Bridging the Generations
The world of real estate is fraught with uncertainty and risk. Markets change, sometimes radically and often quickly. Investment property can be as much a game of chance as any you’d find in Las Vegas, and yet for Counselor Realty’s Anand “Andy” Prashad, nothing can compare to the gambles his family has taken for the sake of freedom and happiness.
“The need to live a happy life is an inherent trait in all human beings,” said Prashad. “It was this need to pursue a better life that drove my grandfather to leave his country of India over 112 years ago. He was told by the British who ruled India at the time that he can go to this faraway land, the “golden city” called British Guiana and work for five years. He was promised he would be able to earn enough money to return to India and not ever have to work again for the rest of his life.”
“What the British did not tell my grandfather was that the treacherous journey will take about three months. Nor, did they told my grandfather that he would be an indentured laborer for the rest of his life, working on a sugar plantation and earning only enough money to survive. My grandfather passed away before British Guiana gained independence in 1966 and never had the opportunity to return to his homeland to see his parents or family again.”
It’s an unfortunate story that has impacted the Prashad family for generations and surprisingly not with the rancor one might expect. “I don’t see my grandfather’s experience as one of hardship,” said Prashad. “My family and I admire his courage and the fact that at the young age of just 19 he embarked on an unkown journey. My grandfather saw the journey as an opportunity to improve his life and that of those he loved.”
Prashad’s grandfather literally risked everything in the hopes of finding happiness and freedom that had eluded his family. This same depth of courage and determination to seek better lives was passed on to subsequent generations. When the opportunity arose to come to the United States and settle in Minnesota, Prashad and his older brother displayed the same fearlessness.
“After arriving in Minnesota, I attended the University of Minnesota and received my degree through the Carlson School of Management. Then for the next seven years, I worked in the corporate world in commercial leasing and property management. During this time my wife and I bought a duplex in Minneapolis. We lived in one unit and rented the other. Having a tenant did help with paying the mortgage but did not cover the total monthly expenses. Owning the duplex was a short-term goal for us. Our long-term goal was to move to Eagan so our daughter could have opportunities to attend good schools.”
Prashad said, “We had a rude awakening when we tried to sell the duplex. Since the duplex would no longer be homestead the taxes would go up two and a half times and the insurance would increase 50 percent. At that point the property was not profitable to an investor because it was losing money and was not attractive for an owner occupant as the interest had increased a couple of percentage points over the five year period since we bought it. We had no choice but to keep the property and write a check every month for years until the market got better, hoping it would generate a positive cash flow.”
It was a difficult situation but one that could have been avoided had the couple been given proper advice from their real estate agent. As Prashad said, “The question that haunted me for a long time is why our real estate agent who was aware of our plans did not educate us on homestead versus non-homestead rules and regulations.”
The Prashad family took it as a hard lesson rather than nurture resentment or anger. Prashad was determined that he would use this experience to ensure it didn’t happen to others. The best way to do this was to become a real estate agent himself and safeguard the investments of his clients.
“A quote by Gandhi played over and over in my head,” he said. “‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’” I pondered over that quote for a very long time. What did that mean? My interpretation is if you could change how you think, act and feel then the world around you will change because you are now viewing the world thru new lenses and the changes within you will allow you to take actions in ways you never thought possible.”
“I felt this philosophy together with my home buying experience propelled me to enter the world of real estate and gave me the vision on how I would conduct my business.”
Making this all-important life decision to become a Realtor Prashad was determined to carefully consider every aspect. One of the most important of these was which brokerage would be best for him. Where would he find like-minded professionals who cared more for the welfare of their clients than how much money there is to be made?
Prashad had a very clear idea of the kind of real estate agent he wished to be and a precise definition of what form that would take. “I saw my role as a teacher, an educator and a counselor to help my clients navigate one the largest purchases in their lives,” he said. “I also vowed that I would educate myself in the intricacies of the real estate investing world. After my foray into the residential real estate world, I started to interview with real estate companies over a period of six months and finally choose Counselor Realty, a truly agent run company.”
“It would be remiss if I did not tell you that when I first contacted Counselor Realty I was told that the company only hires experienced agents. I was told that I have to be in the business for at least two years before I would be considered to join Counselor Realty. That was 24 years ago, and a lot has changed. I’m pleased to say we now have a training and mentoring program.”
Feeling that he had finally found the perfect match with Counselor Realty, Prashad was disappointed with the news that he would need two years of experience before being considered by the brokerage. Having come this far Prashad was not ready to give up.
