Natural Born Fighter

Talita Guerrero: a self-made entrepreneur who made it under demanding circumstances

Talita Guerrero
Talita Guerrero, co-founder and owner, Right Key Mortgage
Staff Writer

Most CEOs of mortgage companies are likely feeling queasy right about now, dealing with all the ups and downs of the industry. Talita Guerrero, who has dealt with hardships all her life, isn’t sweating it, though.

Having a premature baby at 15, launching a mortgage career in the midst of a recession (just after buying her first home), and working two jobs with two kids, while going to college full time, imbues a “never say die attitude” most CEOs just can’t comprehend.

Co-founder and owner of Right Key Mortgage, Guerrero is a woman of many talents. Aside from being a business owner, she’s also a mother of two, a podcaster, an author, and a member of the Forbes Boston Business Council. She has a laundry list of accomplishments that would strike you breathless if said out loud, but getting here wasn’t easy. In fact, she’d likely tell you it was damn near impossible, but by sheer determination, she made it happen.

Growing Up Quick

At 12 years old, Guerrero, her two sisters, and parents immigrated to America from Brazil, looking for a better life with stable jobs and a good education for the children. But, as most immigrants come to learn, the American Dream doesn’t come easily, if at all.

Guerrero’s childhood was tough; her parents moved around frequently and worked tirelessly. At the time, she didn’t quite understand why her parents weren’t around, but said she later realized they were trying their best to build a brighter future. Her mother and father each worked three to four jobs, which didn’t leave them much time to be parents.

So at the ripe age of 13, Guerrero moved in with her older sister and pretty much had to take care of herself. Without the supervision of her parents, she did what any 13-year-old girl would do if they were left to their own devices: she rebelled.

Those days of partying, dating, and carelessly getting in trouble did not last long, though, because two years later Guerrero’s childhood came to an abrupt end. At 15 years old she found out she was pregnant.

“I was seeing a guy who worked at the same restaurant I was, and we weren’t even really dating or anything. I was just a really rebellious teenager,” Guerrero said. “At 15, I wasn’t living with my parents. I thought I was mature and ready to be an adult, but really I had no idea.”

Living in a dilapidated duplex, Guerrero thought there was no way she could afford to have a baby. She made an appointment for an abortion, but canceled it the day before. The father of her child (who is still a close friend) and her family supported her decision to keep the child.

During that time she thought everything would go smoothly. She dropped out of high school the day after she turned 16, thinking she’d start working early and be able to provide for her child.

“You have to understand, I was a child,” Guerrero said. But in a short amount of time, she truly learned what it meant to be an adult.

Only 26 weeks into her pregnancy, Guerrero went into her doctor’s office for what she thought would be a mundane visit. But the doctor had other news: she was dilated and going into premature labor.

“I thought I was gonna have a perfectly fine baby, and he was just going to be small. I just really had no idea what it was in for,” Guerrero said. “My baby weighed only two pounds when he was born, and was in the intensive care unit for three months. The doctor said he had a 50% chance of making it.”

During that first week, her baby needed a blood transfusion, and nearly died.

“That’s when it really clicked,” Guerrero said. When people ask why she got into this industry, Guerrero said she responds with this moment. The moment she knew everything had to change.

Luckily, Guerrero’s son made it. He’s now a perfectly healthy young man, who recently bought his own investment property.

Talita Guerrero son, Kalvin Saade, and Kylie Guerrero
Talita Guerrero with her son, Kalvin Saade, and daughter, Kylie Guerrero. after her birth in Boston, MA.

A New World

Guerrero had to play catch-up quickly. Regardless of how rebellious her teen years were, she knew how to work hard.

A year after giving birth, Guerrero’s baby was healthier and she decided to open a cleaning business at 17 years old. In her community people didn’t follow their passions but did what they could to survive. Plenty of adults in her area worked as cleaners, so she could learn how to do it easily and how to get clients.

“I always had this entrepreneur mindset,” Guerrero said. “I was very creative and I’ve always been a really hard worker.”

Naturally, her business took off, but it wasn’t enough to support her small family. One year later, Guerrero got a job that completely turned her life around; she was given the opportunity to work for a local mortgage company in Hyannis, Massachusetts, that needed a Portuguese loan originator.

Suddenly, Guerrero had stepped outside the bubble of her community and into a new world of suits, ties, and money. These people had a different way of accumulating wealth. They had assets instead of three or four jobs. She needed to take full advantage of this opportunity and soak in all the knowledge she could.

“I felt like I was given a chance,” Guerrero said. “Like I could do something with my life because my whole environment changed.”

Because of her relentless work ethic and desire to learn everything she could about this industry, Guerrero saved up enough money to buy her first home in Cape Cod that year. The market had a phenomenal year, Guerrero was making more money than she ever did, and she was now able to afford a home … but the road to success is winding, and Guerrero’s life was about to hit a sharp curve.

