E186- Mark Cianciulli from The CREM Group

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Denis O’Brien [0:08]
Welcome to Episode 186 Mark from the CREM Group.

Hey Money Clan! A very warm welcome to the Chain of Wealth podcast. I’m your host, Denis O’Brien.

Katie Welsh [0:20]
And I’m Katie Welsh.

Denis O’Brien [0:21]
So Katie fascinating conversation and touching on the topic, which I’m not too familiar with.

Katie Welsh [0:27]
Yeah, it was definitely interesting talking to mark because you don’t want to think about bad things happening to you or to, to a loved one. So it’s not something that I’m very seasoned in either.

Denis O’Brien [0:40]
Yeah, you know, Kate, the whole thing is that when it comes to later in life, you want to put yourself in the best position and unfortunately, the only time you can do that is now you know, it’s ready in the present where you can make changes for future, especially when it comes to stuff coming up in the future like estate planning or life insurance and any of those kind of topics, the more you do now and the more you sort of get your, your ducks in a row, the better prepared you are for when something does eventually happen and it may happen, it may never happen, you know, it may happen in like 40/50 years or it could happen sooner than later. And you know, when it comes to that kind of planning, you want to be proactive and you want to be ahead.

Katie Welsh [1:21]
Well and it makes sense. All we preach on chain of authors being proactive and taking their steps now and having a plan for your life and all that kind of stuff. And it just makes sense that you would plan out for yourself for when you’re not in their state to be able to make those decisions for yourself anymore.

Denis O’Brien [1:40]
Kate, I couldn’t agree with you more. You know, the thing is, like a lot of people think that some people just get drudge it’s not about getting rich. You know, it’s about taking the steps to get rich and a lot of people don’t understand that. You know, the best thing you can do when it comes to any kind of personal finance topic is start planning and and start learning about the topic as early on as what you can.

Katie Welsh [2:00]
Yeah, for sure. So I think we have a lot to learn from Mark.

Denis O’Brien [2:03]
Yeah. So before we dive in, if you guys haven’t already, don’t forget to join our Facebook community. You can join us on the web. It’s chainofwealth.com/group, and come and say hi. All right, Kate, you ready to hop in?

Katie Welsh [2:16]
Yep!

Denis O’Brien [2:17]
Alright, let’s do it.


Denis O’Brien [2:32]
Mark is a highly focused realtor and the co-founder of the CREM Group, a boutique faction of professional realtors specializing in LA’s Eastside neighborhoods, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Long Beach and surrounding communities. Mark has a uniquely diversified background in real estate. He has worked as a licensed CPA and real estate attorney, property manager and real estate investor. Mark has extensive experience in Real Estate both on the buying and on the selling side. Welcome, Mark!

Mark Cianciulli [3:05]
Hi, how are you guys?

Katie Welsh [3:06]
Good, thanks. How are you?

Mark Cianciulli [3:08]
Doing well, happy to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Katie Welsh [3:11]
Yeah, we’re glad to have you. So, as Den said earlier, you have quite a diverse background, but there can be something so for the importance of specializing in a career, could you tell us a little bit more about your story and kind of what you’re doing now?

Mark Cianciulli [3:29]
Yeah, sure. And it’s funny that you brought that up because I you know, going into this I was thinking okay, what, what can I add to people listening to this and literally the theme of what I wanted to kind of say today and make a point of was specializing in kind of staying in your lane and really just not getting distracted with like, kind of the the glittery stuff out there. That could be tempting. So yes, that is kind of funny that you’re asking that right off the bat. We did not talk about that before. So that’s that is funny. But yeah, of course, I think specializing is probably the advice I give most to other professionals. It took my partner and I quite a bit of time to figure that out. But once we decided to do that, and we really dedicated ourselves to becoming a specialized real estate company, we’ve, our, the traction that we gained was tremendous.

Denis O’Brien [4:29]
We speak to people quite often about you know, the value of specializing. And one thing that’s really always struck true to me is, you know, you can be a jack of all trades. Anyone can be a jack of all trades, but you’re also going to be a master of none if you go that route. And I think a lot of people don’t really get that.

