Dealmaker: Traci Dalsin leads Sara Investment Real Estate into the future

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Traci Dalsin joined Sara Investment Real Estate LLC nearly six years ago. Now she’s ready to take the company to new horizons, strategically and geographically.

Dalsin, 41, was recently named president of the commercial real estate and development firm, succeeding company founder Eric Schwartz, who is transitioning into the role of chairman and CEO.

Sara Investment buys, builds, and develops properties on an investment basis for about 150 private investors and wealth management firms. “We look at between 300 and 500 projects a year, and probably do about 10 to 15,” Dalsin said. “We’re very selective.”

The Neenah native attended UW-Oshkosh for two years before moving to Arizona, where she landed her first job in real estate and attended real estate school. She returned to Wisconsin after about a year and got her first taste of commercial real estate when a Milwaukee-based firm brought her on as its office administrator.

Dalsin soon discovered that she preferred working in commercial real estate to dealing with residential properties. “Residential real estate has an emotional aspect,” she noted, but she liked the numbers and the business aspect of commercial transactions, and the opportunity to build relationships. “It was a natural fit for me.”

She worked in Chicago for six years, for the Westfield Corp., a real estate investment trust company, before deciding to join her fiancé in Madison. Hired initially as a leasing agent for Sara Investment Real Estate, Dalsin is now the firm’s managing broker and is licensed in several states.

When considering a project’s viability, the company uses several criteria, including recyclability (the ability to replace former tenants), redevelopment potential, strategic fit with both the company’s and investors’ portfolios, and location. In the end, it’s “doing what you believe is right.”

The biggest challenge is predicting the market, and Dalsin thrives on that. “I love the deal. I love the pace, the variety, the people. There’s a huge amount of satisfaction you see from taking a project from a day-one acquisition to selling it at the end.”



Dalsin is proud to have achieved a healthy work-life-play balance at home, where she and husband Jeff, CEO at Echometrix, are raising two young children. “It’s hard balancing both,” she admits, “especially with Jeff doing what he does. But we are home every night making dinner with our kids, and I’m really proud that we can do that. We work really hard to have our weekends to ourselves, too.”

She enjoys boating, reading, and travel — just don’t ask her to a karaoke party. “I can’t sing at all,” she laughs. “My husband is horrified when I sing to my kids.”

There was a time, early in Dalsin’s life, when all she wanted was to ride horses. She took riding lessons for years and rode American Saddlebreds competitively through high school.

Now she’s taken the reins at Sara Investment Real Estate, which opened a southern region office in St. Louis on Jan. 1 to expand the company’s portfolio into Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.

“You can feel the excitement in the air,” she says of the company’s future.

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