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Tycoons in the making - Where are they now?

We profiled some real estate investors when the markets were hot. How are they doing as real estate has cooled?

Mary Buenaventura
Mary Buenaventura
Status: Buying and holding

Stance: Mildly acquisitive

Mary Buenaventura hasn't had any problem riding out the real estate slump. For one thing, her home base is in Orange County, Calif., where the market has held up pretty well.

Besides, Buenaventura, who works as a paralegal, is not looking to sell any of the properties she owns, which include single-family homes in Orange County, Las Vegas and Utah and condos in Palm Springs and Long Beach. As a matter of fact, she has added to them since we profiled her nearly a year ago. Her latest acquisition is a nearly 3,000 square foot home in Dallas, Ga., outside of Atlanta, that she picked up for a song - $165,000.

"The house is fairly new," she says, "and in good shape. You get a lot for the bucks there."

For a long-term investor like Buenaventura, the key to success is attracting and holding good tenants. She rents the Georgia house to a couple from Tennessee attracted by the vibrant job growth of the Atlanta area. He's a doctor and she works for the school district.

As real estate markets cooled, it got harder to get those tenants, she reports. "I learned in the past 12 months that when markets are flat, you have to do a renovation to get people interested," says Buenaventura.

She remodeled the Palm Springs condo and is doing the same in Vegas where there are many new empty buildings, some of which are just shells, and few buyers.

"They overbuilt," says Buenaventura, "and the builders are stuck with all the inventory."

Jaz Wray

John Fragnito

Mary Buenaventura

Matthew Martinez

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