Some of us get into this real estate investing world by accident. Those who are fortunate found the right mentors to guide them navigate this journey. Chat Sarmiento-Steinwald, Multifamily Real Estate Investor and co-founder of the Multifamily Women’s Mastermind, is someone who is all too familiar with this story. Finding comfort in real estate by default when her husband died, Chat came upon Rod Khleif’s bootcamp and since then has been slaying the multifamily and commercial real estate world. In this episode, Chat shares with us her journey to finding real estate success. She talks to us about where the biggest opportunities in real estate investing are, what are her biggest mistakes and the lessons she got from it, and what are the things she is most proud of. Listen to Chat as she shares more of her success and the lessons behind it that took her to where she is now.
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Real Estate Success Journey: From Biggest Mistakes To Proud Moments With Chat Sarmiento-Steinwald
I’m super excited to have with me Chat Sarmiento-Steinwald who is such an amazing woman. I met her in Las Vegas. I went to do a meetup there and she decided, “I’m going to drive off that day.” She jumped down and drove five hours to Las Vegas to be there. I was happy to meet this incredible woman and I’m super excited that you get to meet her too. She’s originally from the Philippines. As a child, her dream was to come to America and she had been good at making dreams come true. She migrated to LA at the age of 23. She got a job at Dun & Bradstreet as a trust accountant and remained there for eleven years. She started a boutique spa in Brentwood, California and owned that for 21 years.
When her son was older and moved out of the house, she decided to close the spa and she opened another chapter of her life. She now focuses on multifamily and commercial real estate. She was mentored by Rod Khleif and since joining his program, she’s become a limited partner in over 700 apartments. She’s a GP in over 200 units. She’s very active and focused on giving back. She’s a Cofounder of the Multifamily Woman’s Mastermind. Like me, she has a heart to help women in this real estate investing world. It’s so masculine, especially when you get into the multifamily space. She’s created a multifamily mastermind with over 200 women and she’s also a board member of Our House, a grief support center. She is a powerhouse and I’m excited to have her here. Welcome, Chat.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor to be here with you.
The honor is mine. How did you get started in real estate? How did you go from being a spa owner and to now having hundreds of multifamily doors to your name?
I got into real estate investing by default. My husband died on a sudden manner, heart attack, and all of a sudden, my life got turned upside down. I did not know what to do. He was a forensic CPA and had a practice here in Brentwood and Newport Beach. Needless to say, he took care of all our finances. It was a very cliché story of a housewife. I wasn’t just a housewife. I had my own spa going, but he was definitely the finance guy. I left him alone doing all our finances. When he passed, I didn’t know what to do. I said, “What now?” That’s amidst the darkness and grieving.
Thankfully, he took care of me financially. There are many challenges and many people coming out of the woodworks trying to get money, suing you for money. I became broken, cynical and jaded in life. All of a sudden, I developed insomnia. I couldn’t sleep at night. I would watch TV at midnight. Do you know those infomercials about flipping homes? I signed up in one of those without even thinking. I went to class. It was here in Los Angeles and then by the time I know it, I was paying $20,000 for a class.
I did not know. I was like a headless chicken walking around. I tried to call for the advanced class that I paid for and I couldn’t get a hold of anybody. Because of that, I found that there’s such a thing as podcasts. I never knew about podcasts before. I discovered podcasts and I discovered Rod Khleif’s podcast and I turned it on. I remember very well. I was on 405 Freeway. It was very traffic. He said something like, “In three days I will be in LA doing multifamily.” I pulled over and I called the number. I signed up and in three days I was at Rod Khleif’s bootcamp and my life has changed since then.
Was your first investment in multifamily after that event? How did you start?
No. What happened was I had a house in Brentwood and emotionally, there was too much memory. It was too painful for me. I moved out of the house. I rented a condo and rented that out. It was good money. It was great money because I was netting $8,000 a month. After going to the bootcamp of Rod Khleif, that’s when I realized that there’s so much more potential for me if I were to cash that house out and invest it in multifamily. I owned that house right out and my financial manager and CPA advised me to cash it out and take advantage of the stepped-up widow tax advantage. That’s what I did and I’m glad I did it. It’s the best decision I’ve ever done because it was hard. There are a lot of memories out there. That’s where I raised my son, friends and family coming in but I had to do it.
Now your investment focus is on multifamily. You’ve tried the single-family rental and then you’re doing multifamily syndications that you’ve passively invested and now you’re doing general investments. Why do you like multifamily?Multifamily doesn’t have to be done alone. It's always done with teamwork. Click To Tweet
The scalability and also because in multifamily, you don’t have to do it alone. It’s always done with teamwork. As long as you align yourself with the best syndicators, good people whose values are aligned with you and their goals are aligned with your goals, you’ll be fine. Let me add to renting out my house here in Brentwood. I could not be a landlord because I feel like the landlord tenancy laws are difficult here in Los Angeles, in California per se. That’s also one of the reasons why I decided to invest out of state, out of California for multifamily.
I totally understand you. It’s the same here. I live in Los Angeles too. I don’t invest here. Where are you invested?
I’m invested in Dallas and in Dayton, Ohio. That was my first investment and in Atlanta, Georgia.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities in real estate investing right now?
To me, the biggest opportunities are the value-add in apartment investing. I have asset criteria in my mind and that would be like B that can be possibly converted into A if you value-add or C converted into B-plus. That’s where the opportunities are. You buy it at a very big discount and then whether it’s mismanaged or whether the rents are lower and there’s a possibility for you to upgrade or whether just improving the units per se. That’s where the opportunities are because you can force appreciation, which doesn’t happen in a single-family home.
