20 Young Leaders Transforming the Real-Estate Industry in 2023 – Business Insider

27 minutes, 10 seconds Read

Natasha Sadikin, Ankur Jain, Kristen Henry, Bryce Grandison

James Leng, Mike Coppola, Cameron Moore, Jelissa Holder

  • Meet Business Insider’s fourth cohort of emerging commercial and residential real-estate talent.
  • We selected 20 young professionals 35 and under making waves across a vast industry.
  • The list spans talent from firms such as Cushman & Wakefield to startups rethinking old norms.

In the wake of the pandemic, buying a home is more expensive than ever. How and where we work has fundamentally changed as some office buildings sit half-empty, and a new set of demands around leisure time emerges — from eschewing hotels for short-term rentals to catalyzing the outdoor-activity craze.

The thought of buying a home is even more daunting when you consider the country’s growing chasm between the haves and have-nots and the effects of the climate crisis on the environment, including more frequent and destructive weather events and the need to build more sustainable housing.

These are issues this year’s cohort of rising stars hope to address. The list includes professionals from established firms such as Cushman & Wakefield and startups seeking solutions to challenges like connecting buyers with affordable homes and expanding sustainable building practices.

We asked that nominees for the list be no older than 35 as of November 20, work in the US, and stand out from their peers. Of the scores of outstanding young people leading the next generation of real estate, we’ve highlighted 20 to watch.

Presented in alphabetical order by last name, here are the rising stars of real estate for 2023.

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Zelalem Adefris, 31

Zelalem Adefris


Zelalem Adefris, the CEO of Catalyst Miami.

Courtesy of Zelalem Adefris

South Florida could face serious challenges from rising water levels within the next decade. As the CEO of Catalyst Miami, Adefris has a “bird’s-eye view” of the climate- and social-justice nonprofit and how it can help affect grassroots change in the South Florida communities it serves.

Catalyst has prepared hundreds of community leaders to advocate to legal and financial decision-makers for sustainable and fair housing in Miami. Recent wins include increased municipal investment in solar panels and weatherization of local housing stock.

The 31-year-old is also focused on the affordability crisis in Miami, which an influx of new residents since the onset of the pandemic has partially spurred on. With South Florida being one of the most expensive regions in the country, Catalyst, under Adefris’ leadership, is advocating for more developers to create affordable housing for those making 60% of the area median income, or about $58,500, for a family of four.

“We’re losing a lot of folks in our community who just can’t afford Miami anymore,” Adefris said.

Since assuming the chief title earlier this year after spending nearly eight years in supporting roles, Adefris’ biggest transition has been stepping into the spotlight rather than staying behind the scenes as a community organizer, where she mostly elevated others’ voices.

“Stepping up and expressing my vision as a leader has been really powerful and a new muscle to work,” she said.

—Dan Latu

Devyn Bachman, 35

A woman with blond hair smiles for a photo behind a blank backdrop.


Devyn Bachman, the senior vice president of research and operations at John Burns Research and Consulting.

Kristin Karkoska, Blue Sky’s Studio

Bachman’s range is clear in her résumé, which includes stints as an NFL dancer and as an analyst for a national homebuilder in the wake of the Great Recession.

This year, she earned her biggest role yet: the senior vice president of research and operations at John Burns Research and Consulting, a firm many of the industry’s largest builders and investors regard as a crucial resource for housing data and analysis.

In the role, the 35-year-old has emerged as an often-cited real-estate expert while managing the operations of a roughly 60-person team constantly taking the US housing market’s pulse and forecasting where it could be headed.

Bachman now leads the charge in modernizing the company’s research division, recently heading a reorganization that included consolidating the firm’s technology team and making new hires to lead product and engineering. These moves, she said, will prepare the company for a future in which real-estate firms increasingly use artificial intelligence and machine learning to guide them through decisions.

During the pandemic, she’s proven herself as a prominent housing expert, dishing out insights to both internal clients and national publications. She’s also steadily assumed more responsibilities on the operations side of the business, a progression that the change to her title formalized earlier this year.

