The FORT Podcast: Craig Lashley

Craig Lashley is the President of Valiant Residential, a property management firm based out of DFW that leverages the best in next-generation technological advances to make clients’, residents’ and potential residents’ experiences as rich as possible. They discuss the phases a company will go through as it grows, what separates a great property manager, the idea of buying time and the process of working out a deal and what can kill it.

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1:54 – The Early Days of Valiant 
4:30 – The Process of Hiring and Finding Leaders
6:23 – Phases and Changes of a Company
7:52 – First Big Kahuna
9:18 – Craig’s Evolving Day-to-Day Job
12:20 – How do you identify units to service/manage? 
15:05 – What separates a good property manager from a bad one?
17:09 – Are there any easy fruit to get things in line to make a property more profitable when you take it over?
20:40 – Are people living differently now than they were 5-10 years ago?
22:46 – Buying Time in the Urban Core vs. Moving Out to the Suburbs
29:04 – Time
32:16 – Is there an average of how many communities a renter will look at before making a decision?
35:33 – Are people moving more frequently than they used to?
38:05 – What will affect rents and underwriting deals?
43:38 – Supply Component and Development in Different Markets
48:07 – Different Ways of Living in Different Cities in the US
50:10 – Work/Life Balance
51:08 – The Process of Working Out a Deal and The Things That Kill a Deal


Craig started in the financial sector of the mutual fund division for Wells Fargo before making his way into real estate in asset management and property ownership, acquiring more than 10,000 multi-family units and three million square feet of commercial space throughout the United States. Due to his frustration in working with management groups, Craig took what many consider a reverse approach in his real estate career: going from asset management and ownership to property management. Drawing on these experiences, Craig gives Valiant clients the benefit of knowing exactly what asset owners need. He worked with Valiant (formally SIMC Management) and his mentors, George Martin and Michael Zimmer, for many years before taking over as president in 2014. Since then, Craig has turned Valiant into a top 10 management company and Top 100 Places to Work in DFW. His professional relationships, passion for people and knowledge of the industry embody every aspect of the Valiant lifestyle.

Episode Summary

Lashley, with his extensive background in the industry, offers a deep dive into the intricacies of real estate transactions, portfolio management, property classification, and tenant retention, providing listeners with a comprehensive understanding of the current real estate landscape.

The conversation begins with a detailed exploration of real estate transactions, drawing analogies to car dealership experiences to underscore the strategies and dynamics involved. Lashley emphasizes the crucial importance of being the first option in a client’s consideration, highlighting the competitive nature of the real estate market. He sheds light on the tactics and challenges inherent in real estate negotiations, setting the stage for an in-depth discussion on effective real estate strategies and client interactions.

As the dialogue progresses, the focus shifts to portfolio management, with Lashley and Powers delving into the critical considerations property owners must weigh when determining the scale of properties to manage and the number of management companies to employ. Lashley highlights the importance of situational analysis in these decisions, underscoring the various factors that influence property management choices. This segment of the conversation illuminates the strategic aspects of real estate management, providing listeners with a clear understanding of how to navigate portfolio handling and the significance of adaptability in the field.

The discussion then transitions to an examination of the current state of the real estate market, with particular attention to the classification and availability of B and C properties in core urban areas. Lashley notes the scarcity of these property types in central locations, drawing attention to the stress this places on the market and the consequent lack of options for potential tenants or buyers. He provides a nuanced view of the real estate landscape, emphasizing the challenges and dynamics of property classification and availability across different regions.

Building on this, Lashley shares his insights on trends in tenant retention, highlighting a noticeable increase in tenants choosing to remain in their current living situations. He suggests that this shift may be attributed to a variety of factors, including tenants’ fatigue from frequent moves and a growing understanding of rental price increases in relation to market rates. Lashley’s commentary offers valuable information on changing tenant behaviors and preferences, equipping property owners and managers with the knowledge needed to effectively navigate the current real estate landscape.

In the concluding part of the podcast, Lashley continues to discuss tenant retention, comparing different regions and their respective turnover ratios. He points out that certain areas exhibit lower turnover and higher retention rates, attributing this to regional characteristics and tenant preferences. This comprehensive view on tenant behavior across various markets provides real estate professionals with crucial insights into the complexities of tenant retention, aiding them in making informed decisions and strategies.

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