Few 29-year-olds have a track record in real estate as successful as
Michael Maley, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. But then, few were fortunate enough to have had two of the best mentors in the industry—Bill Swanson and the late Ralph Marasco. Their combined knowledge and experience taught Maley invaluable skills not only professionally but personally as well.
An Omaha native and graduate of Roncalli Catholic High School, Maley started in real estate eight years ago after realizing during college that his childhood ambition to be an architect was not the path he had hoped for. So instead of designing houses, he decided to sell them. Swanson took Maley under his wing and introduced him to Marasco—a man Maley credits with his success and the reason he’s still in the industry today. When Maley was 14 years old, his father passed away, and over the years Marasco became a father figure to him. “Ralph was like having a big brother at school,” Maley said. “You didn’t get bullied. It gave me a level of acceptance in the industry.”
While in the office, riding to appointments together, or out to dinner, Maley listened to how Marasco negotiated and presented offers, and he internalized Marasco’s stories. “My association with him made me appear more successful in the beginning, which led me to actually be more successful,” Maley said. The most important lesson he learned? “Never quit on a deal and never pit agent against agent. We all work together.” That philosophy has elevated Maley to become well respected in his own right, with his 2018-2019 sales topping $27 million, and this year he’s on track to hit $30 million. That’s impressive for someone who was so shy as a kid, he hid in the bathroom to skip speech class in high school. (He still had to give the speech the next day). Maley’s uncle even admitted seven years after his nephew started his career that he never thought Michael would be successful in real estate because of his shyness.
That level of success takes two key ingredients according to Maley: staying genuine and hard work, both characteristics that are part of his focus on building relationships and traits he obtained from his parents. He said his late father was a prominent and successful insurance salesman with a strong work ethic, and his mother taught him the value of working hard.
If building relationships is at the heart of Maley’s business, how does he do it? “I have meaningful conversations,” he said. Whether it’s through a phone call, text, or in-person, Maley makes “care calls” rather than sales calls. “I want to find out how people are doing and I don’t even bring up real estate. They will do that naturally on their own.” His approach is non-conventional, preferring to host events to help introduce clients to new aspects of Omaha as a way of staying in touch that isn’t real estate related. “One client can connect you to 100 people, and you have to know how to ask for that business,” he added.
At the beginning of each year, Maley sets goals, going beyond just writing them down to displaying them prominently in his office. He has three goal sheets: current listings, closings, and dollar amount. Those goal sheets serve as a daily reminder “to work hard and take good care of people,” going above and beyond to create a seamless transaction. Maley appreciates the fact that his clients trust him to do his job, and a lot of that comes from being transparent. “I had to prove myself and convince people I knew what I was doing,” he said. “People like a genuine nature and will like you for you.”
Maley’s goals extend beyond just this year. Within five years he hopes to transition from real estate sales to owning his own development company. He’s currently developing a 15-acre, 49-lot villa subdivision and is working on a 77-unit apartment complex in midtown. He said he’s always pushing himself with new challenges, including a weight loss goal in which he’s already lost 43 pounds. This fall he plans to host a golf tournament in memory of his father, Steve Maley, with a goal to raise $100,000 to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters and Completely Kids as a way to help other children who have grown up without their parents.
Each goal Maley sets is another challenge he enjoys. In fact, he said he loves real estate transactions that are in-depth and complicated. The pandemic brought new challenges to the industry, and although the market was slower in the spring and buyers were more selective, virtual tours helped greatly. Maley said people will want to move for a number of reasons and predicts there will be a boom in the market through October. “You have to be patient. I tell people all the time the money part will come if you work hard and take care of people, so I don’t chase money. I chase relationships. Be genuine and you’ll be successful.”