How does a working mom with a full-time corporate job find the time and energy to build an eight-digit real estate portfolio? Sheetal C’Ganti, who has acquired $25M in real estate through syndication and personal investment, is living proof that this can be done. Sheetal works as a senior manager at a top consulting firm. Since 2012, she and her husband have acquired tens of millions of dollars in real estate mainly by investing other people’s money. They have since founded their own firm, Ashland Greene Capital Partners. Today, she joins Monick Halm on the show to share her story, successes, failures, and lessons learned along the way.
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How Working Mom Acquired $25M In Real Estate – Interview With Sheetal C’Ganti
I’m here with another awesome real estate investor goddess interview. On this show, we interview badass women in real estate investing and our guest is certainly no exception. She is a busy mom who works a full-time job and still has managed to be crushing it in real estate. She and her husband have acquired over $25 million in assets and $35 million in a few years. In this episode, you’ll find out how and what exactly they have done because it was not that they had $35 million sitting in the bank.
Since 2012, Sheetal C’Ganti and her husband, Shakti, have acquired $35 million in real estate assets through syndication and personal investments. We’ve talked about syndication before and we’ll talk about it more. They’re Cofounders of Ashland Greene Capital Partners. They have invested in over 450 units as deal sponsors and limited partners. She is still a Senior Manager at a top consulting firm focusing on innovation and has many years of experience in the financial industry. She’s been working all this time. She resides in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and her daughter, Mila. Welcome, Sheetal. I’m happy you could join us.
Thank you for having me, Monick.
To give you all a bit of background, I met Sheetal through a community that one of my mentors has, Brad Sumrok. That’s a community for people who want to be apartment investors. Let’s back up before that because you had already been investing. How did you get started in real estate investing?
My husband and I started investing in real estate in 2010. That’s when we acquired our first distressed condo property. We were truly bitten by the real estate investing bug. At that time, we were using our own money. We were looking at up and coming neighborhoods within Brooklyn. We were able to acquire smaller four-unit properties. Eventually, we ran out of money. We had to go back to the drawing board and think about how we want to scale our business. We came up with the idea of, “We might need to start looking at syndication and start using OPM.” OPM is what we call Other People’s Money.
Before we get into syndication, what I always am fascinated by is what causes you to go for that first property. What made you think, “Let’s get this distressed condo in Brooklyn?” What was the motivation to start?
That motivation was quite easy. We were young, we were about to get married, and we needed a place to live that we could afford because Manhattan was getting too expensive. Lucky for us, the timing happened to be right. My husband comes from a bit of a real estate family where they are comfortable investing in real estate. He also is a real estate broker by day. Being a residential broker, he was always looking at properties. Our dates would be going on these different neighborhood tours throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens and learning the different areas.
When we came across our first distressed brownstone, which was four-units in an up and coming area called Crown Heights, he was the one who was a bit more aggressive. I am the risk-averse, more rational one. That’s why we happen to make a good team. He came out and said, “Let’s buy it. Let’s do it. It’s going to be amazing.” I was like, “Let’s look at the numbers and see if this makes sense. What kind of debt am I going to get from this property?” This was all the way back in about 2011, 2012 where Brooklyn was still affordable. We bought it all in at a 5% cap rate. It was an excellent deal. That was great from an equity appreciation perspective, but from a cashflow perspective, it’s not like we could have used that property and then retired from our day jobs and enjoyed that passive income. We knew that it was a great appreciation play, but we needed more of a passive cashflow pay to allow us to have more of that monthly income in hopes of eventually retiring me. That’s our goal.
Was that condo someplace that you moved into or you rented it out and you were also getting four-unit properties?
Yes, it’s rented out. We bought the condo two doors down from that first condo. We have two condos right next door, eight units, fully leased up. They’ve done well over the last years.
You bought it right in Brooklyn. Good job. You then decided, “We’re tapped out with our own money. Let’s see about OPM. Getting other people’s money to work in syndication.” What was your progression into that area?
We tried syndication in 2013. Because we were familiar with the Brooklyn brownstone market and we had developed some relationships, someone on the same block as us said, “There’s an opportunity for new development. We’re looking for sponsors. This would be a great opportunity.” Being super hungry and aggressive, we said, “This is a sign. It’s on the same block. We should syndicate this and this should be our first deal.” We went out to our network naively without assembling a team, without having a concrete business plan and we tried to raise money. No one wanted to be the first dollar in, everyone wanted to be the last dollar in. We couldn’t raise any money.
