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Episode 362 – Rick Gonzalez, The Gonzalez Group, powered by REAL Broker LLC
Episode 36229th August 2023 • The Real Estate Sessions • Bill Risser
00:00:00 00:32:37

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Rick Gonzalez is a seasoned real estate agent based in Florida's panhandle, with a unique focus on serving military members and their families. Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, Rick's father's service in the Air Force during the Vietnam War instilled in him a deep respect for the sacrifices made by military families. This, coupled with his own experience serving in the Navy, has given him a unique perspective on the challenges faced by military families, particularly when it comes to real estate. Rick leverages his military background and customer service experience to provide unparalleled support to military families, helping them navigate the complexities of real estate while their loved ones are deployed. His dedication to serving VA buyers and sellers and his commitment to building long-term relationships with his clients underscore his passion for his work. Join Bill Risser and Rick Gonzalez on this episode of The Real Estate Sessions podcast to learn more about Rick's unique approach to real estate.


00:00:00 - Supporting Deployed Military Members

Supporting Deployed Military Members is a topic that Rick Gonzalez, a real estate agent, is passionate about. With a background in the military himself, Rick understands the unique challenges faced by military families when they are deployed. He aims to be a buffer for military members, ensuring that their families have support and assistance with any housing-related matters. Rick's focus is on VA buyers and sellers, as well as families who are PCSing (Permanent Change of Station) in and out of the area. He strives to make sure that military members can focus on their duties without worrying about their families' well-being. By providing guidance and being a go-to resource for the families, Rick helps alleviate stress and allows military members to concentrate on their mission. Overall, Rick's dedication to supporting deployed military members and his commitment to helping people make him a trusted and valued agent in the real estate industry.

00:02:31 - Moving from England to Florida

Moving from England to Florida at the age of 15, Rick Gonzalez shares his unique experience of adapting to a new country and leaving behind his British accent. Born in Holland to an Air Force father and a British mother, Rick spent his childhood in England before his father's retirement brought them to Florida. Initially, Rick's British accent caused quite a stir among his classmates at Choctaw High School, with many mistaking him for being from Australia. Determined to fit in, Rick quickly shed his accent, surprising everyone with how swiftly he lost it. Despite the challenges, Rick fondly remembers his time in England, living with British families and attending British school. His journey from England to Florida ultimately led him to a career in real estate, a path he never anticipated while growing up.

00:08:44 - Disqualification from the Marine Corps

Disqualification from the Marine Corps can sometimes lead individuals to unexpected paths, as seen in the case of Rick Gonzalez. Despite his initial desire to join the Marines, Rick's dreams were shattered when he was disqualified due to his asthma. This setback prompted him to explore other options, ultimately leading him to join the Navy instead. Rick's journey took an interesting turn when, dejectedly leaving the Marine Corps recruiter's office, he was approached by a Navy recruiter who offered him an alternative. Rick seized the opportunity and embarked on his military career in the Navy, undergoing basic training in Orlando. This unexpected twist in Rick's story highlights the resilience and adaptability that can arise from unforeseen circumstances, ultimately shaping the course of one's life.

00:14:46 - Real Estate Career

Looking for a fresh start after the BP oil spill, Rick Gonzalez found himself considering a career in real estate. With the money he received from the spill, he decided to give it a shot as a last-ditch effort. Rick had previously worked in various industries, including door-to-door sales and the restaurant business, which equipped him with valuable soft skills for dealing with people and conflict. Despite starting from scratch, Rick's charismatic personality and determination helped him navigate the real estate industry successfully. Today, he is known for his expertise and ability to connect with clients, making him a trusted agent in the field.

00:19:54 - Handling Hurricanes

Handling Hurricanes: Real estate agent Rick Gonzalez shares his approach to handling conversations about hurricanes in Florida. With a focus on helping people rather than sales, Rick aims to be a reliable resource for his clients during hurricane season. He provides information on hurricane preparation and has even written a blog on the topic. Despite living in an area prone to hurricanes, Rick mentions that these conversations surprisingly don't come up frequently. He attributes this to the fact that many of his clients, who are military personnel, are already well-trained in emergency preparedness. Overall, Rick's goal is to ensure that his clients feel supported and can focus on their safety during hurricane events.