Katie Welsh [4:48]
Well and I like to also think of it as like a doctor, you’re not going to go to a brain surgeon to work on your heart and you want to go if you’re going to be a master, stick to your one thing that you’re really good at, and they’re successful follow.

Mark Cianciulli [5:04]
Absolutely. And you know, you read the background, I guess of myself at the beginning of this and you must have read from something that I think we have updated since. And the reason I say that is because today and for the last few years, our specialty in real estate has been probate and trust sales. And you were, you know, you mentioned Eastside neighborhoods. And in Los Angeles, you mentioned Long Beach. And that’s what we tried to make our thing when we started, and it was just, it wasn’t working. So we, we then thought, okay, what, what niche do we really want to identify with and focus on and since then, that’s, again, that’s become probate and trust sales. But, you know, it’s just something that I wanted to bring up i thought was interesting, not that we don’t also do deals in those areas, or that’s that stuff doesn’t describe, but what we really identified as now is probate interest real estate sales.

Denis O’Brien [6:02]
So talking more about like experts. How important do you think it is to surround yourself by experts? And I’m talking from a multiple of different angles here, like number one from maybe a money coach and maybe that’s a number to someone within real estate, maybe someone you know, we spoke about it earlier, like an IT guy. How important do you think that is ready to surround yourself with a team to help you get to success?

Mark Cianciulli [6:28]
Well, I think it’s important and I’m the two major ways kind of come to mind. It’s one, find that expert in your own field, your own focus, and do whatever you can to learn from that individual. For me, that meant actually hearing the expert in my field on a podcast, believe it or not, who I then reached out to cold lives in San Francisco. I’m in LA. I asked if I could fly up there. spend the day with him, and he agreed. So, you know, I thought I obviously thought it was important then I still think it’s important now to identify that expert that does exactly what you do and try and learn from that person. And then I guess in the other respect, I think that that same it’s also really important in getting to know the experts in kind of the adjacent fields or even unrelated fields because I’m sure you know people in all kinds of business run into this same thing that I do where it’s like someone is looking for something that you don’t do but you you know, you want to connect them with someone that’s really good that’s going to represent you well you know, you were the person that referred that them to this expert and now they you know, they think that much more highly of of you sorry, I got a fire truck.

Denis O’Brien [7:53]
It’s not problem.

Mark Cianciulli [7:54]
It has to be Hollywood Boulevard.

Katie Welsh [7:56]
It’s okay, we actually have a construction going on next door. We get it because occasionally we hear a buzz saw in the hallway.

Mark Cianciulli [8:06]
Yeah. I mean we you know, I live in a major metropolitan This is part of part of the deal.

Katie Welsh [8:15]
Right?!

Denis O’Brien [8:16]
It’s actually funny like I’ve had three fire alarms go off while podcasting.

The crazy. Wow, excellent.

Katie Welsh [8:31]
Anyway So Mark I wanted to ask you because I’m sure you get this all the time is the late night infomercials about real estate and the get rich quick schemes and all that kind of thing. And I’m sure for most people that does not typically work I of course there’s the lucky one person or two people who that works for but generally for most of us that’s not so much the case, I wanted to Know your ideas on, you know, really planting their seed today to prosper later on in life.

Mark Cianciulli [9:07]
There’s a few things in my mind that I thought, you know, I really want to mention these things. And again, even though you know, you mentioned the late night kind of pitches by these real estate gurus and I’m throwing up air quotes right now. And the first thing that came to mind and something that I wanted to talk about is the like house flipping trend that’s been going on for years that you know, I fell into and i i highly warn people against it these days for for various reasons. But yeah, I don’t, I would be very cautious about putting any stock into those get rich, quick and like a lot of reasonable people. Do you know, they give you the same advice, but I think anything that comes quick and easy, has some sort of morning that should come with it. You know what I mean?

