Mark Buhler, a longtime leader in Lawrence's real estate community, former Douglas County commissioner and onetime state senator, this week started work in Johnson County.
Buhler is a portfolio analyst for Mortgage Investment Trust Corp., a privately owned company that buys and sells mortgages on commercial real estate.
Taking the new job meant leaving Lawrence-based Stephens Real Estate, the agency he joined in 1986 as sales manager and for the past 10 years helped lead as managing broker and as a vice president.
"For the last 22 years I've kind of been coaching," Buhler said. "Now I get to play again, and I'm looking forward to that."
The new job reunites Buhler with Lindsay Olsen, who once worked for Buhler. That was back in the 1980s, when Buhler was building a financial career that started as a loan officer and then moved on to vice president and branch manager at Ninth and Vermont streets - a location that he joined as Lawrence Savings Association, then became Lawrence Federal Savings and, by the time he left, had been acquired by Columbia Savings.
Olsen spent a few years working for Buhler and later, in 1991, went on to form Mortgage Investment Trust Corp. in Prairie Village.
"We've been friends for a long time," said Olsen, who owns Mortgage Investment Trust. "I know how Mark thinks - as much as anyone can - and analyzes things. He's a very smart guy. He will do very well at this."
The company buys loans on "lightly distressed" properties from banks, insurance companies, Wall Street firms and anyone else looking to move the portfolios off their books, Olsen said. The commercial mortgages - typically ranging from $1 million to $10 million - cover properties reaching across all 50 states.
The current economic downturn allows the company to purchase such loans "at favorable risk-adjusted yields," Olsen said. Buhler is Olsen's fourth employee.
Buhler's new job means Stephens Real Estate is in the market for a new sales manager to oversee the agency's 56 agents in two offices. Doug Stephens, agency president, is handling duties as managing broker.
Buhler's presence will be missed at work, Stephens said, but Buhler will continue to live in Lawrence and continue contributing to the community he's served for years.