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Real Estate Firm Helps Villanova Students Relocate to New York

Gabi Frank
Many students move to New York City after graduation, despite limited housing and high rent, but the company assists them in finding real estate.

Charles Saunders isn’t a typical real estate broker. For the past seven years, he’s been using his success to give back to his beloved Villanova community by helping fellow Villanovans get ahead in life through real estate. 

Saunders’s path to real estate wasn’t a conventional one either. He graduated from the University in 2002 with a degree in Communication and moved into the corporate world. He was involved with things like digital audience targeting and even cutting-edge technologies like facial recognition. While this might’ve fit the conventional definition of success that Saunders thought was meant for him, he knew that he needed to make a change to something he found more fulfilling. 

At 35 years old, he made a complete turnaround and decided to switch careers. He had been passively involved in real estate for a while through a close friend, but he realized that he wanted more. It wasn’t an easy change to make, and it was one that required a lot of “soul-searching,” which allowed him to realize that he needed to take a chance on himself. 

“Life is short. You’re never gonna know,” he said. In spite of any uncertainty, he knew that this was what he needed to do.  

After his career change, Saunders began giving back to the Villanova community through the mentorship program, in which he worked with 10 students from across all the University’s schools with a wide variety of passions and interests, which was an experience that pushed him to the guiding question behind his work at Villanova: “How can we help each other?”

As a highly successful New York City broker who works with both sales and rentals in the city, he knew he had something to offer to the many Villanova students moving to the city after graduation. Each year, nearly 500 newly graduated Villanovans begin their new lives in New York City, which can be daunting and unpredictable at times. Saunders knows this and wants to help these students get a jump on preparing for this before they graduate. 

He says the key principle behind everything is “Get ahead of life.”

Each year, he hosts three events in the spring aimed at educating Villanova seniors from all schools, majors and career paths on how to do just that through real estate. Now, he’s taking it one step further with his carefully developed four part Real Estate EDU series.

The first part of this series is focused on “the journey of rent over time,” renting vs. owning, investing, getting parents involved and advice on how to get ahead financially, whether the seniors ultimately work with him or not. In the second part of the series, he goes deeper into the real essentials of living in New York City based on his own experience and success, how to use him as a broker and the essentials of guarantors and neighborhoods. The third part is all about the importance of investing early. 

“Owning a home is a dream for many people today,” he said. “[A home] has the power to create generational wealth.” 

In this part, he also discusses how to build a network, how to make money through real estate in both traditional and non-conventional forms, and opportunities for passive income. He wraps up the series with a component focused solely on home ownership. 

“Don’t lose sight of the practicality [when it comes to real estate],” Saunders said. 

This practicality is exemplified through Villanova junior Victoria Bratsos, who has recently begun working with Saunders. She is “learning from the ground up.” By the time Bratsos earns her real estate license, she’ll already be two years ahead of life with the connections and the financial knowledge she’s acquired. 

This project is deeply personal to Saunders beyond the traditional measures of success. 

“This is my little baby to be honest,” he said. “I was in a bit of a turmoil during my career change, but Villanova and the community was always so special to me.” 

Through his work, he’s met countless students and parents and even stayed in touch with many developing close connections with them. For him, it’s more than teaching financial success, it’s teaching how to be able to make these transitions in life. He likens it to how Jay Wright was the ultimate coach but he also taught about life and the discipline behind it.”

Ultimately, Saunders’s goals are simple.

“If I can just help plant some positive thoughts that would be great,” he said.

Like a father, he says he wants his students to eventually “out-do him.” He plans on being a positive influence in the lives of students for as long as possible. 

“I’m not gonna stop until someone stops me,” he said.

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