One of the few constants for professionals working in the inherently dynamic real estate industry is adversity. Regardless of an individual’s experience or background, they will inevitably encounter complicating factors impeding their progress. The differentiating factor between success and failure is one’s innate capacity to retain sight of their end goal and consistently put in the work, despite the challenges that may arise along the way.
That may be a more circuitous and nontraditional definition of the concept of perseverance. But however you choose to conceptualize this essential characteristic of influential trendsetters, one thing is for certain: Anitra Preston, a seasoned real estate investor and lender at Vertical Capital, has it in droves. Originate Report recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Preston for an insider’s view of her inspiring career arc that is a telling testament to the power of hard work and persistence.
Self-Belief From the Onset
Preston developed a passion for real estate at an early age and made no qualms about acting on it as soon as she started college. She started networking with successful investors, picking up key insights as she took the necessary steps to acquire her first investment property. She took on a part-time job at Home Depot to help save money for a down-payment. “My decision to pursue real estate as a long-term career was intentional,” Preston explains. “I took a chance on myself early in my career and stuck with it.”
The best real estate professionals think outside the box to achieve results, a skill Preston exhibited as she worked towards securing her first income generating property. When the registration window opened for college courses, she immediately signed up for a full course load. As the drop date approached, she disenrolled and used the subsequent tuition refund to fund the purchase of her first rehab property in Central City, Louisiana, in 2004.
In an unexpected turn of events, Preston’s initial investment property was relatively unaffected by the devastating Hurricane Katrina, making it one of the first affordable housing units immediately open to tenants as New Orleans recovered from widespread damage and housing shortages. While she encountered several personal and professional challenges in the early stages of her real estate career, Preston always persevered, and she advises other young women in the industry to do the same. “Everyone struggles and loses direction at some point in their professional journey,” she states. “The one choice you have is to stick with it and see it through.”
Always Seeking Knowledge
The real estate market at large is in a constant state of flux. To stay relevant and profitable, those working in the real estate sector need to always be learning. That nuance of the industry is something certainly not lost on Preston. “I’m a sucker for information,” she says. “I am continuously reaching out to vendors to learn the latest developments and refine my approach to be more effective—a practice that has had great success and allowed me to attend the Geraci Innovate Conference where I gained so much actionable knowledge.”
This insatiable thirst for learning enabled Preston to seamlessly transition from solely real estate investing to becoming a lender, a longstanding career goal for her. “My end goal had always been to pivot to the lending sector of the industry, which finally happened in 2021 after I saw an opportunity to lend to peer investors.” she describes.
Preston has not looked back since making the switch. She has ambitious plans to grow and scale her lending activity in the south, where she feels that there is a significant amount of untapped potential when it comes to development. Her long-term investment strategy at Vertical Capital gears toward generating optimal returns, creating stronger communities, and building economic growth that benefits all stakeholders. Preston goes above and beyond when conducting her due diligence to ensure she produces the best result. “Our lending mindset is premised on a disciplined due diligence process that accurately identifies the catalyst for enhanced value while accounting for any potential risks,” explains Anitra. “You have to be willing to put in the hard work in the early stages of a deal to realize the gains on the back end.”
Preston is a shining example of what is achievable through hard work and determination—and she’s just getting started. Exciting things are in store for Preston’s future as she continues to develop her lending practice and continues to push the boundaries of what can happen when you work toward your goals.