Dr. Peggy Tang: The Embodiment of The American Dream

Working in the real estate field, you hear some amazing success stories from even more amazing people. At The Mike McCann Team, we love hearing the personal triumphs of our clients and business associates. We all draw a great deal of inspiration from these tales. Nobody has ever blown us away with so much success achieved in the face of mounting obstacles than Dr. Peggy Tang, owner of Urban Real Estate Investment, Inc.

Dr. Tang has an incredible resume and a personal biography that makes a remarkable story and leaves a lasting impression. Her journey is one that, when you hear it, you can’t help but develop a new perspective and a sense of awe at the strength of the human spirit.

Dr. Tang’s early years were full of struggle and personal tragedy. She was born in China during an era of political unrest, during which, Tang explains, “the government owned everything, we never had enough food, we had government rations, it was never enough, I was always restricted financially.” This was by no means the extent of Dr. Tang’s hardships. Her father was jailed unjustly for nearly 3 years by the Chinese government. Tang explains, “I experienced a lot of hardships at an early age, it all seemed senseless, and the only good thing that came out of this was I developed endurance in the face of all the struggle, I became hardworking, motivated, and determined.”

Despite the constant strife of her early life, Dr. Tang did not despair. She continued to push herself towards success. Her parents were both teachers and she took on their value for education, consistently achieving the number one ranking throughout her impressive educational career.

Inspired by her father’s education in the field of chemistry and her natural competence for the subjects, Dr. Tang pursued and received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering as well as a Master of Science in Applied Chemistry while still living in China.  Due to her academic prowess, she was awarded a full scholarship to Columbia University in New York City.

Once again, Peggy Tang faced major, life-altering challenges. In order to pursue her education, she was forced to leave her family, including her 1 year old daughter, behind and travel to the U.S. At 26 years old, she traveled to the United States with less than $500 and 2 suitcases. With limited English-speaking skills and no place to stay, she ventured on. Thankfully, some friends allowed her to stay with them in Newark, NJ and she miraculously managed to begin her studies, but not without a great deal of heartache. Pang states, “leaving my daughter behind was the greatest sacrifice of my entire life.”

Making her start in the U.S. was no easy task. Buying her first textbook cost $250, significantly decreasing her limited funds. She could barely afford phone calls to talk to her family. Normal, everyday tasks, such as boarding a train or using an intercom, were nearly impossible and extremely frustrating tasks and her limited English prevented her from even being able to ask for help. Her family was not able to send her any money due to their own strained financial means. Tang states, “I couldn’t control the tears, I would cry on the streets, uncontrollable tears.”

Dr. Tang pushed on, completing her PhD in 6 years. She got a job working with Merck & Co, Inc. as a Chemical Engineer for 8 years. True to her driven nature, Tang took evening classes at The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Management Program in order to obtain a business certification. After 8 years with Merck, she moved on and decided to start a career in Real Estate, inspired by friends and family who had built outstanding careers in the field, often starting with insignificant funding.

Peggy Tang focused on the Philadelphia market and started her path in Real Estate with a strict goal in mind: she wanted to buy, renovate and sell 20 homes in her first year of business. She started her first business, Galaxy House Doctor, Inc., and got to work. She was so focused on her goal that she bought her last home on December, 31st. Tang explained, “meeting my goal was very important to me!”

Fortunately, Dr. Tang’s entrance into the real estate field came with a very promising first sale. “The first house was kind of an interesting story,” Tang explains, “I bought a house, did the settlement, got the keys, and then walked over to the property. There was a lady on the street who asked me if I was selling the house. I said, ‘Yes, I am!’ I ended up selling her that house. The house was sold within one day, I couldn’t believe it.”

This experience helped to build her momentum and she has kept it up ever since, eventually taking on the name Urban Real Estate Investment, Inc. and building or renovating approximately 20 homes a year since 2004, while accumulating over 70 rental units. When she started out, Tang took her venture on as a solo mission, bringing all of the contractors, doing all of the paperwork, and organizing the entire renovation of her first six homes.

Tang states, “It was very hectic but after the 7th house, I started working with a steady contractor and building a team. Things really started to take off from there.” Dr. Tang used her advanced mathematical education to analyze home prices in the Philadelphia market and narrowed down the best areas to take on projects. She set her sights on the Point Breeze area, noticing the affordable housing and available lots in close proximity to Center City, long before other developers and homebuyers had the area on their radar.

