2019 Women to Watch: Christina Suter | Think Realty | A Real Estate of Mind
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2019 Women to Watch: Christina Suter

Christina-Suter

Get educated and keep getting educated. This business is a marathon not a sprint.

In this article we pick up our Women to Watch series, featuring seven standout female real estate investors to watch in 2019. Read the full intro here.

How did you get started investing in real estate?

I started in real estate when I was 17 years old. My mom gave me a house, the family house, because she was ill. She titled it over to me 100%. I rented to my aunt and uncle, and they lived in it. Three years later they bought it from me on an installment sell. That was my first move into real estate, and it really set the stage for me to continue in real estate investing. Now, I do hard money lending. I have a stock and bond portfolio and am doing mid- and upper-end flips in the Pasadena area.

What are the top two characteristics you exhibit that have made you a successful investor?

Integrity: I keep my word. When I tell somebody I’m going to do something, I keep my word, to a fault I’m afraid. I protect my financiers. I make sure that they get paid out regardless of whether I do because I keep my word.

Resourcefulness: I know that I’m off if I can’t find a solution. If there’s not a sense of joy in my mind, or a sense of earnestness about finding a solution for a problem, I know I simply need to wait. I know my mind will reapply itself to the problem and find a workable solution. I like coming up with new solutions. Resourceful problem solving is one of the things I actually enjoy doing. And it’s part of what makes me really good at real estate, because real estate has problems—a lot of them— a lot of the time. Being resourceful, and being capable of solving problems, and using your team and your creativity to do that, is a big part of being successful in real estate. At least for me it is.

How do you manage work/life balance?

My work-life balance is a priority. I have a daughter who is 9 years old. My purpose for owning my real estate was the lifestyle that it can give me, the freedom and the control over my time. So when I became a full-time investor in 2000 I was excited that I knew I would be able to control this element in my life.

I have my workday from 9-2. I’m with my daughter except for one night a week where I do a real estate meeting. I drop her off at school every morning. I pick her up from school every night. That is how I maintain my work-life balance. My daughter is as high a priority, and my work-life balance is as high a priority, as are my real estate investments.

What are your goals for 2019?

I believe we are going to have both a real estate slowdown, if not downturn, as well as an economic slow down, as well as a downturn in the S&P 500, or the stock and bond market. So, my 2019 goals are all about focusing on repositioning. I’m bringing my flips in Pasadena to a close. I am looking at repositioning into short-term rentals. I’m looking at positioning the lending part of my portfolio—going into longer term hard-money loans. I have already sold off portions of my stock portfolio. And I might continue to trim my stock portfolio, in the next few months, possibly moving that into some syndication. There’s an opportunity zone syndications that I’m excited about, as well as some Cannabis syndications. So I’m looking to reposition myself specifically for the downturns of 2019.

What is the one strategy you’re focused on in 2019 that you feel will bring you the greatest success?

Short-term rentals are taking off. I’m not planning on doing them in the LA area. I have investigated that. I don’t think the LA area legislation is ripe for that. So I’m going to go out of state. It’s less expensive to buy instead of master leasing which I would need to do in California. I can purchase out of state. I have a team that I’ve already started to cultivate. That’s important because I look for a team first, then I look for the investments. That’s the way I work. So, short-term rentals I think are going to continue to have a momentum to them that will be attractive to millennials and attractive to other travelers, people in medical, people in construction. I think that’s a growing field, and of growing interest, even in a downturn. It has its own trajectory.

What are the three factors that you look at in your market to determine whether a deal is a good deal?

You know, that’s a really big question because due diligence is one of my passions. It is one of the things I actually enjoy and spend a lot of time on for both my clients and myself. I’d say the three factors are really: team first, asset second, and whether or not it’s cycle-appropriate.

First, it’s the team. The team ends up being what will make or break it for me. I start with identifying the concept of what I want to do, and then I identify a team that will let me do it and be successful at it. Either they’re the best at that particular asset, or that particular investment style, or they might be an expert in the city I want to be in.

Second is the asset itself. I want to identify the asset that the team can service, and make sure that it is the proper asset.

Third, the final question: is the investment being cycle-appropriate? This question will pretty much define what I’m going to choose to invest in. Real estate and the economy both breathe in and breathe out just like we breathe in and breathe out. It’s cyclical.

Favorite market to invest in? And why?

I hate be a one-trick pony, but my favorite market is wherever I can develop a team. I find an expert in an area, and I get educated on it.   

What’s your greatest investment success story?

My greatest investment success story is coming back after 2008. 2008 was really hard on me, it was hard on my marriage; it was hard on my ego; it was hard on my finances. I froze for six months. I did nothing with my portfolio for six months, and I took a significant hit. I sold everything profitable or not and I still had assets when I was done. Probably the most important thing, the best success story, is that I didn’t leave real estate. I sat there with myself, in my office, and asked myself, am I really that big a loser that I just need to walk away from real estate? “Yes, I just might be,” was my answer. Then I asked myself, would I be proud of myself when I was 80 years old, having turned away from real estate? Would I be disappointed in myself, because I walked away from a field that I loved being in and has brought me success up until now?

I decided that I would be disappointed in myself if I walked away, that it was my job to clean up the real estate portfolio I had, take the hits I needed to take, make everything straight with my team members as best as I could, and continue to invest in real estate. I got myself educated even deeper than I already was. I decided to stay dedicated in following the economy. What I learned was that real estate doesn’t care about me personally. It’s bigger than I am. My job is to stay humble and clear.

Best piece of advice for new investors?  

Get educated and keep getting educated. This business is a marathon not a sprint. You want to gain education so you can empower yourself to be successful and minimize the risks.

Words you try to live by?

Be of integrity, be a life-long learner so you can stay facile, live your life so you will be proud of yourself when you are 80 years old.

Connect with Christina:

Email: Christina@GLInvestor.com

Phone: 310-463-5942

Social: /GroundLevelConsulting


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