When Michael Lima’s father started working with the U.S. military, his family lived off the coast of Portugal on the Azores Islands. From there, he’s lived all over the globe, but chose to settle down in the great state of Texas. But even more remarkable is how this longtime mortgage professional chose to make a career at Guardian Mortgage.
You’ll have to read our great Q&A with Lima to get that interesting story, but you’ll also learn about what an amazing businessman Michael Lima is, easily earning him the title of this month’s Guardian Angel. See why we’re spotlighting the incredibly talented professionals at Guardian Mortgage every month by learning about the people who make this company great.
Jump to learn more about Michael Lima, and check back on the blog every month to meet a new Guardian Angel at Guardian Mortgage.
CandysDirt.com: Hi, Michael! Nice to meet you. We hear you have an interesting story of how your family came to America. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Michael Lima: My family is from the Azores Islands which is located in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal. While my mother’s family has ties to earlier immigration to the United States, both of my parents were born in Portugal. My father’s path to citizenship is quite interesting. At an early age, he was able to obtain a job on a U.S. military base in the Azores. This job led to a career with the U.S. Department of Defense for nearly 40 years. His service, as well as assistance from a little known Massachusetts Congressman at the time, John F. Kennedy, helped my father become a U.S. citizen.
CD: Have you ever visited Portugal? Do you still have family there?
ML: I visited Portugal as a child and was amazed by the beauty of the islands as well as the family stories my parents shared of their life growing up in such a unique place. I later returned with my parents and my daughter to show her a piece of her roots… and she was also impressed.
Here is a good website to catch a glimpse of the beauty of the island chain: http://www.visitazores.com/en
CD: You moved around a lot when you were younger. Can you explain why? How has this impacted your view of homeownership?
ML: My father’s job required us to move every time he received a new assignment. I was born in Bermuda in 1964 during one of these assignments. We also lived in Rio de Janeiro; Norforlk, Va., Washington, D.C., the Philippines, and lastly eight years in Honolulu, Hawaii. I fell in love with real estate at an early age since we had a new house at every stop.
CD: As first-generation American, what is it about homeownership that’s so special to you? What would you say to other immigrant families about the act of buying, owning and taking pride in your home?
ML: My parents embraced the American Dream wholeheartedly, especially as it related to owning a home. We purchased a house every time we had an assignment in the United States. This tradition carried on to me and my siblings. I purchased my first house at the age of 28 using an employer-assisted housing program while working at Fannie Mae. Since then homeownership has been a part of family culture as well, and has helped us with financial planning. My daughter, Ciera, is now 28 and I look forward to her starting a similar journey toward homeownership.
CD: So we know you’re an executive at Guardian Mortgage Company, but that’s not your only connection to Guardian, is it?
ML: I joined Guardian last year because I wanted to be part of their legacy as a best-in-class mortgage company with a strong commitment to customer service. I know this because I have been a customer for over 15 years and experienced it first-hand. I’m looking forward to continuing this tradition and helping the company position itself for the next 50 years.
CD: Tell us about your dream home. What would it be like and where would it be located?
ML: Since I’m getting closer to retirement, my dream home has two parts. I would like to keep a place here in Texas where my wife Crystal has been born and raised. After living around the world you realize Texas has a lot going for it! On the other hand, we are dreaming of Hawaii as a second home location. Hawaii reminds me a little bit of the Azores, where my parents grew up, but it still has all of the benefits of the United States.