“When given a new opportunity or a new challenge, I’m going to come in and work hard. I want to prove that I’ve earned it, and that I can earn the next level up,” Bachman said. “That’s kind of who I am to my core.”

—James Rodriguez

Ben Bear, 35

A man in front of a geometric screen.


Ben Bear, a cofounder and the CEO of BuildCasa.

Courtesy of Ben Bear

Bear, 35, is on a mission to build 100,000 new homes by paying homeowners for pieces of their backyards.

Since its inception in 2021, the company he cofounded and now leads as CEO, BuildCasa, has paid California homeowners between $50,000 and $600,000 each for a portion of their property, ranging from 2,000 square feet to two acres.

“We found that there are a lot of these folks who want to age in place who are house rich and cash poor who could really benefit from this,” he said.

BuildCasa works with local California governments to split the homeowner’s land into two distinct lots, buys one of the lots from the homeowner, then sells it to a homebuilder. The builder then constructs a new house on the lot and sells it. On average, BuildCasa pockets about $20,000 from each transaction, Bear said.

Bear’s goal is to create more homes and ease the nation’s housing shortage — a major reason residential real estate is so unaffordable.

So far, BuildCasa has created 93 new housing units, mostly in the Sacramento, California, area.

BuildCasa presents an alternative for homeowners to cash in on their properties. Unlike building accessory-dwelling units, which have a high cost of entry but can produce rental income, this process allows California homeowners to benefit from the state’s rollback in single-family zoning without having to put cash out up front.

—Kelsey Neubauer

William Cahill, 30

A man smiles in front of framed black and white photos.


William Cahill, an associate director at Aventuur.


Cahill was on a rowing trip on the Zambezi River in Zambia surrounded by crocodiles and hippos when he met his future boss. Nicholas Edelman regaled him with a story about pivoting from a job at Deutsche Bank to turning his love of surfing into a business: Aventuur, which develops man-made surf parks.

Cahill followed suit, leaving behind a job touching on mergers and acquisitions and data and analytics at the management-consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting in London. The 30-year-old is now an associate director at Aventuur, which has a foothold in Australia and New Zealand and is planning to move into 11 cities across North America. Aventuur’s parks allow paying customers to surf in wave pools with artificial beachfronts dotted by amenities such as restaurants and beach clubs.

Cahill develops data-and-analytics systems that speed up market research, land analysis, and financial modeling that help the company assess where to open a location next. The systems Cahill creates make him indispensable to the growing recreational-real-estate sector.

He sees Aventuur as a means of getting more people in the water, particularly at a time when the interest in surfing is at a high because of the increasing demand for outdoor activities. And it’s a way to bring the sport to people in places that otherwise wouldn’t have access to it, such as those in Dallas, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Jacksonville, Florida, where Aventuur has projects in varying stages of completion.

“Surfing can be quite a daunting sport. And it’s well known that surfers, especially the good ones in most local spots, can not be the most friendly and welcoming people,” Cahill said from the company’s Los Angeles office. It’s these barriers of localism, wave consistency, and access that keep people from becoming the impassioned surfer that Cahill, originally from South Africa, is.

Aventuur and its surf parks, where guests will also be able to shell out for lessons, represent “the democratization of surfing in many senses,” he said, adding, “We can probably all argue that’s a good thing now.”

—Zoe Rosenberg

Sabrina Guler, 30

Sabrina Guler in a black turtleneck


Sabrina Guler, a cofounder and the COO of Techvestor.

Courtesy of Sabrina Guler

At 7 years old, Guler loved her grandmother’s house so much, she offered to buy it for $20. Her grandmother laughed at the offer but made a fortuitous prediction that Guler would one day work in real estate.

After a detour at Apple, Guler is now at the helm of Techvestor. In two years, the $65 million fund for investing in short-term rentals has scaled up from one condo in Tucson, Arizona, to over 100 properties across nine national markets, including Memphis, Tennessee; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.

Her own enthusiasm for hosting short-term rentals drove the expansion. “I loved the feeling of owning something myself and the potential that came with the business,” she said.

This year, the cofounder and COO opened Techvestor’s 100th property, hired over 40 property managers to help oversee operations for the brand’s 50,000 guests to date, and celebrated the first of the brand’s properties to hit over 100 reviews.

