Suzanne Hollander shares Real Estate Tips in the Commercial Real Estate Women Leadership Series Women to Women Wednesdays led by Pam Scamardo, founder of the C.R.E.A.T.E. Wealth Network. Click to watch the full interview below or read the transcript. We cover commercial real estate, real estate in Miami, getting out of your comfort zone to grow, and even Suzanne’s favorite real estate books and cafecito!
Click Image Below to Watch Professor Real Estate® Suzanne Hollander’s Interview, Learn More about Real Estate + Fun Facts about Suzanne!
Pam: Hi, everyone, welcome to Women to Women Wednesdays where I Pam, your host, I interview wonderful leaders in the commercial real estate industry. Today I’m super excited to have Suzanne Hollander as our guest. She is a real estate attorney and a professor, a broker and a women’s investment advocate. The U.S. Department of State appointed Suzanne to its Fulbright specialist roster as an expert in real estate. So you know we’re in good hands today.
Suzanne teaches Real Estate Law and Development at Florida International University where she’s been teaching for over 11 years. She’s going to provide us with nuggets of wisdom of how to get started in commercial real estate and share her background and provide you with some career tips that you can utilize in your journey. And also in addition, she authors a blog called Professorrealestate.com. So you can go check out her blog as well after this. And in addition to her teaching role, she’s also a director of professional development FIU university wide Office to Advance Women Equity & Diversity. We’re all about that right now. So with that in mind, thank you, Suzanne, for joining us today. Welcome!
Suzanne: Thank you, Pam, it’s really a pleasure to be here a real honor.
Pam: Thank you so much. First half is gonna be business professional questions, and then we’ll have some fun at the end. Okay, super. If you’re just getting into your career, or just starting off in commercial real estate, or even investing in commercial real estate, where do you recommend people start? What’s the first stop?
Suzanne: I think it’s a good question. Oftentimes people don’t know the first step. I spend time teaching mortgages and credit in class, because I believe private property is the way to build wealth, especially in the United States, where we are. I’m coming to you from Miami.
What we talk about in class is a way to get started, is something called house hacking. It has a trendy name.
And technically, it’s not commercial… what it would be is buying a four unit or less property. And you could use one of the government backed loans to purchase that. And it would qualify as residential, which would mean that you could put much less money down, and then you could live in one of the units and you could rent the other three out. So what could happen is that you’re living there, your three tenants are paying your mortgage.
Pam: Now, when did you decide to go into your all your roles? Because you’re a professor, you’re an attorney, you’re a broker, you’re all of you of the above, you’re Superwoman. When did you decide that this was the area for you? Can you share your background with us?
Suzanne: I started as a traditional real estate attorney, Miami is a real estate town. So what you see behind me is Miami Beach and the city of Miami.
So there’s a lot of opportunities there.
Everything that I do, I have a few real estate hats I wear. This gives me a complete view of the market. And everything that I do is real estate related. As a broker, attorney and speaker, I share the real life real estate stories, of what I do, in the classroom with my students. So it’s very applied.
Pam: Great. And what made you decide that, this was it for me?
Suzanne: I’m an attorney and one of first things that that all attorneys read, is the United States’ Constitution. I believe in the U.S. Constitution’s private property protections – these give value to U.S. real estate – this is the underlying reason investors from all over the world want to purchase property in the United States.
U.S. property rights are especially important to my students and for the people that we have in Miami, we’re from all over the world. Many of them come from countries where property rights are not respected. So if you live somewhere where you have to be afraid that “might makes right “or someone could take your property or it could be privatized by the government. Or if you live somewhere where you can’t obtain title or you can’t even prove that you own something. That is a really tough way to live and it shuts you out of the formal economy.
So I learned those things along the way in Miami and through what I do as a professor speaking internationally and as an attorney, and it made me dedicated to helping people value their private property rights in the United States.
Some of my students feel that they just want to be a renter because they don’t know that they can buy a property and obtain a mortgage even if they haven’t graduated from college or aren’t a U.S. citizen. I help them my students and especially women understand that… Women don’t have to wait for those milestones, to start investing in property and investing in themselves.
