Christiane Castellon, founder and CEO of EasyMGT, talks about making her impossible dream possible
As a realtor for more than 12 years, Christiane Castellon has seen firsthand how frustrating, time-consuming and cumbersome it can be to bring a real estate transaction to a successful close. The process of searching and gathering all the property management and home associations information in order to close a deal is so challenging that at some point she wondered why nobody had thought about centralizing all this data.
She even started her own database a few years ago to facilitate her work. That raw data was the starting point for Easy-MGT, a one-stop online platform that brings community associations and property managers together to share information relevant for buyers, tenants, owners and the communities and property management companies themselves.
This is how Castellon, founder and CEO of Easy-MGT, made that idea come true.
How did you get into real estate?
It started as a hobby. I liked to buy, fix and sell houses or as they say flip them. About ten years ago, when the market crashed, when all the value of the properties went down, I owned some properties. Basically, I needed to have my real estate license to solve my problem. I was forced to short sell my properties. What I realized was that in order to close all those transactions, I had to contact several people that didn't have any communication between them.
Who were the people that you needed to contact?
I had to constantly deal with title companies, with associations, with banks, with lawyers… Sending documentations to all these places allowed me to understand how the system worked and how each communicated with each other. Back then I had so much trouble contacting them. I sent so many emails, texts and messages, just to get answers.
How did you solve the situation?
I started a database in Excel of all the communities and associations, but it was very hard because I was working full time as an executive assistant. At that point I recognized that a service with all this information centralized would be extremely useful but had to put it aside because I had my full-time job, plus my real estate work, where I was making more money. I also thought someone would do it before me. Ten years later we are facing the same challenges so I decided to create the platform.
What made you actually start EasyMGT ?
At the beginning of this year we went through a difficult transition after my husband lost his job. At the same time I was doing well on the real estate side of the business. I felt it was the perfect timing to put that idea into motion as he could also help make it a reality.
Besides the circumstances, what else has changed?
This time I feel more mature, I feel that I am ready for this challenge. I feel that I have learned so much from my other experiences. I feel that I am using all of my administrative background. What has been amazing is the encouragement and support of the people around me who believe in me and in the platform.
Has the information been centralized since your first attempt at a database?
I started my research again, mostly doing online searches for service providers that could put together the property management companies and the community associations. There are some pages that focus on giving you information about property managers and communities, but they don't link them. They are basically using these pages as advertisement. My main goal is to have the largest database of information so we will continue working on this part of the platform.
What exactly are you offering?
EasyMGT is a hub, that provides community associations and property managers a platform in which they can showcase everything that each has to offer in terms of rules, fees and resources. Right now, in order to have first-hand information you have to be texting, emailing the condominium, the property manager, or you have to find it online. What we are doing is putting together information from all the community associations nationwide in one place, which is a huge undertaking.
How would you get that information?
Community associations and property management firms have the chance to subscribe to our platform for a $29.97 monthly fee. They will upload their information themselves through very easy to fill out forms, that will allow them to describe step by step what their communities are all about in beautiful landing pages. In exchange, we will be their 24/7 assistant, their online operator. We will give information to people that need immediate answers to specifics questions, without the need to call or send an email. What I am trying to show them is that is not only a great way to promote themselves , but it is a solution that will save hundreds of hours and resources. At the same time, the platform links property managers to the community associations. Once we accomplish that step, buyers and renters will be able to find all this information, forms and contacts in one place.
What is the ultimate goal?
My goal is that if a potential buyer or renter starts searching for a property either online or through a realtor that that person is able to filter down the list of properties to focus on the ones that are going to fit her/his needs. I want people to know all the details before visiting a property. It’s about saving time. I have seen sales that have been negotiated for weeks fail because a renter, potential buyer or bank uncovered information they were not aware of. This platform will change that. On the other hand, the communities themselves want to have happy buyers, happy residents and the way you will accomplish this is by providing the right information so when people buy into their communities, they are aware of the rules and regulations that govern that place. You are not going blind-sighted. It is about making life easier for everyone.
Where are you concentrating?
We are launching in Florida first, where there are around 40K+ community associations. We will be in Florida for an entire month promoting the platform and then we will launch in five additional states: California, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and New York.
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