Words by Kris Scott
Peter Blank knows how to tell a story, in a way that is both succinct and perfect.
It’s what has made his real estate firm, Mile Hi Modern, fantastically successful, even as he declines to use more than five words to market homes. While few of his competitors have moved on from flowery sentences composed with words such as “stunning,” “immaculate,” and the ever-popular “gorgeous” to sell homes, Blank’s approach is different.
Take a few recent examples: “Modern. Unassuming, Extraordinary.” “Soul. Style. Design.” “Premiere. Sustainable. Hip.”
It’s also why, when Blank has big news to share about MHM, as he often refers to his company, he puts it as pithily and concisely as possible.
Blank is referring to his firm’s January departure from being under the wing of Liv Sotheby’s, a Colorado real estate brokerage with a lot of reach. While other companies would long to be under the auspices of such a firm, Blank knew it was time to go. And despite his penchant for short and impactful sentences, he will go into detail if necessary — he’s actually a natural storyteller.
“There is no animosity, no hard feelings,” he says of the split. “We played really well with all of Liv Sotheby’s, and we adore that part of our past.” So why exit? “We just became a team that was uncontrollable under or inside the corporate box. We don’t live by rules, so we were always stepping out of that box. It became evident that, you know, maybe it’s time you guys do your own thing.”
Asked to elaborate, he talks about how MHM has operated since he founded the company 15 years ago. “The way we market is uniquely different. `We use provocative imagery, words that traditional real estate does not use. We focus on the art of living and really try to capture the soul of a house so that people get a glimpse of just how cool Denver real estate is. And our focus has always been on architecture and design versus the traditional brokerage.”
Untraditional, for sure, but Blank’s methods have clearly struck a chord with many. As proof, look to the firm’s growth. Within the last six months it has branched into architectural typologies — Tudors, Victorians, traditional bungalows — outside of its original focus of mid-century modern properties, and later other types of contemporary properties. There’s also the not insignificant fact that, in 15 years, MHM has collectively sold almost three-quarters of a billion dollars in real estate. “People love the fact that we’re independent and local,” Blank notes, “and yet we’ve been written about in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and have got this sort of national notoriety.”
MHM’s outside-the-box way of selling homes is truly evident in its new LoHi location, which is more gallery and “open café concept” — as Blank describes it — than real estate office. There are no desks but instead an open environment with a farm-table concept, floor-to-ceiling linen curtains that “kiss the concrete floors” and 50-inch interactive flat screens that clue visitors into what developments MHM is currently involved with. And there’s an art gallery where the carefully curated works of local Denver artists are on display.
“This is more like somebody’s living room,” Blank says. “The space immerses all of your senses and we did that totally by design. It’s a space where you walk in and you feel like you’re in a really cool environment that embraces artistry and living and real estate. And the music is also amazing. It’s about the whole experience.”
Between taking on more traditional but still architecturally significant homes and opening a new space in less than a year, you’d think that Blank might ready to rest for a bit.
Yeah … think again. That’s not now, nor will likely ever be, Blank’s style.
This summer, he’ll be launching the quarterly MHM Raw, a publication that will feature Denver’s undiscovered talent, from artists to designers and beyond. He’s also working on expanding into areas other than real estate, with plans to delve into fashion, home accessories and fitness. He recently launched MHM Leasing, with a focus on Denver’s luxury developments.
But, perhaps coolest of all Blank’s plans is MHM’s upcoming hospitality division. By summer’s end, he says, Denver will be home to an “uber-cool” hostel-slash-Airbnb hybrid in LoHi that will include a New York-anchored tenant restaurant.
It will take some time to roll all the new areas of the MHM brand out, he knows. “In Peter’s world, I wish I could have it all done by tomorrow. But everything takes a while.”
Still, he won’t be deterred. And, as always, he’s got an economical phrase to put his ambitions as articulately as he can.
“Onward and upward. Here we go sailing into the wild blue yonder.”