What do you like about developing and building condos?
I love so many things about what I do. The entire process offers a satisfying challenge, from figuring out solutions to the immediate issues that can arise to working day in and day out with a huge variety of small business owners and contractors. Together, we deliver an impeccable final product that I'm proud to put my name on, and most importantly, we provide homes that will be enjoyed for decades to come. I'm not in this business to churn and burn units based on volume; I work to ensure each project has its own individual identity. I believe in the details and strive to have each project reflect that.
How did you break into the market and develop your first property?
Honestly, I had help from a lot of people who want to see me succeed. Growing up, I was the kid on the block printing fliers and doing yard work for money. Working for myself has always been my ultimate goal. As I prepared to wrap up my time working for a boutique developer, I knew I was ready to kick off a new chapter of my career and start my own business. I turned to my network, spreading the word that I was making a move and to think of me if a project came across their plate. Sure enough, a great opportunity presented itself for a permitted 8-unit deal. By acquiring a permitted deal right away, I was able to hit the ground running instead of waiting months for the development and permitting process. To maintain momentum, I picked up a second permitted deal almost immediately. Since then, I've brought all my other projects through design and permitting.
How do you find your properties?
I can't divulge the secret sauce, but it's truly a grind. The acquisitions market is very tight right now - demand is high and sellers are responding accordingly. I have an internal acquisitions process and I also accept deals from outside agents, which is pretty common for developers. If a deal comes to fruition, I'll give the agent the listing agreement. This way, everyone wins and everyone is rewarded for their work. I really believe success can come through partnership.
How do you typically get funding for your projects?
This was the biggest challenge when I started. Although I was experienced in developing projects upwards of 40 units, and building projects with contract values of over $300 million, none of these were under my company name. Through networking, I met a series of investors until I found a few who had the same vision and would be a good fit. It's incredibly important to partner with investors whose expectations align with yours. A very successful developer once told me, "Not all money is good money."
What is some advice you would offer somebody who is looking to break into the developing industry?
Do everything right and don't cut corners. This business is challenging, and what seems obvious sometimes isn't. Don't overpay for properties, control your risk, stay on budget and schedule, etc. When you try to cut corners or skirt the system, your life becomes much, much harder. Also, with that same mindset, work with good people who are reliable and accountable. Using the cheapest guy - whether he's an architect, permit expediter, or painter - usually never works out well. You will end up paying more in the end due to delays or the poor quality of work.
What separates you from other developers in the area?
There are a lot of great developers in DC who I would be honored to compare with. My construction background delivers tremendous amount of value and really enabled me to kick off 10Square. Construction costs are at an all-time high because it's a subcontractor's market - there's a low supply of skilled labor but very high demand for it. Being able to build for myself and control the construction costs, vs. relying on a third-party general contractor, gives me total control over my budgets.
What connections are you looking for in the industry, if any?
I enjoy meeting good people and am open to new connections - whether its agents, investors, subcontractors, or design professionals. I truly enjoy meeting like-minded people who have the desire to succeed.
Do you have an upcoming project coming to market soon? Tell us about it!
My five-unit historic luxury conversion at 1747 T St NW in Dupont is really exciting. Originally built in 1905, I acquired the property as a three-unit apartment building. I demoed the interior, added a third floor, and added a rear addition to expand it into a five-unit project. The historic component is a fun twist. I appreciate the history and architecture of the buildings in DC, so this project is close to my heart. It delivers at the end of August so feel free to check it out!
Is there anything else you want us to know about you and your projects?
People always ask, “What does 10Square mean?” The name actually pays homage to when George Washington established the original boundaries of DC. The border of the city was a perfect diamond, before the land south of the Potomac was returned to Virginia. The diamond measured an equal 10 miles on each side - 10 miles square - hence 10Square Development.