How I Started In Real Estate

“It’s funny, yeah, because a lot of the young kids I spoke to when we were doing a bit of mentoring a few years back was exactly that. They’re all questioning, you know, how do you stay in real estate? There’s no money to be made. How do you persevere? How do you, you know, how do you do it?

Prior to selling the family business, I had taken real estate classes because I had always had a passion for real estate. I figured if there’s any way of making a difference in this city it would be with real estate. So I had my real estate license, I was was still working with my dad, and then we finally decided to sell the family business. And I took a plunge.

I know I wanted to go into commercial real estate so, I called a friend of mine, the one person I knew in commercial real estate, and I gave him a call and I said, “Mike, I want to get into commercial real estate. Which offices should I call?” He gave me four names of four general managers of four different companies and the first one that called me back was Brett Miller, at the time the director of CBRE. And I sat down and he says, “What do you know about real estate?” I said, “Well, I took the class. But I don’t know more than that.”

He goes, “What do you know about industrial real estate?” I said, “Well, my dad had a few industrial buildings and I find it really interesting. But I was limited to that.” He says, “Well listen. You can, you sold me.” Because we spoke for about an hour and a half. He says, “You sold me. You definitely have sales skills. Real estate will be taught. Not an issue. I want you to meet my vice president of the industrial team.”

So I met with him, a gentleman by the name of Avi Krispine, and we sat down and we started talking, and he said, “You know what, it won’t be that hard. All you gotta do is set up meetings.” I said, “What do I sell, how am I selling?” “Just don’t worry. Just set up the meetings and you’ll take it from there.” I learned really quickly that the best way to sell is to be persistent, but it consisted of a lot of hard work.

I remember walking into the office every morning, at 7 in the morning, and I would literally pull out maps, and just look at every industrial building I could find in the East end. Not even knowing where the East end was. I had to ask the question, where does the East end start and where does it finish? So I would be traveling. I’d be driving up and down the streets in the industrial parks with my wife in the passenger seat, my two month old daughter, Sienna, in the back seat.

And I’d be taking pictures of buildings, taking addresses down, doing all the research I could, all weekend long. And then Monday to Friday, I’d be cold-calling every one of those property owners. And they’d give me the time of day. It helped as well when you have a name that’s kind of unique in any industry, like Mike Jager. Kind of people giggle a bit and they kind of say, “Who am I speaking to?” And I’d say, “Mike Jager.” And they’d kind of smile and say, “Well listen, if I can have the opportunity to tell my receptionist I’m meeting a Mick Jagger in my office, I’ll do so.”

So it broke the ice. I had a chance to meet with them. And by doing so, I wasn’t the most knowledgeable in the business. I had just, just started in real estate. But I had such a passion to do whatever it took. And at that time, to sell, to lease, to find investors for other properties. And they gave me the opportunity. So there was no real secret to being successful in real estate when I got started. It was just a lot of hard work. I wasn’t afraid to put in the hours. It ended up becoming a very successful business.”