Pam: What are your top books that you recommend?
Suzanne: I have mentors that I owe a lot of my success to, and that I’d love to share my success with, and they are both women and men. One of the books that I recommend is written by a dear friend of mine, who is a mentor, and his name is Ken Rosen. He was one of the first people to do condominium conversions, South Florida, he would take apartment communities and convert them into condominiums. He wrote a book called Investing in Income Properties, The Big Six Formula for Achieving Wealth in Real Estate, and I read it word by word with him. It’s a practical book written in plain English isn’t that legalese book that can help you get started in real estate.
Another book that I really like to set a foundation of the importance of property rights is The Mystery of Capital written by Hernando de Soto, I had the opportunity to meet with him in Peru. He’s an internationally renowned economist, running for President of Peru, who works to privatize private property rights.
Pam: Well, what three things did you do that helped you secure the position that you are in today?
Suzanne: Some things I did revolve around to two decisions. One was to take risk. The second, to go outside of my comfort zone.
I started as an attorney in a corporate law firm, it was like being in an ivory tower. We would work on real estate deals, loan documents, but I wouldn’t see the properties. So I took a risk. and I went to work for a family office. It was a family from Switzerland, that bought three large parcels in downtown Miami. I was their corporate counsel and real estate project manager, we were we were cash funded. So when the downturn hit, we had entitlements to build about 2,000 units, we had started advertising in The New York Times. And when the downturn came in, that was the last time like The Big Short era 2008 2009 we put all of our projects on hold, and then I stayed with them as their private counsel.
Along that time, I met an investor who was interested in going to the foreclosure auctions. I already had my “feet on the street” the Swiss group, because and we owned properties in a part of Miami that’s now very hot, but then was was a little “iffy.” .I was interacting with the tenants. I was going to the properties, with the surveyor, then I started going to the to the foreclosure auctions.
And then because I had done these different things, and I met someone who told me that “You would be a really good professor. Your experiences are very, very unique and to bring them into the classroom and to share them would be, would be good for the students. Because it’s not only learning from a textbook, it’s learning from someone who’s really seen these things.”
Those are the risks I took: (1) to get out of the law firm; (2) to “get my feet on the street” with the Swiss real estate developer (3) to take the chance to work with the investor buying out of foreclosure and (4) to teach.
From these experiences I learned how to position the property, what happens when you get a foreclosure for awesome deal, and then you can resell it right away? What happens when there’s a leak, or all the utilities are ripped out? I got to see that firsthand because this I happened to us, the good and the bad.
And then teaching. I think teaching is really interesting, you meet so many different people. I’ve been teaching and speaking about real estate for 11 years in Miami and all over the world. I ’ve gained perspective on the way real estate works. What makes U.S. real estate so valuable compared to the rest of the world, and what works and doesn’t work in different jurisdictions.
Pam: So I’m a firm believer of learning from mistakes. Is there one mistake that you can share with us? That kind of when you first started out with your career, or the one thing you wish you’d done differently that you can share with our emerging leaders?
Suzanne: I wish I got my feet on the street faster. I think the law background is important it can take you many places. But I remember looking outside the window of my office, which was downtown Brickell. And there was a parcel of land there that later 1200 units were built on. And I was thinking, even when I was in law school, if I was thinking of buying, because I was in law school in Miami. I think that if I had realized that you don’t have to already have graduated to start investing.
Pam: Great. Yes. That’s a great tip right there. Thank you. Well, that concludes our concludes our professional questions. We’re gonna move on to the fun round with you. Oh, you’re ready for this?
Pam: Okay. It’s gonna be quick questions coming from me. So what’s your favorite color?
Suzanne: I like blue.
Pam: Favorite place?
Suzanne: I want to go to Latin America. So that’s where you want to go next!
Pam: Favorite movie?
Suzanne: I like to watch telenovelas
Pam: So favorite food?
