Building Dreams: A Conversation with Houston Real Estate Maven, Chris Senegal


In the heart of the vibrant Houston real estate landscape, one name stands out—the visionary Chris Senegal. As we delve into the intricate tapestry of his career, we uncover not just the structures that shape the city’s skyline, but the dreams and determination that have made him an illustrious figure in the industry. Join us in this exclusive COSIGN Magazine interview as we explore the story behind the success, the challenges faced, and the invaluable insights of a true trailblazer and honoree at our Houston COSIGN Awards. Chris Senegal, a name synonymous with innovation and impact, shares the blueprint for building more than just buildings – he’s building dreams.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Chris. Can you share your journey into the world of real estate development? What inspired you to pursue this career path, and what were the key milestones that brought you to where you are today?

I started in real estate, about a year out of college. When I realized I didn’t want to work in corporate America for the next 40-50 years, I just started reading books. First-generational wealth creation just kept coming up through the vehicle of Real Estate. So I started flipping houses, and I realized that sometimes I can be a detriment to our own communities and gentrification, so I decided to find more creative ways to impact the community through real estate. I started buying properties from heirs of rental portfolios and neighborhoods that were going through gentrification or redevelopment. So we can control the narrative more and that was my segway to development. First with single-family homes, then, million-dollar crowdfunds to buying portfolios of properties, to now doing public/private partnerships with the Housing Authority or Apartment Complexes.

Real estate is known for its ever-changing landscape. How do you stay innovative and adapt to market trends to maintain a competitive edge in the industry?

I always keep a team of subject matter experts around me for the commercial and residential real estate side, the new construction side, builders, and contractors and I stay up to date with publications, LinkedIn connections, and all feeds that provide different angles of perspectives on what’s going on in the industry.

As a successful entrepreneur, what advice do you have for individuals looking to enter the real estate business, especially those from underrepresented communities? What are the key steps to take in this journey?

It’s okay to be a copycat cat just copy the right cat. Don’t try to figure it out on your own. Seek mentorship. Pay for training. Try to work around people who are already successful in the industry. Your key steps are going to be finding ways to bring value to the tale. Through networking events, through time, or through payment. To make someone feel like it’s worth their while to spend the time to invest in you and help you navigate without all the stress, failures, and setbacks that you get when you face doing it on your own.

Community impact is often a vital aspect of real estate development. Can you tell us about any projects you’ve been involved in that have had a significant positive influence on the local community?

Every project I do is a community impact project. I literally call myself a social impact developer. I want our neighborhoods to reflect what they used to look like by moving the successful people back to the communities. So I find blighted commercial property, tear it down, and build new construction homes to attract the higher income people that are from similar communities, back to the neighborhood. And by doing it on these types of sites, I’m not displacing anybody. Because I’m not taking something that was already residential and just changing the income level of the residents. In addition to that, to protect existing residents, the best way to control the rents of the neighborhood is to be the landlord to actually have the ownership. Find ways to buy real estate portfolios and rental properties from long-term tenants in the community. Sometimes I may do it with the bank, sometimes with the million-dollar crowdfund, and sometimes with a small group of investors. But we take control of these sites and make sure tenants get to stay in place, and we also take abandoned buildings and turn them into other event spaces or other use types like office space that can be beneficial to the neighborhood. My most recent endeavors have been larger-scale projects, leveraging public entities like the City of Houston, Houston Housing Authority, and Houston Land Bank. Working with them because they have access to larger funding and we can do entire apartment complex projects or entire community redevelopment efforts through all these channels.

The theme of the 6th Annual COSIGN Awards Gala is “Bet On Yourself.” How does this idea resonate with your experiences in the real estate industry, and what advice would you give to others about believing in themselves and taking bold steps in their careers?

Every project that I’m known for, and even the brand of ‘Mr. Buy the Block”, I was the first to do things. First to do new construction zip code in 5th ward, first to do million dollar crowd fund keep all the residents and be able to pay out investors. A lot of times you really have to believe in yourself and actually block out any other feedback or any other sources of energy that’s going to distract you from your goal. You spend a lot of time trying to convince people of things or trying to prove that it can be done. When you should actually just be doing the work and let them watch and then ask you questions on how you do it later.

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