Denis O’Brien [9:59]
Yeah yeah it’s actually pretty funny so I don’t know if it was the same in America market if you don’t know I’m from South Africa, in South Africa frozen yogurt or fro yo as it was called was huge you know it was absolutely massive it was everywhere there was stores popping up literally like on every corner almost overnight they these you know like frozen yogurt stores everywhere and quite a big fad at the time with people sort of investing in these franchises and you know, it was this incredible business model and it costs almost nothing to produce frozen yogurt but like people like take a straight out of the machine and the super cheap and profits are huge and everyone is hope getting into this and not even three years later. There’s almost none of them left in South Africa. I don’t know if it was the same here but if you guys have any other examples of that is kind.

Mark Cianciulli [10:53]
Well that paint very thing here that Pinkberry thing was like it was the rage a few years at 1,000,010 years ago. 5/10 years ago, it was everywhere and then all of a sudden it was gone everywhere.

Katie Welsh [11:03]
Yeah. So So what is your advice to people on how to avoid getting distracted by like the shiny things the new get rich quick fad?

Mark Cianciulli [11:14]
Yeah, you know, it’s funny when I first came out of college, it’s like, what I was focusing on was the exact right thing that I do today and I in terms of my investing career outside of my day to day business. Now, somewhere along the line, I got distracted again with this flipping thing, you know, and it’s a ton of work. It’s there’s quite a bit of risk, terrible tax implications. It’s funny I my instincts and what I had learned, you know, in college I knew I wanted to do is again exactly what I’m doing now and what I my focus is and that’s long term buy and hold. I do value added investing, multifamily and specialized retail, so it’s like, if I would have just continued that trend and not kind of gotten distracted, I would have been significantly better off. But again, that lesson has been solidified because of, you know, the few instances where I got burned, you know, financially from some some bad flips. So I think your question was, what advice would you give to, I guess, steer away? Or to maybe notice those things up front? That was at your question?

Katie Welsh [12:27]
Yeah.

Mark Cianciulli [12:28]
Um, I guess you got to trust your instinct. And you know, typically, our instinct in our gut is true. And again, when you just see I guess, all this like kind of these fads and it’s tough to identify at first, but when you see and hear about something all the time, I mean, I guess just question it, you know, really question it. Is this something that is just one of those fads? It’s going to be here and gone. I mean, think about maybe do a pros and cons list. Okay. What was I working on before? Why was I working on it? What is, What am I thinking about kind of changing over to now and why? And if I would have done that, I probably would have never gotten distracted.

Denis O’Brien [13:09]
Yeah. And like, I also think as well, when you do have a vision, it’s so much easier to like realize your goals. So sort of like we spoke about planting a seed. And another example is Kate and I wanted to starts Well, we want to learn how to podcast. So we were like, Okay, how do we start a podcast? So it’s sort of figuring out all the steps in place. Right, right. Well, we need to figure out how to do audio, we need to figure out how to do editing, we need to have a website, you know, and sort of having that vision and sort of putting into place these micro steps almost to realize that vision, I think can really help you as an individual and as an investor. When you’re trying to achieve a goal like maybe you’re trying to save for, you know, your first down payment for a house or maybe you’re trying to build up your real estate portfolio, whatever it is. I think it’s critically important to sort of try and establish that vision that you can try and realize.

Mark Cianciulli [14:05]
Absolutely.

Katie Welsh [14:07]
So

So in this part of the show, we typically want to ask a little bit more about your business, the CREM group. So can you give us a little bit of a, like an elevator pitch, what it really stands for, what your values are, what your vision is, and all that good stuff all in 30 seconds of your time?

Mark Cianciulli [14:25]
Of course not. Wait. I have 30 seconds.

Unknown Speaker]14:29]
Yeah.

Denis O’Brien [14:33]
So

Mark Cianciulli [14:33]
So let me Okay, first of all, in the city of Los Angeles, there are 10s of thousands of real estate agents. I think in Hollywood alone. I think there’s almost like 30,000 real estate agents. Okay. So that’s the pool that I’m competing in. So how am I successful in a in a pool that competitive? Again, I chose to do probate and trust Real Estate Sales. What is that? That is when someone passes away and doesn’t have a trust, their estate has to go through this court overseen process called probate. And sometimes most of the time, you know beneficiaries, children grandchildren they decide they need or want to sell the real estate me is me estate before probate is over. And just to give you an idea, probate is typically a year period or more. So you really need someone that understands that process in order to be able to sell the real estate and kind of adhere to all the nuances that the court requires. And so that’s what we do. I mean, we specialize in probate sales. And we also do trust sales with Sure. There are a lot more straightforward. They’re written instructions. You don’t have to go through probate, it’s a lot more flexible, but you know, we do both and that’s become our focus and our niche.

