“It was a lot of money for a couple of kids in the mid-eighties,” Guarino said. Along the way, Guarino and his brother did fix and flips and buy and holds. They also purchased and renovated a nearby church and they expanded their music school and recording studio. Their music school eventually reached 300 students and the studio grew into a signifi - cant business too. They invested in themselves and hired a business consultant who showed them how they could triple their business. To the shock of the business consultant, once they received the news, they decided to close the school and sell the property. “We got into (music) because we wanted to be rock stars on the stage,” Guarino said. “But here we were teaching eight-year-olds how to play the drums. Getting into real estate was more by accident, but I’ve done it since I was 18. The key to the experience with our business con- sultant was to have the end in mind and stay focused. If you’re off course, recalibrate and refocus on where you are going.” MORE THANANURSING HOME Guarino has been involved in the senior housing market for nearly a decade, and he’s already seen a number of industry changes. One of those changes is the perception of assisted living itself. In the past, assisted living was only associated with big buildings, maybe a convert- ed hospital that has 200-plus people in it. The RAL Academy has helped disrupt the industry and shake up that connotation. “We’ve named (Residential Assist - ed Living AKA, RAL) and claimed it. It’s called 20 different things across the country,” Guarino said. “The
mom or dad was in a facility, and it was not a good experience. I want to be part of the solution.’ Or they don’t want to pay $5,000 a month for two or three years to take care of their mother or father. Instead, they realize they can open a RAL home, and their loved one can move in, live there for free while they are making a lot of money. All while they are gaining equity in the property, they are operating their business in. They can own and control better real estate in better areas while they capture higher appreciation.” Networking became one of the best business resources Guarino came across over his four decades of being an entrepreneur. Joining mastermind groups and networking with people who are at higher levels, has been more helpful and educa- tional for him than any book, app, or software program. “That has been the biggest game changer because it’s important to surround yourself with great peo- ple with great minds,” Guarino said.
“And people that are encouraging you to grow and move forward. The RAL industry itself, we’re creating it—even though it existed on a mom- and-pop level for years it’s not some- thing that was well defined. We’re shaping it right now; we’re disrupting the industry,” he said. “We really want this to be better than it was, and we can make money along the way.” AREAL ESTATE LIFE Guarino’s qualifications to teach real estate investing began when he was just a teenager. He was a pro - fessional musician at the time and he and his older brother opened a music school. The building they rent- ed was not in the best condition and the landlord was “difficult” to say the least. Ultimately, they had a deci- sion to make—move or shut down the school. They chose the former and purchased a nearby building for $28,500, which they sold five years later for a $90,000 profit. Gene was just 18 years old when he bought his first property.
18 | think realty magazine :: september 2021
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