MERIDEN — Local business owner José Vicente Cusnia tried out a new venture Monday night – hosting a real estate workshop at his roofing business, Best Connecticut Roofing. The event lasted over three hours and featured some experts in sales, marketing, and real estate.
Mark Poole, Robert Pincus, Joe Carabetta, Johnny Carabetta and Joey Fiorella each gave a short presentation on their specific field of expertise and then fielded questions from the attendees – rrmainly Latinos.
“I didn’t expect so many,” Cusnia said in his native Spanish. “I thought that maybe 20 or 30 people were going to arrive.”
This is the first time Cusnia hosted an event like this. Originally from Ecuador, Cusnia started his roofing business about 12 years ago and became involved in real estate after meeting Mark Poole.
Poole said he had 25 years of experience in different aspects of real estate. He bought his first condo in Bridgeport in 1997 and grew the business to 140 units in about eight years. Now he owns two flight schools and an events space. Poole spends a lot of his time helping others enter the real estate market.
He advised prospective investors to learn and prepare before they enter the market and to find a mentor to help them along.
“If you don’t have the knowledge, you’ll end up spending it,” he said. “I had to do it on my own, so we were spending money because I didn’t know.”
To host the event, Cusnia cleaned out his shingle storage facility located at 35 Meridian St. and sent out invites via TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. The event was also live streamed on Facebook by Jon Valdivia of Norwich who helps run soccer video service Punto Deportivo.
Cusnia invited the speakers to inspire some of the youth around him to get a start in working for themselves.
“I’m not that smart. Kids these days are a lot smarter. But I’m an example of the principle that if you meet up with the right people, you can make it,” he said. “My life changed when I started meeting the right people.”
To overcome the language barrier, Bryan Leon of Servpro served as translator and interpreter for the evening. Leon said his family is also from Ecuador and he remembers watching his father struggle as a subcontractor without the knowledge to work for himself.Experts’ advice
Listening to stories of high profits and big mistakes, many in the audience asked for personal advice about flipping houses –buying them at a low price, fixing them up and re-selling them at a higher price. However, the experts did offer general tips for those interested in entering the market.
“Always be looking for people in need,” pointed out sales expert Robert Pincus.
“Find the right buy, analyze the market and find the best price point,” advised Joe Carabetta of J&J LLC.
“You marry the house, but you date the rate,” pointed out real estate investor Joey Fiorella.
Several of the experts advised reinvesting profits back into the business and setting aside a percentage of the profits of the business for advertising.
Another common thread in the discussion was the importance of learning the market value of a home and having a clear understanding of the resale value in the neighborhood.
“Any advice that I can give any person makes me feel like a better person,” Joe Carabetta added.Event feedback
Cusnia also said the event was a chance to network and share knowledge within the community. “This is a chance to meet people who move in the same market,” Cusnia said.
Fernando Díaz of Stamford found out about the event on Facebook. After ascending in the corporate world, Díaz now works as the vice president of acquisitions at Evergreen, a family real estate company his father started over 24 years ago after emigrating from Peru.
“It’s good information and great speakers,” he said.
In his years of working with Evergreen, Díaz said that he doesn’t often encounter many Latino networking events in real estate.
“It’s good to see so many Hispanics in a room –usually I’m the only one,” he said.
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re, To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.