When you have the will to reach your goals and become who you want to be, you can surely grasp those opportunities you desire even when it means making bold moves. Today, Lisa Hylton interviews real estate investor Chat Steinwald. Sharing her life story, Chat encourages dreamers to never stop chasing what they yearn for. From being an accountant for Dun & Bradstreet, becoming a spa owner, to having multifamily investments, she proves to us that persistence is always key to success. She shares the key things to grow your business as an active and passive investor. As the co-founder of Multifamily Women’s Mastermind, she also talks about what the group is all about and who it aims to help.
Listen to the podcast here:
Big Dreams, Persistence, And Bold Moves: The Journey To Multifamily Investments With Chat Steinwald
A Mother, A Widow And A Successful Real Estate Investor
I have with me Chat Steinwald. Welcome, Chat. Thank you for coming on.
Thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be here.
I remember when I met you for the first time. You were hosting a Meetup in Marina Del Ray. I came and you’re like, “This is my Meetup.” Through that, I’ve gotten to learn more and more. I came onto your group on Facebook, which is the Multifamily Women’s Mastermind, which has added much value to my life. I’m happy that you and the other ladies, your co-founders of that group, decided to put together such genius ideas. To get started, I would love for you to share with our audience your story on how you got started in real estate investing.
I feel like I have told this story many times but I’m more than happy to share with you. I came into real estate investing by default because it started when my husband passed and I was lost. I did not know what to do. Because I was emotionally attached to the house where we lived, I couldn’t move on. Instead of selling, I decided to rent it out first. My tenant then asked for two years lease. It’s the longest two years lease I’ve ever had. It was good money because fortunately, I owned the house outright already at that time. It was a good cashflow. It was in Brentwood. I realized quickly that I am not going to be a landlord especially here in Los Angeles.
Because of the death of my husband, I had insomnia. I was watching TV up to 3:00 in the morning. I found this TV show that was doing these flipping houses. They made it easy and lucrative. Because I was searching for a way for me to preserve what I have and what my husband and I saved for our nest egg and maybe even grow, I did that. Unfortunately, it was the wrong way. I lost about $25,000 on that, but thankfully for some reason, I call it God’s intervention because I never gave up. Because of that, I’ve learned about podcasts and I’ve learned about books to read.
I continued listening to podcasts and reading books about real estate because I know somehow, I will have to be a real estate investing no matter what. Because I’ve learned about podcasts, one day I was at 405 and you know how traffic there is. I was driving down and I found Rod Khleif’s podcast. I turned it on. He announced that, “In three days, I will be in LA to do my bootcamp.” As soon as I heard that, I pulled over and called Rod Khleif’s office and asked for it and they still had tickets. Three days later, I was at Rod Khleif’s bootcamp. To make the story short, that bootcamp changed my life up until now. I can say that with firm conviction.
How do you currently play in real estate at the moment?
The way I play is I play as a passive investor, but I am also an active investor as well. I am a GP of 208 units. I’m also a limited partner of 800 units. I declared in 2020 that from now on moving forward, I would only be at least a GP whatever that takes.
As you look back at your journey of working as an accountant initially and being a business owner owning the spa and ultimately transitioning into real estate. What would you say are some of the lessons you’ve learned that you can share with other people who might be thinking about getting into real estate?Syndication is always about teamwork. Click To Tweet
For every journey that we have to take, it takes grit, perseverance, and drive. I would not have been able to come here to America without those three things. I had a dream to come here to America. The only way for me to come to America was to be a nurse because the US Embassy opened nurses’ application in the Philippines. My parents didn’t want me to become a nurse, so I became an accountant. I said, “I’m no longer a nurse so I cannot say goodbye to my ambition coming to America.” What I did was as soon as I graduated college, I made sure that I worked in an airline company, which I knew that their benefit would be to fly anywhere in the world after a certain period of time.
I knew Philippine Airlines employees for that. I went and worked for a couple of years. After that, I took my round-trip ticket. I went to Los Angeles and stayed with my aunt who was a nurse here at Cedar Sinai. The rest is history. A few days later, I got a job because I wanted to work right away. My aunt already prepared that. Many years ago, it was easy to transition from a visitor to a working visa and to get a green card. I immediately went to the lawyer to arrange my working visa. A few days later, I got a job and that job was a small employee benefits company in Santa Monica at that time. A few months later, we got bought out by Dun & Bradstreet. That’s how I ended up with Dun & Bradstreet as a trust accountant.
