Each year, Think Realty honors the leaders and change-makers of real estate who represent the best the industry has to offer. These individuals are nominated by their peers, and the finalists are determined by an independent panel of judges who are former Think Realty Honors recipients themselves. Their stories range from new investors just beginning (and exponentially growing) to true industry veterans with decades of experience, from single-family investors focused on just a few neighborhoods to multifamily moguls buying millions of dollars’ worth of real estate at a time, and from major industry players employing hundreds of real estate experts to one-man (or -woman) operations making a difference with just the energy of the CEO alone.

Master Investor of the Year:

Marco Santarelli

Founder & CEO, Norada Real Estate Investments

Marco Santarelli has been investing in real estate since he bought his first property at 18. He is the founder and CEO of Norada Real Estate Investments, a nationwide provider of turnkey cash-flow investment properties. He is a published author, host of the “Passive Real Estate Investing” podcast and the creator of the DealGrader™ system that scores the quality of potential real estate investments in a snapshot format. “Real estate has been and still is the greatest wealth creation vehicle available,” he said, adding that the “time freedom that comes from financial freedom through real estate” and spending that time with his loved ones is the real reason he invests. One of the clients who nominated him added,

“Marco is one of the most genuine investment providers out there and one of the most conscientious. His years of experience and successful investing are self-evident when you meet him.”

Multifamily Investor of the Year:

Albert Daniel “Dan” Butler III

CEO & Founder, CrestCore Realty, LLCCityLight Commercial Services

Dan Butler is CEO and founder of CrestCore Realty LLC and CityLight Commercial Services in Memphis, Tennessee. Since 2001, he has purchased more than 500 single-family homes, duplexes, and small apartment complexes in Memphis, 99 percent of which still reside in his portfolio. He specializes in improving occupancy and raising cash flow and rates of return in multifamily properties. His companies employ 75 people who serve 500 investors in the United States and internationally who own 2,500 properties with more than 5,000 tenants. “I started investing in multifamily real estate to give me choices in life over the long term, but I had no idea that the opportunities I created would be 10 times what I thought they would be!” he said. 

One of his colleagues said of him, “Dan humbly flies under the radar, but he truly deserves to be recognized for his inspiring and industry-leading accomplishments.”


Single-Family Investor of the Year:

Marcus Painter

CEO, M&C Properties LLC

Marcus Painter is the CEO of M&C Properties LLC in Kansas City, Missouri. He and his wife, Cara, started M&C Properties a little more than 10 years ago and have grown the business from what Painter describes as a “do-it-yourself rehabbing operation” to a “proud business with more than 1,000 successful property transactions.” He added, “To date, we have a fully integrated company that sustains a growing construction, acquisition, and property management company and provides services to hundreds of customers in several countries.”

One of his clients said of Painter, “Marcus and his team have added a tremendous amount of value to my portfolio. His expertise and experience are an integral part of my business.”

Painter said that the things he values most about real estate are revitalizing communities and giving back. He cited a recent neighborhood revitalization project that M&C Properties undertook to bring back a number of derelict homes in a local, “once-vibrant” neighborhood and his family’s support for mission work in Africa and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Educator of the Year:

Jan Britt

Founder & CEO, Jan Britt Interiors

Jan Britt is the founder and CEO of Jan Britt Interiors and has been helping clients decorate their homes and investment properties for more than 20 years. She also teaches a continuing education course for Georgia real estate agents and has been an instructor in Kennesaw State University (KSU)’s College of Continuing and Professional Education for 17 years. Britt not only teaches and implements traditional staging and design; she also creates affordable, replicable design themes optimized for real estate investors to minimize time on market, maximize rents and sales prices, and eliminate negative experiences associated with showing investment properties that can scare off potential buyers. “My techniques make my students’ lives easier and more profitable, and that makes me feel good,” Britt said.

“Jan recognizes the value of hands-on learning,” observed the KSU Department of Continuing Education representative who nominated her. One of her students added, “I know many instructors, but none like Jan. She is always excited to learn and share her knowledge as well as going the extra mile to make sure we receive more than we expected in every class.”

Property Manager of the Year:

Linda Liberatore

Founder & President, Secure Pay One Inc.

Linda Liberatore is the president of Secure Pay One, Inc., a property management company dedicating to saving property managers and real estate investors money by reducing slow-paying residents and resolving cash-flow issues. She is also the author of Daily Inspirations to Achieve Your Real Estate Investment Goals and My Landlord Helper: Keys to Managing Your Real Estate Investments, Achieving Explosive Growth, and Saving Money. “Probably one of my proudest moments was helping a landlord save his building from foreclosure by moving to timely cashflow just in time to avoid foreclosure,” she said.

One of her clients called Fher “the driving force behind her team’s success” and another called her “a role model to the community through her efforts in giving back,” citing her involvement with local colleges, fundraisers, and local business incubators. “Linda and Secure Pay One are a godsend for independent landlords with small holdings and those with dozens of units,” another stated.