00:28:43 - Real Random Podcast

Real Random is an exciting new podcast venture by Rick Gonzalez, inspired by the format of the popular Smart List podcast. With three hosts and mystery guests, Real Random aims to delve into the personal stories and experiences of individuals in the real estate industry. The podcast will provide a unique perspective, going beyond the tactics of real estate and exploring the person behind the profession. Rick has carefully selected fellow agents from different parts of the country to ensure a diverse range of guests and demographics. Real Random is set to launch with at least ten episodes, offering listeners an hour-long deep dive into the fascinating lives of real estate professionals.


00:00:00 - Rick Gonzalez

But so that's what I try to do. I try to make sure that they understand that, hey, I've PCs. I know what this is like. I had a family like this is this is not uncommon to me. And let them know that, look, I'm going to be your family's goto for whatever they need so you can focus on what you got to do to get home safe. And you don't have to have those phone calls about the frantic family member back here. They're saying, hey, how do we pay the mortgage or owe the insurance? And trying to know that role as well.

00:00:34 - Bill Risser

You're listening to the Real Estate Sessions podcast. And I'm your host, Bill Risser, executive Vice President, Strategic Partnerships with Rate My Agent, a digital marketing platform designed to help great agents harness the power of verified reviews. For more information, head on over to Listen in as I interview industry leaders and get their stories and journeys to the world of real estate. Hi, everybody. Welcome to episode 361 of the Real Estate Sessions podcast. As always, thank you so much for tuning in. Thank you so much for telling a friend today. Rather than a remote recording over the Internet, I'm actually sitting down with my guest in the halls prior to day two of the Tom Ferry Summit in Dallas. On this episode, I'm thrilled to be talking to Rick Gonzalez of the Gonzalez Group, powered by Real Brokerage, LLC. Rick is up in the panhandle of Florida. We're going to talk about that. We're going to talk about his military service and as an agent, how he continues to serve those in the military with their real estate needs. We're going to have a great time. So sit back, relax, enjoy, and let's get this thing started. Rick, welcome to the podcast.

00:01:38 - Rick Gonzalez

Hey, thanks for having me, Bill.

00:01:39 - Bill Risser

So I owe you apology. We met via inman but also via the industry syndicate and podcasting and all that stuff. And to have you on as a guest this late is flat and embarrassing.

00:01:53 - Rick Gonzalez

Just having the best for last. What's what I keep telling myself, thanks.

00:01:57 - Bill Risser

For bailing me out. Thanks for bailing me out. Look, you've listened to the podcast before. I have a very routine setup, but I love to start at the beginning and with you. I know you've been in Florida a long time. I see that you go back to early 2000s. You were in Florida working, doing some things, and I know you served in the Navy. Thank you for that.

00:02:16 - Rick Gonzalez


00:02:17 - Bill Risser

But let's talk about the beginning. Were you born and raised in Florida? Are you a native?

00:02:22 - Rick Gonzalez

No, I graduated high school in Florida, but I didn't get to Florida until 89, so I was 15.

00:02:31 - Bill Risser


00:02:31 - Rick Gonzalez

And I actually grew up well, we'll go back further. I was born in Holland.

00:02:36 - Bill Risser

Oh, okay.

00:02:37 - Rick Gonzalez

So my dad was Air Force, so stationed in Europe a lot. So he had met my mom in England. Then he had gotten transferred, and so I was born in Holland, and we immediately went back to England after I was born. So I was raised in England until I was 15, so I had a really cool British accent when I moved here.

00:02:56 - Bill Risser

Wow. So your dad serves there's an Air Force base that he worked at, was he no, no.

00:03:02 - Rick Gonzalez

There was multiple Air Force bases where we lived. It was Bentwaters Air Force Base in Woodbridge. Which Woodbridge for the UFO nuts out there. There's lots of UFO activity in the Woodbridge area.

00:03:12 - Bill Risser


00:03:13 - Rick Gonzalez

But yeah, Rendelsham forest for the UFO people out there. Look up that one. Rendelsham Forest. So I grew up off base because my mom was British, and so I went to British school, did the whole Harry Potter, the blazer and the tie, the know, the houses in schools, did all that. I was a prefect at one point, and then my parents split, and my dad moved back here to retire, and I stayed in England for a while with my mom until yeah, 88, my dad came back and said, hey, come to Florida.

