t age 39, Frank Richards is a 1986 Amador Valley High School graduate who has parlayed his expertise in marketing and finance into NorthPoint Real Estate Investment Services, one of the area's leading firms that specialize in equity growth through property ownership. His list of clients in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley is a virtual who's who in the Valley, ranging from the wealthy to bank managers to teachers, police and firefighters. One young golf pro heard about Richards and his Pleasanton firm and had them design an investment strategy. He bought a small home and then took $50,000 in equity from that to buy a property Richards recommended just outside of Phoenix. The golf pro subsequently sold that and now has five different investment properties and, at age 28, has built up more than half-a-million-dollars in net worth.
Sound too good to be true? That's what Richards thought when he first got started in marketing after graduating from Amador and then UC Davis. Working with another entrepreneur here in Pleasanton, the two opened a direct marketing technology services company, which they later sold in a public offering. For 10 years, Richards worked with a leading global financial services company to learn the techniques and system of the "big guys," as he calls them, and then turned his passion for real estate investment into his own smaller business that could better tailor its advice directly to its customers.
Richards found that most people, even the bank manager, still don't know where to turn to invest a little of their money. They don't have the time to do the research and turn to larger, well known investment firms to manage their capital. With Pleasanton property too expensive to buy, they'd like to invest in distant, even out-of-state properties, but where should they go? Phoenix is one of Richards' favorite investment opportunities, but even there, he points out, there are 15 different cities around Phoenix that offer promise. Which one do you buy in? What's the best neighborhood? What's the right strategy? How do you find a good, reliable Realtor that far away?
Talking to his friends and business associates in Pleasanton, Richards put together NorthPoint, which does all of the conventional work that other real estate firms do, but also specializes in serving wannabe property investors who don't have the time or expertise to travel to and handle purchases in more opportune locations.
The six markets Richards likes are Portland, Austin, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Raleigh, N.C., and Phoenix. He now has put many Pleasanton clients in properties in all six of these markets, with NorthPoint handling the negotiations, working with Realtors in these areas it has qualified, and then providing regular updates on the gains its clients make each year. These are high growth cities in terms of their population ranges, with good economic models that include job growth, rising housing prices and rentals and local individual income growth. Atlanta, for one, is growing at more than 3 percent a year, which Richards said is a significant number that attracts him and investments. Another must: Richards only invests in communities that are supportive of business and pro-development. Portland, as we know, is just the opposite. But its restraint on growth with still a very pro-business attitude makes for a tight housing market that is appreciating faster than it otherwise would. So quite a few investors from Pleasanton now own Portland properties.
Richards and his wife, Marsia (Marsia Gibbs when she attended Valley View and Amador), have two children: Adalyn, 6, and Benjamin, 3. Richards, himself, owns 40 properties in key growth markets, investments he'll keep to help pay the children's college, and then redeploy his investments into more passive income for the retirement years ahead. For more information, you can check his company out at www.northpointgroup.com.