The traits of successful real estate investors often surface early in life then evolve to play a fundamental role in a career. Here are three investors/developers who have stayed in the game with big wins.
For Defortuna, a determination is what counts. “When I want to get something done, I am very determined.” He points to the project, Jade Residences at Brickell Bay. “I decided it was the building that would position us as a top of line Miami luxury developers, then 9/11 happened. Rather than lying down seeing what would happen economically we built a sales center so buyers who had reservations could see were moving ahead and sign sales contracts,” Defortuna said. “We took some risk and it paid off.”
Listen to Paul Habibi, Continuing Lecturer of Finance and Real estate at UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. “Successful investors and developers must always use good judgment. You can’t be driven by ego,” says Habibi an investor himself for the past 22 years. “If you let your ambition get ahead of yourself, you will take risks that may grow your investments in the upcycle but will take you out in the downtimes.”
Falcone’s career began in the foodservice industry. At 22, he became the youngest operator of a McDonald’s franchise ultimately growing that to more than 100 McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other family-style restaurants throughout New York, Florida, and California. “Growing up in Queens, I was very sports orientated which gave me a big leg up in being competitive and wanting to win,” Falcone said.
Win he did indeed. In 2005, Falcone sold his homebuilding and land development company Transeastern Properties, Inc for $1.6 billion. “When you come from nothing you have to work a lot harder to get ahead. Starting from zero you are always the underdog which led me to define the traits for my real estate business.”
In 1985, Karmely negotiated his first deal which he calls, “probably the best deal I ever made” He purchased an upper east side townhouse for $1 million on a handshake. “I was standing on the sidewalk in the pouring rain and negotiating. The tenants were gone and there were structural issues. I only had $100,000 for a deposit. The deal was I would I get the financing and move forward without even an engineer looking at the property,” Karmely recalls.
“I was naive but believed in the building and the block. I was totally open to taking risks which I probably wouldn’t do now. Today, I would over-analyze it,” he concludes. Today the building is home to a number of art dealers.
On the flip side perseverance when a deal goes sideways then moving forward with lessons learned, Karmely believes is key to his success.
No surprise persistence and determination are mandatory to have staying power in an industry where many make millions only then to lose their fortune.