Techvestor is growing when the short-term-rental industry is becoming increasingly professionalized. Traveler demand for short-term rentals during pandemic lockdowns prompted an explosion in investor activity. The analytics site AirDNA, which tracks data from Airbnb and Vrbo, estimates that there are 4,500 short-term-rental hosts who have more than 21 listings, accounting for at least 25% of the entire industry.

Guler attributes Techvestor’s success to going through every “hair” of data with her research team. They drill down to the specifics of lot size, whether a certain market needs a hot tub, or what markets perform best with in-home movie theaters.

“We cater to families and we design homes so you don’t have to leave them,” she said.

As for market saturation, Guler is confident Techvestor’s properties will rise to the top and plans to focus on high-quality service to maintain an edge, from rapidly responding to messages to stocking homes with games.

—Dan Latu

Bryce Grandison, 26

Bryce Grandison


Bryce Grandison, a senior analyst at Langdon Park Capital.

Jelissa Holder

Grandison wants to have a positive impact on communities like the one he grew up in.

The 26-year-old is a senior analyst in asset management at the Los Angeles-based Langdon Park Capital, where he liaises with partners and property managers. The firm specializes in buying multifamily properties under the NOAH, or Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing, asset class, with a primary focus on historically underserved Black and Latino communities in California and the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

While the company’s primary objective is to generate money for its investors, it also wants to have a positive impact on residents. Grandison is at the forefront of those efforts, modeling how other firms in the space could bring altruism into the real-estate sector. For Langdon Park Capital, he helps organize financial-literacy and tutoring workshops and after-school care programs.

“I grew up in some of the same areas that I’m able to invest in today through the company,” Grandison said. “It’s not only about the economic returns, but it’s also about the social impact.”

Grandison, who never foresaw a career in real-estate investment, wants to motivate others with a similar background to give back to their communities.

“To be able to establish a career like this and truly feel like I’m making a difference not only in my company, but also in the communities that I’m very familiar with is an accomplishment.”

—Alcynna Lloyd

Kristen Henry, 25

A woman smiles.


Kristen Henry, the CTO of SQ4D.

Cameron Moore

Henry can build a house in 80 hours — with help from a 3D printer. At 25, she’s one of the youngest people ever to do so.

Henry is passionate about 3D printing because she thinks it can solve some of the most pressing issues in housing: She said 3D printing the foundation, the structure, and the walls of a home on-site can make housing safer and easier to build and ultimately ease a housing shortage nationwide.

“For centuries, residential construction techniques —such as stacking blocks, laying bricks, or framing with lumber — have remained largely unchanged, despite oftentimes being labor-intensive and unsafe,” she said. “Automation has improved many other industries, and implementing advanced technology into the way we build our homes is long overdue.”

Since graduating from Yale, Henry has worked for the Long Island-based 3D-printing-construction company SQ4D. Hired initially as an engineer, she was promoted to chief technology officer within a year and has since led efforts to expedite the printing process.

Most recently, she forged a partnership between SQ4D and Habitat for Humanity of Long Island to 3D print a home for a family in need. Once SQ4D builds the house, they sell it. One that was recently on the market was listed for $299,000, much less than the area’s median price of $450,000, Business Insider reported last year.

Henry advises other young people who want to be leaders in this space to jump in.

“It’s about getting your hands dirty, getting in there doing things and making sure you get experience, involve yourself in conversations, and start on projects,” she said.

—Kelsey Neubauer

Jonathan Hong, 29

Jonathan Hong


Jonathan Hong, a senior associate at Silverstein Properties.

Silverstein Properties

In 2022, Hong, a senior associate at Silverstein Properties, oversaw the acquisition of 55 Broad Street, a 30-story office building in Lower Manhattan.

The straightforward assignment began to seem insurmountable as the Federal Reserve embarked on a yearlong series of 11 interest-rate hikes.

While the deal hung in limbo, Hong focused on what he could control. When Silverstein completed the $172.5 million deal in July, Hong’s preparations — securing an equity partner and coordinating the design and construction plans for the office-to-residential conversion — meant the work could begin immediately.

