By SARAH SHMERLING | Managing Editor
You know his name, but you may not know his background.
The Palisadian-Post sat down with Palisades-based real estate agent Michael Edlen—the man who doesn’t consider his late nights in the office as “work.”
Shmerling: Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you grow up? What did you study?
Edlen: I grew up in Alhambra in the San Gabriel Valley. Our family moved to Los Angeles when I was just beginning school. I attended UCLA for seven years, partially through a National Merit Scholarship and most of the balance through various jobs on campus. My undergraduate major was psychology, and I then obtained a master’s in business administration, graduating with honors.
Shmerling: What jobs did you work before your career in real estate? What led you to a career in real estate?
Edlen: During school years I held a wide variety of jobs, including ice cream scooper at Thrifty, newspaper delivery, landscape maintenance, survey research assistant, etc. After graduation, I joined the management of a family-owned drapery manufacturing firm and helped grow it to become the largest West Coast supplier of window coverings to the mobile home industry.
After we sold the business, I took a year to research and consider a variety of alternatives that might satisfy my desire to be of greater service to people. Real estate appealed to me because it provided continual opportunities to bring a high level of professional services to the public that were not available to my wife and me when we were seeking to purchase our first home.
Shmerling: Which neighborhood of the Palisades do you live in? How did you pick your home?
Edlen: We live in the Marquez Knolls hills. Our main criteria, after falling in love with the Palisades Village, was to set out to find our first home that had a superb view, including ocean, canyon and city lights. We continue to be grateful that in the 35-plus years we have owned our home, we have only seen a couple of properties that could compare favorably to ours.
Shmerling: What is one of the most memorable homes you’ve sold?
Edlen: Two extremes come to mind. The first was an incredible three-story home with indoor pool, tennis court and a view that was quite remarkable. The other was a dingy, fairly small place on Sunset Boulevard that had no garage, a steep driveway and such a build-up of tobacco residue throughout that other agents were certain it was unsalable.
I was pleased to find a young couple that wanted their child to be in Marquez Charter Elementary School and had a very low budget. We were able to meet the seller’s minimum price: just below $400,000, which, at the time, was the lowest price possible in the Palisades.
Shmerling: What are some of the current trends in real estate?
Edlen: We are in a period of rapidly increasing changes, including technological, demographic, economic, generational and informational. I will only touch on a few highlights since much could be written about the changes currently occurring.
A populace that has access to an incredible amount of information about housing markets, investors who compete against each other as well as families trying to buy starter homes, resistance to selling by long-time owners wishing to avoid paying taxes and an insufficient supply of homes due to low interest rates all contribute to a significantly changing real estate landscape.
Shmerling: You give back through various organizations. What are some of the ones you work with and why?
Edlen: I generally focus most of our support in the community. I have always felt it was right to give back to the community that has been the source of most of our success.
Since I began in real estate, I have been pleased to be able to contribute more than $1 million. We include substantial annual donations to all of the local schools, the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club and its Home Tour, Chrysalis Palisades street and sidewalk maintenance program, and other organizations. We also are enthusiastic supporters of Women Helping Youth, Doctors Without Borders, Meals on Wheels, A Window Between Worlds, Smile Train, ORBIS and Heifer International.
My most recent favorite organization is DonorsChoose.org, which enables contributing to individual teacher grants in thousands of schools and in support of a wide variety of programs that can help where most needed.
Shmerling: Do you have any special designations or types of real estate that you specialize in?
Edlen: Our team provides a complete level of service to meet the needs of sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants. We primarily focus on the Palisades and have successfully represented more than 1,300 clients.
I am designated as Coldwell Banker’s local area global luxury representative, and for many years, I have been one of only a few who have attained the company’s highest level of Society of Excellence. As an added benefit to the senior citizens in our community, I have been certified as a seniors’ real estate specialist.
Shmerling: For years people who don’t already know you have wondered, “Who is that guy in his office window into late hours at night?” Why do you work such late hours? Doesn’t real estate stop after 6 p.m.?
Edlen: That’s a good question. No, real estate does not stop at 6 p.m. or for one to two days off each week. Quite the contrary, as it can be nearly a 12- to 14-hour-a-day availability every day of the week.
Also, I don’t think of my time late in the office as “work.” Since I was blessed to be able to go into real estate to be of service, I use those hours to update clients, return calls, write articles for various publications, stay on top of market trends and local statistics, etc. For years I used the slogan “enthusiasm is the secret of my success,” and it still is!
Shmerling: What do you do when you’re not working? Do you ever get around to reading any of those books in your office?
Edlen: Many of the books I read are in my home library, and I do enjoy late night reading at home. Walking, listening to podcasts, CDs and music are part of my daily routine. Some of my favorite authors include Robert Kiyosaki, Jim Rohn, Daniel Burrus, Wayne Dyer, Gary Keller, Ekhart Tolle, Seth Godin, Esther Hicks, Stephen Covey and others.
Shmerling: How did you come to have a team and does it differ from other groups of agents?
Edlen: I was the first Palisades agent to hire an assistant and then to hire a second one a couple of years later. Having come from a business background, I approached real estate as a service business rather than one of sales. Gradually, I evolved a system that was modeled more like a doctor’s or attorney’s office.
Unlike other “teams,” who are mostly loosely affiliated independent agents, small family groups or an agent with a staff of assistants, each of our team members is a licensed professional who specializes in a specific phase and field.
Shmerling: Is there anything else you’d like the community to know about you and your team?
Edlen: Yes—we really love what we do, like each other, are passionate about helping people and steadily strive to improve our level of service.