It is a fact that real estate investing is a team sport. However, it can be done alone when you have established your own system and timeline. In this episode, Monick Halm’s guest is a successful woman real estate investor who is crushing it in her respective arena. Laure Marmontel, a Managing Member at Cornerstone Investment Partners, LLC, shares her commercial real estate success story. According to Laure, her achievement comes from her attitude – her curiosity to always learn more and her “do whatever it takes” commitment. She believes that life has more to offer than a 9 to 5 and that commercial real estate will help her fulfill her goals of financial independence and helping others achieve it as well. Stay tuned and learn how she is slaying it in the real estate world as she offers some expert investment tips!
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Interview With Laure Marmontel – From 9-To-5 To 1000+ Units
I’m thrilled to have Laure Marmontel here with us. She’s an international real estate investor doing incredible stuff. Her success comes from her attitude and curiosity to always learn more and her do what it takes commitment. After graduating with two Master’s in International Economics and Finance and later feeling life had more to offer than a 9:00 to 5:00, she discovered personal development seminars which led her to realize that real estate is what she truly likes. Commercial real estate was always going to help her fulfill her goals of financial independence and helping others as well as through the acquisition of multifamily apartment complexes, hotels, and marinas. She has done construction. She’s done tons of things in her amazing career. I’m thrilled to have her with us. Welcome, Laure.
I’m thrilled to be with you here as well. Thank you for having me.
Tell us a little bit more about how you got started in real estate investing.
I had a regular 9:00 to 5:00 job and I wasn’t satisfied with where that was taking me and through chance, I ran into some personal development seminars, which I started to attend. There was a seminar called Never Work Again. That was a pompous title for it, but it was a big buffet of ways that you could make passive income. You could invest in ATMs and DVD renting machines or oil and gas investments. If you are creative and music-oriented, how you could make money by creating little jingles and sell them and get royalties or if you are good in business, creating systems and then sell your systems to the world.
There was this guy who was saying, “If you buy apartment complexes, you only need to do the acquisition once. For the next several years, your tenants will pay the rent over and over again every month. You can hire a property management company to take care of the daily operations for you. You don’t have to be there. That’s passive income because you can be on the beach in Tahiti and people will keep on paying their rent every month. Your property management company will be doing the daily managing and you will be cashing in your profits.” I’m like, “That’s awesome. I like that idea.”
At that point in time, I was used to the idea of a working girl. All I could be was an upgrade secretary in a way and be someone, a little helper in an office. That’s all that I had in mind because I was never told that I could be my own boss and make my own money. I attended those few several personal development seminars and then I run into the same gentleman again. By then I’m like, “I can do this. I have no idea how but he’s teaching people how to do it. Let’s do it.” I signed up and I started learning about how to acquire multifamilies, apartment complexes in other words. Here I am excited and grateful that I did it.
That’s such a great story. When was that? How long ago was that when you first found out about investing in an apartment complex as multifamily?
I’m not that good with dates, but I would say maybe 2006, 2007 was when I started that personal development thing. Let’s backtrack a little bit. During one of the 9:00 to 5:00 jobs that I had, which were more like 9:00 to 8:00 jobs that I had, I ended up taking my mortgage broker license and my real estate sales agent license in Florida. I already had a little basis on real estate from there. As you know, those licenses, they don’t teach you how to do the job. They make sure that you know the law, but it doesn’t teach you how to be a good real estate agent or a mortgage broker.
What was the first property that you got and when did you get that?Start small at first, and then your second can be a bit bigger. There is nothing like going through the full cycle of a deal. Click To Tweet
It took me a couple of years to figure out the place in my life where I knew this is what I wanted to do and I knew I had everything it took to do it and then started to have enough basis and covered enough ground in the knowledge section to be able to pull the trigger. All I can remember is that the first meaningful multifamily that we acquired was with my business partner, Nizan Mosery. We incorporated 2010. That would have been the first meaningful real estate investment we made.
Do you have another one before that?
That was our first deal. We were both beginners. That’s something important that I learned. There’s a difference between feeling busy and actually being productive. During that time, there was a lot of looking busy, feeling busy going on and none of being productive. It was 26 units in Central Florida. That was the first multifamily that we acquired.
You bought it and then you resold it to another buyer.
We never took the title. We didn’t buy it. We sold the contract that we had signed to another friend of ours who lived in the area, who would have been able to take care of this property better. We realized it was a little bit too far for us after going there twice.