“We closed on a Friday and then on Monday we had our interior demolition crews” at the building, Hong said.

Hong’s indefatigable approach to his work has earned the 29-year-old an unlikely perch as an advisor to the company’s 92-year-old patriarch, Larry Silverstein, on its next big project: completing the World Trade Center.

Only two buildings remain: a large mixed-use spire that will include residential space, and 2 World Trade Center, a huge office skyscraper that will require tenant commitments before work can begin. Hong, who’s helping raise the equity and financing for that office project, is optimistic about his future success.

“I have a naturally addictive personality,” he said. “Sometimes I have to tell myself to turn it off, but it’s an asset at work.”

—Daniel Geiger

Ankur Jain, 33

A headshot of Ankur Jain


Ankur Jain, the founder and CEO of Bilt Rewards.

Santiago Felipe

Jain sees himself as a problem solver.

It started during his days at the University of Pennsylvania where he created Kairos, an incubator that helped graduates launch businesses from the direct-to-consumer mattress brand Casper to the livestreaming app Periscope during the Great Recession.

Today, Kairos is the parent company of Jain’s latest venture, Bilt Rewards, a loyalty program that allows users across the country to earn rewards for paying rent.

“Rent is the single biggest pain point that I, and most of our friends, had,” Jain, Bilt’s founder and CEO, said. “We said, ‘Is there any way that you can take people’s biggest expense in this country and make it do something for you in a way that helps you?'”

A rewards program with travel, dining, and shopping perks for paying rent at Bilt’s over 3.5 million participating rentals is a new concept for consumers, and one that Bilt is now a leader in. And the 33-year-old Jain is prepared for the road ahead as the guiding light in a new space.

“You never know what to expect when you become the category leader,” he said. “It just becomes that much harder.”

—Jordan Pandy

Azar Kheraj, 33

Azar Kheraj


Azar Kheraj, the COO of Houseful.


Kheraj is the chief operating officer of Houseful, an online real-estate platform that guides people through the homebuying and selling process by connecting them with real-estate agents and mortgage professionals.

“I definitely didn’t set out to work in real estate,” Kheraj said. “I wanted to work at a company that was small, growing, and trying to solve a key problem,” which, with Houseful, Kheraj considers to be a burdensome and unaffordable homebuying process. “The second piece is that I wanted to work on something impactful — real estate definitely checks that box.”

The 33-year-old’s been a key player in Houseful’s success. Formerly known as OJO Canada, the company rebranded in October after the Royal Bank of Canada acquired it.

Kheraj spearheaded the day-to-day strategies for OJO Canada’s sale to RBC and came up with an operational plan for the venture. His contributions helped secure nearly $200 million in combined deals with RBC and Vista Equity Partners.

“We’ve been able to really integrate with RBC and bring them better financial support,” he said, adding that since the rebrand, a key focus for the company has been to “grow and make sure they’re able to better serve the needs of Canadians.”

—Alcynna Lloyd

Katharine Lau, 34

A woman smiles in front of a black background.


Katharine Lau, a cofounder and the CEO of Stuf Storage.

Stuf Storage

Lau saw underused space everywhere.

In early-career commercial real-estate gigs, she observed the “weird, funky” basements, office-utility spaces, empty floors of parking garages, and windowless or below-grade stores as wasted space that could be better used.

Enter Stuf Storage, the startup company the 34-year-old cofounded in 2020.

The solution provides income via a revenue-sharing model for commercial real-estate owners as occupancy struggles to regain its prepandemic foothold, and it provides a service to the roughly 10% of US households that rent self-storage space.

“There’s space everywhere. I feel like we’re just standing on top of it,” Lau said. “We’re trying to monetize that and give residents and businesses in the area something easy to use and a great place to store and then also help landlords. They need all the cash they can get.”

Since launching, Lau has led the company as its CEO into 20 markets including New York and San Francisco, partnered with real-estate bigwigs such as Jamestown Properties and Hines, and built up a nationwide network of technicians who help keep the remotely managed properties running smoothly. The company manages about 100,000 square feet of space across the country.

