In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
As Atlas Real Estate’s Vice President of Investment Brokerage, Mike Hills brings an entrepreneurial mindset and a focus on long-term returns to his role.
As a frequent talk show guest, he helps teach real estate investment strategies to listeners throughout Colorado. Find out how he keeps the focus on long-term return on investment, no matter what the market conditions.
How long have you been in the real estate business?
My story first began in college when I saw how real estate could truly change your life for the better. My friend’s father had a career in real estate and would own, rent and sell properties, making enough capital to then build and customize his own house. I thought to myself, if he can do this, so can I.
Immediately after graduating, I bought my first house and turned it into a rental in less than two years. That first purchase was the kick-start to my career, and I still own that house today.
As I continued buying rental properties, my friends and family began to take notice. They started asking me for advice, and I essentially became their real estate coach.
From these experiences, I saw how rewarding it was to be involved in other people’s real estate journeys. From there, I got my real estate license and turned my coaching hobby into a full-time career.
I earned my real estate license in 2014 and then pursued a full-time career at Atlas Real Estate Group. I’ve been at Atlas for seven years, and my team consists of myself and four others who focus on helping clients grow wealth and pave a path to financial security through real estate investing.
I also teach a free class with my team once a month in Denver, Colorado Springs and Phoenix called Real Estate Investment Hour (REIH). REIH is a monthly presentation and networking event teaching people how to build long-term wealth through real estate investment.
The goal of this class is to help first-time homebuyers find their perfect home, new investors start their own portfolio of rental properties and seasoned investors grow their portfolios with off-market deals.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Expanding, expanding and expanding. On a personal level, I want to buy more and help others purchase more properties and expand their portfolios. I also want to grow Atlas from a brokerage perspective into other markets and cities, like how we did with our newest expansion in Phoenix.
I am fortunate enough to work at a real estate firm with a very unique model to brokerage. We focus on long-term wealth generation using real estate as the vehicle.
This is a message that I believe everyone needs to hear because it truly works. Through a one-step solution approach, buyers can think of real estate in a 20-year timeframe.
I know first-hand that this strategy works because I built my career on it. I want to keep teaching people that real estate can give them the freedom to not worry about their future. It gives them security, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of that.
What is one big lesson that you’ve learned in real estate?
Regardless of whether the economy is good or bad, the key is to hold. I bought my first house just 10 days before Sept. 11, 2001. The house plummeted in value less than two weeks after I purchased it. I finally made some equity back in 2005, but then lost it all again when the recession hit in 2008.
Through all of this, I kept the house on hold and never gave up on it or sold it at a loss. Today, if I were to sell that house, I would walk away with more than $200,000 in equity in addition to having tenants occupy the home for the last 17 years.
In my years of experience, I have learned that in both good and bad economies, we buy and hold for the 20-year picture. When a buyer is patient, real estate can be a long-term investment that creates long-term income.
Despite economic hardships that are inevitable, my goal is to take fear completely out of the equation for my clients. Real estate is an investment tool that can give people the freedom and ease of not having to worry about their future.
What advice would you give to new agents?
My best advice to new agents is that nothing beats hard work. I am successful because I will outwork anyone you put me up against. People think that a career in real estate is easy, and that is simply not the case.
This industry is crowded and has immense competition. Everyone knows a Realtor, whether that is your neighbor, a family member, your partner, etc.
If you want a prosperous career in this industry, you have to be willing to not only work — but to work hard. It is absolutely essential to differentiate yourself from the competition.
It is not enough to give a generous gift at closing, you have to be knowledgeable. Real estate may be the vehicle, but the roads are crowded with millions of other drivers. You can know a little bit about a lot, but it is imperative to know something different than every other Realtor in the area.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr