Journalism student. Headhunter. Graphic design firm owner. Add a generous helping of passion for teaching and entrepreneurship, and combine.
What does it all add up to?
One of the top real estate investor consultants in the nation, of course.
That may not seem obvious on paper, but when you have the pleasure of spending some time with Theresa Bradley-Banta, it makes all the sense in the world.
Bringing a unique blend of experience, entrepreneurship, and wisdom (trust us) to her work, Theresa has built a thriving consultancy using her passions for design and education to help real estate investors build their own businesses.
In the beginning, the road ahead was not always clear.
“I won a journalism scholarship to college by producing the layout and design of the school newspaper. Afterward I spent time as a corporate recruiter, but was drawn back to my original passion for design, and went back to school to get trained in it. I did well enough that one of my instructors asked me to join her firm as a full partner, which was an amazing experience. I’d achieved my goal, and thought I’d be doing that the rest of my life.”
Theresa’s first foray into real estate was when she and her husband bought an old Victorian house to accommodate the home offices they both needed. They decided to rent their old house, and saw quickly it was a smart, income producing investment. And Theresa enjoyed, and was good at being a landlord. It piqued her interest. She learned some more about real estate investing, and found she had a real passion for it. She pursued it with her usual vigor, and soon it eclipsed her design career. But her love for the visual arts remained. Even as her real estate business blossomed.
It seemed that there had been a randomness to her path. From corporate recruiting to design to real estate investing. But she had learned a valuable lesson from each. Corporate recruiting did not make use of her particular skill set, or speak to her passions. She did well, but there were others who were more suited to it, and they would be the ones to rise to the top. But design was different, and building that business was a labor of love. It was the same with real estate investing. She was lucky; she had been able to put her passions to work for her. She also loved to mentor and teach, and wondered how she might incorporate that into the future. And then came the epiphany. That random, zigzag trail was really an organic path to the place she was meant to be, all along.
“When you look back and have a few decade’s perspective, the picture that emerges from how you connected the dots is much clearer than when you were drawing it.”
Sometimes the parts are greater than the whole, but in Theresa’s case, the whole was the final, complete expression of who she was, and represented a unique value in the marketplace. She opened her real estate consultancy in 2010. Her considerable design skills were brought to bear on her website, which has since won multiple industry awards. Reflecting her love of education, she richly packed it with resources for real estate investors, from newcomer to seasoned pro.
If You Build It, They’ll Come
The market responded. Theresa quickly gained a reputation as a go-to resource for real estate investors, all over the spectrum. Her philosophy was simple, and it still guides her today.
“My approach when speaking or meeting someone is not ‘What can I get out of this?’ It’s just the opposite. I want to know how can I be of service to anyone who seeks my guidance. If I can help you, I have done my job. I am not at all concerned if that help does not serve me in some way. There is a bigger picture, and everything comes around.”
There’s that wisdom we were talking about. And here’s some more:
“Don’t be so concerned that the way ahead may not seem clear. You should have goals, but the goals may lead you to unexpected places. Most important is to get trained in something you have a passion for.”
There is the old saying that if you work at what you love, you never work a day in your life. And Theresa has walked that talk. The love of what she does is evident the moment she starts talking about her consultancy.
And about that consultancy. Theresa’s specialty is multifamily real estate investment, and she offers reality based individualized consulting services for every aspect of the process, providing support for a variety of specialized topics. The end goal is to increase her client’s net worth, to generate cash flow, and develop an investment portfolio through asset acquisition.
Her talent for the visual arts has manifested itself in ways that have become great added values to her clients. She can look at a building and by instinct know what to do to enhance its value from a visual perspective. From curb appeal, to appointing a building’s interior to match its period, to creating color schemes in common areas, she’s in a unique position to advise investors on improvements and renovations that make their newly acquired properties more valuable.
“It could be as simple as adding a handsome canopy to the front entrance, which is relatively inexpensive, but adds a touch of class, or more class, in just the right place, and can make a building look more expensive.”
There is also the matter of positively impacting underserved areas. The need for affordable housing, with responsible landlords, struck Theresa as an opportunity for investors to do well by doing good. (Sound familiar, millennials?)
“As an investor--and an advisor to investors--I’ve seen it all, and some of that includes affordable housing that is just in lousy condition. My goal with my investors is to educate them why its important to provide a residence that tenants can feel proud of, and instill in them a pride of home. This takes operational know-how, and also the right attitude. But the payoff is that everyone wins. The investor, the tenants, and the community. It’s a combination that’s self-sustaining.
But suppose an investor falls in love with a property that Theresa believes is not the right match for the client’s long-term goals?
“For example,” says Theresa, “the right property but in the wrong place? That recently happened. And I talked them out of it. My job is not to facilitate any acquisition an investor wants to make. My responsibility is to help them build a profitable business. I am interested in an investor achieving their strategic goals.”
What are some other common pitfalls? Many of them are a product of believing that real estate is a way to get rich quick.
“If you hire the wrong team for your property, or haven’t done your due diligence, or rely on best case financial scenarios, you are liable to be in for some surprises, and have to deal with them in real time. I make sure all of this is handled, and considered, as part of evaluating an investment.”
Best for millennials is that Theresa has a consulting program specifically designed for first time investors, or investors who have already put their toe in the water, but don’t have a forward looking strategy. Subjects like investment philosophy and acquisition strategy are explored, and an investment game plan is developed. She often works with clients who want to buy their first multifamily property or apartment building by helping them find, analyze and make offers on specific deals.
“Our programs are not ‘one size fits all.’ Nor should they be. We offer individualized consulting and education services for every aspect of the single- family and multifamily real estate investment process.”
She offers a free phone consultation during which her goal is to “meet” an investor where they are in terms of knowledge, and learn how she can help.
“So many new investors don’t know what they don’t know, and aren’t in the position to understand what are some of the key questions they should be asking. A mentor’s greatest value is to clue them in on those questions, so they know what they should be thinking about, and what answers they should be seeking. And that is my job—to educate. And I love my job. If I’m asked about my services during that call—great. If not, but I’ve been of value, also great.”
Some Words To The Wise, From The Wise
Theresa cautions would be investors: ““You just can’t wing it generally and be a wild success. Real estate is not a get-rich-quick scheme. You need to set goals, and formulate a plan.” And she reminds investors to be careful who they take advice from.
“I felt compelled to write a book to share information about what is really required to be a successful real estate investor, as opposed to the hype promoted by some of the so-called real estate investing gurus.” (The book is entitled “Invest in Apartment Buildings—Profits Without The Pitfalls,” available on Amazon, and elsewhere.)
One of Theresa’s clients explained that she is like the real estate consultant he wished he had in the family when he was starting out. Theresa explains, “I want to explore my client’s goals, understand the backstory, and their hope and vision for the future. It’s a holistic approach. The investing strategy will flow from that.”
What specific advice does she have for millennials who want to pursue their own business dreams?
“I hope my personal journey as an entrepreneur will help others to build an entrepreneurial business around something they are passionate about—no matter where that path may lead.”
“Real estate investing is an investment in the future, and along the way can catalyze other entrepreneurial opportunities. And if you agree, you’ll need a guide. I look forward to sharing that adventure and success.”
No nationally renowned real estate investment consultants in the family? Call Theresa. She’ll make you feel right at home.