00:03:54 - Bill Risser

I can't believe I don't know that about you. One, there's not a lick of an accent.

00:03:58 - Rick Gonzalez

And that's why gone. That's why right. There's no accent, so people don't know.

00:04:02 - Bill Risser

To ask, is your mom over still in English? She here in the States now.

00:04:06 - Rick Gonzalez

Everyone's passed. Mom passed a number of years ago.

00:04:10 - Bill Risser


00:04:12 - Rick Gonzalez

But yeah, you can imagine coming to northwest Florida, the south, with a British accent. My first days of school for the locals, if anyone locals listening, choctaw High School. Go big green. For the first days of school, there's that terrifying moment when the teacher's like, mr. Gonzalez, can you read the next paragraph? And you're sitting in the back, and as soon as you start talking, everybody in the entire classroom turns around and stares at you like, Where did that come from?

00:04:43 - Bill Risser


00:04:44 - Rick Gonzalez

And then I became the new kid from Australia.

00:04:46 - Bill Risser

Oh, okay. For some reason, it was going to be Aussie, not not English.

00:04:50 - Rick Gonzalez

Nobody knew the accent. They assumed I was from Australia.

00:04:53 - Bill Risser

That's awesome.

00:04:55 - Rick Gonzalez

So some of the girls loved it, the boyfriends, not so much. There was a few scuffles, and that definitely gave me some motivation to start to lose the accent as quickly as possible. So through some effort, my guess is.

00:05:09 - Bill Risser

You could whip it out whenever you want.

00:05:11 - Rick Gonzalez

No, you'd be surprised.

00:05:12 - Bill Risser

Really lost it.

00:05:13 - Rick Gonzalez

Yeah, you'd be surprised how quickly I lost it and it stayed gone.

00:05:17 - Bill Risser


00:05:17 - Rick Gonzalez


00:05:17 - Bill Risser

What part of England did you live in?

00:05:19 - Rick Gonzalez

The Southeast. So it's Suffolk. Yeah.

00:05:22 - Bill Risser

There's, down towards the channel.

00:05:24 - Rick Gonzalez

Felixdale Port is near us. It was a place called oh, actually, it's right outside of Ipswich. Martlesham Heath. It's a big plan community.

00:05:32 - Bill Risser


00:05:33 - Rick Gonzalez

Yeah, it was really neat. I enjoyed it, living with all the British families and going to school.

00:05:39 - Bill Risser

Yeah. They sort of adopted you, right? It was kind of like yeah, well.

00:05:43 - Rick Gonzalez

Because my likes and my mom was British. She was an Er nurse. Yeah. I didn't really have an American accent, so the only thing that kind of tipped them off that I was not one of theirs was the flamboyant American clothing of the big multicolored bubble jackets.

00:06:03 - Bill Risser

You were paying attention to what was happening over in the US.

00:06:06 - Rick Gonzalez

Yeah, well, because we would shop on base. We were one of only two kids in my school that had access to the commissary.

00:06:13 - Bill Risser

I love that. That's cool. So you get over to Florida, you do high school, and you end up going into the Navy. So talk about that process. I mean, what led you there?

00:06:24 - Rick Gonzalez

What was that like? Yes. The Dutch thing and the British thing come into play here. So on my 16th birthday, I got a letter from the Dutch consulate that I was going to be drafted into the Dutch Navy. Which caught everybody off guard.

00:06:41 - Bill Risser


00:06:42 - Rick Gonzalez

Didn't realize that just because I was born there, they could do that.

00:06:46 - Bill Risser

Like automatic dual citizenship for you. Is that okay?

00:06:49 - Rick Gonzalez

So at some point I really had three. I was Dutch, British and American. And so quickly we had to have a conversation like, well, what are we going to do? Well, we obviously we have to denounce the Dutch citizenship because I'm not going to be exported back to Holland.

00:07:05 - Bill Risser

Nothing wrong with the Dutch.

00:07:06 - Rick Gonzalez

No. For any of our Dutch listeners. We love you guys. But the plan, I think for me in my head with my dad being know, he was always this larger than life hero looking guy, right. He was always in uniform. He was my hero. So I always wanted to go into the military. Our neighbor in Florida was an Air Force pilot, so I was groomed for the Air Force. And then, I don't know if you remember, there was this little movie back in the mid 80s, top Gun.

