Updated: Apr 27, 2018
Many of you that know us know that real estate has always been a part of lives, but not many understand our path in Real Estate, what we do today, and why Roberto is always on a plane. For this first post, I'd like to share our love affair with real estate, how it all got started, and our exciting future with TruInvest Real Estate.
My first experience in real estate dates back to the early 90s when my dad got his license and picked it up as a side hustle. I equated real estate with Thomas Guide map books, large binders filled with the data that you now find with a click of a button on RedFin or Zillow, and driving around looking at homes filled with 70s and 80s inspired décor (yes, lots of shag carpets including one that went up the walls!). I still had little knowledge of what the real estate business entailed considering the fact that I was still in elementary school. Although, our daughters, Marissa and Analiese could tell you that they didn't like the layout of a house, that the house would needed to be painted, and that the bathrooms needed to be redone at the ages of 7 and 5.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school when I got a job as a Marketing Coordinator at the new brokerage that my parents had joined. I quickly impressed my Broker with my Microsoft Publisher skills (do you guys remember that program?) and he soon realized that the monthly, printed newsletter that generally took him a week or so to complete, I did in 1 day. Needles to say, I needed more work. I soon started assisting in both loan and real estate transactions and was promoted to an Assistant Loan and Real Estate Assistant before I knew it. I quickly moved on to processing and packaging loan files. Finally, I was running the files on my own with the Loan Agent and Realtor supervising. My broker pushed me to get my license though I was still under 18 years old.
In 2004, I finally got my license and I worked at independent brokerages, large firms, and institutional banks doing everything from Loan Assistant to Loan Officer to Real Estate Agent and more. When the housing bubble burst in 2007, I continued working in real estate but have to say my love for it was waning. I tried to make a move out of real estate and decided to go back to school, but for some reason, I just couldn't shake it.
In 2010, I joined a private equity firm based in Oakland. I randomly found the job on Craigslist and they basically needed a data entry person. I had been off of work for a year and decided to do this to fill the time while I looked for a legal position. The first day on the job, I was given a stack of utility bills and was asked to confirm that the accounts were in our name and that the utilities were on. I was given a long list of homes but very little else. I finished the job in 2 days and, again, needed more to do. Naturally, I asked what else I could help with though I still wasn't even sure what the company did. I quickly learned that I was working for a firm that acquired, renovated, and resold homes. We were flipping properties like hotcakes! I was asked to start writing our real estate contracts on behalf of the firm and started managing home rebuild projects. Before I knew it, I was pushing the operations for a roster of 100+ homes ensuring utilities were on, contractors were timely, bills were being paid, and most importantly that the home was completed by the deadline so I could then turn around and list the homes on the MLS. When all was said and done, I managed the sale of roughly $100M transactions and a team of agents. Enter Roberto.
Every day when I got off of work, Roberto wanted a recap of the day. While he was doing what I originally planned on doing (working at a law office, finishing his law degree) he couldn’t get enough of how we were investing and where! Everyday...Where were we buying homes, how many did we sell, what else were we working on. In his free time, Roberto started sourcing homes to flip and then sending them to me to present to our founder. Several of his properties were purchased and performed exceptionally well, so when we were looking to add an Acquisitions Underwriter, Roberto asked for the role. Obviously, there was some concern about a husband and wife working in the same office so when he was brought on the team our founder, Gregor Watson, told him very clearly that I was the favorite employee and if there were any issues Roberto would be let go first (it didn't really turn out that way!). Roberto agreed and shortly after, he was purchasing homes at the auction and off the MLS in the Bay Area learning the in’s and outs of each process. We spent 2 ½ years buying, renovating, and flipping throughout the entire Bay from San Jose to Oakland to Antioch to Vacaville. The company changed to a rental hold strategy and started renting homes which eventually led to our company branching out to other states. We exited California on a high note with the sale of our 300 home portfolio that I was "promoted" to property manager while Roberto led asset management in the Bay Area. Roberto and I successfully executed the disposition of the entire portfolio though a number of bulk sales and 150 specifically tailored planned MLS sales.
The following 5 years included the acquisition of 4000+ SFR (Single Family Residences) in seven states, creation and internalization of property management, with some bulk portfolio sales, HR issues, and entity formation sprinkled in. As I focused on legal & compliance, risk management, human resources, and managing our insurance program for our entire portfolio and all entities, Roberto designed the operational processes, led the renovations team on 3500 homes, and eventually become the VP of Operations of our brand new Portfolio Management company based in Dallas. As founding employees of our company, we have been apart of a company that grew from 3 employees (including me) to a company with over 75 employees and currently $250M under management. We (individually or together) have handled every aspect of the business.
In March of this year, many of you know that our private equity firm transitioned our operations to Dallas. While Roberto and I were asked to move to Dallas and run Operations (him) and Legal Compliance (me), we just couldn’t leave home...the Bay Area. Roberto is still Head of Operations in Dallas which is why he is racking up frequent flyer miles like nobody's business. It was excellent timing as I was ready to move on and build something on my own. I had actually put in my notice in November as I was dying to build TruInvest after spending 8 years with the same company and watching it's success. Roberto and I have been approached by so many asking when we were going to start our own company or asking for guidance, but we never “had the time” (more like we never made the time). Well, the time is now and we are excited!
TruInvest is your single source for all of your real estate investment needs. We offer premier advisory services for buyers, sellers, developers, and investors. We are committed to informing and connecting our clients with solutions to meet your specific real estate needs. We truly cater to our clients need beyond the individual sale. Through understanding the goals for your investments we are available to answer all real estate specific questions. If we don’t know personally, we have developed the network and resources over the last 8 years to find out. We have been truly blessed with the experience we have gained and we are excited to have the time to share that with you.
In our next blog, I will outline the steps on getting your real estate license, different career paths, and what you can start doing now to prepare for when you get your license. Please feel free to share this blog with anyone who may be interested and, of course, if you or someone you know is interested in buying, selling, or becoming a Realtor, please send them my way!