There are a couple of things that I’d love to highlight for people, the first thing was about the mindset. You started off thinking, “I’m an assistant. I’m a girl, what can I do?” I love that you were able to shift your mindset because that makes such a big difference for people, in terms of what they accomplish believing they can. That’s one of the main things. The other thing which is cool is that you wholesaled that contract, which is an option for a lot of women. You can get something under contract and then you sell the contract to somebody else, which is an option for people who don’t want to put in that much time into running a property. That’s one way of making some quick money. You’re not going to get the passive income and the flow but it’s a nice way of getting one paycheck through real estate. Where are you now? What are your investments?
We have a couple of things in various stages of contracts. We are working on a 350-plus apartment complex near Orlando. That’s in the $24 million range. We are also under contract for a 100-room flagged hotel in New Jersey. Flagged meaning a hotel with a brand. That’s the beginning of the process of it. We’re continuing to look at other multifamilies on the South part of the US, that’s where we prefer to be.
You have some other properties internationally as well.
We do have several other properties. We’ve been selling off most of our portfolio. Our properties did a full cycle acquisition. They were in a place where we thought it was best to dispose of them because the return to our investors would have been optimal. We sold 224 units in Houston in April of 2016. On February the 13th, that was a beautiful day, we sold off another 248 units in Dallas. Our investors were incredibly happy. I’m not going to discuss numbers here because it’s the law thing, which I’m glad that I did a lot. You can go into details on that as far as discussing amounts, money, about potential investments. That’s what I realized, I didn’t know that there was so much law about it and a lot of people don’t know it and break the law on a regular basis and I don’t want to be one of those. I prefer to shut my mouth and be safe for everybody’s sake and inform people when I see them, share way too much information with the world saying, “By the way, there are seminars about this too. Maybe you should consider them. It would be better.”
You wouldn’t look good in orange. If you’re taking other people’s money to invest, you’re syndicating and you’re bringing in groups of investors together to purchase, there are a lot of laws about that to help protect your investors. As my mentor says, “You want to practice safe syndication.” If you’re going to be taking other people’s money, you need to know the laws around that because you can get in trouble, big fines, or jail time. That’s a good point about the legal part of it.
That was uplifting. That’s awesome.
I want to praise you. In 2010, you wholesaled a 26-unit in Florida. In 2017, you got hundreds of units since. You sold 224, 278. You’re looking at 350 units and a hotel. It’s amazing what you’ve been able to do in a relatively short amount of time. It’s possible. A lot of people think you have to start small but you don’t.
You don’t, that’s for sure. We went from 26 units to 172 units, which we still own in Texas, fairly fast. People say two things and after speaking with a lot of beginners in the real estate industry in various seminars, a lot of people say, “Buying a large property versus buying a small property is pretty much the same amount of work,” because you still have to do the same basic, time-consuming tasks. Review the financials. It takes you the same amount of time, whether it’s 300 units or its 30 units. It’s true. If you fall flat on your face because it’s your first deal and you were missing a few of the elements, then it could be costly. My recommendation is to start small, at least at first. Your second can be a little bit bigger, but there’s nothing like going through the full cycle of a deal so that you can understand what’s at stake and how everything works, or get to work with someone who’s done it before.
A lot of people think that they have to get a start with a single-family home, you don’t. There are different schools of thought. Sometimes people think it’s easier to go bigger because it’s easier to get a property manager that will find your apartment building if you have 60 or more units. Sometimes if it’s less than that, it can be a problem to find outside property management.
That’s the reason why we wholesaled that 26 units in Central Florida because it wasn’t optimal as far as size goes to find a third-party property management company that would have been able to take care of this for us. The numbers made a lot of sense but the technicality of it as far as involving a third-party management company didn’t work. That’s why we wholesaled it to someone who was local.
Especially if you’re going in a different market, sometimes it’s easier to go bigger or syndicate with somebody. They’re going to do the work and you can passively invest. My next question for you is, what was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
Luckily, we’ve had many good mentors that have helped us along the way and helped us avoid mistakes. I would say the biggest mistake is not having come up with a plan when dealing in a partnership of people to make things happen. Not having had a better, more defined, more minute plan in writing in case things didn’t go the way that they were supposed to go. Once in a while acts of God will happen and things will not go the way you planned. Like what happened to me being in a car accident and being at the hospital and the whole shebang, broken bones, I can’t travel and all of the concussion. This is the most important thing that you need to do in this type of business.
