In this captivating episode, Linda and Chad embark on an intriguing conversation with Mike Damboise, a versatile real estate agent in the realm of land and commercial real estate. As a cattle rancher, helicopter pilot, and avid real estate investor, Mike brings a wealth of diverse experiences and perspectives to each of his clients and colleagues. During this episode, Mike also speaks on how his success in navigating 1031 exchanges has allowed him to fully service clients in all aspects of land and commercial real estate. Listen in as we unravel Mike’s fascinating real estate journey as well as the future of his career at SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. Listen above for the full podcast.
Why did you fly helicopters? I always wanted to be a pilot. When I was getting ready to get my fixed wing to start my training, a buddy of mine came to the ranch in his helicopter. I had a bunch of cattle on ryegrass that needed to be driven off the ryegrass. At that time of year, that’s just what you do. You drive them off the ryegrass so they don't camp on it all day long. We were going to drive these cattle off the ryegrass and I told him, “we'll jump on a buggy and we'll run back there. We’ll be gone for about 30 minutes.” He says, “let's take my helicopter.” Anyways, a 30-minute job turned into a 5-minute job. We picked back up, sat back at the house, and I was like, “that's it. I know what I'm gonna do.”
12 years later, I've had two helicopters. I had a Robinson R22 for five or six years. This past summer, I bought an R44 with four seats and AC. I've gathered cattle in my helicopter and we hunted gator nests. When we fly, we have a GPS with us. When we saw a gator nest, we would GPS the gator nest and then the airboats came in to harvest the eggs.
The state of Florida would let you harvest one time. I don't know exactly how it is today, but at that time, they were letting you harvest 50% of the eggs that were on your property. If you found 10 or 12 nests, they let you harvest half of them. A gator will lay 70 to 100 eggs.
How long have you worked on ranches? Pretty much all of my adult life and most of my childhood. I've worked on cattle ranches across the state of Florida pretty much my entire life. Me and my wife have been married 31 years and we started taking care of her dad's place over 20 years ago. I've had this huge opportunity that not many people would ever have and I just can't thank him enough. I worked for it. I worked very hard.
When me and my wife took over, we grew and built a feeding business in preconditioning cattle. It's called Charlie Creek livestock. The ranch was DT Davis Ranch, but unfortunately in February, we lost my father-in-law at 86 years old. He lived a great life. He was a good man and mentor to me. That was pretty tough, but we've had a great opportunity because of him.
Why did you become a real estate agent? This is where I think that I can be very helpful to people that were in the same position we were in. You can be land rich and money poor. That's where I've been in my entire life and since I've been married. So, we sold some land five years ago, did a 1031 exchange, bought a shopping center on the east coast, and it changed our lives. We sold 1,150 acres, took that money, and bought 8. In fact, we had to borrow the same amount of money to buy the eight acres, but it had seven stores on it and they were all brand new.
When we went into the commercial real estate business, it was life-changing. For us, it was the hardest decision we ever made. We've got a strong Christian faith, so it was a lot of praying and asking the Lord to guide us. When we sold the land and bought the commercial real estate, it changed a lot for us. Now, I see a lot of families and people that have land that’s worth so much money in Florida. That's just the direction we're going and that's why I like the conservation easement program. When land becomes worth so much, families are selling out. There are millions and millions of dollars for not real big places. You can't afford not to sell.
Have you sold conservation easements? We've got a really nice place where we live now. We’re still on the same ranch, but we just sold some of it. Right now, we just signed an agreement with SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler and we're looking into conservation easements. That way, we feel like we’re honoring my father-in-law. What we got left, which is about 600 acres, we're going to put it under a conservation easement. The land will never be developed and it'd be left as a cattle ranch or we'll be able to do some farming. It'd be a great way to honor him.
Why did you choose to work at SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler? You know, I can't say enough about Dean [Saunders]. I've heard about him all my adult life. The other brokers are great in their own rights, but Dean certainly spearheaded some of the conservation stuff. He's made some of the biggest deals, not only in the state of Florida, but in the country. He's what I call an operator. To give you a definition of that, an operator would be Elon Musk. There's not many of these guys in the world, but Dean is. He's super motivated, he never stops. If he's awake, he's thinking about real estate.
What value do you bring to clients? I have a big network of people that I've done business with. Some people that I know, we've all grown up together. So, I do have a pretty good network of people and I think that the helicopter is going to be great. If somebody wants to sell their place, I'll help them get as much as we can get for it. The good thing is I don't have to depend on the sale of a piece of property to stay alive. This is kind of another stream of income that my wife and I have decided to pursue. She is my partner, no doubt.