Mike, sometimes respectfully referred to as ‘the Big Guy’ in Real Estate circles in Washington and Frederick Counties, knows what it’s like to want to make money. He’s had the urge to make it big for as long as he can remember. It’s doubtful that many entrepreneurs started moving in the direction of success when only a short leap from being a toddler. One did! Mike Fitzgerald!
As a young lad walking around with a smile, curiosity, an outgoing personality and the tireless motivation to make strides, Mike took his first determined steps into the realm of successful planning, partnering and self-promoting. His mother witnessed his budding interest when he wandered off as a 5-year-old and was eventually located on a construction site.
What was he doing there? Asking questions, of course! It’s never too early to start learning the Real Estate business, is it?
Mike went on to attend a few different elementary schools. He remembers that it wasn’t easy to grab and hold his attention in the classroom. ADD may have contributed to his lack of focus. Yet, he was never short on at least two of the qualities that every successful individual should possess – the ability to day dream about making money and the urge to make it happen.
Sales Success So Big That It Split Apart At The Seams – Twice!
Imagine growing up in a large family with six kids and a Dad who worked three jobs to provide for everyone. Mike had a realistic economic perspective, even then. “There wasn’t a lot of extra money.”
During the ages of 9-11, this entrepreneur-in-training had a Herald Mail paper route. There was a marketing campaign that dangled a huge carrot that whetted his appetite for significantly early success. There was the promise of $2 for every new subscription! “I was on it like white on rice,” says Mike. That could be an understatement.
He met the challenge with incredible results! Having never been hesitant to talk to strangers, Mike got over one thousand (yes, over 1,000!) new customers. It was so phenomenal that his paper route had to be split in half – twice!
The Bird Boy of Smithsburg Grew His Wings
Always having a great love for animals, Mike rode around with a pet Dove on his bike. The newspaper ran an entertaining article about ‘The Bird Boy of Smithsburg’ that held a significant clue about just how far this young sales expert was going to go.
Mike recalls, “In the middle of this article, this 5’1″ 7th Grader says what he’s going to do is sell all his baseball cards. From there, he’s going to open up a pet store and turn it into a CHAIN of pet stores!”
There was never a lack of ambition or enthusiasm. “Before I turned 18, I always wanted to make extra money; I always wanted to help my family,” shares Mike. That included four sisters and one brother!
“I worked at Britches Great Outdoors, Timberland, and Cracker Barrel, as a dishwasher.” He also worked as a busboy at Nick’s Airport Inn, “although I called myself a ‘table maintenance engineer’ – it got me better tips!” And, let’s not leave out Ryan’s Steakhouse.
“I’m an intense guy,” Mike admits, “but that’s hard for me because I have this thing called ADD.” He continues, “Want to go ride a bike? Look at that squirrel!” He chuckles as he offers up that sampling of how his thoughts are always on the move.
After serving 3 years in the XVIII Airborne Corps, he was ready to go to work again. He landed a job but something more in line with his true destiny was about to unfold.
When Mike picked up the phone to respond to a “Rent to Own” newspaper ad, the guy who took his call on the other end, Dave, sent him in a new direction. He advised Mike that he sounded like he was more suitable to be a real estate investor than somebody renting to own his house. The fuse to the future was lit!
Like that adventurous little fella who once ventured out to ask questions at a construction site, the adult version learned about Real Estate Clubs in D.C. and Baltimore; he showed up at the meeting sites and, again, started asking questions. “I learned about this thing called Buying Real Estate No Money Down.”
You’d Better Believe You Can Be Positively Gullible!
How would you feel if your Senior H.S. classmates voted you as …no, not most likely to succeed. No, not the most likely to be famous or the most popular. How about the most gullible? Well, it happened to Mike and today he gives credit to his ‘gullibility’ for most of his success.
Mike explains, “I believe in things! So, I believed it when I heard that I could buy property, no money down!” That belief got the Real Estate ball rolling and it hasn’t stopped since.
After advertising for about 4 months, he got a call from 13706 Mercerburg Road in Clear Spring, Md. “I was able to make a deal with the gentleman called a Division of Proceeds Agreement. The agreement was set up to buy the house for ‘x’. I was able to make everything over ‘x’. When it was time for me to sell the house, I’d make everything over what we had agreed to.”
So, how did it go? “It worked. I quit my job two weeks before closing – flat broke!…credit cards maxed out!…just believing it would close! Remember, I’m gullible!” Excitement takes over as he goes on, “It really worked out well. I did great on my first deal.” How great is great? “I haven’t worked since!” Now, that’s GREAT!
