21 Mar 2014
Theresa Bradley-Banta is the founder and CEO of Theresa Bradley-Banta Real Estate Consultancy, a published author and sought after speaker on reality-based strategies for buying, owning and operating multi-family investment properties. Being an award-winning consultant and having overcome some of the unique challenges of being a woman in real estate, she hopes to mentor others by sharing some of the successes and failures she’s endured in the industry.
Full Name: Theresa Bradley-Banta
Location: Denver, CO
Started investing in: 2004
Years spent investing in real estate: 10
Estimated portfolio size: I’ve owned or had primary ownership roles in properties from $50K to greater than $9M—including single-family rentals, multi-family apartment buildings and single-family development projects
As a woman in the real estate industry, what inspired you to get started?
I met several women real estate investors who were incredibly successful through some friends of mine. They were investing on a large-scale—not just your typical mom-and-pop rental properties. Instead, they had large portfolios of buy and hold investment properties as well as their own property management companies.
Over time, these women became wonderful friends and mentors of mine. They also provided me with an opportunity to invest in some of my very first properties.
When did you start investing and how did you get started?
I started investing in real estate in 2004 largely by accident when my husband and I moved out of our house. Instead of selling it, we rented it out to girls on the local university soccer team. I loved the experience.
With the encouragement of my husband and female friends who were already investing in real estate, I started buying and flipping single-family residences and small multi-family properties throughout the country.
With each successful flip, our investment pool grew and I made it a rule to always put the profits from real estate investing back into real estate. No excuses.
We don’t use real estate profits to take vacations or to pay off consumer debt. The profits go straight back into new real estate acquisitions.
What do you love most about investing in real estate?
Real estate investing is tremendously exciting. Every project is totally different and keeps you on your toes.
One of my favorite investment deals was a mid-size Class C apartment building that was on its last breath. There were a lot of tenant issues; they were running the building and it was literally a free for all—late rent payments, noise, parties, crime, etc. On top of that, the building was in a terrible state of disrepair.
Finding properties like this is exactly why I love investing in real estate. We renovated the property, returned it to its former beauty and gave our new residents a well-managed, safe place to call home.
Have you encountered any challenges that you think are unique to being a woman in real estate?
Initially, I found that men wouldn’t take me seriously, especially when I decided to invest in apartment buildings. One of the first commercial brokers I interviewed spent the entire hour talking to my husband, acting as though I wasn’t in the room—even though I was the one who had arranged the interview.
At the time, I had already had quite a bit of success investing in single-family and small multi-family properties. It wasn’t until my husband, with no prompting from me, told the broker that I was the real estate investor in the family that I was even acknowledged.
The best way to deal with people who don’t take you seriously is to realize it has nothing to do with you.
Treat it as a non-issue and don’t make a big deal out of it. In the case of the broker who refused to deal directly with me, I chose not to hire him.
Most contractors and service providers I’ve worked with recognize who’s holding the checkbook. I think most women are naturally skilled at working as a team and building relationships and trust.
What is your biggest accomplishment so far?
You might think it would be a multi-million dollar deal, but my biggest triumph was the first house I bought, renovated and flipped. It was an amazing experience to find, finance and renovate a property for the very first time. It completely changed my psychology. Doing that deal gave me a lot of confidence and I eventually moved on to multi-million dollar projects. Learning to believe in my abilities was priceless.
Have you made any poor investment decisions?
One of my worst investment decisions was to buy properties in an area of the country that I really didn’t want to visit. I tried to manage the real estate from afar, which I’ve found is not a good idea.
It’s difficult to stay on top of market trends and your asset performance if you’re not willing to visit the area, tour your properties occasionally, meet with the residents and hold in-person meetings with your team. We ended up firing several managers and ultimately sold the property.
What would you advise a young woman who is thinking about getting into real estate investing?
Don’t immediately join your local real estate investor club. Does this surprise you? If you join a club you’ll most likely find yourself hanging out with other real estate investing hopefuls. The real estate business is about who you know. You need to connect with successful real estate investors so that you can learn and tap into their networks – the sooner the better.
Rather than join a club which might only meet monthly, pick up the phone or go online and start asking your friends, family, parents and business acquaintances, “Who do you know who has had success investing in real estate?” Start networking like crazy and really put yourself out there. Let people know you are just starting out and eager to learn about the various ways to invest in real estate.
Women make fantastic residential real estate investors. We tend to look beyond the “quick buck” and focus on other things that are important to us like the well being of our residents and health of our planet. I think women understand that having a positive impact on people’s lives and on the world we live in goes beyond a concept that we simply use in our marketing efforts. It’s something we really truly embrace.
What do you think is the 3 most important things every investor should know when investing in real estate?
1. It takes money to invest in real estate but it doesn’t have to be your money.
Good deals always attract money. Always.
As an investor, it’s your job to find the great deals. No guesswork, you must know how to analyze the market and numbers.
2. Real estate investing is not a way to get rich quick. To succeed, you must have time, patience, the support of friends and family and a great deal of education. Surround yourself with talented mentors and build a solid team.
3. Know your real estate investing market and submarkets intimately. Intuition and feelings have no place in selecting investment markets.
I can’t resist adding a fourth. Be smart about “hot new trends.” Sometimes the best time to buy is when everyone else is jumping ship. If you’ve heard about the latest hot new thing in real estate investing, chances are you’re too late to the party.
What are your investing goals for the future?
I’m always looking for real estate that presents a good value to add opportunity, especially large multi-family properties and apartment buildings. As a contributing author, speaker and writer, I’ll continue to share information and content on how to invest in real estate and on the ever-changing industry and markets.
I also have the great privilege to mentor clients on a national basis and hopefully will continue to serve as a role model to investors I meet. I love to share the successes and failures made by me and by my colleagues in my field.