MERIDON — Local business owner Jose Vicente Cusnia tried out a new venture Monday night — hosting a real estate seminar at his roofing business, Best Connecticut Roofing. The event lasted more than three hours and included experts in sales, marketing and real estate.
Mark Poole, Robert Pincus, Joe Carabetta, Johnny Carabetta and Joey Fiorella gave a brief presentation on their particular area of expertise and then took questions from the mostly Latino audience.
“I didn’t expect so much,” Cusnia said in his native Spanish. “I thought maybe 20 or 30 people would arrive.”
This is the first time that Cusnia has hosted such an event. Originally from Ecuador, Kusnia started his roofing business about 12 years ago and got into real estate after meeting Mark Poole.
Poole said he has 25 years of experience in various aspects of real estate. He bought his first condo in Bridgeport in 1997 and grew the business to 140 units in about eight years. He now owns two flight schools and an event venue. Poole spends much of his time helping others enter the real estate market.
He advised prospective investors to study and prepare before entering the market and find a mentor to help them.
“If you don’t have the knowledge, you end up spending it,” he said. “I had to do it myself, so we were spending money because I didn’t know.”
To host the event, Cusnia cleaned out its shingle storage facility located at 35 Meridian Street and sent out invitations via TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. The event was also streamed live on Facebook by Norwich’s John Valdivia, who helps run the Punto Deportivo soccer video service.
Kusnia invited the speakers to inspire some of the young people around him to start working for themselves.
“I’m not that smart. Kids these days are much smarter. But I’m an example of the principle that if you meet the right people, you can succeed,” he said. “My life changed when I started meeting the right people.”
To overcome the language barrier, Brian 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, not knowing how to work for himself.
Hearing stories of high profits and big mistakes, many in the audience asked for personal advice on flipping houses—buying them low, fixing them up, and reselling them at a higher price. However, experts offered general advice for those interested in entering the market.
“Always look for people in need,” pointed out sales expert Robert Pincus.
“Find the right buy, analyze the market and find the best price point,” advises Joe Carabetta of J&J LLC.
“You marry the house, but you go out with the price,” real estate investor Joey Fiorella pointed out.
Several of the experts advised reinvesting profits back into the business and earmarking a percentage of the business’s profits 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 resale value in the neighborhood.
“Any advice I can give to any person makes me feel like a better person,” added Joe Carabetta.
Cusnia also said the event is a chance to socialize and share knowledge within the community. “It’s a chance to meet people who are in the same market,” Kusnia said.
Fernando Diaz of Stamford found out about the event on Facebook. After rising through the corporate world, Diaz now serves as vice president of acquisitions at Evergreen, a family-owned real estate company founded by his father more than 24 years ago after emigrating from Peru.
“It’s good information and great speakers,” he said.
In his years with Evergreen, Diaz said he doesn’t often come across many Latin American real estate networking events.
“It’s good to see so many Spaniards in one room – usually I’m the only one,” he said.
[email protected], Twitter: @lguzm_n
Latino community reporter Lau Guzman is a staff member at Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal by donating at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re. To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.