By age 24, most people have settled into the â€œ9 to 5â€ and have an initial experience with working life. Every so often you find someone who has taken a non-traditional path and seems to be blazing new ones. This week I met with one of these refreshing individuals, real estate developer Pete Marsele. His first major project, Woodland Lofts, was announced earlier this week in the Hartford Business Journal.
So how did Marsele, who is only 24, get to the point of owning a $700,000 building that will soon be worth, hopefully, $6,000,000? Well, it seems to be attributable to a combination of self-awareness, positive attitude, hard work, and networking. Pete admits he had a desk job, but that only lasted a month; it just wasnâ€™t for him. He ended up getting his real estate sales license, which gave him more flexibility and freedom in his career. Marseleâ€™s preferred work structure is learning by doing and real estate allows you to â€œmake it and make a difference.â€
And thatâ€™s just what heâ€™s doing. His project to build New York City loft-style condominiums in Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood will bring home ownership opportunities to an area that is currently dominated by rentals. However, getting his project done is going to be a long and difficult road- even after heâ€™s achieved some significant milestones.
Pete looked at several dozen opportunities before he found his current project, each of which required significant thought and financial analysis, honing his analytical skills. He heard â€œthat will never workâ€ more often than not, but kept plugging away. At the same time, he was pounding the pavement trying to find a financial backer to fund his vision. Although many people that he met were not interested in providing him financing for his current project, Marsele feels one of the most important outcomes was building relationships and keeping doors open for future development opportunities.
A mentor and financial backer revealed itself in one of Peteâ€™s extended family members. His wifeâ€™s uncle, Todd Talbot, was experienced in residential rehab in several states out West. Through Todd, Marsele has gained valuable experience in working with hard money lending. Additionally, the zoning process has been the biggest learning curve. Marsele admits that itâ€™s difficult to make everyone happy; the city, the developer, the residents of the neighborhood. There is a lot of compromising that must be done, while also trying to maintain a projectâ€™s viability and profitability from the developerâ€™s standpoint. The zoning process took twice as long as projected in Peteâ€™s project plan, but heâ€™s happy with the final result.
Marseleâ€™s excitement shines through when describing his current project, which will result in 28 condos that each have 2 bedrooms and 2 baths. The 3-story building, previously home to the Austin Organ Company, will feature exposed brick walls, 15 foot ceilings, large windows, exposed wood beams, hardwood floors, modern kitchens with granite countertops, and tiled baths. Square footage will range from approximately 1000-1600 square feet per unit and pricing is projected to come in around $250,000-$300,000 per unit.
The coming months of the Woodland Lofts build-out will provide numerous new learning opportunities for Pete Marsele. Undoubtedly there will be challenges for him to face, but he plans to be in development for the long haul. When asked what others should consider when thinking about getting into development, Pete offers these nuggetsâ€¦
1. Start part-time and jump in full time when you can. This requires financial support, like a spouseâ€™s second income, and emotional support from family and friends.
2. Network and keep doors open. You might not have the right opportunity for someone today, but you never know what will happen down the line.
3. Donâ€™t let people intimidate you with industry-speak. Ask questions. It builds your knowledge and your credibility with that person because they know you are genuinely interested in the process.