21 And Eager to Conquer The World of Real Estate
With boyish looks and still a real estate novice, Mike was extremely sharp and innovative. When a potential prospect asked a question and Mike didn’t have an immediate answer, he’s respond “let me get back to my Senior Associates.”
Then he’d call someone in the Real Estate Association to get the information he needed. Though sounding very professional, the 21-year-old, who looked about 16, was buying and selling real estate from his one bedroom apartment!
“I started going around, trying to raise money to buy houses. I met this gentleman, Dick Greenwold. Dick had grown a company, from him and his brother, to over 400 employees. They’re a music and book distributor. They became the biggest in the country for Christmas music.” They were two Jewish guys but that didn’t matter.
Mike continues, “He came into my one bedroom apartment and saw my shoe boxes full of receipts. ‘You need a bookkeeper! You need an office! You need someone IN your office!’ He really mentored me for a couple of years. I’ve had three or four great mentors over the years who made everything possible.”
Hurdles are made for jumping. “A lot of times, you face challenges in life and in business. The way to do it is to drive forward. I have a flawless record. I’ve been on point now for 10 years. I really do love Real Estate.”
There’s something about the way that Mike remembers the exact date he called about that Rent to Own ad that shows just how much he loves it. Ask him and he’ll tell you. May 7th, 2004. He’ll also share how his initial Real Estate funding came from another great Entrepreneur move – Mike style!
“Right before Real Estate, when I was first out of the service, I made a deal with a company over the Internet in China for 1500 little Mini Motorcycles. I bought a sample of 30 with credit cards.” This guy takes risks with confidence!
He recalls, “I had about $10,000 saved up from that, and, literally, with actually a little less than $10,000, I embarked on my Real Estate career.” He adds, “Growing up dirt poor and here I am today!”
Social Networking on The Street Level
Mike recalls being in Borders in Hagerstown, early on in his career. While waiting in line for coffee, he put forth a question to the half dozen or so customers waiting in the same line. “How many of you guys go by a run-down house or a For Sale by Owner sign or know somebody looking to sell?”
Getting the anticipated positive response of “we see that all the time”, Mike presses onward. “How long does it take you to write that down?” Of course, it takes practically no time at all.
“Let’s say it takes you 5 minutes,” Mike continues. “If you refer me that house and I buy that house, my minimum referral fee is $500. That means if you refer me 25 houses, it’s over $100 an hour!” Now, that’s enough to make anybody fall in love with math!
“Believe it or not, usually one or two out of every 10 people refer me homes.” With that incentive, what’s not to believe? “And, there were a couple of people who referred me 30-40 houses. Some still refer me houses to this day.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Mike genuinely loves people. He loves greeting them, meeting them and talking to them. He smiles at everyone he meets.
“Being able to talk to people has been part of my success as an Entrepreneur; and, not being afraid to talk to people. There are a lot of great people in this world and I say ‘hi’, ‘how are you doing’ and ‘have a great day’ to every one of them.”
This Is One Buyer Who Wants The Seller to Be Happy
The Real Estate deals aren’t all about Mike coming out a winner. “I don’t buy a house if it’s not a win for the seller. If it’s not a win for you, then I don’t want to buy the house. If it’s not a win for me, then I shouldn’t buy the house.”
How do the sellers know if it’s a win for them? “I educate them,” says Mike. “I show them what I see selling in the market, what I feel the market value is and then I start deducting numbers.”
“I show them what the closing costs would be, what the commissions would be. I talk to them about a home inspection. A lot of times, I’m not that far off because I can increase the value of homes.”
It’s an honest approach that’s often successful. “I tell them my offer. If it doesn’t make sense, I refer them to great agents. But, a lot of times, it makes sense.”
“I actually buy over 60 homes a year from home owners around several Counties. I have over 200 ‘Thank You’ letters! I enjoy it. I love helping people. It’s nice to see that headache lifted.”
Mike provides a hassle-free sale. The seller no longer has to wonder when the house is going to sell or what necessary repairs might need to be done to make a sale happen.
Where, Oh Where, Does Mike Find Sellers?
Well, he doesn’t put up signs on the side of the road saying ‘Buy your house in 7 days’. Not that he isn’t capable of selling one that fast. “I’ve bought houses in 4 days before! I’ve been very fortunate to be able to raise enough money to do that but that’s not me.”
He does do a lot of advertising to get the word out that he buys houses. He sends out a lot of mailings, has some You Tube ads and, yes, that huge referral network that grows just by talking to people. “I must get referred about 100 houses a year!”
