He is an entrepreneur of destiny. He lives by the motto “Carpe Diem… Every Diem!” and it is with great fervor and enthusiasm that he is designing a smarter future in property management and real estate. Tommy is the CEO of Chambers Theory LLC, a real estate brokerage specializing in residential property management and real estate investment consultation across the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Tommy is a forward-leaning entrepreneur whose DNA extends back to three generations of real estate professionals and an ancestry of U.S. Intelligence and State Department veterans. As a “Foreign Service Kid,” Tommy lived in half a dozen countries before the age of eight, and grew up to become the driving force of growth behind his family’s firm, McGrath Real Estate, on a mission to raise the bar on the quality of service across the property management industry for 15 years when a failed M&A left the family firm in ruins. A dissolved past firm and fresh resolve led Tommy to innovate the property business model again and start out on his own—There can be no evolution without revolution.
As a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council and recorder of the first land-lease on Mars, Tommy now reaches “forward from the past” to continue the mission of achieving a higher-level of service quality in property management, and he does so with Chambers Theory—his team of proptech innovators, real estate experts, and caring individuals delivering the promise of “Real Estate with Intelligence” and a commitment to bring EQ back to property management—and the industry has taken note. This passionate group of savvy, energetic professionals stands as the only team ever to be named as Washingtonian’s Best for both property management and real estate sales in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and featured on the cover of Top Agent Magazine in 2019. In the nearly three years since its inception, this extraordinary team has consistently achieved the highest average rents, the lowest average days on market for rentals, and the most efficient repairs and maintenance metrics in their service region and beyond. What else can a team focused on delivering out-of-this-world service achieve? We sat down with Tommy to learn more about Chambers Theory and what it means to deliver “Real Estate with Intelligence” and “Capacity to Care.”
You serve not only real estate investors, but a unique client niche that includes individuals in the Intelligence community and foreign embassies. Tell us about Chambers Theory and your role in the company.
We do, and I’m sure that’s an extension of my heritage. All of my grandparents worked for the U.S. State Department, my brother is an officer in the Marine Corps, and my mother and uncles had long careers in real estate, so I feel like I’m fulfilling my purpose and my destiny serving clients in the U.S. Foreign Service with intelligent real estate operations and solutions through my firm.
We provide residential property management and leasing and rental services with a specific concentration in State Department, SpaceForce, Foreign Service, and embassy officials. Through our Embassy Leasing Program, we’ve rented properties to more than two dozen foreign embassies. As a full-service real estate brokerage, we work investors, first-time homebuyers, landlords, and renters who are ready for the next level of understanding in real estate as an investment. In my role, I focus on proptech tools, real estate investment analyses. residential property management, and embassy leasing. I’m proud to have a dedicated team of highly effective, efficient, and empathetic professionals in serving our clients who sacrifice much in the service of our country, and to all our clients who have a higher calling of care for how their homes are managed.
Your company’s motto, “Real Estate with Intelligence,” reflects more than your community of clients—and your lineage. You’re actually delivering intelligence to them with a revolutionary smart home app that you co-developed. Will you tell us about this?
“Real Estate with Intelligence.” Yes, it’s because we serve the Intelligence community—CIA, military, etc.—yet it’s also because our approach evokes “EQ,” or emotional intelligence, in how we communicate with all parties in the home management or sales process attune to the psychological patterns we have seen in real estate and economics, and employing an empathy that builds trust equity with clients and customers by showing how much my team truly cares. Taking the intelligence idea even further—we utilize proptech apps to collect more information on properties than any other product out there. Our smart home app, CentrIQ, provides so much more than publicly available info, such as square footage, or number of bedrooms and bathrooms, etc. CentrIQ is like Google for the home—it has a plethora of information on every fixture, appliance, system, or piece of equipment that we inventory into the CentrIQ profile. The depth of information on each property is a whole new level of depth that you don’t get in other listing companies. It simple, easy, quick, and it saves investors and property managers and owners time and money. All the information is at their fingertips—maintenance schedules, manuals, replacement parts, receipts, troubleshooting guides, even paint colors for the home.
What we’re doing in residential property management today is like what Tesla did for the auto industry 10 years ago. We’re using innovation, tech, optimum performance, cool technology infrastructure, and exciting products to improve the quality of property management and bring greater benefits, value, and ROI to our clients and investors. Property management is the world’s third-oldest profession, yet we’re just starting to scratch the surface on how to be really good at it—and Chambers Theory is proud to be leading the way.
