Tracy L. Prigmore is no stranger to overcoming fear.
After having an adverse experience working for a leading consulting firm, she recognized early in her career that no job is truly secure.
Despite not having another job in line, Tracy left her “stable” position in New York and moved to Maryland.
During that time, she recalls being introduced to Rich Dad, Poor Dad; a book that would forever change her thoughts about business, life, and financial stability. Today, she is the Founder and Managing Partner of TLTsolutions, a real estate acquisition and development firm that provides access and insight to alternative investments.
Recently, Her Agenda caught up with Tracy. In our conversation, she speaks candidly about how she pushes through vulnerability and fear; from investing in her first property with no experience to leading the acquisition of a 101-room Four Points Sheraton hotel – a $13.6 MM project.
Her Agenda: How did you transition into the commercial real estate industry from being so successful in the healthcare industry? What was that first step like?
Tracy L. Prigmore: As you ask that question, I am reminded about how we forget some things in our lives that have a long-lasting impact. I was working for a leading consulting firm, I really did not like the working environment. Their culture and values really weren’t aligned with my values. An adverse incident occurred during a project and I took a temporary leave of absence.
As a result of that and everything that was going on, I ended up leaving New York and coming to the DC area. I had a good friend from high school who had just moved to Maryland who invited me to come down for respite while I contemplated my next career move. Ultimately, I resigned and moved to Maryland without a job. At the time I was young, but I believe that my mindset was that jobs are not necessarily secure.
During that time frame two things happened. One, a healthcare colleague recommended I meet with his financial advisor. As a part of the onboarding process, the financial advisor gave me the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. At the same time, my mother sent me a real estate investing kit from an infomercial. I didn’t use the kit, however, the idea of investing in real estate was solidified as a result.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad really clicked with me. Given the vulnerability I had from having a nice, decent paying, stable job to feeling like “oh my goodness, what am I going to do,” the book really catapulted me into real estate. [From this book] I decided that I was going to supplement my income, because I did not want to ever feel like I have to stay in a job if I am not happy. I decided that I would use real estate to obtain financial security.
I decided that I was going to supplement my income, because I did not want to ever feel like I have to stay in a job if I am not happy. I decided that I would use real estate to obtain financial security.
So, I made the decision to leave, but it was not without fear. I left the job without a job.
I started working again shortly after and began looking for investment properties while continuing to study the subject which led me to pick up another book by Robert Kiyosaki called Cashflow Quadrant. After reading Cashflow Quadrant, I finally jumped in the game and bought my first investment property.
I feared buying investment properties. I kept thinking, “what if the tenant doesn’t pay and what if I don’t make enough money to pay the mortgage.”
Nevertheless, I moved past the fear, bought the property, and the what if happened after a couple of successful years.
The tenant stopped paying and I had to file for eviction. It didn’t feel good but what I learned from that experience is that you can get through it. Once I went through that eviction process and survived, there was no more fear about eviction. In fact, that was the first but not the last time that I would have to exercise my legal rights to re-obtain possession of an investment property.
The tenant stopped paying and I had to file for eviction. It didn’t feel good but what I learned from that experience is that you can get through it.
I learned that all investments are going to be a risk, you just have to decide what you can tolerate and how much risk you’re willing to take because there is no crystal ball that will tell you exactly what is going to happen and when it is going to happen. You must do your homework and make the best assumptions with the information available for what should occur when you make that investment. Then you have to be willing to make course corrections along the way when your assumptions are incorrect.
Her Agenda: You spoke a lot about fear, especially when discussing buying your first investment property and going through the eviction process, despite not being one hundred percent sure. How did you overcome that so early on?
Tracy L. Prigmore: I don’t think I overcame the fear. I just had to push through it. But I would say that reading a lot of books and talking to people who have done it was helpful. You begin to gain the knowledge on how to handle challenges as knowledge is power. The more I know the more comfortable I am with taking risks and knowing that I can overcome adverse situations. However, you will never know everything unless you’re in it, feeling it, doing it, living it, whether it is positive or negative.
At some point you must push through fear. And for me, it’s about gaining as much knowledge as I can before striking, to alleviate that fear. But I will say I’m not without it.
Her Agenda: I want to shift into the idea of generational wealth as I know you focus a lot on it. I’m curious to know how you went from that first apartment to something bigger in commercial real estate and managing a $13.6 million dollar project. How did that happen?
Tracy L. Prigmore: When I chose to invest in commercial real estate, I focused on educating myself. I researched the best place to get education on commercial real estate. I found CCIM and started taking all the courses. I then started applying all of those concepts to my residential real estate. I began to treat my residential investments like a commercial investment.
For me, I had to understand the complete process before making the investment. That is why I started She Has A Deal. I felt that I just couldn’t get answers to all my questions in the way I needed to learn. I had to piece it all together and it took me a lot of time.
What I always felt comfortable about was the business management aspect of it all. I felt like I could handle and manage and be successful from a business perspective. However, where my fear was and what held me back after that deal failed (which took me several years to get back in), was that I feared the ability to obtain a loan and raise the equity. I knew I did not have enough money to buy a hotel on my own.
When I was in CCIM I learned about syndication, which was something I was not familiar with prior to taking the course. My CCIM instructor Byron introduced this concept to us, and I knew at that point that syndication was my avenue into commercial real estate. Byron recommended I read a book on syndication.
I learned that all investments are going to be a risk, you just have to decide what you can tolerate and how much risk you’re willing to take.
Once again, being the learner that I am, I immediately ordered the book written by an attorney who teaches courses on syndication and provides legal consulting. After I read the book, I ended up flying to Las Vegas to take the course on syndication and now I use that law firm for my projects.
Her Agenda: I want to discuss your new platform, She Has A Deal. What inspired you to launch this?
Tracy L. Prigmore: The idea to create a pitch competition for women was inspired by my own journey to hotel ownership. When I entered the space, I found that the overwhelming majority of owners and developers are men and that access to information and mentorship was not readily available in the way in which I needed to achieve my aspirations. It was challenging to create the connections and receive access to the networks, which is one of the key barriers preventing women from advancing in the field. Furthermore, as I meet aspiring hotel owners, they expressed the same eagerness to gain the knowledge and experience needed.
Therefore in 2018, consistent with the mission of my company, TLTsolutions, I decided we would become a leader in increasing the number of women and Black hotel owners by creating opportunities to make hotel ownership more attainable. Our initial focus will be to create new pathways to hotel ownership and development for young women. We will inspire and connect young women by facilitating education and experiences that will help them achieve their ambitions.
Her Agenda: How does the She Has A Deal competition work?
Tracy L. Prigmore: Like the real world, the participants will have to form their team. Each team will be required to form a legal entity to hold their ownership interest in the project. This is just one pathway we are creating for women to become hotel owners.
The winners of the competition will become hotel owners and receive $50,000 in equity in a real deal. That sweat equity that they’re putting in becomes cash equity in a deal and they’ll receive the same rights and benefits as my other investors who contribute cash. For example, they will receive their pro-rata share of cash distributions, when excess cash is available, and their share of the upside when the property is sold.
Through the She Has a Deal platform, I hope that many other pathways will be created when we bring together the women and men inside and outside of the industry who share my mission.
For additional information about She Has A Deal, please visit the website at: https://www.shehasadeal.com/
[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]