Coming back to the business you’re in. As you look at your business, which is investing in real estate, what are some of the key things that you think are key to growing your business as an active investor?
In syndication, it’s always teamwork. Hardly can you see someone that owns hundreds of units or a building that is owned by one person. There are but it’s not common. It’s usually syndicated. In syndication, it’s a team. There’s always a value that you can add to the team. I know that the value I can add to the team is to raise money, to be a part of the investor relations, be part of the due diligence or the ads management part of it.
For people who might be interested in investing passively, what are some of the things that you would say to passive investors as they look at opportunities and deals that are presented to them?
Because we are dealing with this is your money, this is your livelihood. You saved this money. You need to learn how to vet your sponsors. That’s number one, vet your sponsors well. When I say I vet my sponsors, my syndicators and my operators, I have to know them. That’s why I go to bootcamp, seminars, networking. I read about these syndicators. I always see them in person. You have the rapport together and feel. You trust but verify. That’s number one for me. I want to invest in a property that meets my criteria. I can’t be all over. In the beginning, I was overwhelmed. There are many deals. There is much shiny gold. I realized, “Chat, you have to focus on your assets criteria, what location, what area, what market are you going to invest that?” I had to study a deal before I invest as if I’m syndicating because knowledge brings competence and competence brings confidence.
These are some good points for people thinking about investing passively. Read about people, network, get out there, get to know people, build rapport, trust but verify. It’s some solid stuff. What advice would you give individuals interested in entering the real estate arena in general?
Probably the advice that I can tell is based on how and what I went through, feel the fear and do it anyway because you cannot stop working on your dream because you’re fearful. You have to get there. How did I overcome my fear? It goes back to the competence and knowledge that you gain. Be immersed in that whole world of apartment investing. There are many aspects of real estate investing. It could be land investing. It could be warehouse investing. I’m talking about specific. I was laser-focused in apartment investing.
Building out from that, we touched on this in the beginning, the Multifamily Women’s Mastermind. I’d like to talk about the idea behind the intention of starting it and expanding into what it has brought to you in that community. What have you seen it bring to that community?
It was the 2nd or 3rd boot camp of Rod Khleif at that time. It was in Tampa. I asked a general question about real estate. For some reason, I blurted it out like, “How come there’s not one woman in the panel.” Maybe it was in my subconscious. It may have bothered me or something. The following day, every woman came to me and said, “Good for you for asking.” We all took group pictures of us women. My friend, Candace Pilgrim who is a co-founder, talked to me about, “Maybe we should organize a women’s mastermind or group focused only on multifamily investing.” I said, “Yeah, we should do it.”
After the bootcamp, we moved on. We forget and we got busy and everything. Here comes Michelle Oppelt. She’s brand new in the business. She wants something and she became a protégé of Rod Khleif. She ended up talking to Candace as well because they live in the South. This is in Birmingham, Alabama. Michelle Oppelt is in Nashville. For some reason, they went to meet up and they talked. I said, “Yeah, we should do it.” Michelle called me and I said, “Let’s do it.” Immediately on that day, we got a phone call and we made it happen.
We can’t just be talking about it because we knew that there’s a big need for a women’s group like this focusing on multifamily. Thank God we did it because there is such a big need. Our mantra is encouragement, collaboration and empowerment. All the women that are members there are multifamily-focused investors. Some are crushing it and some own thousands of units. There are many members that are crushing it there and inspiring. I’m happy because women that are new can throw in questions over there. Other women can support and help.
We are in the last bit of questions. These are the level up questions specifically. The first one is what you are grateful for?
I’m grateful for my son. He’s my why. I’m grateful for all the blessings that have come to me.
What do you believe is key to your continued success and growth?
It is being authentic, honest, being me and hard work.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your real estate investing journey that you know now?