Denis O’Brien [15:55]
So typically when stuff is in probate, you know, it sort of sounds like the dissolving all of that person’s assets, you know, once they passed on how the restrictions on that in terms of what the beneficiaries can actually get, because I imagine a situation you know, where someone is strapped for cash and unfortunately, their parent passes away. And they need to sell this house yesterday to try get money and you know, sort of try and help them maybe pay for some debts that they have. How illiquid is the money when it’s in that stage.

Mark Cianciulli [16:30]
Well, it’s a liquid for so many months. Again, you have to get court approval to spend money from the estate on certain expenses and oftentimes, the administrator, the person that steps up in the family that says, Okay, I’m going to, I’m going to take the estate through probate and do all of these steps. Oftentimes, they’re fronting the money, they’ll get reimbursed when the probate closes. They’re fronting the money along the way. So it usually takes about six months for the court to approve that person to actually take money from the estate and pay for estate expenses. And again, a lot of times you have this need where you know, the the situation where you the real estate needs to be sold in order to have capital to pay off certain debts and liabilities have been accrued over the you know, the deceased lifetime. So, again, that’s our specialty. It’s either that it’s to us the decision was Okay, are we going to be the neighborhood local expert, which I’m not knocking those people those, you know, the ones that are really good, work really hard to be that person. It’s just that we saw an opportunity in this niche that was one a little less competitive, a little less well known and a little bit more nuanced. And, again, my partner I both being former attorneys kind of it just aligned well with this, so we chose it. And I’m glad we did.

Katie Welsh [18:04]
It sounds like I could imagine you’re you’re really helping people like, basically and one of the hardest times of their life, either a grandparent or a parent has passed away, and now they have to figure out what to do with their house, son, and all that mess. Do you have any, like, really inspiring stories or at the end, like, the sentiment really helped somebody?

Mark Cianciulli [18:27]
Yeah, I do have someone that I was helping a family that they didn’t know at the time but the was her grandfather, I guess towards the end of his life was being taken advantage of and then this, this kind of elder abuse is becoming more and more prevalent these days. And, you know, along with the probate attorney, and I kind of did a lot of the legwork to uncovered this this fraud that was basically that was going on. And we were able to recapture some of these assets that were transferred out of the descendants name, we got them back into the estate, and then, you know, eventually, they wanted to sell the properties and distribute the money, you know, to to all the beneficiaries. But if we hadn’t, you know, stepped in and done that, I mean, those people would have gotten away with essentially stealing a ton of real estate, and money from the estate, so that that was definitely one of the ones that I felt more like a hero.

Katie Welsh [19:36]
Yeah, like a like an undercover detective. And I’m sure at this time, it probably made you feel a little bit sick, like who couldn’t really steal from a sick old person. It’s like taking candy from a baby. Like, I feel like they’re two people. You don’t really target. You don’t target little kids and you don’t target old people. So thankfully, you helped.

Unknown Speaker]19:59]
And thanks.

Mark Cianciulli [19:59]
Thankfully, there’s a there’s the elder abuse. Again, it’s just becoming more prevalent. So there’s a lot more attorneys starting to develop that type of law, which is also you know, great those type of attorneys, they really help they help people a lot.

Denis O’Brien [20:16]
So

So with the, you know, like estate planning and stuff like that, how important would in your eyes having seen what you’ve seen and do what you do, is it to really get those assets into some sort of a trust vehicle before someone passes on? Does it really help the process a lot?