We had to put the brakes on that project and say, “Maybe this isn’t for us.” The biggest issue was we jumped into it without having a plan and a team. We had no idea what we were doing. We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Excited about the opportunity but didn’t know how to pull an entire syndication together. Have the right pieces in place, have the right team in place, and have the right business plan in place so we could truly execute on it to get the best return for our investor. That was a big failure. We were super discouraged for a while because that was our dream. We were like, “This is happening faster than we expected. This is great.” Once we realized that we weren’t able to do it, it was a harsh reality for us to digest.
There’s so much gold in there. One of the questions that I always ask my guests is, what was your biggest mistake, and what did you learn from it? Would you call this your biggest mistake?
Since we’re already talking about this, what did you learn from doing this? What would you do differently?If you don’t have a track record, partner with people who do. Click To Tweet
I don’t think we would do anything differently because if we hadn’t fallen smack on our butts, we wouldn’t have learned the right way to do it. The biggest thing we learned was you can’t go in naive without a track record, assuming people are going to trust you with their money. That is a huge responsibility that you’re taking on. You need to do your homework. You have to learn how it works. These are complex operations. There are different key team members in place, including where you’re getting the financing to get this done. That lack of education was something we’ve learned that we needed before thinking, we can read a few blog posts and then go out and find syndicators. That was our biggest lesson learned from it.
Firstly, the education piece is huge. You do need to learn from people who have done it before and are doing it to be successful. The track record, one of the things that I’ve learned over the course of my career is that you may not have the track record, but you can partner with people who do. Often, that’s the trick, but trying to do it by yourself, especially without having been properly educated. Getting the team because your team is the foundation of a successful deal, then it’s hard to make it work. There is so much gold in that. You have that syndication attempt in 2013 and then what happened? Because you guys crushed it in syndication. What was different?
We did everything the right way. The opposite of what we tried years ago. We found a mentor and a local partner that we partnered with. We are specifically focusing on Texas and within Texas, the Dallas DSW market. Being out of state investors, we knew that we needed to have someone there from boots on the ground perspective to have that local presence and knowledge. No matter how much time we’ve been spending in Dallas, we’ve been doing the old school driving around the different submarkets to get a sense of what’s happening there, both from an infrastructure and commercial perspective. We’re also doing our quantitative analysis to see what’s driving population and job growth. What are the fundamentals from that respect, but having someone there, boots on the ground, nothing beats that. That was key for us.
Those were probably the two biggest factors in helping us to ramp up so quickly. Through our mentorship program, we learned how that process works, but more importantly, we were introduced to a fantastic ecosystem that plugged in the right players. Financing, property management, legal, title, all the different players where if we had to research each player that we need on this team, it would have easily taken us 6 to 9 months to get fully ramped up. Those factors allowed us to fast track syndicating our first deal.
You did your first deal, your first syndication, and you’ve done another one. Am I correct?
Yes, that’s right.
That’s awesome in a fairly challenging market. The market has been heated, and you’ve still managed to get property. You might have already answered this, but to what do you attribute your success?
We have a strong family and support system. Most people always ask, “How do you like working with your husband?” I think it’s great. We have complementary skillsets. It’s great to have that constant support system. We love real estate. It shows and it’s fun for us. That has been something that we have been blessed with. I would say that’s probably the key. We have amazing parents who are here helping us. Those are the two factors.
I also work with my husband in investing. I fully get that and how valuable that is when you have a partner that you can work with, who’s supporting you, and also having the grandparents around. When you have kids. My parents are often on babysitting duty when we’re checking out our properties.
They’re the best. I appreciate them so much more after having kids. I almost feel bad for all of the terrible things I put them through when I was a teenager.
Maybe Mila will pay you back.
I know. That’s my biggest fear, karma.
What are you most proud of?
I’m super proud of us learning from that failure of taking massive action and taking down our first property. It was probably one of our biggest accomplishments. There are many people involved. We have this amazing group of investors who trusted us with their money, The ability to work with our local partner, be able to stabilize a property and hand out a full distribution was an amazing moment. We did something special where we invited all of our investors to the property.