“I was disappointed but not despondent,” he said. “I was not about to give up easily and after a few weeks decided to call Counselor Realty again. I told the office manager that I have commercial real estate experience and would like to speak to their top producing agent. I was connected to Mel Saterbak. Mel agreed to meet with me and after our meeting I agreed to join Mel’s team and be mentored by him for two years.”
“I am fortunate and grateful that I was mentored by a veteran in the business,” Prashad added. “Mel and his team took me under their wings and showed me the ropes. It was a very positive experience for me. I would highly recommend a mentorship program for anyone who is entering the business. Personally, I think there is no substitute for aligning oneself with a veteran of the business. I think the learning curve is that much shorter. I enjoy mentoring individuals as well as I believe you tend to receive more than you give.”
“The need to live a happy life is an inherent trait in all human beings.”
Prashad has always viewed life and the world with deep philosophical convictions. Focusing on the positive he tries to take even the most difficult or unpleasant experiences and find the good or at least something worthwhile. His clients become friends and because he truly cares about what’s best for them, Prashad has been rewarded with repeated business and referrals. Even the children of clients come to him with their real estate needs.
“Recently I attended a graduation party for a client’s daughter who will be heading to college. When I was leaving, my client pulled me aside and said, ‘Andy, I would really like to thank you.’ I thought he was thanking me for attending the party, but then he said that perhaps you don’t remember but 15 years ago you advised me to purchase a house for investment, to get a 15 year mortgage so when my daughter graduates from high school the house will be paid off for and that could be her college fund. Today because of your advice I can afford to send my daughter to college without burdening her with student debt. It is rewarding to know that I was a positive influence on this family’s life.”
Prashad’s work has brought great personal satisfaction as well. Markets rise and fall and it’s not always easy to anticipate what the right move might be. Prashad has always worked studiously, applied his vast education and utilized every available tool to best advise his clients.
“I can recall not so long ago when the foreclosure crisis was happening and a particular family was on the brink of being forced out of their home,” he said. “I worked relentlessly and diligently with the bank at the 11th hour to allow the family to keep their home although the redemption period was at the very end, normally it is too late for the bank wanting to redeem. Today I visit the family and see the joy on the faces of the kids playing in their yard. It brings immense joy that I was able to make a difference in this family’s life.”
“My business has been a blessing and it has given me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people, some of whom are lifelong friends,” he said. “When I visited India, my grandfather’s homeland, for the first time, it was these friends that helped make my trip a memorable one.”
For Prashad, real estate is not just a vocation but a way of life. The people and experiences he’s encountered along the way have enriched his life and confirmed that he made the right choice. Because the industry has done so much for him he feels it’s important to give back.
“I believe that one should always give back to whatever industry you may be involved in or whatever cause you may be passionate about,” said Prashad. “I had the opportunity to work with colleagues in various capacities at the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®, eventually serving on the board of directors. The REALTOR® Association is an advocate for the many issues and challenges facing the housing industry with affordable housing taking center stage both locally and nationally. I believe one should also serve the community in which they work. I was again fortunate to serve on the board of directors for the India Association, an organization that is the voice of the Indian community.”
Recently Prashad was appointed by Counselor Board of Directors as the new President of Counselor Realty. This is a position reserved for only the most capable and accomplished.
“I am humbled and honored to take on this role at a very critical time in our industry with many disruptions, especially, with Wall Street pouring millions in the industry and creating models that benefit them and not necessarily the consumers buying and selling homes,” he said. “I am thankful to be surrounded by an extraordinary group of individuals that will help me along the way including, Vice President Tom Engel, CEO Nick Dreher, CFO Kay Sunsten and Director of Operations Jennipher Reichert to take this locally owned company that has been around for 55 years to the next level- I am reminded of an African proverb, ‘If you want to walk fast, walk alone, if you want to walk further travel with others.’”
There is no question that Prashad will always be surrounded by those who both admire and aspire to be like him. As generous with his time and knowledge as he is with his giving heart. This is a man who has earned the respect and admiration of everyone he’s encountered. His private life is just as full and blessed with the support of his wife and daughter. He also takes time off to enjoy his favorite sports of cricket and watching the Vikings.
When asked how he view his life thus far Prashad doesn’t hesitate to respond, “Every day I am grateful that I had the insight to leave the corporate world and to chart my own course with the independent brokerage of Counselor Realty. Counselor has and is allowing me the opportunity to have the independence and to be a true entrepreneur. After 24 years with Counselor Realty it still feels like I am part of a large family.”