In 2024, Lau wants to double the number of company locations, triple its square footage, and introduce ancillary products such as insurance and on-site equipment rentals.

Characterless gray buildings on the sides of highways have too often defined self storage, and Lau is looking to change that.

“I think self storage has, for a long time, been this underbelly of real estate,” Lau said. “One of the things that we tried to do is bring it to light and make it innovative and interesting — really make the messaging and the customer experience all look modern.”

—Zoe Rosenberg

Kathryn Lawn, 35

A headshot of Kathryn Lawn


Kathryn Lawn, an executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield.

Cushman & Wakefield

It’s been a crucial few years for the biotech industry. As an executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, Lawn has been leading the way in making sure life sciences and tech companies have spaces that meet their needs in the flourishing Raleigh, North Carolina, market.

“Raleigh was always talked about as up-and-coming,” Lawn said. “And it’s only done that exponentially since being in this business.”

Lawn, who’s worked in real estate for a decade, said that in the past few years, the spotlight in North Carolina has shifted away from office buildings and toward spaces that can accommodate life-sciences companies’ ability to manufacture or store products. The Research Triangle between Raleigh and Durham has emerged as one of the country’s top biotech hubs, which makes Lawn’s work that much more important.

And the stakes can be high in the industry.

A tornado wiped out a client’s warehouse about an hour outside Raleigh this year, and Lawn had to act quickly to get the company — which supplies about 25% of the country’s injectable medications for hospitals and surgery centers — a new space.

In what would normally take six to 12 months, Lawn found the company a new location in one — because she knew she had to.

“I have to put that into perspective sometimes, which is what I love about working with life-science companies,” she said. “These are things that impact people we actually know.”

—Jordan Pandy

Kenny Lee, 32

Kenny Lee in a blue button down shirt


Kenny Lee, an economist at StreetEasy.

Daniel Berman

As an economist at StreetEasy, Lee digs deep into New York City’s residential real-estate data to deliver residents valuable insights into the infamously difficult market.

His research this year produced useful reports on the best neighborhoods for new homebuyers, the cheapest places for new grads to land in the city, and, pivotally, the racial inequality among renters in New York. Those insights have reached not only countless New Yorkers, but also the Office of the Mayor, the city comptroller, and the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

Lee traces his fascination with real-estate data to studying his own family’s history with housing in South Korea, where a common type of lease or deposit called “jeonse” allows renters to pay a hefty security deposit instead of monthly rent.

“It taught me about the resilience and creativity of everyday families and households when faced with a really complicated real-estate market,” he said.

In all his reports, Lee tries to drill deep into the data to always deliver information that buyers and renters can use in real life. A recent report analyzed which New York City neighborhoods had the most affordable down payments.

“Readers always appreciate tangible insights that they can act upon,” he said.

—Dan Latu

Nicolle Lee, 30

Nicolle Lee


Nicolle Lee, a manager on Royal Caribbean’s corporate-development team.

Courtesy of Nicolle Lee

Lee, who recently joined Royal Caribbean’s corporate-development team as a manager, is excited by the opportunities she sees within the company, especially as people’s appetite for cruising means ships are bigger and more extravagant than ever.

Lee works on acquisitions that will expand the cruise line’s real-estate footprint on land, such as securing private destinations available only to cruisers.

“Royal is super interesting,” she said. “They are not just a cruise company, they have a lot of things in the hopper when it comes to managing their terminal and infrastructure facility, their ports.”

Lee said the company has been focused on private destinations since 2019, and it’s a leader in investing in the space. It’s a move that can potentially remake the industry which contributes an estimated $150 billion to the global economy each year.

Royal completed a $250 million overhaul of its island in the Bahamas in 2019, and it has other expansion and acquisition plans on its docket for the future. It comes at a good time: Business is booming. Lee said that in the third quarter, about two-thirds of guests were new to cruising or new to the Royal brand.

“In the cruising industry, the pandemic stopped all of the business for a long period of time,” she said. “Now, everyone has the travel bug.”

—Kelsey Neubauer

Nicole Marburger, 32

Nicole Marburger


Nicole Marburger, the founder and owner of Legacy Real Estate Group at Compass.

