When Mike Figura started Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty 11 years ago, the ideas around sustainable development in the Asheville market were gaining traction. Figura’s creation of Mosaic Realty was based on guiding principles grounded in sustainability and community. Possessing degrees from the University of Virginia in Environmental Science and Environmental Thought and Practice, Figura grew his agency from a two-person operation into the established, cutting-edge company it is today – all the while focused on a Triple-Bottom-Line principle of People, Planet and Profit. Here, he talks sustainable living, happy Ashevillians, and why living his personal values doesn’t stop when he walks through the office door.
Talk a little about your background, both personal and professional. What brought you to Asheville, and what drew you into real estate?
I’m from Virginia and moved immediately to Asheville after college to work with my uncle, a climatologist who had just started his own company. My passion is in real estate, planning and development. Shortly after moving to Asheville I secured a job at a local urban planning and development consulting firm. I obtained my real estate license in 2005 to augment the work I was doing in planning and development consulting.
After working in planning, development and real estate for five years, I moved squarely into real estate and launched Mosaic early in 2010. At first, it was just me and one other person, but we grew slowly, methodically and steadily to the point where I have 34 agents today. My current struggle is not getting larger. With how quickly our market is growing, it would be easy to add more brokers, but it is important to me to not grow too large or too quickly in order to maintain our quality. I want to stay a midsize company to keep the culture of a boutique real estate company.
My goals are to have a real estate company that does top-notch marketing to compete with the national brands, and to have local values and a Triple-Bottom-Line approach to business. A Triple-Bottom-Line approach takes into account People, Planet and Profit when measuring success. If I’m making a profit but I’m not doing anything to help the community or environmental sustainability, then I’m not hitting my business goals. There are plenty of good real estate companies out there – Mosaic being one of them – but having a real estate company that has a social and environmental consciousness is why I created Mosaic and why I am so proud of it.
Mosaic’s Mike Figura discusses sustainable living in Asheville
How did you become interested in sustainability? How big a role did that play in the establishment of your agency?
Besides being fascinated by real estate since I was a kid, one of the reasons I started working in real estate is because I want to do something to help our community grow sustainably. The way that we develop and grow, as well as the type of homes that we live in, both have huge impacts on our environment. Government policy alone cannot dictate how we grow and develop. There’s a need for private industry to also push the envelope, and I want to be at the leading edge of pushing for positive changes.
True sustainable developments have a green-building component to them, but it’s not the only thing. There’s a land use planning component. Whether conservation-oriented or urban infill, how we grow and build dictates how well our region operates and how much green space we leave for future generations. In the city, density supports transit-oriented development, walkability and efficiently uses existing resources such as roads and infrastructure. Conservation-oriented development in the countryside helps to preserve undeveloped land. And making simple and affordable energy-efficient upgrades to existing homes helps to reduce our carbon footprint.
Where do you see sustainability going in the next decade?
There’s a saying in the preservation societies that the greenest home is an existing one. There’s a lot of truth to that. It takes a lot of energy to build a home, so my personal view of green homes has shifted a lot over the last 15 years, from exclusively new energy-efficient homes to any home that does what it can to make it more efficient and sustainable. We have to use the existing resources we have with all our existing homes and try to incrementally make them more efficient.
Mosaic’s Mike Figura on Asheville, one of the happiest places to live
What do you love about Asheville, and where do you see our growth heading?
There’s a book that came out a few years ago, “The Geography of Bliss.” The author, Eric Weiner, went all over the world looking for places where people loved living. Weiner found that Asheville was one of the happiest places to live in America. His thesis was that “place matters and happiness is a cultural construct more than we think it is.” How does Asheville relate to this? We have geographical beauty but we also have people who move here for quality of life. Unlike many cities, people are generally not moving here solely for their career. They are moving here because they want to live in the mountains, enjoy the outdoors, hear good music, eat locally grown food and enjoy life. Simply put, Asheville attracts happiness-seeking people. While Asheville’s growth does need to be managed and thought about, I think if we can grow with good people, we’re going to keep our spirit and our soul.
How does Mosaic compare with other brokerages in Asheville?
My commitment is to do a world-class job in serving our clients and in marketing. We value our customers and our clients deeply. Our growth, reviews and reputation reflect that. First and foremost, we try to be a great real estate company on the cutting edge of technology and innovation.
Having our community spirit and sustainability spirit relates to real estate because we are selling community and we are selling our region. Community, sustainability and real estate go hand in hand [visit https://mymosaicrealty.com/our-company-and-services/about-mosaic/to see how Mosaic takes these values to heart]. Having our Triple-Bottom-Line approach allows us to operate with a soul and consciousness that reflects what I believe Asheville is. It’s a mirror image of the parts of Asheville that drew me here, and I’m trying to reflect the parts of the community that I love. Mosaic tries to attract like-minded people – they’re more enjoyable to work with, but I also want to attract those types of people to Asheville to work so that we can keep our spirit.
Connect with Mike at Mike@MyMosaicRealty.com or call him anytime at 828-337-8190.