We had an Investor Appreciation Day. We gave them an update on where we are with the business plan. We answered questions and then we walked through the property and showed them all of the exterior renovations that we did. We upgraded the dog park, put up a new monument, put up some new signage, and some new paint. From an interior perspective, we did kitchen renos including backsplashes, new appliances, countertops and flooring. They got to see what these new properties look like. That was probably a super special day for us because it was our property.
That’s the best. What advice would you have for a woman who’s starting out in real estate investing?Your team is the foundation of a successful deal. Click To Tweet
It is super easy, get a mentor. The best thing about real estate is that many people have done this before. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Start from scratch and reinvent the wheel. You just have to find someone who you enjoy learning from and who has the same values as you. It becomes so much easier because the pressure is off. Once you have access to that person or content, it makes you realize that it’s a lot more doable and within reach, instead of going at this alone and thinking, “This is such a massive undertaking. How am I going to do this by myself?”
What do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you now know?
I wish I was savvy enough to have known that I should have started much younger than I am in terms of doing syndication. I meet so many kids in their early twenties that are coming to these different conferences and different events. They’re so knowledgeable. They’re so aggressive and focused on it that I give it up to them that they have the maturity and the foresight to start focusing on this now. I give it up to them. That’s something I wish that we had the foresight to do when we were younger.
I hear you, but it’s like what they say, “When’s the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When’s the next best time? Today.” I know many of us wished we could have started so much earlier but the next best time is today. It is such amazing advice. Before we do our famed end of show trinity, how can people get in touch with you if they want to find out more and connect with you?
It’s time for the trinity. For those who don’t know, it’s a brag, gratitude, and desire. What are you bragging? What’s one thing you’re celebrating?
One thing that I’m celebrating is that I am pregnant. I’m expecting a boy. This is going to be my second child. With life in New York City, it’s so hectic and busy. I’m happy that I’m pregnant and I’m feeling great and able to expand our family. I’m excited about this place and enjoying time with the family as a family of three before we become a family four.
Congrats and well bragged. What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for our investors. I know this sounds hokey, but equity syndication and real estate syndication is a team sport. We work with many fantastic people. On our first property, we have 58 investors, we’re investors as well. It’s awesome. They’re asking great questions. They’re super involved. We’re sending out our monthly financials and reporting. There’s great dialogue. On our second property, we have 42 investors. For everyone who is trusting us with their money, our focus is on putting our investors first. That’s something that I’m grateful for because they’re our clients. Without them, we couldn’t be doing what we’re doing. We’re honestly having the best time ever doing it. Thank you for letting us do it.
Last but not least, what’s one thing you desire?
One thing that I desire is to be a better person. I want to be a better individual, mom, wife, and a real estate investor. I want to always continue growing, evolving, and improving myself. I hope that that desire never goes away. Sometimes I feel like, as women, we’re taught that you can’t be selfish, you can’t take care of yourself, you should put everything else first before you. As I’ve gotten older, I realized that I need to make sure that I’m focusing on myself and I’m in a good place mentally, physically, so I can be the best version of myself for my family. That’s something that I want to continuously focus on. It’s turned into a desire of mine.
So shall your desire be or so much better than you can imagine under grace and in perfect ways. I agree. I wrote an article for the Huffington Post called How Being More Selfish Might Make You a Better Mom because I agree with that. It’s true, we have to take care of ourselves. If we don’t have anything to give to those around us because we’ve spent it. We’ve given it to everyone else first. It’s being selfish to be not selfish enough.
I’m googling your article after. I may read it already because I love those kinds of inspirational quotes. You have those days where you’re like, “Is this the right thing? Should I be doing this?” I need that internet inspiration. Thanks for providing that.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for coming on. That was full of wonderful nuggets and wisdom. If you want to connect with Sheetal, you can connect with her at [email protected] or go directly to the website AshlandCP.com. You can connect with me, your real estate investment strategy mentor, at RealEstateInvestorGoddesses.com. Join us again for another amazing real estate investor goddess interview. Make sure to subscribe as well so you don’t miss one. Thanks.
- Ashland Greene Capital Partners
- Brad Sumrok
- [email protected]
- How Being More Selfish Might Make You a Better Mom – article
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