Fifty Clicks Photo

Marburger had a thriving career as an insurance- and annuity-industry sales agent before venturing into real estate. It was an unexpected decision that required some coaxing from her colleagues and friends.

“People kept saying that if I worked as hard in real estate as I did in my sales job, I would do well,” she said.

They were right. Marburger now ranks among the top 1% of agents in the Austin metro area and is the founder and owner of Legacy Real Estate Group at Compass. The firm specializes in the single-family market, with a secondary focus on real-estate investment and development.

Marburger joined real estate in 2015, ahead of a crucial time for Texas. Since the onset of the pandemic, the state has been a top destination for movers seeking a lower cost of living and a different quality of life. Austin has particularly attracted new residents, with the demand for homes causing the state capital’s property prices to spike by 58% from May 2020 to May 2022. And Marburger’s at the center of the action.

Under Marburger’s leadership, Legacy has skillfully navigated Austin’s rapidly expanding housing market. As remote workers and people seeking a higher quality of life flocked to Austin during the pandemic, Legacy met them head-on by expanding its support team to manage the influx of referrals. The result: In 2022, Legacy closed over 84 home sales totaling nearly $55 million. Marburger alone closed 56 of those sales.

Marburger chalks the team’s success up to the culture based on hard work and grit that she promotes.

“There’s no such thing as instant gratification,” she said. “It’s about continuing to do the right thing every single day, for our clients and business.”

—Alcynna Lloyd

Robert Marino, 35

Robert Marino


Robert Marino, a vice president at Tourmaline Capital Partners.

Tourmaline Capital Partners

Marino had considered a career at his family’s successful New York City public-relations company, but when an opening came up at one of the firm’s developer clients, he decided to move into commercial real estate.

A decade into his real-estate career, Marino is a vice president at Tourmaline Capital Partners, a Philadelphia-based office investor. Though the enduring popularity of remote work has caused office-occupancy and -rental rates to falter, Tourmaline focuses on Sunbelt markets that have seen an influx of younger workers who are more eager to return to the workplace.

Marino handles asset management at the firm, so part of his focus is on upgrading properties’ amenities and services, which are now considered crucial in persuading tenants to rent space — and their employees to use it.

“It’s a little bit like being the director of a movie,” Marino said. “You have this great vision of all these things you want to execute, but it’s really about bringing the right skill sets, the right people together to make all those things happen.”

He’s had sparks of creativity in the role. During a recent visit to MercBar, a tenant at an office-and-retail complex in Phoenix, Marino noted its superlative smoked salmon. The bar’s coowner explained how he had to make the New York City staple himself because top-tier cured fish was virtually unknown in the southwestern city.

The two envisioned a Jewish deli, named The Little Pickle, that will soon open as part of a larger site called The Esplanade, where Tourmaline is undertaking a $50 million renovation.

“That was a brainchild of two New York guys sitting in Phoenix eating smoked salmon,” Marino said.

—Daniel Geiger

Sarah McCann, 29

A woman smiles in front of a white background.


Sarah McCann, associate director for real-estate strategy at Vocon.

Billy Delfs

New York City’s “Black Rock” building, a sleek tower built by celebrated architect Eero Saarinen, opened in 1965.

Fast forward to 2021, when the pandemic had already sparked a work-from-home revolution that left many traditional office spaces partially vacant at best and bordering foreclosure at worst.

The Black Rock, known for being the headquarters of broadcast giant CBS, was feeling a bit dated.

Enter McCann, associate director for real-estate strategy at architecture and design firm Vocon. In the sometimes staid, old-school realms of commercial real estate, McCann stands out: She’s a woman who’s under 30 with experience in investment banking and equity research.

Most of all, she’s interested in what would get millennial and Gen Z employees back to the office.

“‘How do you make it worth the commute?'” is a conversation we have all the time,” McCann said. “You’re now competing with people’s couches or coffee shops or beds.”

McCann and her team polled the younger employees of some of the Black Rock’s key tenants — several major law firms — to find out. They wanted a gym, a grab-and-go café, and a large conference center with space for virtual meetings and in-person events. So Vocon built them as part of a $36 million renovation that will be complete by the end of the year.

