Photo of Lauren Collier
Lauren Collier

This September, Colorado Springs was introduced to a new real estate firm, Live Dream Colorado, which was opened by 36-year-old Realtor Lauren Collier and Realtor Rob Hoben.

But before Collier opened her firm, and before Peak Producer ranked her in the top 10 Best Real Estate Professionals in Colorado in 2015, she traveled a long and winding path through several industries before choosing real estate.

After moving to Colorado Springs from Kentucky in 2001, Collier earned her undergraduate degree in biology from UCCS in 2004 and her master’s in elementary education from the University of Phoenix in 2007. She purchased her first home in 2006. That’s when she first considered getting into real estate, but didn’t like the process, so she pursued teaching instead.

Collier eventually realized that education was not the industry for her and reconsidered real estate in 2011.

In addition to owning her own firm, last year Collier started the Idea Accelerator Podcast (ideaacceleratorpodcast.com) which highlights business owners in Colorado Springs.

Collier spoke to the Business Journal this week about her experience as a young professional in real estate.

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How did you get into real estate?

When I was 20, I had a conversation with a real estate investor who was actually a total stranger. I just had a day where I didn’t have classes and I was wandering around downtown. There was an older gentleman sitting on Jose Muldoons’ patio with a Hawaiian shirt on, and he was like, ‘Hey, want to have a drink?’ … I thought, ‘How are you not at work right now?’ He was starting to go gray but he wasn’t that old. … He started to tell me about his real estate investments. … He explained to me the way [owned property] gains equity … whereas [rentals don’t] and I pretty much became obsessed with it.

What do you like about working in Colorado Springs?

It’s a supportive community and there’s a lot of opportunity — it really is what you make of it. There’s sort of a loose structure in place if you’re a business owner. Some networking events … in other communities are a little bit more stratified. ‘If you’re in this career at this age, then you need to be in this location and you can’t go do these other things.’ It’s not like that here. Anything that strikes your interest is basically welcome here. It’s really nice.

What should Colorado Springs do to retain young professionals?

The gap I see is attentiveness [given] to young business owners as opposed to young people who are employees working their way up the corporate ladder or young people who have the startup, entrepreneur mindset. … I think it’d be great if there were more mastermind groups and opportunities for young people who really have a passion to open, start and run their own business. It’d be really cool if there were resources targeted to that population, specifically that are accessible and really meet the needs of young professionals.

What does the real estate market look like in Colorado Springs?

The Denver market’s last couple of posted quarters indicate a slowdown. Prices have kind of plateaued and sales are not moving as rapidly. That’s significant because the Denver market has been on a tremendous upward trajectory that no one can keep up with over the last year or two. So we usually don’t see what happens in Denver happen to us immediately, but it usually follows … about a year later. They’re not seeing a plunge in prices, they’re not seeing a recession or a drop off. It’s just going from this absurd sellers’ market with insane overbidding with many dozens of buyers per house to something more moderate. It’s kind of steadied out and plateaued there. It’s nothing to be afraid of — just be aware.

What advice would you give to other young professionals?

Buy a house. I was 20 when someone gave me this advice and at the time I was trying to laugh it off and treat it like it was absurd. … But it wasn’t absurd. I wasn’t too young. [It’s just that] no one had ever talked to me about it. I think there’s a lot of things to pay attention to in life — family, kids, jobs. It does take a lot of extra attention and time to get your loan together and get your home secured. But I couldn’t live the kind of life I live — I couldn’t do what I do — if I didn’t make that investment a very long time ago and pay the [loan] down.