“It was right before the crash,” she said. “I had a really good year and then the market completely tanked.”

The beauty of that time, Guerrero said, was that it forced her to take on new roles and learn even more about the mortgage industry. She balanced multiple jobs, including being a processor, an operations manager, a loan officer, and even took jobs outside the industry, like waitressing, to make ends meet.

Although Guerrero was learning so much from her new roles, she couldn’t help but feel like her life was falling in reverse. But she kept her eyes open, studying what everyone else was doing, and discovered yet another opportunity. She asked herself, why are all these Realtors buying up foreclosures and short sales? As a processor, many of her clients were starting to do this as well. What was she missing?

Talita Guerrero and son, Kalvin Saade
Talita Guerrero and her son, Kalvin Saade,  spending a weekend at her Killington, VT Airbnb rental.

Hustling With A Purpose

By the time the market started to come back, Guerrero was 21 years old; she had a son, a daughter, and a whole new game plan. She went back to school full time at UMass’s business program, and began a real estate investing career by buying foreclosures.

“I took lemons and really made lemonade out of that awful time,” Guerrero said.

The first foreclosure she bought while the market was still down was later short sold — she didn’t make a profit but didn’t lose money either. Then, she became close to a Realtor she was processing loans for and learned how to invest more strategically. In 2011, she bought a $210,000 single family home with about 1,900 square feet close to Boston. Guerrero and her two kids slept on an air mattress for three months while the renovations were being done. Two years later (because as every investor knows, that’s how you avoid capital gains tax) she sold it and made $180,000 in profit. It was enough to put a down payment on two more properties.

“That’s when I started to get really hungry,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero bought a two-family home in Saugus, Mass., and then a single family house on Cape Cod. The Cape house needed a lot of work, so on top of being a loan originator and going to school full time, Guerrero started to work at a diner on the weekends. She would wake up at four o’clock, be at the diner by 5 a.m. and work until 3 p.m., allowing her to make an additional $700 a week.

“That really set me up for my future because nothing seems that challenging now,” Guerrero said.

From there, Guerrero’s investments kept on multiplying and doing very well; meanwhile, she was excelling in her mortgage career as well. By the time she was 27 years old she was a self-made millionaire.

“I was really getting ahead,” Guerrero said. “I always had this whole attitude of always wanting to help my community because I was so clueless when I first started, and I saw what information and knowledge did to me. It transformed my life.”

Paying It Forward

In 2016, Guerrero decided to start her own company, Right Key Mortgage, focused on educating the Brazilian community she came from by helping them buy their first homes. The minute she graduated UMass she drafted a business plan, filed the necessary paperwork, earned her license, and got a processing partner.

Guerrero said she had plenty of advantages being a broker, but as a producer, it’s hard to structure it to scale. In order to give her business the potential to grow, Guerrero decided her partner would focus 100% on operations and she would focus on sales.

“Our whole mission is we’re the company that cares,” Guerrero said. “We had a like 288% growth all the way up to last year, every single year. And that was because the market was great at the time. So we opened strategically, at the perfect timing, and were able to have this awesome structure where our retention rate is insane.”

Talita Guerrero daughter Kylie and boyfriend, Andrew Cook
Talita Guerrero with her daughter Kylie and boyfriend, Andrew Cook, in Scottsdale, AZ during the recording of the first season of her podcast Você Podcast, which she co-hosts with Andrea Baldini (not pictured).

One of the main goals of her company is to educate the entire Spanish community about the importance of real estate and how to build wealth through investments and achieve financial freedom. On social media Guerrero makes videos speaking directly to her clients, in Portuguese and English, on smart strategic ways to buy or invest in your first, second, or third home. Her podcast, YOUPOD CAST, also educates buyers and investors

It wasn’t until last year, 2022, that her company experienced what the market did, which is a huge dip, but it managed to stay afloat.

Right Key Mortgage grew its licensing to seven states. The company was featured in INC. 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies. She also founded the You CAN Scholarship Fund for undergraduate students who are pursuing a degree after a prolonged pause in their educational pursuits, and preference will be given to those who are parenting minor children. Even undocumented citizens are eligible to apply. Last year, Guerrero also wrote her own self-help book, “Journey To a Dope Life,” written in English and Portuguese.

“We’ve had a lot of accomplishments these past seven years since we opened,” Guerrero said. “We’ve been able to help a lot of families and personally I felt this responsibility to give back now that I was able to step away from origination.”

Guerrero acknowledges this year will be tough, but this isn’t her first rodeo. She’s survived and learned to thrive through much, much worse.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine March 2023 issue.
About the author
Staff Writer
Katie Jensen is a staff writer at NMP.
Published on
Mar 06, 2023
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