Rob Caldwell – Development Agent Real Estate Franchise Coach and Mentor
Everyone has an interesting story explaining how they grew to where they are now, and I am sure mine is no different. But understanding the experience of the person you will be working with showcases what they bring to the table and have to offer. The following is the evolution of how I became a real estate coach and learned what I know now to help the folks I work with to become successful real estate investors.
I guess you could say I came from an entrepreneurial background and grew up in real estate. My father was a commercial, agricultural, and residential builder and developer. And my mom owned and operated a flower shop. I spent many evenings and weekends helping my Dad organizing job sites or delivering flowers for my Mom. After a six-year stint in the Army, I worked as a pilot and flight instructor at a major university and then moved to the mountains of Wyoming and Idaho where I flew as a scenic pilot and glider tow pilot. From there, I took a “real job” in the corporate world and became the youngest Plant Manager in the history of the Company.
But I always had the bug for real estate. As a kid, I looked forward to Sunday mornings. I would dive into the beanbag chair to watch “This Old House” on PBS with Bob Villa and Norm Abram. I was fascinated! I spent years reading books and studying programs on how to buy houses with no money down. In 1993 I finally bought my first house on a land contract. I lived in the house while renovating it for over a year. And when I sold it for a $5,000 profit, I was ecstatic!
The corporate job sent me to Savannah, Georgia in 1995. In 1999 the company downsized and I was left to my own devices. I started a Home Inspection business. After four years, I had my fill of crawl spaces and attics in the Savannah heat and began to pursue “fixer uppers”. Of course, I used a real estate broker to locate deals for me … because how else was I supposed to do it? I did some “I Buy Houses” advertising and studied the process of buying properties subject to tax liens. What were my results after over six months? NOTHING! My offers were constantly outbid or rejected. I would look at the deals that I lost and scratched my head in amazement at the selling prices. How could anyone make any money based on THAT purchase price? There had to be a better way!
Early in 2004, I found HomeVestors® on the Internet. Better known as the “We Buy Ugly Houses® ” company, it claimed its brand and marketing attracted sellers to just call. This was exactly what I was looking for! I wasn’t shopping for a franchise; I just wanted something that would help me find houses to buy. At that time, we were in a sellers’ market, so selling houses was not the problem. Finding houses to buy – without competition – was a problem!
I joined HomeVestors and learned very quickly that the people who called me usually had not spoken with anyone else about selling their house. Sometimes, even their own family members didn’t know. I was invited into their homes to discuss their ugly situations. I discovered that my previous methods focused on the house, and not the person and their problem. I began building relationships with people who needed my help. For whatever reason, they needed to sell their home. I became a problem solver and, as a result, I bought houses. Almost 30 houses my first year in business as a HomeVestors franchisee.
But the sellers market didn’t last. In 2007 the sub prime market began its crash. My business was only three years old and despite its success up to that point, many of the resources I depended on for operations were going away because of the change in the market. I reluctantly requested a mutual termination of franchise with HomeVestors.
However, I still believed in the HomeVestors® system, brand, and model. So much so that I moved to Richmond, Virginia where I worked in a HomeVestors office as a Buyer. The role of a “Buyer” is to attend appointments and make offers to sellers. As simple as this seems, it is a very delicate process. As I learned in Savannah, the people who call HomeVestors need help. It does’t make any difference where the HomeVestors office is located in, the process and the problems are still the same. I began to develop and write procedures for attending appointments with sellers. I worked to perfect my craft, so I could contribute back to HomeVestors what I had learned in the field in order to help other franchisees. This is part of the HomeVestors nature and culture, helping each other just like so many had helped me.
After working for more than two years in the field as a Buyer, I moved to Asheville, North Carolina in 2009 to help a new HomeVestors franchisee with the start-up of his business. I took on the role of Sales Manager. As we were no longer in a sellers market, selling was now a job. I learned the importance of laser-focused attention for the purpose of getting houses sold. Demand was down and lender restrictions were up. It was tough, but we sold 25 houses that year.
At the beginning of 2011, the owner of the HomeVestors franchise in Asheville took ill and had to close his office. By then HomeVestors had implemented the Associate Franchisee (AF) / Development Agent (DA) program. The DA is an experienced HomeVestors franchisee that coaches and mentors other HomeVestors® franchisees. In March of 2011, I was appointed by HomeVestors as a DA to help recruit, train, and support AF’s across the Carolina’s, and beyond. I recognized immediately the significance of the position, as this level of local mentoring and support was not available when I originally opened my HomeVestors office. I became and will always be dedicated and passionate to the success of the HomeVestors franchise offices that I support.
Being a part of the HomeVestors family for more than 10 years, I have experienced market changes, corporate restructuring, swings in underwriting criteria, adjustments in exit strategies … the list goes on. The one area that has never changed are the needs of the people who call HomeVestors® to sell their houses. And, the proprietary systems and standards we practice to establish our relationships with sellers is the same today as it was for me in 2004. It is this system that has allowed HomeVestors® franchisees nationwide to purchase more the 65,000 houses since 1996!
Whether we are solving problems for people by purchasing their ugly houses, or I am assisting a fellow HomeVestors® franchisee in their business, I will always be proud to be a part of HomeVestors of America, a company focused on helping people with all types of ugly situations.