We talked to Eric Chebil of Cher® about the real estate industry and the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Eric Chebil: COVID-19 has put many delays on family gatherings and strains on relationships. I have been fortunate enough to be living with my significant other, which I realize is a luxury taken for granted during these lonely pandemic times. My family has been fortunate enough to have not contracted COVID-19 as we remain close at small family gatherings and virtually.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Cher®.
Eric Chebil: As an immigrant from Canada and first-generation American and citizenship to Lithuania, I graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor in Science in Construction Engineering and doubled a minor in Architecture and Finance. I have over twelve years of experience in real estate, including managing teams and billion-dollar projects for top global general contractors, including Kiewit and Swinerton Builders. At the age of 23, I received my sustainability engineering license, along with my California real estate broker’s license and national mortgage loan originators license.
My passion has always been in the real estate industry. I’ve previously held the position as a Broker Associate at the global luxury brand Christie’s International. I previously founded Chebil Realty, a Los Angeles based real estate brokerage focused on helping millennials afford homeownership. Through these experiences and living in Los Angeles, where rental prices exceed 10% per year, it became obvious that there is no real opportunity to buy a desirable home without sharing that homeownership and expenses. I began posting on Craigslist to see if anyone would be interested in buying a home with me.
To my surprise, I had dozens of strangers ranging from professionals in the engineering field to professors at UCLA contact me to buy homes in Los Angeles. I knew that others were feeling my pain point, which led me to create Cher. Cher pronounced SHARE is what we must do to buy our dream homes in desirable areas without compromise. Cher was founded to bridge the gap between renting and owning your dream home. It also provides the opportunity to co-own and share any home whether owners are looking to live in the home or simply invest. We provide an all in one marketplace, streamlining the process of shared home ownership.
How does Cher® innovate?
Eric Chebil: As I tell every person we hire, the company culture is that there is no wrong idea at Cher. Regardless of what position you hold, innovative ideas come from all people. We send continuous surveys to our users and customers, along with hosting weekly creativity sessions.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Eric Chebil: There has been an influx in new homeowners looking to sell their partial equity. Many homeowners do not qualify for reverse mortgages. For the homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure, Cher provides them an opportunity to find vetted buyers looking to co-own.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Eric Chebil: Yes, the choices I’ve made impacted my relationships, but I’ve learned you must commit yourself to a cause to maximize your impact. In this case, I understand that without my product, many will never have the ability to own a home. This is a fact I cannot live with.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Cher® in the future?
Eric Chebil: I exercise daily to reduce stress and anxiety. We hope to pioneer a global shift in the shared housing economy around ownership.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Eric Chebil: Unison, Zillow, and Pacaso are our indirect competitors. We plan to stay in the game through continued innovation being adaptive.
Your final thoughts?
Eric Chebil: “Own your home, Cher® the loan.” Cher® provides the first online marketplace for anyone to own partial equity in residential real estate. Whether it be co-living or co-investing, Cher® has the process for both. We are living in a time when many have lost the fundamental dream of homeownership. We are creating a reality of affordable housing.