The Secrets of Rags-to-Riches Real Estate Moguls

The pandemic might have affected most businesses, and even real estate in almost every country has gone down, too. But history has shown us that real estate is also one of the first industries to bounce back after a recession or any economic crisis. The stories of the most successful real estate entrepreneurs can inspire a new generation to rise after the pandemic. And in reality, 90% of all the millionaires in the world produce their vast wealth by investing in real estate. Many of them had a familiar rags-to-riches story, but even before they sold their first property for sale, they had similar views and qualities that make them inspiring figures in these trying times.

Carl Berg

Having someone to support you when young is a great way to grow up. But that’s not for everybody. And Carl Berg just had to move forward, perhaps the reason why he’s succeeded.

Berg’s father died early in his childhood. That left him to grow up in rural New Mexico with his schoolteacher’s mother. Berg financed his way to education by restoring vending machines. And that’s not all. He has also served as a hotel clerk.

But Berg seemed to have a knack for seeing opportunities. While working in the hotel, he encountered a top-tier house builder who gave him an office position. That was where he started learning the ropes.

After graduation from college, Berg started operating the mortgage business of the founder. He used his real estate expertise he had gained to buy and rent Silicon Valley office buildings. And even better, he has since grown his portfolio to include venture capital investments. He invested in more than 100 tech start-ups.

With a net value of $1.3 billion, Carl Berg exemplifies someone who got successful even when starting from zero. A real estate legend, that’s what he is. Forbes calls him the Silicon Valley real estate titan. It’s really not bad for someone who can’t afford to pay his college tuition.

Leon Charney

It is assumed that all real estate moguls are famous due to inherited wealth or inheritance. It was far from the reality with Leon Charney. Starting from scratch, Charney inherited only a mere $34 from his aunt.

Today, Charney is considered one of the top real estate moguls of our time. That was before his untimely death in 2016. Growing up poor, he had lost his dad at an early age. His father left the family behind destitute. To compensate, Charney worked his way through college and law school. How? By singing in synagogues.

Charney is an extraordinary man. Not only did he host a television show “The Leon Charney Report” on cable TV, but he also was an author and a public servant. But all those stints gave him credibility. When you want to purchase a good lot for sale, talking to someone with credibility matters. You want the deal to deliver as promised.

And Leon Charney eventually, made his name from commercial real estate, taking on Manhattan and Time Square properties. And yes, he’s a certified billionaire worth no less than $1.3 billion in net value.

Dottie Herman

Now, you may wonder if there’s a female real estate billionaire out there who started from scratch. And there is.

And Dottie Herman is the most popular of the kind. Like many real estate moguls who started with nothing, Herman overcame challenges at an early age.

Her mother died in a traffic crash when Herman was just ten years old. However, that didn’t put the lady down. Instead, Herman was eager to “make more of herself” following the incident. Her solution? Work as a real estate broker while attending university.

She bided her time. Years later, she was able to buy Prudential Long Island Realty, Manhattan’s most prominent brokerage company, and Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Douglas Elliman Real Estate is currently the fourth largest real estate firm in the US.

Herman is simply the wealthiest self-made real estate woman on this side of the planet with a net worth of $270 million.

Kirk Kerkorian

Many wealthy real estate developers and tycoons studied at the best school before investing in real estate. But Kirk Kerkorian is different. Even when just an eighth-grade drop-out Kirk climbed the ladder of success. And did it.

Indeed, Kerkorian had dropped out of Grade 8. He supported his family to make ends meet. He did that starting when he was nine years old. Imagine that.

But he learned his ropes. After fighting in World War II, he bought several acres of property in Las Vegas. And developed them. Some of the structures are still standing today, names like Caesar’s Palace.


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It’s true. These entrepreneurs came from harsh backgrounds. But it did not stop them. Getting a lesson or two from them would serve us well when we’re up against a most unforgiving enemy: the virus. One thing’s certain. As these real estate moguls show us, adversity only makes man shine even more.

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