Suzanne: I like Peruvian food. Ceviche, so I’m waiting to have a ceviche when I’m in Lima.
Pam: Favorite dessert?
Suzanne: Chocolate has to be chocolate.
Pam: Favorite holiday?
Suzanne: Fourth of July. I actually started my blog Professorrealestate.com I think 10 years ago on Fourth of July. So it was to celebrate financial independence.
Pam: Oh, that is very special, very near and dear to your heart. And so creative. I love that. If you haven’t haven’t checked out her blog yet. Check it out.
Pam: Favorite hobby?
Suzanne: I love to travel.
Pam: Coffee or tea?
Suzanne: Cortadito or Cuban coffee.
Pam: What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not teaching and doing all the other fun things you’re doing?
Suzanne: Right now I really like to stay in touch in touch with people. And that’s something that makes me value my friends and my connections so much that I had that I spent time with before the pandemic. So right now I try to make time every day to talk to someone that I’ve met over the years.
Pam: So what are you most proud of?
Suzanne: I’m very proud when a student will tell me something that I taught them help them.
Pam: Well, any final words to all the Emerging Leaders out there listening in on this?
Suzanne: Yes, I have a few. I really like quotes. There’s one from Warren Buffett that says “Someone sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
I think it can be a metaphor for investing in yourself for investing in the futures of others.
Pam: If someone heard something today that was interesting to them about please, you know, What is the best way for them to reach out to you?
Suzanne: They can check out my blog Professorrealestate.com or Linkin with me.
Pam: Wonderful, or you can also leave a comment on our video description below will also connect you with Suzanne, she’s also one of my advisors on our web page. www.Letsgocreatewealth.com so when you have a chance, go check it out, go check out her blog. And until then, we’ll interview another leader who’s killing it in the industry. Take care everyone!
Suzanne: Ciao, Adios. Thank you.
Shared from Women to Women Wednesday Interview on the GoCreateWealth network.
Suzanne Hollander is a real estate attorney, speaker, broker, professor and voice for property rights, real estate, housing infrastructure development and women investment advocate. The U.S. Department of State appointed Suzanne to its Fulbright Specialist Roster as an Expert in Real Estate. Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network awarded Suzanne its Global Impact Award for Career Advancement for Women in 2018 and Globestreet recognized her as a Woman of Influence in Commercial Real Estate – Mentor Category 2019.
Nationally, Suzanne is a Board Member of Housing on Merit, a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit organization, committed to preserving and developing affordable housing, a Board Member of RiskFootprint, a Property-Technology company quantifying environmental/ climate risks for property, a member of CREW Network’s Diversity & Inclusion Task Force and on the Advisory Board of the C.R.E.A.T.E. Wealth Network with a the mission of providing high quality commercial real estate investing education to all with an emphasis on uplifting women in leaders in the industry. , In Miami, she is a Board Member of Commercial Real Estate Women and 100 Women in Finance.
Fluent in Spanish and English, Suzanne is an invited attorney expert delivering speeches and moderating panels to private industry, universities and government entities through the U.S. and Latin America on:
- Real estate law, housing/infrastructure development & urban/regional decentralization
- Importance of private property rights to wealth creation and promotion of democracy
- Strategies to build transparent legal property systems to create efficient markets valuable to attract global allocation of capital
- Shopping centers impact on regional economy and social issues
- Strategies to advance the careers and education of women in real estate, law, finance
Suzanne’s comments on real estate, housing and property rights appear in Spanish, Portuguese and English media, including Wall St. Journal Money Watch, YahooFinance!, The Mortgage Reports, Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The Palm Beach Post, Wallethub, The Real Deal, Bankrate, Mercado De Dinero USA, GlobeStreet, Scotsman Guide Commercial Real Estate edition, El Monterero, Peru and InfoMoney, Brazil.
Disclaimer: Professor Real Estate® written materials apply generally to real estate subjects and are not intended to apply to specific legal issues.
Copyright 2021 ~ All rights reserved. ~ Professor Real Estate® Suzanne Hollander