give Back Responsibly
In honor of an infant niece who passed away, Nazir and her sister started a nonprofit in 2012 called Rena’s Dresses that provides a free prom boutique experience for girls and tuxedos for boys—as well as scholarship opportunities. The organization has grown to 50 school districts. “It makes my heart happy to see my fellow [real estate professionals] and the community come together to build this.”
Nazir says closed transactions are not something she takes lightly. “The sales are more than numbers; they represent individuals who have, hopefully, breathed a little easier because I cared.”
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