Trisha Malone of Anton DevCo navigates the real estate landscape

Real estate and development wasn’t Trisha Malone’s first career choice. And at least once, she walked away from the industry entirely.


But nearly 20 years after she moved into that field, Malone is still at it as Anton DevCo’s chief investment officer.


“I like that every day is different, I like complicated, and I like being guinea pigs for something,” Malone said.


After getting an accounting degree from California State University Sacramento, Malone spent the first few years of her career at a CPA firm: William, Patrick, Olds. All of the firm’s clients, she said, were either nonprofit companies or connected to real estate.


When Malone began doing work for one of those clients, Anton DevCo predecessor St. Anton Partners, she said the company’s focus and projects intrigued her. Soon after, St. Anton asked her to join the company exclusively. What cinched her decision was when a partner at the CPA firm told her St. Anton would be bigger than prolific development firm Buzz Oates.


Steve Eggert, a partner with St. Anton, said that after working with Malone in her accountancy role, he thought she would fit in well at the company.


“Anyone who hangs around 19 years must have been a pretty good fit,” he said, adding Malone masterfully balances technical accounting with interpersonal skills.


At St. Anton, her first role was as a controller, but with three young children at home, she stepped down a year later to spend more time with them.


But less than a year later, she returned to St. Anton, first one day a week and then ramping up to full time again. “I was bored,” she said. “When I left before, I felt all moms were supposed to stay home. For me, work was the balance to that.”


To get better at her job, she had to learn more about what a multifamily and affordable housing developer like St. Anton did. Going from accounting to finance, she began spending more time with the company’s development department, asking questions and sitting in on meetings.

Though it’s still numbers, finance has a different perspective than accounting.

“Accounting is looking backwards,” she said, reviewing the books to see every penny accounted for. “Financing looks forward, so it’s strategy and planning and problem solving.”

Malone said during her crash course in real estate development, someone handed her a 50-page document explaining a project. She barely understood any of it, she said, but she wanted to know how the process worked, from structuring a deal to seeing tenants move in. At this point in her career, she said, construction is about the only part she hasn’t learned.

In 2014, Malone was vice president of finance with St. Anton when company founders Eggert and Peter Geremia parted ways. Geremia kept the St. Anton name, while Eggert formed Anton DevCo. Malone said she thought there was more room for growth with the new firm, and became Anton DevCo’s chief investment officer.

The company began to focus more on market-rate projects as well as bigger overall markets, with several proposals in the Bay Area. In her new role, Malone wasn’t just looking over deals, she was actively looking for new ones.

“Now I’m on the side of the business where we have to market ourselves,” she said, noting Anton DevCo still has a hand in both market-rate and affordable projects. “That makes us more recession proof.”

Lisa Gutierrez, a senior vice president at U.S. Bank, said she’s worked on lending for both affordable and mixed-income housing projects with Malone and Anton DevCo.

One of Malone’s strengths, she said, is the ability to form a personal relationship alongside the professional one.

“When she tells you something, she’s going to get it done,” Gutierrez said. Because of her background in finance, Malone also understands the parameters necessary for a bank to underwrite a deal, giving her another connection point with bankers like Gutierrez, she said.

“If there’s an issue, all you have is the people to work with, and she’s always one to step in,” Gutierrez said. “And she’s fun. That helps, too.”

Even though the economy is strong now, Malone said, finding deals that work is still tough. Construction costs, affected by factors such as labor shortages, trade tariffs, local impact fees and materials, squeeze the potential return. But the company is still looking to underwrite four to five local projects, she said.

“When you get a deal on the line, you might look at 100 of them,” she said. “Get one done, and we’re excited. It’s not easy to do development.”

In addition to all the other variables, she said, timing plays a role in whether projects work. If a proposal makes sense now but doesn’t in six months, it’s all for nothing.

“We want to do deals where we know we’re going to be successful. And our reputation has gotten us a lot of deals.”

Eggert said Malone has grown into the kind of executive who doesn’t just ask what deals are out there, but why the company should pursue a particular one. And he said he likes that Malone brings a woman’s perspective to real estate and development, which is helpful when making plans to build housing for families.

For the woman who wants to follow her into that industry, Malone recalled one of her first company meetings, where she purposely planted herself next to the boss. She asked questions and kept learning, she said.

“You’ve got to wing it a lot,” she said, recalling the binder full of jargon she didn’t know at the time. “You figure out a lot as you go along.”


Trisha Malone

Title: Chief investment officer, Anton DevCo

Age: 47

Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting from California State University Sacramento

Career: Williams, Patrick, Olds, CPAs, accountant, 1995-2000; St. Anton Partners, controller and then vice president of finance, 2000-2014; Anton DevCo, chief investment officer, 2014-present

Personal: Married for 26 years to Roy Malone with four children: Bridget, 23, Tegan, 21, Gavin, 19, and Camdyn, 13.

Passion: “Traveling. We take our kids on a long trip each year. Now that the kids are getting older and living in different cities, it’s a great way for them to reconnect with us and each other. Recent trips have been to Thailand, Cambodia, Panama, Vancouver B.C and Costa Rica.”

Biggest professional worry: “That the housing shortage we are faced with now will continue to grow if young people continue to not enter the construction trades.”

Biggest misunderstanding about your job: “Apartment development is risky and getting tougher to accomplish with ever-rising construction costs and increasing governmental controls.”

First job: “At a mortgage company when I was 14 years old. My job was to type up the loan applications using an actual typewriter. I had taken a typing class in 8th grade so it was easy.”

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