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Abel Gilbert: At the Nexus of Real Estate Innovation and Latino Leadership
Abel Gilbert, a celebrated figure in real estate, dons the hat of Founder and CEO at ONEPATH Realty. His journey, brimming with passion and perseverance, has seen him transcend the landscape of real estate, making strides from his initial role as an agent to leading Miami's premier team-owned brokerage.

Abel's dedication to service has manifested in his significant contributions to the lives of thousands of families, assisting them in navigating the real estate market. In addition to his robust client-based experience, he has also demonstrated remarkable entrepreneurial prowess. This includes the accomplishment of over 100 lucrative 'fix and flip' operations, the astute management of transactions exceeding $30 million in non-performing loans, and the successful development of construction projects.

Furthermore, Abel’s influence reaches beyond the realms of ONEPATH Realty. He plays an integral role as a top advisor for Zillow, a position that few Latinos have had the opportunity to inhabit. Abel’s experience and insights are invaluable in this high-impact role, further testament to his industry expertise and leadership.

In addition, Abel is a cherished member of the Hispanic Wealth Project's Angel Community, where his contributions are greatly valued.

Above all, Abel is not just an acclaimed professional; he’s a cherished family man who balances work and personal life with grace, embodying the ethos of a truly successful individual. His story exemplifies the trajectory of dedicated Latino entrepreneurs who are shaping the future of American real estate.

Can you share your journey, from being a real estate agent to now leading Miami's #1 Team-owned brokerage?

Abel: My journey from being a real estate agent to now the CEO of a real estate brokerage has been full of professional and personal growth. Typically, real estate agents are people who don’t have academic degrees; in most cases, we are entrepreneurs who want the best things in life. This is why real estate seems like an attractive and easily attainable way to achieve success. After 15 years of being a successful buyer's agent, seller's agent, and investor, I felt it was time to start a company that helped other agents achieve consistent success, but to be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Being the CEO of a brokerage with more than 15 staff members and 150 real estate agents requires patience, emotional control, and a growth mindset. Additionally, having a solid marriage has been fundamental.

Our company is now five years old. However, I realize that the journey of growth and improvement, both professionally and personally, will never end.
You've assisted thousands of families with home buying and selling. Can you share some unique experiences that had a lasting impact on you?

Abel: I've been a part of thousands of real estate transactions, and consequently, I have countless stories. However, what has always stood out as the most impactful to me is the opportunity to help children have their own bedrooms. During most of my childhood, there were times when I didn't have a bedroom, or I had to share one with my sister. Simultaneously, I observed my cousins, who each had their own rooms, and I found myself questioning why I couldn't have a room of my own filled with my toys. Later on in life, as an adult and a real estate agent, I had an epiphany: the aspect that fulfilled me the most about being a real estate agent was the ability to help children acquire their own space - their own little world in their own bedroom.

What prompted you to venture into fix and flip opportunities and what have been some of the key lessons you learned from this experience?

Abel: I've always possessed an entrepreneurial spirit. As a teenager, I started my first business, which led me to enjoy the practice of buying low and selling high. I consider myself a creative, although I don't paint, sing, or write; I believe I express my creativity through business. As an entrepreneur in real estate in the early years of my career, I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to do something different, something unlike most other real estate agents. Through research and building relationships, I learned how to identify opportunities. My focus on cultivating relationships eventually enabled me to merge opportunities with investor capital. This launched my career as an investor, allowing me to participate in hundreds of real estate flip transactions as well as creative opportunities such as purchasing mortgages and later on, property development.

How did you navigate the challenges of managing acquisitions and dispositions of non-performing loans valued over $30 million?

Abel: During the financial crisis of 2008, being a real estate agent was almost like a taboo - nobody was buying, and those who wanted to sell owed more money on their mortgages than their properties were actually worth. I was in my late 20s, newly married, and failure wasn’t an option. Through connections, I was able to get involved with a loan servicing company, who later on, gave me the opportunity to buy financial instruments like non-performing mortgages. When I was first given this opportunity, I had no experience; however, those investor partners who had trusted me with other investments decided to trust me again and gave this a shot. This was a completely different environment. I thought I was still in the real estate business, but I quickly realized that I was in the empathy and solutions business.

