Building A Massive Real Estate Empire While You Are Still Young.  This 24 Year Old Bought A Skyscraper In Downtown Fort Worth


FORT WORTH, Texas — Adam Blake made one of his first life-changing decisions as an eighth-grader in Kansas City, Mo. He made another last month.

Blake, 24, who has turned a residential real-estate business he started as a sophomore at Texas Christian University into a multimillion-dollar venture, in September closed on the purchase of the historic Electric Building in downtown Fort Worth from billionaire Robert Bass.

Blake hopes it will be the first of several commercial real-estate buys. The deal, though, catapulted him into a market dominated by deep pockets, institutional investors and older developers, right where he wants to be.

More important, he said, the buy gave him “much-needed credibility, even though at the end of the day, I don’t think I’m any different for buying this building. Some people’s perception is probably a little different.”

He was right. Six real-estate brokers called him after the deal was announced to pitch other properties.

“He definitely doesn’t look at his age as any sort of liability,” said Terry Montesi, founding partner of the Fort Worth-based commercial real-estate firm Trademark Cos. “He has a lot of confidence and is generally fearless.”

Blake has the portfolio to prove just how serious he is.

His company Atlas Properties was on the latest Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private U.S. companies, reporting 2008 revenues of $5.8 million, up from $382,778 in 2005. And that’s just one of the nearly dozen companies and investment funds he owns.

His youth does get in the way of deals, he said. Recently, he wanted to buy a Houston apartment community, but the broker involved asked to see his personal bank statements before he’d accept his offer.

“One guy told me he thought a deal was out of my league because he read on one of my Web sites that I am only 24,” Blake said. “Definitely, age can be a hurdle.”

In some cases, Blake said, people think he’s inexperienced because of his age. “People ask, ‘Who do you work for?’ That’s happened so many times in the past six to eight months as I’ve been making offers on buildings.”

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