Samantha Nioche (E04) is not afraid of change. After moving from banking to the food industry, she started out in real estate in Florida - and encourages fellow alumni to follow in her footsteps.
ESSEC Alumni: Tell us about your career path before arriving in Florida…
Samantha Nioche: I did my internship in FID Sales in the trading room at Morgan Stanley, and ended up staying there. I was literally galvanized by the atmosphere and energy of an environment where you have to deal with large streams of data in real time. The team was close-knit and professional, and the working hours were intense but reasonable. The job required a high level of responsiveness, an analytical mind and people skills when it came to advising institutional customers. Over time, I developed a pretty complete profile and had lots of responsibility.
Then came the crisis of 2008, which badly affected the sector. For me, it was something of a trigger. I’d been interested in the food industry for a while. I’d had the opportunity to meet Joël Robuchon, and had always had a special relationship with food - probably because as a child I did my homework next to my mother while she cooked delicious food for the family. So I decided to take the plunge. I stayed in sales but moved to the food sector, and in a few months became sales director for the group Byzantium Bellota-Bellota. The challenge was daunting but I was really interested in the brand, not only because it sold unique products but because it was at a turning point, with an injection of capital from an investment fund that would give it the means to develop internationally.
The adventure lasted until 2017, when I left for Florida for personal reasons. Once there, I discovered that real estate plays a major role in the local economy and was immediately attracted by this dynamic. I started working as sales associate at Keller Williams Real Estate. I like the job because of its diversity; we specialize in residential and commercial transactions for both private and institutional clients. And every day is different.
EA: This is your second career shift. How do you manage such radical changes?
S. Nioche: Actually, it’s only the fundaments that change. I sell real estate just as I sold food products, bonds or structured products. My clients have different profiles but they are all professionals who want to buy the best assets in the best conditions, and my role is to serve them as best as I can within a specific timeframe.
Also, career changes in the United States are much easier. The American Dream is a reality: if you show you’re willing to work, they’ll give you a chance. I had several job offers when I announced I was moving to the States. I was asked to do investment fundraising, to set up and run the American branch of an events and communication agency, and to develop Byzantium Bellota-Bellota on the other side of the Atlantic.
EA: You chose real estate. How did you get started?
S. Nioche: My husband and I made sure we consolidated our position before settling here: we invested in commercial properties with NNN Leases to ensure a minimum income, and we bought an apartment. Our real estate agent Brigitte Lina, who was extremely professional, helped ease our transition across the Atlantic - and inspired me to follow in her footsteps. I then got my real estate license so that I could work with and learn from her at Keller Williams, the leading real estate company in the United States.
EA: What characterizes the US real estate market, compared to the French market?
S. Nioche: The US real estate market has a much more flexible structure than the French market. All the properties on the market are listed in a national database that anyone can access via dedicated sites. A buyer therefore doesn’t need to go from agency to agency to find the property or investment opportunity of their dreams. As a result, transactions are easier, more numerous and quicker - they close in 30 to 45 days on average, without the buyer and/or the seller even required to be there thanks to an extremely secure process.
EA: What are the opportunities in the US real estate market for foreigners who want to settle there, or invest locally?
S. Nioche: The subprime crisis seems a long way off now... The US real estate market is booming, driven by expansion projects in every sector (ports, airports, shopping centers, museums, banks, restaurants etc.) and investment funds that help develop entire cities, creating a lot of jobs. Not to mention increasing immigration, which pushes up demand.
Buying in Florida in particular has its advantages: very low taxation, rates of return that range from 5% to 15% according to the investment, and with depreciation at less than 15 years. The weakness of the dollar also benefits European investors.
I strongly encourage French people to go for it. My advice would be to have a turnkey project and/or invest in an existing business, to opt for an investment with 5% minimum profitability to guarantee income during the settling-in period... and to get in touch if you want to benefit from my experience and expertise!
Fancy investing in real estate in Florida? Contact Samantha Nioche directly (firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 786 310 8781).