As a top advisor for Zillow and one of the few Latinos in that role, what unique perspectives were you able to bring to the table? Could you share an example of a suggestion you made, why you felt it was necessary, and what was the outcome after implementing your advice?
Abel: Being a member of the Zillow advisory board has been an amazing experience and opportunity. Although I am not the only Latino, I am one of the few Latinos who has ever had the chance to sit on that board. Part of our discussions revolve around improving the experience for the end consumer and enhancing the relationship and partnership with the real estate agent. Due to a non-disclosure agreement, I can't specifically disclose the improvements that are being worked on. However, as a Latino, I'm always advocating for the integration of the Spanish language into their platform and algorithms.
Can you share your insights on the potential challenges and opportunities in the current real estate market for the Latino community?

Abel: In my opinion, the challenges that the Latino community is currently facing in the real estate industry are still similar to those in the past, primarily proper guidance and education. Most people from Latin American countries don’t have the knowledge and experience needed to buy a house in the US. Becoming a real estate agent is quite easy in most states, which is why many people who aren't necessarily fit to be real estate agents end up getting their licenses and representing families, even though technically, they may not be qualified to do so. Part of the solution is to provide direct access to consumers in their language, and in the way they prefer to communicate. However, it's also very important to continue elevating the skills of Latino real estate agents so they can provide the best possible guidance for their clients.

As someone who has successfully developed construction projects, what advice would you give to someone just starting in this sector?

Abel: Being a developer has taught me numerous lessons. It's also given me satisfaction from a legacy perspective. I've often taken my kids to the properties I've built so they could see what their father created. The idea is that when they're older, they can take their own children and tell them, "Your grandfather built that." Some of the most important areas to master when it comes to development and construction are understanding zoning restrictions, keeping a pulse on the demands of the end consumer, choosing the right engineers and contractors, being clear about timelines and expectations, and ensuring that the cost of the money you use allows for a healthy profit margin at the end. Additionally, knowing how to properly market and advertise the finished product is crucial for the investment of time versus money to work out.
How does ONEPATH Realty work to encourage homeownership within the Hispanic community, and what role do you see it playing in closing the wealth gap?

Abel: The majority of the clients OnePath Realty serves are Latinos. A conscious effort that I've led in our company is to help our agents understand that they are more than salespeople - they are advisors. One of the main things we help our clients understand is the clear comparison between renting and owning. Since we understand that homeownership is the number one vehicle to achieve generational wealth, we go above and beyond to show, explain, and provide an enjoyable experience, all in the service of helping them achieve the goal of homeownership.
You're known as an outstanding family man, a dedicated husband, and father. How do you balance your work responsibilities with your personal life, and what lessons have you learned through the process?

Abel: Family is everything to me. As an adult, I made a conscious decision that I would always strive to be the best father and husband that I can be. However, I also understand that nothing is perfect. Life is about making progress. Thanks to this mindset, I've learned that if you try to create "balance," you will always feel disappointed because it's almost impossible to maintain consistent balance in such a dynamic world. Instead, what I've cultivated is a world where I focus on being present. My personal and professional life are in a never-ending process of interconnecting. Because of that, I delegate tasks that aren't urgent and important for me to handle to other members of my team and staff. For the tasks that I am responsible for, I ensure to handle one at a time. If urgent matters arise during moments of being with my family, I deal with them, but then quickly return my focus to the present moment as soon as I've completed the task.
Abel: Being a member of the Hispanic Wealth Project's Angel Community has provided me an awakening. As a young Latino entrepreneur, I was not exposed to the details and intricacies related to investing in startups or creating my own startup. The Angel Community has helped me obtain the clarity that I needed to both understand where to invest and also how to structure my own potential startup ideas. At this point, I'm convinced that there is no greater wealth-building opportunity than being involved in an angel community and learning the expertise to found your own startups.

Abel's journey and experiences within the Hispanic Wealth Project's Angel Community are a testament to the incredible opportunities it presents for financial growth and learning. As a valued member, he has gained invaluable insights, harnessed his entrepreneurial spirit, and contributed to the advancement of financial literacy within the Hispanic/Latino community.

If you're looking to explore a world of wealth-building opportunities, gain exposure to startup investments, and connect with like-minded individuals, we invite you to join the Hispanic Wealth Project's Angel Community. Embrace the chance to make a difference in the lives of others while creating a prosperous future for yourself.

Together, we can make a lasting impact on the financial well-being of the Hispanic/Latino community and shape the future of wealth for generations to come. Don't miss this chance to be part of something greater – become a member of the HWP Angel Community today and embark on a journey of financial empowerment and transformation. Join us and let's prosper together!
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