Service Provider of the Year:

Kevin Ortner

President & CEO, Renters Warehouse

Kevin Ortner is the president and CEO of Renters Warehouse and author of the book Rent Estate™ Revolution. Ortner joined the Renters Warehouse team in 2009 when he opened the first franchise in Phoenix, Arizona. Renters Warehouse manages more than $3 billion in residential real estate and services for more than 13,000 investors owning 20,000 residential homes. Ortner said, “Today, homeownership is at an all-time low [and] Americans are also increasingly unprepared for retirement. Our goal at Renters Warehouse is to help investors leverage a rental portfolio, what we call ‘Rent Estate’ or ‘Real Estate for the Rest of Us,’ as a tool to take hold of their financial future and build a legacy.” Ortner has a personal passion for real estate as well: “When I lost my job as a corporate pilot in 2009, my real estate holdings and my interest in property management saved me and my family from financial ruin. Real estate is one of the most powerful investment vehicles available to ordinary Americans.”

According to the client who nominated him, “Kevin’s investors are able to relax knowing their properties are receiving first-class care regardless of portfolio size.”

2017 Emerging Leader/Rising Star:

CityLink Real Estate Solutions (Tyler Weitz & Keith Murray)

Co-Founders, CityLink Real Estate Solutions

Although CityLink Real Estate Solutions has only existed since 2014, the company is taking the Raleigh, North Carolina, area by storm. Co-founders Tyler Weitz and Keith Murray buy distressed properties and convert them to profitable, productive investments at high volume and breakneck speed while still managing to keep empathy at the very heart of their investing model. “We always want to be extremely sensitive to our clients’ perspectives,” said Weitz, who does not refer to motivated sellers as “leads” or “deals” but always “clients” or by specific case or name. “They’re often not in a great situation: foreclosure, debt, distress,” he added. “Our goal is to try to build an offer that meets their needs, whatever those needs may be, as well as our own.” Weitz and Murray officially joined forces to found CityLink just under three years ago.

“They have such a creative, compassionate approach to real estate,” said a client who nominated them. “It’s making their investors love them and it’s one of the main reasons they’ve been so successful so quickly.”

Private Lender of the Year:

Bill Green

CEO, LendingOneFinancier & Chairman, The Green Family Charitable Foundation

Bill Green is the CEO of LendingOne, a financial technology company focused on providing creative financing to professional real estate investors. “My initial interest in real estate was fueled by its non-correlation to the stock market and the healthy risk-adjusted returns over the long term,” said Green, adding that ultimately this interest “paved the way for LendingOne’s technology-enabled private lending, which makes us one of the fastest-growing private lenders in the country.” Green recently published his first book, All In: 101 Real-Life Business Lessons for Emerging Entrepreneurs. Green noted that LendingOne currently has a presence in 41 states after just under three years in business.

“Bill is a dedicated businessman, serial entrepreneur, successful real estate investor, and published author in addition to contributing time and effort to numerous organizations including the Young Presidents Organization, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and The Green Family Charitable Foundation,” observed a colleague. Another added, “He’s got incredible business acumen.”

“They have such a creative, compassionate approach to real estate,” said a client who nominated them. “It’s making their investors love them and it’s one of the main reasons they’ve been so successful so quickly.”

Commercial Investor of the Year:


Tammy Phelps-Keglovich

Director of Acquisitions & Management, Capstone Investment Acquisitions & Founder, Capital City REIA

Tammy Phelps-Keglovich is the founder of Capital City Real Estate Investors Alliance (ccREIA). At Capstone Management, she and her husband, Jim Keglovich, lead the acquisition, repositioning, stabilization, and management of 15-to-150-unit properties in multiple U.S. states. Part of that process includes renovating many of those properties to establish maximum value within their communities. “Building communities where we can make a lasting and profound difference in the lives of others is why we are here,” she said. Phelps-Keglovich and her husband recently “purged” the majority of their physical possessions in order to move onsite into one of their newer communities to better participate in repositioning that investment. “We’re dedicated to giving our residents truly awesome communities to call home,” she explained.

“Tammy is not just a landlord buying up commercial properties. She is creating communities at every property she and her husband control,” wrote the colleague who nominated her. “Additionally, she invests her time and passion in other investors [through ccREIA] to teach them how to use commercial property investing to create financial independence and legacy.”

Humanitarian of the Year

Steve Down

Steve Down

Founder, Financially FitEven Stevens SandwichesThe Falls Events Centers

Steve Down is the founder and CEO of Even Stevens, a sandwich shop that has become a force for sustainable change in the communities it serves, and The Falls Event Centers, innovative and state-of-the art event facilities that are rapidly becoming “the place” to hold business gatherings, dream weddings, and family events. “For every sandwich sold, Even Stevens donates the value of that sandwich to a local non-profit which, in turn, feeds the hungry,” Down explained. Even Stevens has already donated more than 1 million sandwiches in its two years of business. The Falls Event Centers also support Down’s “cause capital” concept, offering free facility space to local non-profit partners from their unused inventory.  Both endeavors meet Down’s priorities of making a difference in the communities in which he invests while also turning a profit. “I invest in real estate because it is a hard asset and provides preservation for your investment during the wealth creation phase,” Down said.

“Steve has an unwavering commitment to building businesses that change lives and communities for the better,” said an investor who nominated him. “He’s helped more people than can be counted through his cause capital philosophy.”


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