Real estate company has been helping clients turn keys since 2006

Published 12:36 am Saturday, April 8, 2023

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PORT NECHES — Jon Carona has a common saying for clients.

“Give us the keys and we’ll give you the check. You don’t have to worry; we will take care of you.”

The man who co-owns Advantage Real Estate with his wife Rachel knows the benefits that come from hiring professionals when buying or building a home.

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“There are so many loopholes and things that you can get yourself caught up in by not being in the business like we are,” he said. “We study it. We learn it. We live it. We know the business. We know where the scam artists are — the people trying to take advantage of somebody.”

And it’s something he knows well, becoming a licensed realtor in 1986.

The beginning

“Times got tough, especially for a young agent,” Carona recalled of his early days in real estate. “So I went back to the drawing board and went into police work for almost 28 years.”

In 2003, while working for the Port Arthur Police Department, realtor Benny Epperson called Carona and asked for help selling some property.

Together the two opened a business at 8787 9th Avenue that would ultimately become Advantage Real Estate in 2006.

“We collected a couple of agents here and there,” he said. “And once I retired from police work in 2017, that’s when we really hit the ground running and started growing the business.”

While Epperson is no longer an owner, he still works with Advantage as a broker associate.

Now, advantage employs approximately 35 agents.

“We try to put a platform out there to help them be successful, and we feel like we do that,” Carona said. “We’ve been doing a lot of billboards, and we haven’t charged our agents for those billboards. We just feel like if they’re out there working hard, making us look good, making the company look good, then we return the favor with a little bit of advertising.”

The company works with some rentals, a large deal of commercial, home sales and home builds.

In addition, they have an office in Bridge City.

The pandemic

In 2020, Advantage was underway with two large projects — the construction of their current building on Port Neches Avenue, and preemptive work on a potential subdivision near the Neches River.

And then came COVID-19.

“The real estate business has been really good, and it’s still good,” Carona said. “Today I’d say it’s normal. When it hit that (COVID) uptick, that was a little abnormal. You had to be more aware of everything — people, space and not being sick. Sometimes you had to wear a mask in a house or take your shoes off.”

Pictured is a home under construction in Indian Pointe Estates. (Monique Batson/The News)

Indian Pointe Estates

In 2020, Carona was having lunch at Neches River Wheelhouse with Dinh Ngyen of 2DS Development when the two took a ride down the road to 31 acres of land between Block Street and Lee Avenue.

Carona heard the land could soon be up for sale.

“He immediately went to work on what kind of plan he would present to the city to develop that,” Carona said. “He and his partner put a plan together that was really good. Of course, at the time in 2020, all of this stuff was well on its way — us building this building, them developing that — and then COVID hit, so we all got a little nervous. But it (turned out) really nice.”

The plat for the land was approved by the City Council in June 2020.

Now called Indian Pointe Estates, the land has 101 lots for new homes, some of which have already been built.

“It’s really started to pick up in the last couple of months,” Carona said. “You can ride out there and see there are some houses being framed and built. It’s coming along.”

Advantage Real Estate is the listing company for Indian Pointe Estates, which has 101 lots. (Monique Batson/The News)