You founded Chambers Theory with a commitment to “Capacity to Care.” What were you seeing in the industry that drove you to focus on this?
When my family sold McGrath Real Estate, the company that bought it increased the ratio of one property manager for every 50 properties to one serving 200 properties, and all our clients became faceless, nameless account numbers. When I saw that, I thought, “It doesn’t matter how good the property manager is and how experienced they are, they just do not have the capacity to care for the property and care for the client at that ratio.”
I made promises to my clients at McGrath, promises that my team and I had fulfilled when working there, we cared a lot about each of those clients, and some of them are living in different countries around the world, supporting our country in the military, USAID, CIA, Foreign Service, etc. I promised I’d take care of their homes until they came back to live in them, and to see the acquiring company heading down a path to leave my promises unfulfilled—there was no way I was going to let that happen. These clients are my friends and extended family. That’s exactly why I started Chambers Theory—to return care and emotional intelligence back to property management.
How are you managing “Capacity to Care” to your clients?
When I started Chambers Theory, I knew how to make this happen because I had lived and breathed it for 15 years before. I built the best team possible; hired experienced, hardworking, caring people, and provided them with an awesome infrastructure of good technology that allowed for them to be more effective and helps them manage their jobs more effectively. In addition, we designed an innovative property management operational model that allows for the right ratio of property management staff to properties. Each of our property managers currently serve only 19-22 properties, which means they can give them their full attention and deliver the highest quality of service. I will continue to invest in the human capital and technologies to ensure that no matter how much we grow, we will maintain our intention to a ratio of less than 35:1.
As a result, our client retention rate is 100%. Eleven different property management companies have transferred clients to us, and more than 150 clients have moved from previous property management companies to ours. We have no staff turnover because they’re happy working on our team and they love working with our clients. For us, it’s not about growth rate, it’s not about sales volume—it’s about our capacity to care, delivering quality service, and earning the trust of our clients as a result.
Tell us about your team. Several of them grew up with you at your family’s firm, correct?
Hands down we have the best team in the business—and while my competitors may be envious of our staff, and our clients are certainly grateful for them, I will forever surrender my individual successes and awards to thrive with such a loyal and special team that I call my “Knights of the Round Table.” They are a brilliant, compassionate group of professionals who love what they do and are dedicated to our clients. My vice president, Jessica Stinnette; principal broker, Lindsay Curtis; D.C. portfolio manager, Hannah Vaughn; our COO, Taylor Bittner (aka “Merlin”); senior property manager, Gregg Waters; and the smooth operator that is our director of repairs, Zack Brown; among others (Brian Chevalier, Jen Ferris, Heather Paterno and more), were all legendary forces in property management before Chambers Theory. Some of them I met when I hired them as interns at my family’s company more than 15 years ago! We grew together, we rose together, and we continue to learn and rise together. I call them the “Knights of the Round Table” because they all have an equal say, commitment, and share in the success as we try to build this very special, unique, and almost magical place—our company is “Camelot” in the world of property management. Our entire team is amazing, and I have integrity in saying they are the very best at what they do, and I say it with full confidence that the best is yet to come! The future is bright… be the light!
The future does sound bright! Yet after doing real estate deals from Mars to Washington D.C., what insights can you give us on what comes next for you and your team?
Ha! Well, believe it or not, the deal on Mars was easier to do than some we have done in D.C.! While we remain laser-focused on building trust equity in the real estate services industry… the sky is the limit on how and where we go from here. I have engaged with the SkyRun vacation rental property management franchise with the inspiration of marrying the innovative processes they utilize with the business philosophies and strengths of my team to create both an extraordinary vacation rental management experience and carry over successful nuances of their program to enhance the Chambers Theory approach further. You’ll also start to see more progress in the oft-promised Internet of Things (IoT) as Chambers Theory has designs for a central-command management proptech model that will bring new practicality and function to the IoT in the short term. Looking on the bright side, let’s also say we look forward to creating more fascinating and scalable solar-power solutions to property management of individual residences and small multifamily buildings (“Green Theory” More Green = More Gold!).
CEO | Entrepreneur of Destiny!
Chambers Theory LLC
Download the magazine to see Tommy's feature on page 4.