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p14 DurbinDurbinBy RITA DUCKWORTH
    At the start of 2018, Mike Durbin made a career change to real estate, joining BARBERMurphy Group Inc. as a full-time broker.
    “Once I made the leap,” says Durbin, “I never looked back. My only regret was not doing it sooner.”
    For the 14 months leading up to his first full day on the job, Durbin had a part-time role with BARBERMurphy, which has been Southern Illinois’ market leader in commercial real estate since 2005.
    During that time, he would sometimes collaborate with other brokers. Other times he would act as the primary broker.
    “The people at BARBERMurphy are phenomenally supportive,” says Durbin. “I was able to ‘learn by doing,’ cutting my teeth in real estate by doing research and contacting potential clients,” says Durbin. He contributed about five hours a week while working a full-time job selling healthcare billing software.
    Although real estate was a new industry for him, Durbin’s previous positions laid the groundwork for his success. After receiving his undergraduate degree at Saint Louis University and a master’s from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, his first professional position was with a mortgage lender.
    “That was my first taste of the real estate industry,” says Durbin. He credits his three years as a mortgage broker at the height of the financial crisis with teaching him a lot about professionalism, service, and customer care.
    After that, he began his sales position with the medical software company. He excelled at the company but maintained an interest in real estate. He got his broker’s license in 2015.
    Durbin has been dealing primarily with retail and office space. His largest transaction involved brokering a recent sale of a church in Belleville. He handles a lot of tenant representation and office leasing.
    One current project is with the Executive Business Center in Fairview Heights. He and BARBERMurphy principal Collin Fischer are working to fill 15 professional offices.
    “In real estate,” says Durbin, “it’s important to find a niche. Even though it hasn’t been my biggest focus so far, because of my background, healthcare facilities and medical offices are my main focus. I speak the language and know what’s going on in the industry.”
    Durbin feels that BARBERMurphy is changing the way brokers are viewed.
    “It’s not just about buying and selling space,” he says. “It’s about advocacy. We have a deep understanding of the market and trends. People respect the fact that you can guide them based on facts and not just your opinion. We’re informing them beyond their questions. I want to have a real conversation about my clients’ businesses and find out what’s going to help them be successful.”