Mike Gives Others A Smart Start at Hub City Real Estate Investors Association
Believing in giving back to the Community, Mike started this local Real Estate Association so others can learn about Real Estate the same way he did. The members, from Washington and Frederick Counties, meet in Hagerstown at the Marriott.
What’s to be found there? Well, you can expect up to 70 Investors in the room..Realtors..Lenders. There are over 300 members! It’s an energizing mix of both seasoned investors and those just entering the gate.
It’s a great place to learn, share and grow! Mike says with much pride, “It’s where I learned how to do Real Estate and I wanted other people to be able to learn as well.”
“It’s so amazing,” continued Mike. “All of the people who have learned Real Estate through going there. What a great job it’s doing in the Community. Now there’s a lot of guys buying and fixing houses. There’s nothing better than seeing a Community rejuvenated. A shining property is a happy Community.”
Mike Fitzgerald Breathed New Life Into The Grand Piano Building [http://www.grandpianobuilding.com/]
Mike started his career buying, fixing and selling residential properties. He learned about creative buying and wholesaling. He moved on to mostly Rehabs, then jumped to Commercial and some larger projects. Mike’s Real Estate career, like the Communities he serves, is steadily evolving.
He knows how to take a property that’s an extreme challenge and turn it around. A great example of this is The Grand Piano building at 20 Washington Street in Hagerstown. When Mike stepped up to the plate, there were only two tenants left!
“Both of them about to leave,” Mike points out. An inspection showed 193 plumbing leaks and roof leaks down to the 1st Floor! “Actually, two weeks before I bought it, there were ceiling tiles down in front of one of the remaining offices on the 5th floor and no oil in the building – in the dead of winter!”
Being the calculated risk taker that he is, Mike put about $5000 in oil into the building and cleaned up the ceiling tiles. The remaining tenants saw a promising light in his actions and stuck by him. Still, according to Mike, a lot of folks said “You’re not gonna make this work!”
Even other developers asked him what he was thinking to get involved in such a property. But, Mike could sense the winds of change in Downtown Hagerstown.
“We have a University of Maryland system that’s at its max after 12 years in Hagerstown with a Nursing Program; a STEM program; one of only two art schools for children in Maryland. I believe its rated #1 and those kids are in 7 different buildings now. So, you have over 400 kids Downtown every day.”
And, it doesn’t stop there. “You have 9 restaurants in the CORE. You have Chinese Foreign Exchange Students living in dormitories Downtown; they go to private schools in the County. I’m seeing major change in Downtown Hagerstown; a major shift! And, I took the risk!”
Mike admits that it was a little scary, even for him. “But, in the end, through walking in businesses (Tommy-Boying it, I like to call it), I was able to get 95% new businesses in Downtown Hagerstown and I’ll take anybody’s tenant from anybody else and move tenants from everywhere!” And, he means it!
He has brought in West Virginia’s CNB bank to open a new location and Pretzel & Pizza Creations of Frederick will be opening a second location in Hagerstown as well. Add a photography studio and the Barbara Ingram School of Arts to the current tenant list at The Grand Piano.
The Partners in Economic Progress (PEP) Program, applied for through the City of Hagerstown, offers an incredible monetary incentive to sign on at this location. Imagine as much as half of the rent for two years on a four-year lease paid for. This attractive deal has attracted eclectic tenants like the Evolution Rock School and the Regenerate Floatation Therapy Center.
A Floatation Center? Mike speaks from experience! “You lay in this pod with 1200 lbs. of minerals, so you naturally float. I get in for 30 minutes and I’m thinking ‘Oh man, all the stuff I’ve got to do’ – but then I lose track of EVERYTHING!”
Mike definitely reaped the benefits of the floatation session. “I got out and people thought there was something wrong with me. I was calm, cool and collected for the next hour. It’s amazing!”
Wait. There’s more to discover at this lovely, lively address! How about the Manhattan style Ballroom with chandeliers and mirrored walls? It’s the perfect setting for holding events for up to 320 people. And, yes, it has a Grand Piano! Take a closer look! [https://www.facebook.com/grandpianoballroomhagerstown]
Thank Mike For The Gallery On Second in Downtown Frederick [https://www.facebook.com/thegalleryonsecond]
This innovative Condo project comes with guaranteed bragging rights! Mike left nothing out with this jewel. There’s even soundproofing and a Fitness Center! It’s so incredible that it made Frederick Magazine’s Preferred Address article.
“I’m a Washington County/Frederick County guy! These places are like my back yard. I love the Counties. I love bringing people in. I just think about the future and what I can do.”
Mike has come a long way since the first sale. “I would have never dreamed it when I was in my one bedroom apartment. I didn’t even know the possibilities. But, one thing leads to another and I’m kinda like a bull in a china shop!”
