Where did you grow up? I am originally from Colombia, but I grew up in Chicago’s Humboldt Park area.
Growing up, what did you want to be? I wanted to be in business. My mother got me an office job at the factory where she worked. I felt guilty seeing my mother work in the factory line while I worked in the office, so I quit and promised my mother I would build a business where she didn’t need to work. When I graduated college, my mother gave me $3,000 that she had saved so I could travel to Europe. I used that $3,000 to buy a property to rehab, which is where my love and passion for real estate started.
If you could meet any well-known figure (living or not), who would it be? I know it might sound cliché, but I would love to do lunch with Bill Gates — not to ask how he built his fortune but to ask if it was worth it. I recently saw his documentary, and it seems like he put all this time into his company to amass a large fortune. But was he really present for his family? I would like to know what not to do as I continue to grow my company because my family comes first.
What do you love most about the industry? I love that — done the right way — it builds wealth for people, and I love to educate people on how to do it right. Real estate ties in all of my passions: talking to people, building and remodeling, educating, and putting spreadsheets together.
How do you distinguish yourself from the crowd of agents? I don’t see other agents as competition but as collaborators, and I feel we all need to work together no matter if we are from different agencies. By doing so, it makes the transaction so much easier for my clients and myself. I pride myself on making the transaction as smooth as possible, where everyone is happy at the closing table.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job? The hardest part of my job is that I want to help everyone. I’ve had clients call me years after they have bought their house because they have a mechanical or electrical issue or water got in the house. Instead of saying, “That’s not my job,” I find a solution for them.
What has been your greatest accomplishment? When the real estate market crashed I lost several millions of dollars that I had worked for throughout my 20s. I think of it as a very expensive education. I pride myself in never letting my clients experience what I did.
What are you binge-watching/reading/listening to lately? I’m on the road a lot so I listen to audio books and honestly I just listened to “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and it blew my mind. I made my kids listen to it as well.
In 10 words or less, what is your advice for someone new to the industry? Learn the technology and take the classes your association offers.