I wish I knew that apartment investing is not as scary as everyone thinks, as I thought before. I thought that apartment investing was for the multimillionaire moguls. I never knew that it was teamwork. That is why. I wish I knew that beforehand because I would have scaled faster probably.Being authentic, honest, hardworking, and true to yourself are keys to continued success and growth. Click To Tweet
For my audience, if they want to be in touch with you to learn more about you, what are the best ways to get in touch with you?
Thank you for coming on, Chat. I appreciate it.
Thank you. It’s my pleasure, Lisa.
Some of my key takeaways where she spoke about the importance of grit, perseverance, and drive as being the foundation and bedrock for her successes and where she is now. She also talked about the importance of teamwork. It’s super important. She talked about the value that she brings to the deals that she works and knowing that’s how she can contribute and help to bring those deals to life and to contribute to the teams that she works with. She also gave super great advice for passive investors, ensuring that you vet your sponsors well.
Get to know them and part of it is going to networking events, getting to meet some of the sponsors, get to know who they are, read about them, read their blogs, read information, listen to podcasts that they are on and understand how they get their rapport with people, with you as well as with other people and always trust but verify. Do your homework and get to know people. Invest in properties that meet your asset criteria. It’s important. I always say that it always starts with you knowing what it is that you want first.
Chat spoke about that being in a situation where there are many deals that are out there and honing in on what’s your investment criteria, what you’re looking for, the market asset class, the type of returns, the type of property, all of that stuff. When properties come to you, you are assessing it against your personal investment criteria. Her general advice for people interested in getting involved in real estate and getting started in real estate felt the fear and do it anyway. Let’s face it, doing something that you haven’t done before can be uncomfortable for most people. That’s going to bring up some fears, but through it all you moved through it and you don’t let it hold you back from pursuing what it is that you are seeking to pursue. If you wish to contact her, she put her email into the episode and she is active on Facebook as well. Until next time, keep leveling up.
- Chat Steinwald – LinkedIn
- Multifamily Women’s Mastermind – Facebook group
- Rod Khleif – podcast
- Chat Sarmiento-Steinwald – Facebook
- @Chat.Sarmiento.Steinwald – Instagram
About Chat Steinwald
Chat is a native of the Philippines. Her dream, as a child was to live in America. She would watch the sunset in her native Island, knowing that the sun was rising in America and one day be there. As a best-laid plan to pursue her dream to come to America, she worked as an Accounts Analyst with Philippine Airlines for two years and then migrated to the USA.
She migrated to Los Angeles at the age of 23, armed with a hundred dollars and a degree in accounting and a fearless drive for the American dream. Three weeks later, she landed at Dunn & Bradstreet as a Trust Accountant and remained there for eleven years.
She then opened her own boutique spa in the toney neighborhood of Brentwood, CA., a move precipitated by the need to spend more time with her son, Mitch and be a proactive parent while still running her small business. Beauty Magazine Editors including Allure, InStyle and TimeOut LA named her spa one of L.A.’s finest.
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, whom she met in 2018 is the nationally known Multifamily Guru and Investor himself, Rod Khleif. Since joining Rod’s program, Chat has become a Limited Partner in more than 700 apartment units and a General Partner in 208 units. Her son Mitch now works as a Behavioral Therapist for autistic kids at the UCLA Behavioral Health Center while currently pursuing his masters and doctorate degree.
She has quickly discovered the potential and opportunities for solid returns in multi-family residential investing, by aligning with solid, reputable partners and helping others to discover the same. Chat has also co-founded a women’s group focusing on Multifamily investing called Multifamily Women’s Mastermind with over 250 very successful and active members, sharing education, collaboration and networking focusing on the multifamily investing space.
Because her husband’s loss posed a lot of changes in her life, and for her to move on in life, she now has willingly accepted the changes that her loss gave her. Chat has sold her house in Brentwood where she lived with her family for over 20 years, closed her spa, and is now just focused on her newfound thriving business which is investing in Multi-Family Real Estate where she travels a lot all over the United States.
Chat loves to travel, passionate about life, loves to spend time with her son, friends, and family and looking forward to give back and be able to help out people who have had profound loss in life get support and find hope again through working with OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center, a charitable organization very near and dear to her heart, as part of the Advisory Board.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join The Level Up REI Podcast Community today: