“The economy in Columbia was plummeting. It was really bad.”

Almost two decades ago, Lily Chedrauy left her home country of Colombia, joining her family in the United States with the hopes of building a life of abundance.

Lily had owned a successful restaurant in Barranquilla, Colombia, but when the economy turned in 2003, their business turned with it.

“I was a U.S. citizen, so I told my husband then that we should go to the United States,” Lily reflects. “We sold our business and came here really with nothing. We came with what my suitcases could fit – mostly my photo albums.”

“I left everything behind, and here I am.”

Lily’s move to the United States was a display of courage, leaving the life she knew so well for the hope of better things to come. While her plan to open a restaurant never quite materialized, she was able to take her experience in customer service and business ownership apply it to what has become her ultimate passion – real estate.

“Customer service has always been paramount for me,” Lily says, “I owned a restaurant, and it made me a people person. I always tried to make my customers’ experience memorable, and one they would share with family and friends. I apply that same formula to my real estate practice.”

Real Estate Beginnings
“I didn’t really know much about [real estate],” Lily explains. “I had two little kids and had just moved to the U.S.”

As Lily strove to get her footing in her new home, she looked to buy a home. Her neighbor, who was a mortgage lender, offered to help. When Lily expressed that she only planned to stay for a few years, her neighbor recommended that she rent instead of buy.

“He also explained what real estate agents did. I thought I would love that job. So I asked how I would start. I started researching, took a class, and began.”

And that was the beginning of what’s become an illustrious 15-year career.

Lily quickly found that she was in love with real estate. Most of her business came from individuals that were rejected by other Realtors or lenders. At the time, the market was hot, and Lily was on a mission to help those people on the fringes find a home.

“I didn’t have the experience, but I felt really confident,” Lily recalls “I just started making phone calls. I would tell everyone what I did. At restaurants I’d go to, I’d talk to waiters. I would talk to everyone about what I did.”

Lily devoted herself to education, taking seminars and classes whenever she was able. “I took classes on contracts, negotiation, marketing. Everything I could use to serve my clients better. I submerged myself in it.”

Living and Breathing Real Estate
A few of Lily’s skills from her time in Columbia have proven to be especially useful in the D.C. Metro area: her fluency in Spanish and her background in interior design.

“My favorite store is Home Goods,” Lily says with a laugh. “I could stay there all day. I love staging.” As a Certified Home Stager, Lily’s listings are always presented in the most attractive, design-conscious manner.

“I breathe real estate,” Lily smiles. “It’s very stressful, but it’s very rewarding. There is emotion involved in every transaction.”

Defining Success
“My dad is my role model,” Lily says. “He gives the best advice. He’s very wise. I also learned from him to work very hard and always go the extra mile for people. He said, ‘Don’t be a problem. Be a solution.’”

Lily is that solution for so many of her clients. With passion and vigor, she is ready to work hard to execute when her clients need her most.

While she’s found great success in real estate, Lily admits that balance is still a challenge. When she’s on vacation or “off” on a Sunday, there is still some task that needs to be completed. “It’s hard to disconnect 100 percent. It’s hard to take a real vacation. You are sort of on call,” Lily explains.

With a big family in tow, she’s continually working on finding balance. “We’re like the Brady Bunch,” Lily laughs. Lily and her fiance, Joe, have combined households. Ironically, each of them brings in three children of the same exact age – 14, 17 and 20. Together, they love going out to eat or enjoying the summer days on the boat.

Whether she’s with her family or her clients, Lily Chedrauy is after the same sense of success. To Lily, success is equivalent to fulfillment.

“I love my family,” Lily says. “And in real estate, the most rewarding thing is helping people that are told they can’t be helped by other people.”