Interview With a Successful Female Flipper: How I’ve Built a Thriving Business
It is not every week that you can say “history was made.” However, earlier this week the Arizona Cardinals announced that they hired Jen Welter as an assistant coaching intern for their training camp and the preseason. Her job will be to work with inside linebackers.
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She is believed to be the first female coach of any kind in the NFL. Her story is incredibly inspiring, and her credentials are stellar:
- Won two gold medals
- The first female coach in men’s professional football league
- Played professional football for more than 14 years as a linebacker, helping bring her team to 4 championships
- Oh, and in her spare time, she earned her PhD in psychology
While this groundbreaking news certainly was exciting for me (and tons of others) to hear, I did read some disturbing comments online:
“You can’t allow females to coach NFL players, men can’t stay focused when females are around.”
“Women don’t belong as coaches in the NFL.”
I read these comments, scratched my head and said to myself, “Really???” Unfortunately, women time and time again have to deal with these limiting opinions in male-dominated industries.
Whether you are a seasoned vet or new to real estate investing, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to notice that real estate investing is another male-dominated industry. It can be a bit overwhelming and frustrating at times for women to navigate the real estate investing culture. Therefore, I thought it would be great to interview a successful woman flipper! Andresa a colleague, friend and active BP member!
In 2012, Andresa and her husband (Roberto) founded Corsa Home Solutions. They have a thriving fix and flip business that is primarily focused on the Philadelphia market. In three short years, they have done 15 deals. Their results speak for themselves. Most of their fix and flips only stay on the market for a few days. They even sold one of their properties in only two hours, and a couple others were pre-sold before completion and never made it to the market!
Over the course of chatting together, many of our discussions end up focusing on women and investing. So, here is our interview. I hope you enjoy and learn something from Andresa!
What inspired you to begin investing in real estate?
I was born and raised in Brazil. My good grades and high education did not guarantee a job so I decided to come to the US, leaving my entire family behind to complete a Masters in Business Administration. While working as a trainee in sales, my manager introduced me to a book that changed the course of my life: Rich Dad Poor Dad.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My mom and my sister have their own businesses in Brazil; they control their own time and are in control of their compensation. I knew I did not fit the traditional “9 to 5” job, but I was not sure which industry I was passionate about.
After reading Robert Kiyosaki’s book, I felt inspired to learn more about real estate and financial freedom. I started feeling a burning inside myself that was not allowing me to continue the current path I was on anymore. My mind did not give me another choice, I had to make a decision and take a leap of faith. Since the beginning, my husband Roberto was by my side and supported my decision of quitting my job and focusing on building our real estate business from the ground up. We did not regret that decision, and now we are working on my husband's transition from working in banking to joining me in growing our business.
What is your real estate investing focus? Why?
We are currently rehabbing properties as fix and flips in Philadelphia. We focus on very specific neighborhoods that are in transition and have very low days on the market, meaning that properties usually sell in less than 30 days. We have established a property analysis system with very specific criteria. This method helps make the evaluation process easier and faster, which can make the difference between getting the property or not.
Moving forward, we are looking to get involved with new construction as well. Our main goal is to hold apartment complexes and put together SEC deals. At this moment, the Philadelphia market does not meet our criteria for buy and hold types of deals, so we are looking to invest out of state.
What do you think are the biggest challenges women face in this business?
I think there are several stereotypes that might affect the presence of more women in real estate investing. Being emotional is one of the biggest ones in my opinion. Above all, if the human being is emotional, he or she is in the wrong industry. Real estate is all about numbers; if the numbers do not support the investment, you need to move forward to the next deal… period.
Most of the women I have meet who work in real estate investing have very similar characteristics. They are confident, independent, daring and have a strong personality. They are the type of woman that, when the feet hit the floor each morning, the devil says, “Oh, crap, she’s up!” But the problem is that these type of women are rare.
One of the challenges women face is the lack of confidence they have in themselves. If they do not believe in their potential and ability to execute everything, other team members will not have confidence either. In my opinion, women should support each other much more through peer to peer meetings where they can share their struggles as professionals who are also moms who have to run households on a daily basis.