Another one of McCann’s projects is a boutique office building farther downtown that is now adding “whiskey lockers,” where employees can store their own liquor and wine to use in a lounge amenity space. (BYO bartender, though.) It’s all part of a broader plan to make offices desirable again.

“The office market is undoubtedly distressed. There are a lot of scary headlines out there,” McCann said. “It’s going to require flexibility and adaptability … We are giving people alternate places to work that are not a couch or a table.”

—Hana R. Alberts

Nick Melrose, 30

A man smiles in a corporate headshot.


Nick Melrose, the founder and CEO of Melrose Ascension Capital.

Courtesy of Nick Melrose

Melrose learned a valuable lesson from his days renting flex-wall apartments in New York: There are renters desperate for access to city living who developers more eager to cater to luxury clientele continually price out.

He’s now the founder and CEO of the real-estate-investment and -development firm Melrose Ascension Capital, which has a $350 million portfolio spanning 800 units, 1,400 beds, and 1 million square feet of institutional multifamily development in Chicago and Miami.

Melrose has made targeting this underserved demographic a key strategy. He develops buildings that can go for slightly lower than nearby high rises, such as studios that rent for $500 less per month than in a luxury building and multiple-bedroom units specifically designed for co-living with roommates.

By designing units that are efficient but smaller, Melrose said he’s able to pass on more affordable rents to tenants. He’s also able to keep rent costs low by buying land priced lower than its market value.

Traditionally, developers “have overlooked a market that is dying to be able to live in these locations,” he said. He isn’t doing the same.

—Dan Latu

Natasha Sadikin, 31

A headshot of Natasha Sadikin


Natasha Sadikin, the senior development associate at Juno.

James Leng

Sadikin is helping usher in a new era of conscious construction.

The 31-year-old is the senior development associate at Juno, a San Francisco-based modular-building company that uses renewable timber instead of steel or concrete to create repeatable building systems.

Sadikin had a hand in Juno’s first, and only, actualized project — a five-story, 24-unit apartment building in Austin that was built 60% faster than a traditional building of the same size, according to Architectural Record.

“We have had a 15% premium on leasing, which really demonstrates the desire for a good product that is also sustainable,” she said.

The company is also at work on an 18-story apartment building in Denver, but it’s still in its early stages.

Sadikin works through all phases of building — from site-acquisition to design to construction management — all while keeping sustainability in mind.

“Construction is one of the biggest contributors to climate-change problems,” she said. “The more that we can be responsible with how we put the products into being, but also think about how these buildings are going to be here for a hundred years, then I think it would be better for developers all around.”

Sadikin believes that being a good developer means being a generalist, and by having her hands in a project from start to finish, she helps create a better blueprint for building.

“Sustainability and figuring out a better way to build is definitely the future,” she said.

—Jordan Pandy

Raunaq Singh, 28

Raunaq Singh


Raunaq Singh, the founder and CEO of Roam.

Rayon Richards

Singh is determined to make homeownership twice as affordable for 1 million Americans by 2030.

Singh, who was Opendoor’s first loan officer, is the founder and CEO of Roam, an online platform dedicated to home financing. The company, which launched in September, specializes in assumable mortgages, a type of mortgage loan that allows buyers to take on the interest rate, current principal balance, and other conditions of a seller’s mortgage agreement.

Roam facilitates transactions on behalf of both the buyer and the seller in collaboration with their respective agents, despite not being a lender.

Singh said that the real-estate market’s elevated home prices and interest rates motivated him to kickstart the venture.

“I was personally looking to purchase a home,” he said. “It felt like every month that I searched, rates were going up. As rates increased, so did monthly payments. I found that the number of homes I could afford just kept getting smaller and smaller.”

Through Roam, buyers can purchase homes with interest rates significantly lower than current rates, which hover around 7%. Within the first week of Roam’s launch, the company saw more than a million website visitors and tens of thousands of leads. Over two months, the company has gone on to help many buyers purchase homes with interest rates as low as 2%.

—Alcynna Lloyd

Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.

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