3 investing truths from a tenured agent and investor

Cher Castillo shares what she's learned after having jumped into real estate simultaneously as an investor and an agent

Cher Castillo started in D.C. real estate about 20 years after she bought her first primary residence and then sold it two years later for a profit. She had already created a real estate firm with former coworkers when she decided to get into real estate development.

Castillo started her boutique real estate and investment firm by buying and flipping homes in the Petworth neighborhood of D.C. She now focuses on homes in northeast D.C. and parts of Maryland, and she’s noticed the amount of change and growth in those neighborhoods.

As a real estate agent, Castillo is in a fantastic position to build her wealth through real estate investments because she already has knowledge, access and contacts through her experience. Here’s what else she’s learned:

1. Investing comes in many shapes and sizes

Being in real estate to Castillo always meant both owning properties as well as selling them.

In addition to flipping homes, Castillo also owns buy-and-hold properties or rental properties, which she plans to buy more of in the future. She has had a lot of success with Airbnb, even though she said it is a lot of work.

Castillo plans to keep some of her properties as Airbnb rentals while acquiring multiunit properties, which she says will require less maintenance.

2. Agents are well-positioned to leverage relationships and know-how

She leveraged relationships with her investor clients to learn how to do projects herself.

Castillo would shadow investors at their projects “as much as possible.” She would ask them as many questions about what sells as possible while watching what they do.

Castillo also learned by reading on the subject, but she credits shadowing project managers for her success. “It was my everyday involvement in projects that helped me the most,” she said.

3. Real estate, and its responsibilities, will ebb and flow

Managing her business as an investor and an agent requires a constant balance plus a great team.

Working as both an investor and an agent can be tough at times, but Castillo balances by letting up on agent duties when the investor side becomes heavy, and vice versa.

“It’s just really knowing [when] and how to put your focus; because if you know you always want to provide the best service and do the best job, then something has to give a little, and so maybe you have to tone down the development projects and focus more on the clients, or vice versa,” Castillo said.

She depends on her team to take care of clients when she has more development projects so she can focus on them without compromising customer service.

Castillo goes quarter-by-quarter or even month-by-month to ensure her focus is on the right things. For example, she noticed her time recently has been more client-heavy so she is only committing to two investment projects until the client load goes down.

If you’re a real estate agent, you are already miles ahead in terms of experience and knowledge when it comes to investing. Use this to your advantage by investing in your first flip or rental property.

Learn more about Cher Castillo on Instagram at @flipqueenDC or flipqueenDC.com.

Chris Haddon is an entrepreneur based in Washington, D.C., a partner at Hard Money Bankers and a co-founder of REI360.net.