If you fix and flip properties, you have to deal with a lot of contractors. Generally speaking, most tend to be male. Have you ever felt “not taken seriously” because you are a woman?
Yes, sometimes there are presumptions that happen when I first meet a general contractor. For example, when it comes to providing me with an estimate for something in my rehab. Once a general contractor had the nerve to say to me: "So after you talk to your husband about the estimate, ask him to give me a call so we can finalize the contract."
I laughed at his statement and made sure he understood that if we were to do business together now or in the future, I was in charge and what comes out of my mouth – goes!
My overall goal is to make the rehab process as smooth as possible. Our scope of work is detailed and all finishes are pre-selected, which helps decrease miscommunication and wasting time. Overall, I am goal oriented and I make this very clear at the beginning.
When I am talking to a banker or lender, I am the one interviewing them, not the opposite. I want to know from them why I should give them my business and refer them to my other peers. This confidence has opened many doors and has been an essential component to growing our business.
How would you coach a woman to overcome stereotypes in construction?
I would recommend the following ways to overcome stereotypes:
- Learn constantly.
Becoming a better professional is one of my main goals. I am always looking to improve my construction knowledge by being a “sponge” when talking to specialized contractors or taking management classes in order to improve my process.
- Have systems in place.
Run a business like a business, not a hobby. Having systems in place will ensure the rehab process occurs as smooth as possible. If there are no systems, it is a hobby (not a business) and people will not take you seriously.
- Be confident.
Confidence comes first from self-esteem. Understanding who you are, what you are passionate about and what your goals are will help you feel happier and be confident about what you are doing in a daily basis.
- Make decisions.
Get used to calling the shots and being comfortable with it. You will either make a good decision or you will make a mistake and learn from it. Making daily decisions is inevitable.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
If you do not feel uncomfortable, you are not improving your business or moving forward, and you are stagnated. Be comfortable with changes. Making mistakes will bring you experience, and experience will lead to better decisions and higher profits.
- Apply what you learn.
Investing in improving your knowledge is a great strategy; however, it does not matter if you go to gurus’ classes and several workshops to learn new strategies if you do not apply them.
“I am still learning and once I am done I will buy my first house.”
This is a common sentence I usually hear. You will never know everything that happens during a rehab project. Remember that each one will have its own challenges. Once you learn something, apply it immediately, have confidence and put it in practice. Otherwise, you will give yourself many excuses why you should not buy a property, etc.
If you had to pick one business woman role model, who it would be? What inspires you about them?
Kim Kiyosaki. Kim is Robert Kiyosaki’s (author of Rich Dad Poor Dad) wife. Kim is the author of the bestseller It’s Rising Time! I met Kim in 2012 and was surprised with her direct approach. She is a very genuine, sweet woman, who is strong and down to earth. Throughout her book, she empowers women to know more about money by saying: “The smarter you get with your money, the more comfortable you will be in venturing into other asset classes.”
She started from nothing and built an empire (regardless of her husband’s successes). The fact that they are a power couple inspires us as well!
If there was one “secret” to share to all women real estate investors, what would it be?
There’s no secret formula or recipe. I do believe if you decide to work in real estate, commit to do the work. It is not an easy industry, and it requires a thick skin and the will to do what others are not willing to do.
I remember a very important instance earlier in our investing career that changed the course of our business. At the beginning, after looking at more than hundreds of houses, we have found one that just came on the market. The property fit all our criteria so I called our real estate agent asking him if he could show the property to us. He said, "Andresa, this is a holiday weekend and I am going to the shore."
I then said: “I understand; however, I will see this house with or without you. What time will I see you there?”
The real estate agent showed it to us, we put an offer that day and it was accepted. A week later, the buyer wanted to back out of the deal because she had received a cash offer, $10k higher than ours. Too late, the contract could not be broken. That's how we got our first property.
My advice would be, know what you want and do not back down. Things will not fall on your lap so make it happen.
Thank you to Andresa for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us today!
All those women investors out there: How do you move through the typical stereotypes and break past them?
Let’s talk in the comments section!