Kyle Miller made a unique career swap when he left the high-profile, but hectic, world of sports broadcasting to get into real estate sales.

“I just love working with people and helping them to find their dream home,” said the Indiana native who joined Traverse City’s Century 21 Northland in March. “And when I was in broadcasting, I was never home, so this is much more stable.”

The robust real estate market in northwestern lower Michigan has kept veteran realtors busy and attracted a spate of newcomers to the industry. Miller is one of several real estate “rookies” launching new careers in the Traverse City region.

Technically, Miller is making a return to the real estate game. After graduating from high school in Goshen, IN, he chose not to go to college and took a job in construction. While building homes, he dabbled in real estate, eventually launching his own business building and selling properties. He racked up valuable experience and learned that he really enjoyed matching clients with properties.

In 2005, Miller sold his business, deciding he was now ready for college and enrolled at Notre Dame where he majored in athletics administration. After graduating in 2008, he earned his master’s degree in the same field and landed an internship with NBC Sports and working behind the scenes in production for ESPN.

From 2008 until March of this year, Miller’s calendar was jammed with Notre Dame football, college hockey, NHL games (including Stanley Cup playoffs), Olympics, rugby and two seasons of NFL football. But the constant travel began to wear on him and he felt a desire to return to the real estate game.

In May 2014, he moved to Traverse City. “Ever since I was five years old, we used to vacation in northern Michigan, in Onekema,” Miller said. “We spent time in Traverse City. And I love winter, the snow and skiing. And I love summer too, being on the water. I always wanted to move here and finally did.”

When Miller made the move, he was so impressed by the realtor who helped him relocate that he chose to join her firm – Century 21 Northland. In his first month on the job, he’s kept busy. “I’ve had numerous showings and have several listings already,” he said. “It’s been 10 years since I’ve done this and it was a different state, but it’s going quite well so far.”

As an “outsider,” he knows the first thing he has to do is make connections – so he’s been very busy networking with the community, contacting friends, members of his church and the local Notre Dame alumni chapter to let them know he’s available to help with real estate services.

“I know it takes time to build a client base,” he said. “But if you have an outgoing personality and want to help people, you can have a great career.”

Real estate is a second career for Beth Chiles, a former college administrator who relocated from her native Florida to Traverse City. “Moving my family to Traverse City without the benefit of knowing anyone in town was exciting, but crazy,” she recalled. “Fortunately, I fell in love with my new home right away and never looked back.”

For 18 years she thrived in the academic world, before moving to Traverse City in 2003. “I had a wonderful career in college administration, but my ex-husband was from Michigan and he wanted to move back,” she said. “So we came to Traverse City.”

While in Florida, Chiles had experience as a private buyer and seller of real estate. She was also co-owner of a home building business. After the move north, she spent several years working for real estate agents. As of March, she is now helping clients on her own, working for Exit Realty.

“Real estate has always been a passion of mine,” said Chiles. “I’ve always watched trends in the business, not only in sales, but in home design and for what people are looking for in a new home. I’m so happy I can make a living doing what I love doing. I love connecting with people and helping them find the property that’s just right for them.

There’s one thing that both Miller and Chiles both quickly noticed about the TC region.

“Inventory is so low,” saidMiller. “Things just don’t stay on the market for long. But after the recession years, I’m impressed with how the market has rebounded.”

Added Chiles, “I’m hoping more people will put their homes on the market. Having a low inventory makes our job harder. You have to be really good at searching out homes, it’s definitely a challenge.”


Nuts & Bolts Of Launching A Real Estate Career

Traverse City native Meagan Alvarado joined Century 21 Northland in Traverse City a year ago. The TCBN asked her to share the process of getting licensed, as well as other things to consider, when thinking about starting a career in real estate.

After deciding to pursue a career in real estate, Alvarado said she did what most people do. “I sought guidance and expertise from friends already immersed in the business,” she said. “I asked important questions on getting leads, commission breakdowns, education, support and more. Most importantly, I wanted to know the downside – the negative – to really know what I was getting myself into.”

A year later? “I love it,” she said. “Every deal is different and I really enjoy all the various aspects to it. It fits my personality.”

After receiving a job offer from Century 21 Northland, she moved forward with obtaining her license. The first step: a 40-hour Fundamentals of Real Estate course, either in a classroom setting or online. Cost: $255.

“I chose the classroom setting because a friend recommended asking questions and listening firsthand to stories relevant to the coursework from a licensed instructor,” said Alvarado.

Upon successful completion of the course, participants receive approval to take the State of Michigan license exam at a PSI testing center – the closest one to Traverse City is Gaylord. Students have three hours at a computer terminal to complete the 110-question, multiple-choice test that covers everything from property laws to land division to financing. Testers are notified immediately after submission whether they passed or failed.  Cost: $76

“Once you’ve passed the exam, the license is issued and sent to the brokerage firm that has offered to hold your license for you,” said Alvarado. “If no brokerage firm has been chosen, the state simply holds your license for you until you’re ready to begin your career.”

Alvarado also offered up a few other “things to remember” when deciding to pursue a real estate career:

– Significant initial investment: upfront costs for course, registration, exam and monthly dues in the local realtor association/multiple listing service ($100-$200)

– Delayed gratification: takes time to get started, obtain leads, market yourself

– Pay: six months to a year before seeing any true income and no regular paycheck until you establish your business and “sphere of influence” (friends, family, acquaintances)