Mike Ballard is a partner at Ascent Multifamily Accounting, one of the nation’s largest multifamily outsourced accounting firms, and he led the firm to a two-year ranking as an Inc. 500 company in 2019 and 2020.
He is also the co-founder and managing partner of Camino Verde Group, a privately held real estate investment, development and asset management company focused solely on multifamily and mixed-use real estate. He has specifically led the firm’s initiatives of bringing affordable housing to Las Vegas. The firm currently has more than $250 million in assets under management or in development.
1) How did you get started in the real estate industry?
The thought came to fruition while I was working at one of Nevada’s largest accounting firms that had a significant number of real estate clients. I really got to learn the ins and outs of the industry and saw the potential.
After working with the accounting firm, I started and built a public relations firm. As I built my PR firm, we grew it to be the 16th largest PR firm in the country. I got to work on exciting projects for The Molasky Companies, Thomas & Mack Group, the Greenspun family and CBRE. I got lots of great experience with some of the top developers and real estate experts in the state.
2) What led you to start your own company?
I had been involved with the real estate industry for more than 30 years before I started my first real estate company. I helped start the local NAIOP chapter and was on the founding board of the Lied Center for Real Estate at UNLV. As I progressed in my career, there was almost always a major real estate component so I would learn more about different aspects of the business. Nine years ago, I led the establishment of Ascent Multifamily Accounting. The company grew quickly, and I began to see more details of the financing and operations of multifamily companies. Just five years after the company was founded, it was recognized as one of the fastest growing private companies in America by Inc 500.
In 2019, I finally felt it was time to be more than a passive owner and take a more active role in the business. I partnered with Kevin Romney, who was transitioning out of his business, to create Camino Verde Group. Camino Verde Group is a privately held real estate investment, development and asset management company focused solely on multifamily and mixed-use real estate. We currently have more than $250 million in assets under management or in development.
3) What inspired you to pursue affordable or supportive housing?
For most of my youth, I grew up in the poorer areas of Southern Nevada. There is a significant need for affordable housing in those areas and I felt drawn to try to make a difference. We’re just in the beginning stages but have created some unique properties and partnerships through Camino Verde Group to alleviate suffering and provide a hand-up to those in need. If we can help families during these pivotal times, we can help change their futures.
4) Reflecting on your career, if you could do one thing differently what would it be?
Not a lot. I've made plenty of mistakes. Those mistakes have helped me so much and mean a lot to me, like winning a tough competition where I was bruised along the way and those are my trophies.
I would have started buying real estate sooner and trying my hand at real estate sooner. I would have made smaller investments when I had my PR firm. Smaller deals. I didn’t need to be the top person but could have invested in some of the projects I was working on.
5) What has been the biggest challenge of your career?
Balancing work with family obligations. There have been times when I served as my kids’ coach or my sons’ scoutmaster, when I didn’t feel I had the time. Looking back, I’m grateful for the time that I have spent with them—but there is no doubt it was stressful at times.
6) What is your advice for the next generation?
How can they get started in real estate? Create good habits and become their slave. Invest in yourself in time and money. Start small and build upon it. Believe in yourself enough to take risks and pursue opportunities.
7) Now that you have a well built out portfolio, what do you want your legacy to be known for?
I don’t really feel that the portfolio is where we want it to be yet, but we are working at it. I’d like to be known as a SWAN—that I was (relatively) Smart, Worked hard, was Ambitious and Nice. I hope to be an influence for good in this community.