REALTOR® Spotlight: The Atlanta Real Estate Tycoon Who Persevered Through Hurricane Katrina, Jason Lapene

The catastrophic destruction of Hurricane Katrina
On August 29th, 2005, the United States experienced the most deadly and costliest natural disaster in history, Hurricane Katrina. This disaster caused over 1000 deaths and left over 800,000 people homeless, causing over $81 billion in damage that resulted in $160 billion in repairs. This is the inspiring story of Jason Lapene, a man who persisted through dire obstacles with nothing but hard work, determination, and the will to survive. 

“I can remember seeing my entire city under water and confused if any of my friends were stuck in their homes. It was so hot, and I was hungry and without water, I started to hallucinate and see Tornados coming. Unfortunately, watching dogs pull dead bodies out of the water was not an illusion, a haunting image which stays with me.” –Jason Lapene

The catastrophic destruction of Hurricane Katrina hopelessly left Jason and thousands of people with nothing. By luck, or perhaps fate, a CNN crew filming the aftermath of the hurricane was heading to Atlanta, Georgia. He convinced the crew to bring him along for the ride and a new journey began for Jason. He managed to escape the calamity of Katrina and was now in a crisis. The cold truth set in on Jason; he was homeless, jobless, and without friends or family. With no contacts or stability, everyone he knew was either in New Orleans or Tennessee. FEMA helped Jason survive by providing him temporary housing at the Hampton Inn in Buckhead and food. Distraughtly looking at himself in the mirror in his hotel room, Jason was faced with a life-altering decision. Win or lose, do or die, Jason decided to overcome these massive obstacles.  

Before losing everything, Jason had it all; friends, family, and a profitable career. He was a successful realtor in New Orleans with a steadily increasing clientele. Jason was admired in his community and was favored for his luxury homes and condos. Through years of hard work and study, Jason decided to use his skillset and knowledge to study the Atlanta real estate market. Having no money or clean clothes, he went to a local Salvation Army to get an outfit to look presentable for interviews. 

Possessing an admirable and remarkable level mental toughness, Jason appeared stoic even though he had no money, was homeless, and was experiencing a great deal of emotional stress. Many of the large brokers in Atlanta rejected him, telling him he should give up and pursue another career, as he was starting from the beginning in Georgia. The rejections sparked a burning desire inside Jason that would fuel him for success. Despite his devastating situation, Jason refused to remain a victim of circumstance and decided he would do whatever it takes to succeed.

Jason began to focus intensely on obtaining his broker’s license. He used his background in computer science and built his Atlanta Real Estate website to market himself online and attract clients. Jason worked tenaciously, cold calling and networking countless hours a day. He put everything he had into the Atlanta real estate market. In time, he began to start seeing results, as others started to recommend his business to friends and family. A year later, the very same corporate brokers who told him that he should give up were now eager to do business with him.  

RE Pro Spotlight: Jason Lapene
Today, Jason is a multi-million dollar real estate producer in the Atlanta real estate market and highly respected in the industry. Jason received his degree in business from the prestigious Georgia State University. Jason studied real estate at one of the top 25 business schools in the nation, the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Real Estate Law, Real Estate Development, Real Estate Valuation and Real Estate principles are a few of the courses Jason studied at Georgia State University. He specializes in the most beautiful homes, lofts and condos in the Atlanta area. His website gets thousands of visitors a month and he receives positive referrals on a consistent basis. Jason makes it very apparent that he strongly values both his professional and personal relationships, as he is known for treating his clients with respect and gratitude. 

This experience has had a major effect on Jason’s life and character. He has made it a personal mission to give back to the community by fighting homelessness and poverty. Jason is enormously grateful to the city of Atlanta, for the hospitality and support he received during his desperate time of need. Katrina left the lives of numerous people shattered. Jason truly did show that you can preserve through adversity and become successful. It was Winston Churchill who said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Jason’s story will continue to inspire others to work hard, persist and achieve.
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