00:07:36 - Bill Risser

Oh, you know, I lived in San Diego at the time.

00:07:39 - Rick Gonzalez

Yeah. Okay, so you're familiar. Very familiar. And so I had seen that in the movie theater as a kid, and I was like, wow, those Navy pilots are pretty badass.

00:07:48 - Bill Risser

Yeah, their motorcycles are awesome.

00:07:50 - Rick Gonzalez

Yeah, right. They get all the and so it was kind of perfect. Well, in high school we had so, you know, it was Air Force ROTC, so I was already getting used to wearing the Air Force uniform. And then in walks the Marine recruiter, Staff Sergeant Williams. Never forget this guy. And he asked everyone what they want to do. I said, I want to be a pilot and join the Air Force. He says, well, you know, Marines are pilots, too. And I said no. I didn't know. And he know, we go through Navy flight, says, you know, they're the best of the best of the best. So I was hooked so I started to the process to join the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps poole in high school, we would go and train with the staff sergeant on weekends and everything. And then when I went to the recruiter's office, he was a little too thorough with his background check and found out I had asthma, and they disqualified me from the Marine Corps.

00:08:44 - Bill Risser


00:08:45 - Rick Gonzalez

So in Navy fashion, as I was leaving, very dejected from the recruiter's office, I hear, hey, because all these recruiters offices are all right side by side. So I'm walking out, hey, you still want to go in the military? I was like, yeah. He's like, Come here. And so two weeks later, I was off to the Navy.

00:09:04 - Bill Risser

Wow. Where did you do your training, your basic training?

00:09:08 - Rick Gonzalez


00:09:08 - Bill Risser


00:09:09 - Rick Gonzalez


00:09:09 - Bill Risser

Orlando right there.

00:09:11 - Rick Gonzalez

Yeah. We were one of the last classes through there in 94.

00:09:14 - Bill Risser

Is that gone now? Yeah. A lot of closures for a lot of bases.

00:09:17 - Rick Gonzalez

Yeah. The only one they have now is up in Great Lakes or Great Mistakes, as we call it.

00:09:21 - Bill Risser

And also San Diego still has one.

00:09:24 - Rick Gonzalez

Not a boot camp. Yeah, they used to have three, so it was always like a roll in the dice to see which one you'd go to. And they tried to send me to Great Lakes, and I was like, hey, look, I'm a Florida guy, and it's February. I'm not going to yeah. And so I went to Orlando.

00:09:40 - Bill Risser

I wanted to ask you a real quick sports question. You know, I ask a ton of sports. Nothing I hear nothing in your past about know Yankees yet. How the hell do you become a Yankee fan growing up in England and.

00:09:56 - Rick Gonzalez

Living in well, like everything else in my life is my dad. My dad's side of the family is from Puerto Rico via New York, so he moved from Puerto Rico to New York when he was very little.

00:10:09 - Bill Risser


00:10:10 - Rick Gonzalez

And my whole family lived up there before until he joined the Air Force and went to Vietnam. He was huge Yankees fan. Big New York. Sometimes people say they hear it in my accent just a little bit, just from being around him. So it's I would say the same thing.

00:10:29 - Bill Risser

I would think he might be from the Northeast. When you get going, when we're having a conversation, you kind of get rolling. Yeah, that's pretty cool. Somehow I always have to get my guests. We have to leave this. I could stay here for another hour. There's lots of questions. Like Gonzalez in England. That's different. There's probably not a lot of Gonzalez's in Great Britain. Okay. Yeah.

00:10:48 - Rick Gonzalez

It was weird growing up over there because in my whole school, there was me and there was one black kid, and that was so but that's all I knew until I got over here. And then there's shorts and flip flops and girls, and it's a different life over here, Bill.

00:11:05 - Bill Risser

Yeah. You're okay with it?

00:11:07 - Rick Gonzalez

Yeah, I've adapted.

00:11:09 - Bill Risser

Especially the Emerald Coast.

00:11:10 - Rick Gonzalez

I've managed.

00:11:12 - Bill Risser

All right, so let's we got to get you in real estate.

00:11:15 - Rick Gonzalez

What pops up?

00:11:16 - Bill Risser

What happens there that, you know, this is going to be the way for me.

00:11:20 - Rick Gonzalez

So it's another long story. I never thought