Is Motivational Speaking In Mike’s Future?
“When I was 25 years old, I did a panel of experts at the Wealth Expo in D.C. and National speakers have been telling me for years that I should jump onto the National stage.”
One of the speakers who Mike looks up to is Robert Shemin, a wealth expert for CNN/Fox News. He has a major best-selling book out there called ‘How Come That Idiot’s Rich And I’m Not?’
Mike remembers attending a Super Conference about nine years ago, where he met Robert. He noticed someone paying $7000 for the privilege of attending the 2-day Real Estate Coaching Conference for about 30 people and he knew that partners were welcome. Opportunity was knocking!
He made a generous offer. “I’ll buy your plane ticket and hotel room if you bring me with you as your partner.” Yes, he attended the Conference; he also made a great friend!
“At the end, Robert said I impressed him more than anybody else there, probably because I couldn’t stop getting excited! I gave him an envelope and told him to not open it until he was on the plane.” What was in the envelope? A check for $1000 to his charity and Mike’s telephone number.
Mike’s Expertise Is Life Changing For Some
Mike met a couple from the state of Washington at a Real Estate event. The gentleman approached him, saying “Me and my wife were talking. She said you’re the guy who’s going to teach us Real Estate. We want you to teach us Real Estate.”
Mike did his best to politely decline the offer. However, the more he insisted that he wasn’t a coach, the more he was pushed to name his price! The couple ended the standoff by making a substantial offer for Mike to go to Washington for 3 days to be their coach.
“The guy grew up in Vietnam, lived in a mud hut and came here with nothing. He lived in a shack behind a mobile home for a year. He saved up all of his money and opened a highly successful mall kiosk.”
So, what was accomplished in those 3 days? “I helped him secure a half million dollar line of credit by building a financial statement (yes, that’s $500,000!).” They’ve partnered in three deals that were coached over the phone, sold all three and the guy has done about eight real estate deals since then.
Looking back, Mike shares “It was a great feeling. He almost brought me to tears. He said the three most amazing things that happened in his life were – coming to America, meeting his wife, and meeting me. That was such a great feeling!”
Mike’s Real Estate Coaching Program Has A 100% Success Rate!
Mike has the personality, the passion and the expertise to make a great coach but there’s only so much time. He knows he can’t do it for everybody. He makes it work by limiting his coaching program to five people so he can help them one on one. “It’s working out very well.”
He’s absolute evidence that determination and passion can take you as far as you want to go. “I haven’t gone to college but I’ve paid more for my education than if I went to three Universities combined! I’ve never been late on a payment. I love Real Estate. I love teaching people about Real Estate.”
What can be expected from the Coaching Program? “We do deals. I help them start their real estate careers. I coach them and it works out great!”
For anyone interested in entering the field with the help of a very successful Real Estate Entrepreneur, check out Gideon Properties Facebook page. Gideon? Ummm..where did that come from?
Mike is happy to share the origin. When he had to fill out a form with the name of his new Real Estate business, his busy mind went to Gideon. Gideon was a cockatiel Mike had when he was younger. Somehow, it all fits. It’s a cool name!
“I’ve done well over 350 individual real estate deals and I’ve done well over 700 real estate transactions. Right now, we’re doing over 100 transactions a year and 60-80 deals a year.”
Fitzgerald Funding Might Be Your Key To Success
As long as there’s a credit score over 680, Fitzgerald Funding can secure a credit line between $50,000 and $200,000. They’re partnered with a national funding source.
“The majority of people, we secure at 0% for the first 12-18 months. The fees are generally around $3000 but there are NO fees if there’s no credit line of at least $50,000.”
What happens when the score isn’t quite high enough? Well, it’s not the end. “If it’s not high enough, we get some specialized credit cards at 0% for 12-18 months. They can pull all of the money out to start their real estate career and then we convert it to a line in 12 months!”
Mike knows what he’s doing. “When I started Real Estate, I bought my first four properties ‘no money down’; 12 of my first 15 ‘no money down’. If I had a line like that? I would have done anything! It would have been an amazing help!”
The value is there and Mike doesn’t hesitate to point it out. “It’s a great tool to use to buy real estate, to get an education, to start your real estate career and I urge everybody to check it out!”
What does it take to get started? It’s very simple. “Fill out the application. They’ll have to pull your credit report one time. Then, they’ll put you with one of their people and we’ll get you a line in 30 days or credit cards to convert to a line.”
How Big Can The Big Guy Go? What Lies Ahead On This Incredible Journey?
