Danny Mantis, a broker at Kiser Group, specializes in analyzing multifamily assets in Evanston and throughout Lake County. During his brokerage career, Mantis has closed more than $70 million in multifamily transactions.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school?
I was born and raised in Waukegan, Illinois. I graduated from Carthage College in Kenosha in 2009 with a BA in accounting and business administration. Shortly after, I got my MS in real estate from DePaul University’s Kellstadt School of Business.
When you were young, what did you aspire to be?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a baseball player. I played baseball from the time I was 7 until I made the varsity baseball team in high school. Beyond that, I’ve always gravitated to wanting to be an entrepreneur and to start my own business. I likely got that from my mom who had her own business. Actually, it’s funny because growing up I remember her telling me to “go work for a big company where you get a good salary, benefits, paid time off and a retirement plan.” She didn’t want me to be like her because when she didn’t work, she didn’t make money. Obviously, I didn’t heed her advice, because now I’m in the same boat as she was.
How did you get your start in the industry?
Real estate was kind of thrown onto me. I inherited a few single-family rental properties in my early twenties, which was right in the middle of the great recession. Since values had taken such a hit, and jobs were sparse, I realized that real estate was a way to earn income and build wealth. So rather than selling, I was a 22-year-old landlord and decided to go to grad school and pursue a career in real estate.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
I’ve had several people along the way who have helped to provide career guidance and taught me about real estate. Currently, in my professional life, I’d have to say Lee Kiser (I’m not saying this because I feel obligated, either). Not only has he helped to teach me about the mechanics of brokerage, but he’s always willing to provide guidance when challenges arise and help me to think through how to overcome them.
What does a day in the life of Danny Mantis look like?
I usually get up and make a pot of coffee around 6:30am. I’m able to spend a little time with my wife and two-year old daughter before I start working. I’m typically responding to emails by 8:00am before I head out of the house. From that point, every day’s schedule is different. Before COVID-19, I never liked working from home. I would either be out doing tours or at the office. The office is where I feel most productive and efficient both for prospecting calls and for underwriting deals. I typically leave the office between 5:00-5:30pm to get home for more family time. I’m no stranger to putting in another hour or two of work after my daughter goes to bed.
Since COVID hit, I haven’t been able to go to the office and have been forced to adapt. I’m able to keep a similar schedule but have cut out my commute time. Now that I’ve gotten acclimated to working from home, I can see myself doing so much more often in the future.
What do you like most about your job?
The first thing I like about brokerage is that I see it as a puzzle. Whether it’s a call with someone I’ve never talked to before or getting through a final contingency in a contract, I have a sense of needing to find someone’s motivation to move any situation to the next phase.
I’m also kind of a nerd and really enjoy doing valuations for prospective sellers. Not only is it a fun challenge to pursue a listing, but I get personal satisfaction by being a source of really good/accurate information. The more deals I look at, even if I don’t list them, the better broker I become.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve/work on that you haven’t already?
It’s a small accomplishment, but I want to sell the same building twice. Representing a buyer, and then representing them as the seller of the same building is probably the biggest vote of confidence a client can provide.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
My favorite thing is spending time with my wife and daughter, which often includes going to Lake Geneva for a change of scenery. Beyond that, I volunteer for a couple of Armenian organizations as well as local community organizations.
What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? Where do you hope to go next?
My favorite place to vacation so far was Vieques, which is a small island off of Puerto Rico’s mainland. It’s a tiny island that was a former naval installation during WWII, where horses still run wild and has some of the nicest beaches and bluest water I’ve ever seen.
As of June 2020, and living through COVID’s stay-at-home order, I would honestly welcome a trip anywhere as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
I would like to see Jose Pizarro of Hunt Companies answer these questions.