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Young Boise woman’s firm works behind scenes in real estate

InDepth Solutions President Jennifer Perez

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The Boise basement where Jennifer Perez started her property research company, InDepth Solutions, didn’t offer much of a view for Perez or her first three employees.

A decade later, Perez works in a second-story office near the Boise Airport at 2710 Sunrise Rim Road with a view of Downtown. Her 25 employees conduct research on properties to establish who owns or holds liens — information that banks require before they approve loans to buy real estate.

Perez, who graduated from Boise High School in 2001, is the company’s sole owner. She was already on her third go-around as an executive of a property research company when she started InDepth Solutions. She told Business Insider that she started at an entry-level position at another research company before earning promotions that put her in charge of the property research division.

She says InDepth Solutions is profitable and averages more than $2 million in annual sales.

Q: How did you get your start?

A: I worked my way up at a business — I won’t say which one — that was a broader public research company. It had a property division. I learned it all, then I honed in on the property world. I became chief operations officer at age 19.

Q: You cofounded a company similar to InDepth Solutions, Spectrum Information Services, in early 2006. What compelled you to strike out on your own less than a year later?

A: Creative freedom.

Q: Has anyone ever shortchanged or underestimated you because you don’t have a college degree?

A: Not that I’m aware of, probably because I got enough traction under me early. I think most people assume I have a degree.

Q: What services do you provide?

A: The bank needs us to verify who owns a property and if anybody else could have judgments or liens against the property. All of that is county record. We access those through the courthouse in all of the counties in 23 states, including Idaho.

Q: Do you have a presence in all of those states?

A: Many county records are online, so we can search those records in-house, even if it’s in Ohio. In every county we cover, we also have independent abstractors who can go into the courthouse for research. Those are usually stay-at-home moms or small businesses. There are probably 300 to 400 independent abstractors we use regularly. We have probably 1,000 in our system.

Q: How many searches does InDepth Solutions run in a day?

A: About 150. We charge between $75 and $200 for most kinds of reports.

Q: You moved out of your basement into this office in 2008, when the market was tanking. How did the housing bubble affect business?

A: When I started in 2006, I was 23 and I didn’t know what a housing bubble was. I thought my basement was a perfect place for me and my three employees. But foreclosure research became a hot thing, and we got swamped with foreclosure research for the banks. That’s what drove me out of my basement and into this office in 2008 — the bust.

In January 2008, I moved out of my basement. In May 2009, we had 30 employees. The reason I was able to hire that many was all of the local title companies were laying people off.

Jennifer Perez, InDepth Solutions president

Q: Have you found a niche in the property game that’s insulated from downturns?

A: It’s not recession-proof. The boat will get through it. It’s a matter of whether everybody on the boat will get through it. Layoffs can happen, but the company has enough foundation that we can ride through tough economic times. Property isn’t a fad.

People assume that if real estate is doing well here, then business is good for me. But that often means people are moving from areas of the country that are doing poorly to come to Idaho.

Jennifer Perez, InDepth Solutions president

Q: How did the downturn affect InDepth Solutions?

A: In 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put a halt to foreclosures in California. About 40 percent of our work was California foreclosures at the time. We went through a tough phase where we laid off probably 10 of our 30 people.

Q: How long did that period last?

A: We had to pivot and find work that wasn’t California foreclosures. It took us three months, but we were able to rehire everybody who hadn’t found something else.

We can ride these crazy waves in the economy. Property has to move one way or the other.

Jennifer Perez, InDepth Solutions president

Q: You are young, female and part Latino, hardly the typical Boise CEO demographic. Have you faced any additional challenges because of who you are?

A: The nice thing is I’m in a bubble. The businesses I work with are mostly out of state, so it’s a lot of phone and email and customer service. It’s not much mingling with colleagues. It’s kept me almost unaware.

But when I’ve gone to conferences and met with more people in the industry, who tend to be older males, I have run into situations where the fact that I’m a young female is distracting them from being professional with me. There’s an air to it that is sexual. But that’s been pretty minor.

Edited for length and clarity. Zach Kyle: 208-377-6464 , @IDS_ZachKyle. This story appears in the April 20-May 17, 2016, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine as part of a special section on residential real estate.