Twin real estate brokers succeed despite humble beginnings

Ottawa County

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Real estate brokers Manny and Leo Barajas take pride in being able to look at Lake Macatawa from Leo’s lakeside home.

“If somebody wants a lifestyle like this, it’s very nice,” Leo Barajas said. “I’ve not come home one day and not been glad I’m home.”

As kids, the twins and their family made their way to Southwest Michigan to escape the danger in the streets of their hometown of Chicago.

“Only place my uncle had room for us was a detached garage,” Leo Barajas said. “A two-car detached garage that we pretty much laid our beds all around and we slept there the whole summer.”

Their summers were spent working in the field.

“We started picking blueberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, apples,” Manny Barajas.

“From sunrise to sunset,” Leo Barajas added. “Seeing the sun go down, that’s quitting time because we are no longer able to see.”

Trouble at school led them to drop out.

“I didn’t finish high school at all,” Leo Barajas said.

Not finishing school wasn’t a major setback for them. The brothers worked and eventually started flipping houses by their early 20s.

“We just knew we could make a lot of money flipping houses, fixing them up, selling, making money,” Manny Barajas said.

The brothers learned the ins and out of the real estate industry. They became agents and then brokers. Manny and Leo started their own company, MI Home Group, which operates under Coldwell Banker, in 2015.

“Top five for the company, we do well,” Leo Barajas said. “We do like 250 homes a year. That’s a big number.”

“Coming from zero to where we are now is very rewarding,” Manny Barajas added.

In addition to providing people with an opportunity to buy homes, the Barajas brothers take pride in being able to guide the agents they work with. They want their agents to achieve a similar level of success.

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