When you go bigger, you have partners and you need to be clear on what happens when the crap hits the fan and who’s going to take care of things and who’s going to pay for what. All of the details that optimistic people don’t want to deal with, but it’s best to look at it beforehand than when you’re in the middle of it because then everybody’s judgment or energy is in different places. I would say that’s one of the most important things I’ve learned over the years of doing business partnerships and managing partnership.Real estate investing is a team sport. You cannot do it alone. Click To Tweet
That’s such great advice. You are going to need partners. I always say real estate investing is a team sport. You can’t do it alone. You can try but it’s not going to work as well. You have to have clear contracts and contingency plans with the partnerships that will save a relationship. A lot of people think, “I can’t have a contract with that person. That’s my friend, my family member. Why would I have a contract?” That’s when you need it even more because things will go wrong and you need to have thought about them before so that you can save the relationship. What are you most proud of?
I got to Miami when I was 21 to get my degree from there. There I am years later, I have my little real estate empire. I wouldn’t have that crazy thought when I was younger, but by always being curious, being willing to learn, unfortunately sometimes not paying the right people for the mentorship but still learning something from it. I’m in a place where I wouldn’t have thought I would be and where most people that are in their 70s are not even there. I’m grateful. That’s what I’m most proud of. I don’t have the support of anyone in the US. I’m all there by myself. Nonetheless, I still managed to achieve this on my own.
To what do you attribute your success?
It’s my willingness to learn and also, you can beat me when I say it, my attitude of do whatever it takes. Sometimes if you want to achieve a certain result, especially in this business it’s timeline oriented, you have to be willing to pull the hours and reach out to people and do whatever it takes to make it happen. If it means you’ve got to jump in a plane and go three hours to do a certain thing to help something move forward, then you’ve got to be willing to do it. Not being stuck in where you are because it’s inconvenient or not easy. I would say that’s the reason.
What is one of the hardest, the craziest things you had to do in order to get a deal done?
Nothing that is illegal. Nothing that my mother would reprehend either. The one thing is I spend too many hours pulling too many all-nighters and not sleeping enough to the detriment of my health in the short run. I don’t want to do that again. I did it in the past. It’s part of being the team WTFIT.
Real estate investment is one that you feel a lot of freedom in a lot of ways. To get it done, it does require some things from you, especially if you’re the syndicator. There are probably way too many days when I’ve had to go away from my kids to be on a property in a different state and to make sure things are going the way they need to. That is a sacrifice that I have had to make. On the other hand, I am able to volunteer at school. Usually, I have a lot of freedom and can be at the plays and the games most of the time. There’s a give and take but it definitely does take some commitment and some sacrifice as well.
Sacrifices and definitely lots of freedom.
The last question before we get into the Trinity. What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your real estate investing career that you now know?
The importance of the partnership safeguards. That would have made a lot of things easier, more streamlined, and less stressful.
If people want to find out more about you, they want to connect with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
We do have a website called www.InvestWithCIP.com. The name of our company, with my partner Nizan, is Cornerstone Investment Partners. If you go to that website, you will find everything about us. There’s a little contact form. You can email me at [email protected].
You all know how to connect with her. We have time for your Trinity. What is your brag? What are you celebrating?
I’m celebrating being alive. Months ago, I was sitting almost with no life in the wreck of my car. That’s what I’m celebrating, living, and breathing. No matter what else happens, it’s all fixable as long as you’re breathing.
That’s true. We’re celebrating that too. What is one thing you’re grateful for?
I will refer to my previous answer. I’m grateful for my business partner, Nizan. He’s amazing. I’m grateful for all of the other partners that we’ve worked with and all of the support people that have helped us achieve what we need to do. The property managers, the lawyers, and my family for support and friends. Even though I don’t have any family in the US, everybody’s there to make my life beautiful and easy and bring great things to other people as well.
Last but not least, what’s one thing you desire?
A magic wand to stop all of that water flooding in Texas and Louisiana, that’s pretty much the one thing that if I could get it that’s what I would want. It’s tough to be far away and see all of the friends and the other people and everyone out there going through those rough times. Having gone through hurricanes in Florida, it’s heartbreaking. I wish that everything is going to get better from here and not worse.
So shall your desires be or better than you can imagine. Our thoughts and prayers are going out to everybody in Texas, Louisiana, and also different parts of Asia who are all dealing with this flooding. We are thinking, praying for you and wishing you safety and well-being. Thank you so much, Laure. This was wonderful. You can reach her at www.InvestWithCIP.com or [email protected]. You can reach me at RealEstateInvestorGoddesses.com. We have lots of freebies and information for you there. Thanks for being on. I will see you in the next episode with another inspiring Real Estate Investor Goddesses story.
Thank you, Monick.