“I’d like to be making deals like some of the biggest real estate investors in the world! I loved when Trump bought the air rights above Tiffany’s and surprised everybody with Trump Towers.”
His excitement is contagious as he speaks about the success of the Toll Brothers. What’s so impressive about them? “Right now, over 60% of their income is coming from high-end condos – boutique condos – and, it’s only 20% of their business! They partnered up with a billionaire and they’re building condos in five major cities!”
There’s no stopping him now. He sees where he’s headed. “I love speaking. I love people. I see myself doing much more. I want to do something great for my Community. I want to do something great overall! I don’t know where I’m going to be at but I know what my dreams are – and that’s what’s important.”
Always Keep Learning And Keep Believing
“You can do anything you set your mind to. I think a famous person once said that if you see it in your mind, if you BELIEVE it, you can make it happen. And, I sincerely believe that about life.”
From the curious boy questioning the world around him to the most gullible member of his senior class, the dream has always been there. “I didn’t ever think I’d be where I am today but I believe anybody with the right mindset – if they have a dream and they’re willing to face challenges and charge through them – they’re going to do great!”
Mike is extremely candid about the pressures that come with taking risks and the importance of keeping the faith that it will all turn out. “I remember times in my career where I put 5 or 6 houses under contract and I didn’t have the money raised to buy them. And, they were closing in two weeks!”
Failure was never an option. Mikes personal philosophy always saw him through. “If you have a great deal, you can raise the money for it. And, if you have a plan, you can make it happen.”
He recalls there were many times in the first year when it was so hard to pick up just three properties. Then, in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years, it was hard to pick up 15! “It just gets easier and easier. The longer you stick with something, the longer you believe in it. Now, I see the changes I’m making in my Community. I love what I’m doing!”
So, what’s his biggest real estate achievement so far? Mike doesn’t miss a beat. “Seven years ago, I had the chance to buy my childhood home back. I bought it back and moved my parents back into it. I fixed it up beautifully!”
He has also helped two siblings acquire their houses with great real estate deals and hired his sole brother as Project Manager.
Mike is extremely proud of his step-sister who has accomplished phenomenal career goals with the US Navy.
She made top rank as Enlisted 13 years in and converted to Officer at 15 years. She’s currently in a Specialist Group in San Francisco and has passed the FBI Academy.
Another Creative Move – From His One Bedroom Office To A Farm
Taking another glance back in time, Mike shares a peek at one of his creative real estate deals from his one-bedroom ‘office’. He had the opportunity to sub-divide a farm and sell any or all of the three building lots towards his purchase price. The remainder would be held in a mortgage at 5%.
It wasn’t exactly a steal. The owner wanted $600,000! But, Mike managed to make $70,000 and move into the farm house. He’s been there 9 years now. Once again, he believed and he made it work!
A Dove, a Cockatiel, And Chickens…Oh, My!
Birds of another feather were waiting for Mike on his new farm property. There were several chickens already in residence. They lived for a few years and eventually started passing along. What’s a farm without animals?
Mike went to livestock auctions to build a fresh menagerie of guineas, goats, peacocks, ducks, miniature pigs…all living testaments to Mike’s ability to find and strike great deals! And, a bigger testament to his love and respect for all animals.
The Boys and Girls Clubs have been invited out to the farm for four out of the past eight years. Mike really enjoys it. He also enjoys spending 90% of his free time hanging out on the farm with his two-year-old son.
The little tyke won’t have far to go if he wants to visit a construction site and start asking questions in a few years. Dad will be ready with the sites and the answers!
The rest of us can reach out to Mike, too!
*Call the Office at 301-960-4881 if you have a house to sell.
“We’ll give you a hassle-free consultation. We don’t have to buy your house but we can at least point you in the right direction.
*Go to Gideon Properties Facebook Page to reach Mike personally about Real Estate Coaching.
*FitzgeraldFunding.com is the place to go for Real Estate Funding
* Hub City REIA meets at the Marriott in Hagerstown on the 1st Thursday of every month. It’s right off I-81.
Networking (mingling) is from 6-7PM. Speakers are from 8-9:30.
* Go To You Tube for Mike’s Real Estate Madness. He hasn’t done a segment in a while but he’s thinking about doing more episodes because…well…it’s just a lot of fun!
* Street Level – If you happen to catch this humble guy on the streets or in the shops in your Community, don’t hesitate to smile and say ‘hi’ – if he doesn’t beat you to it!
Content taken from Frederick Advice Givers #009: Interview with host, Eric Verdi and guest, Mike Fitzgerald. To hear full interview go to www.Fitzgerald.FrederickAdviceGivers.com