Agent Spotlight: Michael Latousek on Loving Life (after Near-Death) in Aspen

By Grace Cassidy

Michael Latousek left his career as a trader in Chicago and came to Aspen in the late ’90s looking for a new start in a town that his family loved visiting when he was young. Since selling $7 million in properties in his first year as an agent, Michael has proven to be a consistent top producer over more than two decades in real estate.

Michael Latousek profile
Michael Latousek

After surviving two back-to-back heart attacks at the end of 2020—the first of which occurred while he was mountain-biking near the Utah border—Michael has focused on spending time with his loved ones and making time for activities he loves—including being a real estate agent. He spoke with Elliman Insider about starting out, bouncing back and living the Aspen lifestyle.

Elliman Insider: What made you want to make the move from Chicago to Aspen?

Michael Latousek: Well, my parents started visiting Aspen in the late ’60s-70s, so I’ve known Aspen since I was a kid. I moved there full time after college in 1990 and became a ski instructor.

Did you move to Colorado with the intention to start a career in real estate? How did you find your footing in real estate?  

I was trading at the Chicago Board of Trade in the mid 90s and always wanted to be back in Aspen but not as a ski bum like I had been. I had a big losing day trading at the CBOT in the fall of 1998, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I called our family friend, who happened to be a realtor in Aspen, from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade and asked him if I could come work for him. He said, “Of course, you can.”

I was teaching skiing and getting my real estate license all while I was assisting three agents from 1999 to 2001. I got my license, and I became a full-time agent a month after 9/11 occurred. I was wondering why the phones weren’t ringing, but the country was basically shut down. The market began to pick up, and I wound up selling about $7 million in properties my first year in the business. I really enjoyed it and I knew that was what I wanted to do with my career.

You ended 2020 surviving two heart attacks just 12 days apart. The following year was among the most successful in your professional career. Tell me about that experience and how it has impacted your personal and professional life?

My heart attacks definitely changed my perspective on life. You know that feeling you get when you’ve lost a parent or a loved one and sometimes it just stops you right there, and now you stare at the sky for a few minutes and think about them? My heart attacks do that often to me where it stops me dead in my tracks (no pun intended) and I think to myself, “what the heck happened to me and why? How am I still here? Thank God I am still here! I am so lucky. What if I were gone; what about my kids, my wife, my siblings?”

Michael Latousek
Michael and his family.

My first 3 to 6 months in recovery were a huge mental battle, and I suffered from depression, which is apparently common after heart attacks. I slept the whole month of January last year, yet with this hyper-active real estate market, I couldn’t rest much. I really had a good year, and it was people searching me out. I wasn’t that aggressive in going after business as my motivation was minimal, but I knew I could handle the amount of deals that were coming in. I had to keep my stress level low—thankfully my new heart meds helped do that for me.

Michael Latousek
Michael with his daughters, Taylor (12) and Lauren (14).

I have learned to not get distracted by the petty stuff. I don’t have much tolerance for minutia. I will drop anything to be with my family. If my girls text me and say, “Dad, can you pick me up and take me to Starbucks?” DONE! I’ll drop everything and drive 100 miles to be with my girls just to see them for a few minutes if I have to.

My wife has been an amazing support for me, as well—she is a personal trainer and knows what’s good for me. I’m very lucky to have such a loving and supporting household and especially two little lifesavers: my girls, ages 12 and 14. They saved my life when I had my second heart attack. My 14-year-old gave me CPR prior to the ambulance arriving. My friends joke with me now: “So, do your girls get, like, $1,000 a week in allowance since they saved your life?” They really should.

I love what I do for a living, and it shows. I love where I live. I love my family. Now, I have a third chance at survival, and I treat every day like it’s a gift.

After these events, you described yourself as the “luckiest man alive.” What are some things you feel particularly lucky for right now? 

Everything! I’ll never forget my cardiac therapist telling me while I showed up for cardiac therapy last year and I was in a bad mood after a $5-million contract went south, and she said, “Well, at least you’re here to experience this crappy day!”  That really hit home with me. Bad days or good days… they are all lucky days for me!

What would you say has been your greatest professional success over the last two decades and why?  

My relationships, for sure! With both clients and agents. I have done some big deals and some crazy big deals, and I pride myself on the experiences I have under my belt with all these clients. What I enjoy most is meeting a new master-of-the-universe-type person and having success in selling their Aspen home or finding them a new home in Aspen. I have a lot of confidence, and I know I can be successful for them.

After having a couple near death experiences, I know that it’s the experience that counts for me and the relationships that I make. Again, I love my work and I pride my relationships a lot more than I do the dollars. The money will come. The success shows for me whenever I get to work with a new client and especially when they tell me, “I can tell that you love your job.” That is the best feedback that I can ever receive.

If you were giving advice to someone looking to start a real estate career in a tourist destination, what would you say?  

It’s not easy, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s definitely a relationship-based business, and it’s not so much finding that client, but it is knowing key people that are around a lot of visitors, etc., so they can recommend you.

It’s also living the lifestyle that someone new to Aspen wants to live. I am never in the office. Buyers and sellers are not coming to visit you in the office. They are out skiing and mountain biking and fishing. That’s where I love to be, and that’s where I meet a lot of my new clients. Also, don’t get disappointed if you lose a buyer or seller to another agent. I’ve always noticed that when you lose one, another one comes in around the corner.

What’s your absolute favorite thing about living in the Aspen area?  

The lifestyle and the people. The best part about being a realtor is the flexibility, so as long as I am in cell range, I love being able to be skiing or mountain biking and fishing and handling work deals in between (or during).

I also love our communities in this valley. Often noticed more by visitors, there seems to be an aura that we all share that “everything is going to be okay.” Even between us competitive realtors in different offices. We sort of know that we can vent with each other or even recreate together, and if the deal isn’t happening today, it will at some point. In the meantime, we are so darn lucky to be achieving our dream careers in such a wonderful paradise.

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