July 19, 2016 By Christian Murray
A new chapter in the rags-to-riches story of a Long Island City real estate agent is about to be written.
Jermain Miller, who established his own real estate firm MiLL RE last year, is opening his second office next month. The office will be located at 21-52 44th Drive, which was the former location of Beaudoin Realty.
The opening is just a continuation of Miller’s story about how he was able to turn his life around.
Miller was homeless a little over a decade ago after making a series of bad decisions. In his early 20s, he went through a difficult divorce, lacked a job and elected not to complete his degree at Delaware State University.
He found himself sleeping in cars, vans and even riding subways. His family was not wealthy. He was a raised by his mother who lived paycheck-to-paycheck and they were often evicted from their home.
Today Miller is selling $3 million condos and finding tenants for expensive, high-rise apartments. He has eight agents currently working out of his office at the Studio Square building, located at 35-33 36th Street.
Miller, who lives on Purves Street with his wife and three boys, said he is excited to have a Court Square office located next to LIC Market and Il Falco.
“Court square is where all the action is taking place right now, except some sprinkles by the water and Vernon,” Miller said. “Court Square and Queens Plaza is where all the big development is taking place.”
“The opening of the office is a big step but it was always part of the plan,” he said. “We wanted to be closer to the heart of Long Island City and I heard about the space when I was talking to people at the LIC Summit [last month].”
Some of the attendees at the LIC Summit knew that Beaudoin Realty had plans to move out of its Court Square location and it got back to Miller when he was at the event.
Miller entered the real estate business in 2005 when he was still homeless.
“At the time, I was loafing through life aimlessly,” he said.
A friend recommended selling houses in Jamaica but he decided he wanted to try to stitch together the bigger deals.
He borrowed money from a friend to enroll in a real estate course and was able to find employment at Nest Seekers in Manhattan. At the time he was showering at a nearby gym—after obtaining guest passes.
His first deal came within two weeks of working at Nest Seekers when he earned a $2,200 commission for renting an apartment.
He later went to Douglas Elliman to work at one of its Manhattan offices.
Douglas Elliman had not yet opened its Long Island City office at that time but Miller was starting to do business in the area.
He joined Modern Spaces when he decided that he wanted to focus on the Long Island City. He said that he was with the firm 2 ½ years and said the firm is good to its agents and is close to the community.
Miller, however, rejoined Douglas Elliman shortly after it opened on Vernon Blvd.
It was at Douglas Elliman that Miller came up with the idea to establish his own firm.
Miller broke into the real estate business the hard way.
He would get on the phone and cold call apartment owners on Craigslist. He would let them know that he could find them qualified tenants. He said that he would rent an apartment and then the owner would come back to him to rent out other units.
He said that this has snowballed over the years and the condo listing followed.
These contacts have helped him get the business going.
Currently Miller is focusing on building the company’s brand, training agents and creating a good work environment.
It’s a far cry from 10 years ago, when Miller would do odd jobs for a church and then sleep in a van for the night. “That was a real low point in life,” he said. “Now life is filled with a lot of opportunity.”