Mark Cianciulli [20:33]
Absolutely. I can’t even tell you how many times a day. I advise people, you know, whether it’s just briefly mentioning it or whether it’s a serious conversation. But having a trust. I mean, you can you bypass this whole probate process. And first of all, you’re bypassing the cost of having to have this probate attorney having to pay someone to administer the estate so all of that is is again is bypassed and you have this private written instructions. It’s very clear. And, you know, there’s no, there’s no court involvement. So I don’t know, I can’t overstate that enough. Again, I’m a real estate person, it just happens to be and it’s like kind of overlapping, legal area that this you know that this part of real estate overlaps with them. And I definitely think that there is a ton of value as well.

Denis O’Brien [21:27]
So highly encourage our listeners to reach out when it is time to start doing that estate planning and, you know, whether it’s for you or your parents, the worst thing you can do is not be prepared.

Mark Cianciulli [21:37]
Oh, if there’s nothing else that you can take from this, it’s to you know, please do some estate planning. I don’t care how old you are. If you’re married, if you have children, you should definitely look into getting a trust because the cost to get a full trust in order is a fraction of the cost that it is and time that to go through probate.

Denis O’Brien [21:59]
Awesome. Money Clan, we’re just going to take a quick break and then we’ll dive right back into the value link round.

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Katie Welsh [23:25]
So I wanted to know what your retirement plan looks like. Speaking of planning for the future and everything.

Mark Cianciulli [23:32]
Sure. Yeah, so mine is heavily heavily invested in real estate, my business partner in my day to day real estate brokerage. We also are very heavily involved in our investing activities together as well and we we syndicate real estate deals in Southern California and we also do a lot of buying holds on our own and I mean, that’s is our invest. Excuse me our retirement.

Denis O’Brien [24:04]
Awesome. And do you have a favorite book you’re currently into? Let’s see. I really like the new Psycho Cybernetics. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it. It’s really great for visualization of what you want to achieve. Again, I used to play sports. So I think it’s very helpful for a lot of lot of athletes, but it’s also very applicable to the business person as well. I like traction, my believe by Gina Whitman. I really liked that book. And I know this is cliche, but I really liked the TEDx rule. I listened to it pretty much once every three months just to get really motivated.

Katie Welsh [24:47]
No, I totally agree. I love I have a couple of books. I like to revisit often as well.

Mark Cianciulli [24:53]
Right?

Katie Welsh [24:54]
Yeah,

Denis O’Brien [24:54]
Yeah, actually had one of my, someone in my mastermind group mentioned the TEDx book. I need to read it. I have

Mark Cianciulli [25:00]
Yes, you should listen to it, you should listen to the audio book just because Grant Cardone is very animated. And I feel like you know, some of the podcasts that I listened to that that book is mentioned a lot. So I’m not really adding, you know, I’m not really uncovering any diamond in the rough today, but it’s so good. I mean, it’s just such a good motivational book. And it’s not just motivation, but for me once every three months and I’m like, rejuvenation.

Katie Welsh [25:32]
I’m going to need to check it out too.

Denis O’Brien [25:33]
Definitely bump it up the list!

Katie Welsh [25:36]
So do you have a favorite quote you like to live by?

Mark Cianciulli [25:39]
Oh, boy. Yes. So I would have to say my favorite quote is probably the elevators to success is out of order. You’re gonna have to take the stairs one step at a time like everyone else. I love that one. That one’s always very motivated gets me in the mindset. Okay, I’m gonna roll up my sleeves and get to work. Nothing’s going to be given to me today.

Denis O’Brien [26:04]
Absolutely loved that. Mark, we love hanging out today. Do you have any last parting piece of advice for our listeners. And then we’ll say goodbye.

Mark Cianciulli [26:12]
Sure, I’m just going to reiterate whether it’s your day job or whether it’s your investing activities, stay in your lane. You know, whatever you are working towards now, presumably you’ve given a lot of thought to that, and you should stick with it because it’s so so easy to get distracted by the shiny stuff out there. I’ve wasted time I’ve wasted money doing that. And if there’s nothing that I’ve learned in my first 12 years of my career, it’s it’s to do that. stay in your lane.

Denis O’Brien [26:45]
Money Clan definitely stay in your lane, don’t focus on shiny objects. You need to focus on one thing at a time and you will really go far. Today, we’ve been hanging out with Mark, you can check out his website. It’s CREMGROUPRE.COM and definitely focus is going to get you so far in life.

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