It was the kind of morning that made you thankful for layers, where the breath of winter slaps you to attention and makes you question why you even got out of bed. The lobby to 7200 Wisconsin Avenue was locked, so I retreated to the Starbucks on the corner to thaw as I waited for Cameron and Jordan, my assigned photographer. I wasn’t sure what to expect from either. I had never worked with this photographer, and I had a sneaking suspicion that this interview might be the most boring yet. Thankfully, I was wrong.
After exchanging introductions, we headed up to Cameron’s office, a nicely sized suite on the 11th floor, with a beautiful view of downtown Bethesda. We started with the photo shoot, engaging in just enough small talk to get a general sense of his personality; far more spirited than I’d imagined given the intensity of a purely commission-based field.
What exactly does it take to become a millionaire by age 26? “A lot of people like to say I’m an overnight success, but they don’t see the years of work that got me here,” Cameron explained.
Starting with selling winter hats to his classmates in the sixth grade, to Cutco Cutlery for Vector Marketing in high school, Cameron caught the entrepreneurial bug early in life. He even conceptualized an app for tailor-made clothing that almost went to market his junior year of college.
So, when he set his sights on commercial real estate, there was no question of whether or not he’d be able to excel. It was merely a matter of how long it would take.
“My first year here, I worked seven days a week and took no days off. You’ve got to put in the time,” Webb said and credited his customer-focused attitude as one of the reasons he’s been so successful. “Trust and grit are huge in this business, and what sets me apart is my ability to gain trust, sustain trust and to execute… A lot of people in this business will talk about certain numbers they are able to hit, but there is talking, and then there is performing… it’s about leaving no stone unturned and getting the best deal for your client.”
His track record certainly speaks for itself. To date, he has closed almost $200 million in deals and manages three other agents along with his assistant. All achieved in just five years.
Reflecting on his early start, he recalled knowing very little about real estate in college. “All I knew was buy low and sell high, and all I could relate it to was houses. I had no idea that the commercial real estate industry existed and more specifically I had no idea that individuals and small businesses owned and developed commercial properties in the city.”
Today, a self-titled student of the game, Cameron loves learning about the market and the ability real estate gives him to influence the area’s ever-changing cityscapes.
Cameron takes great pride in knowing, “As a broker, I get to have a say in shaping deals that include many different types of investors with different business plans sometimes competing for the same deal. You may have condo developers, affordable housing developers, and long term buy-and-hold investors. As the agent selling that site with the client, I have influence in advising the client to pick the best buyer for the deal. Probability to execute, price and terms are main factors, but some sellers also like to consider the buyers business plan when selecting who gets the deal. That’s pretty cool to me.”
“Cool” as it may be, Cameron is also helping to reshape the city in ways that contribute to widespread concerns about gentrification. As a broker, Cameron can be seen as part of a system that’s displaced many and washed the city of the very things that gave it such a unique culture.
“I think that gentrification has its pluses and minuses,” he said, “but D.C. is very pro-tenant. In D.C., tenants have the right to stay in their unit as long as they do not break their lease and they pay their rent on time. In order to vacate a unit, the landlord must reach an agreement with the tenant, which typically involves a tenant buy-out in the form of cash,” he explained.
“I’ve seen tenants get buyouts often in thousands of dollars to vacate their rental unit. In a lot of these cases, I have started to turn these tenants into homeowners. For instance, we sold an apartment building in 16th Street Heights last year and brought in residential real estate agents and residential mortgage brokers to educate and assist the tenants on becoming homeowners. I think that’s a win and I will gladly go out and negotiate those deals and sell more properties where I can create more homeowners that were previously tenants. That’s starting to build wealth for them and their families; it’s more meaningful and impactful,” he said.
Cameron’s understanding of ownership and its ability to create generational wealth is at the core of his motivation. Creating access for other families is deeply connected to his desire to provide for his own.
“I do this for my family,” he said. “My parents gave me a great life, and in 2007 some things happened, it got tougher. So, I’m really doing this to retire them.”
With his sights set on capturing 25 percent of D.C.’s commercial real estate market in the next two to three years, Cameron said he will be able to retire his parents several times over. Barely 30 by then, more must lie ahead for our burgeoning entrepreneur, yes?
Cameron’ success in interrelated to his vision for the future. “I want to do more work for the city,” he said. “I want to start a program where we teach financial literacy through real estate. A lot of people don’t know about wealth creation and preservation through real estate, and there are so many programs in the city where people can actually buy a home without needing a large down payment to do it.”
His passion for people drives both his business interactions and personal aspirations. When I asked for three words that described him, vision, integrity, and creativity were the ones he chose.