Tang explains, “I used the mathematical concept extrapolation, this was my key to choosing properties, choosing the best area to buy and sell. I analyzed data throughout the city and predicted that Point Breeze would eventually increase in popularity. I realized that I could buy properties at a great price and sell them for a consistent profit. The house price appreciation was significant. This lead to my success.”

In this way, Dr. Tang became a pioneer of the Point Breeze market. Since then, Peggy Tang has been tackling residential real estate projects with lightning speed. She’s also built her team of employees, investors, and associates along the way.

She praises her staff highly, with a sense of true appreciation for their reliability, hard work, and range of skills. Dan Wolgemuth has worked with her for over 8 years, mastering the entire development process, including renovations and new construction.  Matt Carvalho serves as her property manager and supervises their wide range of rental units. After her stretch of running the company single-handedly, Dr. Tang is extremely grateful for her team and states that one of the greatest joys of her work is seeing them become successful and start their own real estate endeavors.

Tang also made a point to express her gratitude for her contractors and business associates, citing The Mike McCann Team in particular (hey, that’s us!). Tang says, “Mike McCann has sold everything for me since ‘04 so I really admire him. We work the same way, never stopping, he works so hard. It is a great relationship. Mike is like my mentor, he gives me a lot of advice, always reminding me to be cautious and smart. He is a great negotiator with a lot of authority and he always helps to make the most logical choice.”

“Sometimes, when I try to take on too many projects, he stops me, cuts me off, and tells me to finish what I am working on!” She adds with a laugh.

Tang also highly revered McCann Team Agent, Ryan McCann, for his strong work ethic and speedy delivery. Tang explains, “The biggest project that I have ever done was with Ryan McCann. He sold me a lot and we finished it in lightning speed, building 6 homes in 6 months and selling them in 5 months. The entire project was completed within a year and a half. It was amazingly efficient.”

Tang states that her amazingly efficient team and the speed at which they operate is one of the keys to her company’s success. This has allowed her to complete over 300 renovations/new construction projects with no signs of slowing down.

Tang explains, “My drive comes from my life before I started my business, when I was always financially restricted. I came from a place where you couldn’t own anything and imagined what it must feel like to own a lot of real estate. I saw other developers and was so inspired by them. That is where my dream came from.”

She adds, “I love creating value. Taking empty lots or run-down properties and turning them into cozy homes with quality finishes. I like the idea of people moving into homes that they love, taking houses and making them into homes. The happy expressions that I get to see are so satisfying. I’m glad to be a part of it on this level, where I am really interacting with it, rather than being detached like I would be at a larger corporation.”

“Also,” Tang continues, “I love my team and my business partners. I love our current system. We all understand the city and all of the procedures so well. It feels good. I like providing for our customers and seeing my staff grow and become successful.”

“I love my team! None of them are allowed to leave!” She adds through an enthusiastic bout of laughter.

Now, going through such troubling circumstances and coming out of them as the CEO of a prosperous real estate development company, with multiple degrees, including a PhD, is a success story in itself, but Peggy Tang did not stop there.

Using her real estate profits, Dr. Tang began travelling back to China, in search of investment opportunities. She eventually formed Tianjin Pioneer Science and Technology Development, Inc., and is currently in the process of starting a biomedical company with an international scope. She is truly unstoppable.

Her team and her family now help to support the business when Dr. Tang needs to jetset to China.

Despite her expansive, international business platform, Dr. Tang has no intention of giving up her roots in Philadelphia. She explains, “I love working in the city. I grew up in a city so these surroundings make me feel comfortable. I like the people here and I really enjoy working in Philadelphia. I am so attached to this city after living here for 14 years. I know South Philly street by street. Also, the market is consistently strong here, there is so much real estate opportunity. ”

She adds, “I really want to keep developing here, maybe someday building a tall building, a 20 or 30 story apartment building. Also, I want to get started with more charity work, I want to work with the community and give back.”

Amazing. Unbelievable. Astonishing. It is difficult to describe the amount of fortitude and perseverance that Peggy Tang has exemplified throughout her life. Her character and strength in the face of so many obstacles is nothing short of inspiring. We are proud to work with her and her team.

The Mike McCann Team loves success stories and the life of Peggy Tang is one for the history books. We can’t wait to see what legendary work Dr. Peggy Tang and the Urban Real Estate Investment Inc. team accomplishes next.

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