Ever since she was a child, Anita Verma-Lallian envisioned a career in the family business.
But creating her own niche in the same industry where her family’s company thrived was an unexpected yet organic development.
While working with her father for Vermaland, one of the largest private landowners in the state, Verma-Lallian dealt with a lot of zoning and structure planning for large commercial developments.
They started getting requests from investors looking for land but didn’t have a specific parcel or place in mind. This was not in Vermaland’s wheelhouse. But Verma-Lallian saw it could be in hers.
“I saw a need for intermediality, to bring buyers and sellers together… To help buyers come in and find suitable sites,” she says.
She addressed this need with Arizona Land Consulting, her Phoenix-based company that provides full concierge services for both sides of the transaction.
Since launching the firm in 2020, Verma-Lallian has managed more than $1 billion in land throughout Arizona, she said. During her first year, she closed $6 million in real estate. In 2021, that totaled more than $100 million and this year she is on track to do $300 million.
Most of her commercial and residential land deals have taken place in the West Valley and has more recently expanded her reach to Casa Grande.
Not bad for what started a side gig to her day job working for the family business. As her client list grew, Verma-Lallian realized she needed to focus on her company.
“I never thought it would become as big as it did,” she said.
And she made the move with the full support of her father.
“He saw the need and understood and believed in the mission and vision I was going after,” she said. “He’s very proud and happy to see that I’ve started something on my own.”
Helping buyers and sellers figure out where they need to be
Verma-Lallian’s extensive knowledge and connections come in handy, especially for outside buyers who don’t know the market. She is able to help them through processes that can be daunting regarding cities and municipalities and the specific zoning they require.
Arizona Land Consulting has also seen growth with its investors, totaling about 1,000.
“Being able to make them profitable… that’s really rewarding and a great feeling,” she said.
Mitchell Kaye, a surgeon whose quest to diversify into land opportunities connected him with Verma-Lallian, is among them.
This partnership has helped Kaye expand his investment portfolio through individual deals and group investment pools. Kaye holds multiple pieces of property and was able to get a 2 ½ times return on a property within months.
Verma-Lallian’s connections and ability to find opportunities that Kaye would not otherwise have access to that are fair and reasonable have all been perks the Scottsdale physician experiences.
“She is very easy and honest to work with. I’ve sat down with mayors, city development people, and the door is open,” Kaye said. “She’s connected to the main people to get things done. These are things that have been tremendously helpful.”
Expanding the family legacy
A native Phoenician, Verma-Lallian’s plan was always to be part of her father’s company. She earned her MBA with a focus in real estate and entrepreneurship and helped her father manage properties while in college
As a child, she accompanied her father to the different properties his company owned. On road trips she was intrigued at how a vacant piece of land could be transformed into an economic generator for the community surrounding it, whether it be a power center, private business or housing development.
“It would be fascinating to come back to the same properties a year later and see the development,” Verma-Lallian said.
Starting her company in the midst of a pandemic had its challenges but the ability to use Zoom helped her connect to out-of-state land seekers, creating a reach larger than it would have been at the start.
What was challenging was separating her company from her well-known family’s. She found herself reaching out to developers to explain that it was a completely different business model and business. It took about six months for the message to get through the industry.
Coming through for big investors and completing successful deals helped.
Another hurdle: Being taken seriously in an industry historically run by a good old boys network.
Even as the leader of a successful business, Verma-Lallian’s combination of being a woman and second-generation East Indian American makes her a rarity in the land realm. At 40, she’s also among the youngest at her level.
When she enters a meeting, it’s not unusual for the room to assume she’s someone’s assistant or an intern.
“It’s funny when I walk in, the expression on people’s faces. They’re not expecting me most of the time, she said.
In a field dominated by men in their 50’s and 60’s with very few minorities, Verma-Lallian is confronted with this reality regularly. The week prior, she was attending a meeting of 20 real estate experts and was the only woman under 50 and the only minority.
When she started out, it was much more difficult for colleagues, potential clients and contacts to get past that. However, she is encouraged by seeing more women in the field.
Verma-Lallian proves her ability to come through for clients with thorough research, her connections and knowledge that only a lifelong Arizonan could possess. A trifecta that is also rare.
“It has been my biggest tool to overcome bias,” she said. “The more knowledge you have the more confident you are and the more people feel like you know something. That brings more value in what you bring to the table.”
Giving back to the community is important to Verma-Lallia, who collaborates with charities and mentors women who wish to make their own marks in real estate. Her daughter, 11, wants to follow in her mother’s professional footsteps.
Recently, her company purchased 2,000 acres in Buckeye for $40 million. A few weeks after closing, she was getting offers of $200 million. It was among the biggest deals she had done.
But the opportunity to enhance communities in her home state with a role that sparks economic strides possible is perhaps the biggest deal.
“The most rewarding part is that I’m part of the growth Arizona is experiencing,” she said. “Anytime I’m selling land to companies that are going to create jobs to help a community, that’s really rewarding because we’re making a difference.”
What: Arizona Land Consulting
Interesting stat: The U.S. real estate asset management and consulting market is valued at $92.5 billion, according to IBISWorld.
Source By azcentral