Maria Corbisiero | Real Estate Investor, Business Woman, Realtor with Compass
Meet Maria Corbisiero @MariaCorbiRealEstate realtor with Compass. An avid investor who spent years perfecting her craft before consulting on others projects. “I started small, I really had to learn the ropes by myself” she recalls about her journey. Today she has a vast portfolio that includes both commercial and residential properties. Her story is one of grit and resilience. She has proven that no dream is big enough, and if you want to succeed, hard work and waking up early goes a long way. Here’s her journey to success!
What is your background and education before you got into real estate?
I was born and raised in the mid-west, in Wisconsin. I went to college where I graduated from the University of Wisconsin. From there, I worked for a company, who was a large contractor out of Chicago for ten years where I was involved in purchasing. My first big project with them was in the State of Maine where I spent two years. After that, I travelled to Texas and then relocated to San Diego. At that time, my grandparents where getting older and I wanted to be closer to them so I decided to go back to the company’s head office in Chicago and that’s where I started dabbling with real estate on a personal level. I was 27 at that time. It was in the making that made me realize that real estate was what I really wanted to be doing.
I started buying and selling my own properties, while representing myself. After my grandparents passed away, I was offered an opportunity for work to relocate me to Orange County and to work with a new division that was starting within the company. I decided to take on the opportunity and moved to Orange County. I spent two years in Orange County and then got relocated to Palm Springs, but this time I absolutely fell in love with the city and the desert and started focusing on how I could stop moving around and make Palm Springs a permanent location.
I decided to work on getting my real estate license and then I worked for a small boutique team called KUD properties, which was like a small family that helped me bridge the gap from where I was with my previous job to implementing full time real estate into my life. My first year with them I was rookie of the year and it all just took off from there.
Take us down the road through the lens of a real estate investor and agent. How do you see real estate?
I didn’t come from a background of real estate. I really had to learn the ropes by myself. I bought my own property but I decided that I wanted to do something different with it. I own my primary residence but I decided to buy my first condo and start on a small scale where I could learn and grow but still keep it small enough that I’m not risking too much. So the first condo was small and terrible in Palm Springs and I knew what was important like location, neighbourhood and the HOA. I had a strong basis of understanding of the fundamentals of real estate.
You quickly learn that the basics are not enough and this is a highly emotional process no matter what stage of the game you’re at. I decided to renovate the condo and had hired some handy man just to get a Cease and Desist from the HOA because I hadn’t gotten the right permits from them. They shut my little project down very quickly. I had contractors taking advantage and overcharging me because I didn’t know the rules of the game and most importantly the actual costs of the jobs. I made the most outrageous mistakes. It was a trial by fire every step of the way. It was really overwhelming and mind you it was a small condo. I realized quickly how time is money and that the sharks are always lurking around the corner and they know if you don’t know anything.
This whole fiasco made me realize that I had to toughen up and real quick. In the end, I completed my condo project and everything turned out beautifully finished and fully furnished and ultimately selling it. I made an amazing return on my investment.
And that’s how the ball starts rolling. I put the money from the first project into the second and third project and so forth. My first small property gave me the capital to go after two larger properties. So now I was ready to start a bigger scale project and learn the ins and outs. With those properties my goal was to rent them out for long term passive income.
Having this residual income while working as a real estate agent allows me the privilege of choosing which clients I want to work with and choosing project that best suit my needs. I am never forced to just take any offer or any client because I need the income. This in itself has given me a different type of freedom than many of my colleagues. As an agent, everything is commission based but when you have this residual income it gives you that security and freedom.
From the investment standpoint, I have one property that is for long term rentals and one that serves as an airbnb. They are both very lucrative and successful properties. Now I’m working towards a multi-residential unit than can be something like a hotel/motel with eleven rooms and the next phase of my investment portfolio and I’m also looking to expand markets and continue to build from there.
One of things that’s amazing for me that’s all of this is coming from a place of passion and connectivity. I had a job for ten years where it paid the bills and gave me security but never inspired me or got me out of bed every morning with enthusiasm nor filled in the pieces that I wanted encompassed in my life. On the other hand, being a real estate agent gives me the ability to be creative, to interact with people all day long and hosting which I absolutely adore doing. I host some great dinner parties and gatherings and I love all the attention to detail so when I do an airbnb experience it gives me the opportunity to connect. Thats also the reason why I manage my properties.I love meeting people from all over the world and creating an experience for them in my home. It allows me to be my fullest and happiest self.
What is your long term vision as an agent and investor?
I want to be a small scale mogul. I don’t ever want to have a huge team. I want to remain very boutique style and be very personalized to always provide the best for my clients. It’s so important to me to be connected to the work and to the people that I work with. I would say that almost all of my clients have become friends of mine. I always want to provide an amazing product to the community in which I buy a property in. Even though my husband and I re-design properties, we still always have that on our minds; we leave the community a little better than we got in it and we always think of the families that will be living there. Our objective is to customize for the property and the neighbourhood. We never just flip to flip.
As am agent, when I have clients who are looking for properties in the areas of San Diego and Palm Springs, where inventory is extremely low, I can paint them an amazing picture of how they can turn certain homes that look at first glance as not good investment and show them how they can flip that around to get something breathtaking. That’s an expertise I have acquired through trial and error and something unique that I bring to the table. I can connect them to the right contractors, the right people for every single job they need so they have a great experience, get what they want and love and they don’t make the same mistakes as I did. That’s so much value in itself.
I had a client to whom I gave some advice on what to do with his property and he fought me every step of the way. Then one day, around nine months later he called me with the most sincere phone call ever thanking me from the bottom of his heart and telling me just how much he loves the house he bought with the renovations.
Now with the renovations that we are doing and the re-designs, we are able to offer properties to our clients before they hit the open market. We even added renderings now so that the clients can see what’s coming up. So when we secure the property, we make a 3-D rendering to show potential buyers what it would look like with our finishes. We also use these renderings and hang them around the house for the contractors so that they can work with a real life image after which, we send it to our database of clients showing them what we have coming up.
We are also happy to make things more custom if ever we have a client who likes the rendering but wants it a little different for themselves. It has to fit into our budget also.
How do you manage your work and personal life?
My morning is really important. I have been taught by many industry leaders that if you win the morning, you win the day. I like to to wake up really early and spend time with my two dogs, I have my cup of coffee and always read something for at least 45 minutes. I try and keep my phone away as I do my morning routine. I also try and incorporate some form of workout, a journal and then I start diving into my work emails.
Every single morning at 8 am, we have a team call with our agents and that’s a morning affirmation’s call. We do team affirmations, and that’s amazing because we all support are goals and dreams. It’s quite magnificent.
All Photo Credit – George Duchannes Photography
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