It’s much harder to do that for sure. I want to ask you a question that I ask all of my guests. I think that we’d get so much more value out of our mistakes and when things don’t go well. There’s so much more learning than when things are smooth sailing. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
I already mentioned to you my mistake about signing up. That was a mistake to me, a $20,000 mistake, but that’s good because it led me to here. The second mistake I did was the analysis paralysis because in the beginning, I have this opportunity to buy 21 units apartment with a house in the front on my own in Washington. That would have been a very sweet deal. Because of the analysis paralysis, I backed off. I consider that as a mistake.
Let’s talk about both of those. The first one, your signing up for this flipping program that you’ve done on an infomercial. What specifically did you learn from that? What would you have done differently?
I would have researched who the people are that are running the class because I was naive, I was lost. I should have researched first before signing up, not like at 1:00 in the morning, calling and signing up. By the time I know it, I did not know the people. By the time I call, no one answers the phones. It’s all call center. That’s the biggest mistake I’ve had.
You pay $20,000 for nothing. As a public service to our readers, do you want to tell us who they were so they don’t go and try to do that too?
Yes, definitely. I want to tell to everyone. It’s a costly mistake but not as costly as everyone else. I’m glad I had that mistake because I’m very vigilant and careful now. Trust but verify, in other words.
You would have researched them, made a Google search and see maybe when you searched online, there were other people going, “I signed up, I got nothing.” With regard to the analysis paralysis, what would you have done differently?
I probably should have done it because that’s the time when I was already aware, the education. I knew how to analyze properties now, but it was just my fear. I could not. It was a mindset. That’s why I had to work in mindset. Thank God, in Rod Khleif’s bootcamps, mindset is very big. I’ve also signed up with Tony Robbins for all of these mindsets. I think you’re also on Tony Robbins.
I did do a lot of Tony Robbins. I’m doing a Platinum Partnership program.
That is why it’s all about mindset as well.
As Tony Robbins says, “Success is 20% strategy with 80% psychology.” The flip side of the biggest mistake is what are you most proud of?
I’m very proud that I did well in less than two years, a year and a half since I started with Rod Khleif. I’m now invested in over 750 units of apartments and a GP in over 200. I think on the end, I founded this women’s group because I know that there’s a big need for women to collaborate, to share and support each other. Those are all what I’m proud of in the multifamily industry.
To what do you attribute your success?
Being ambitious, being true to myself and just being me and being true because I believe that integrity goes a long way. Add that to your dream, to your ambition and to your drive to work in the most integrous and honest way. It will lead to success.
What advice do you have for a woman who’s starting out in this field?Integrity added to your dream, ambition, and drive to work will lead you to success. Click To Tweet
It doesn’t take a lot of money. I realized this, to get to this, all you need to do is to educate yourself. There are lots of places where you can educate yourself if money is a problem. There are lots of podcasts, websites, books and bootcamps. The most important thing is to align yourself with the right people. That’s the very key to my success, and educate. Education is power.
I love all that. Educating yourself, aligning yourself with the right people and then taking advantage of all the educational opportunities that are out there.
Because in this field, I realized there are many generous people, truly. Whether they are male or female investors, they’re very willing to help you out if you’re starting. I found out this is the most generous investing space.
There are great people. What do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you now know?
I can ask for help with the right people, that people are willing to help you and that you don’t have to be afraid. There’s nothing to be afraid, just be very cautious. Trust but verify. Use your education and your knowledge and you’ll do well.
Before we get into our famed end of show trinity, which is a brag, a gratitude and the desire, what’s the best way for people to reach out to find out more about what you do?
They can email me a [email protected]. I’m also on Facebook, Chat Sarmiento-Steinwald. I also have a women’s group, which is Multifamily Women’s Mastermind. I also cohost a meetup in Marina del Rey. Those are the places that I can be reached at.
It is time for our trinity. What is one thing you’re celebrating right now? What’s your brag?
My brag is my accomplishment. My being able to say I’m invested in such numbers. Actually, it’s not the numbers. I know what my value is in my portfolio, but my brag is that the success I got and the friends I gained in this journey. That’s my brag.
What’s one thing you’re grateful for?
I’m very grateful for my son. That’s definitely number one. Raising him as a good human being and he’s working at UCLA right now with autistic kids. I’m very proud of him. He’s taking his Master’s and doctorate program as well. I’m very grateful for that and my family and friends. That’s what life is all about.
Last, but certainly not least, what’s one desire?
Desire is to travel the world. I love to travel and which is why I want to do well in this real estate so that I can retire healthy, happy, active, see the world and be able to help out people. I’m a member of a charitable organization like Our House. As a matter of fact, I’m going to the Philippines. I wanted to see if I could start helping the kids over there.
Shall your desire be or so much better than you can imagine. Thank you so much for giving your time and sharing your incredibly inspiring story. Thank you to my dear readers. Join us next time for another incredible Real Estate Investor Goddesses interview.
Thank you so much. It was an honor.
About Chat Sarmiento-Steinwald
Chat is a native of the Philippines. Her dream, as a child was to live in America.
She migrated to Los Angeles at the age of 23,and got a job at Dunn & Bradstreet as a Trust Accountant and remained there eleven years.
She then opened her own boutique spa in Brentwood, CA,
21 years later, and her son now 30 and safely on his way, Chat decided to close the spa and open yet another chapter in her life. She now focuses on multi-family and commercial real estate investing. Her mentor is Rod Khleif. Since joining Rod’s program, Chat has become a limited partner in more than 700 apartment units and a GP in over 200 units.
Chat is also very active and focused on giving back. She is a co-founder of the Multifamily Women’s Mastermind and a Board member of Our House, a grief support center.