HomeVestors franchisee relishes his ugly win
Like the cobbler’s shoeless children, HomeVestors franchisee Tom Beerley says his family’s home pales in comparison to the houses he fixes up to sell. “The joke is that someday we’ll call HomeVestors to buy our home (and) we’ll flip ourselves into one of our houses,” he says, laughing.
But that home probably won’t be the one he just remodeled to beat out 34 other franchisees to win HomeVestors’ 2016 Ugliest House Contest. HomeVestors’ very effective tagline, which you’ll see on billboards in franchisees’ hometowns, is “We buy ugly houses.”
Worthy of an HGTV episode, the HomeVestors’ end result, top photo, is a far cry from the house franchisee Tom Beerley started out remodeling (bottom photo).
“We’ve had a smoke house,” meaning tobacco-related, “a hoarder’s house” and now the one that took the prize, the garbage house, he says.
Not everyone would be excited about winning a contest with “ugliest” in the title. But when you flip houses for a living, the uglier the better the profit.
This particular transformation in Philadelphia was especially dramatic. “This house was the worst,” he says. “It was filled with garbage, and I say that with compassion for the lady I bought it from.” He’s even less judgmental after an article in a local Philly paper garnered harsh comments from readers about the owner.
“It was a snowball effect,” he explains about the mess. “She had fallen behind on her taxes and bills and they stopped collecting her trash; she didn’t know what to do.” Pair that with a burst pipe, which resulted in the water having to be shut off, and all flushing and cleaning came to a dramatic halt.
The vast majority of the drywall had to be removed, new water and sewer lines installed, plus all new plumbing. A wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed to open up the living area and a closet was turned into a bathroom.
It took $145,000 and six 20-foot by 8-foot dumpsters to restore the 1945 two-story house to its original charm. The hired crew needed two weeks to haul out the junk.
“The way I look at things is anything can be fixed, it’s just a question of how much it will cost,” Beerley says. One of the incentives for owners to sell their homes at a lower-than-market price is that franchisees pay cash and cover the fees.
Beerley’s wife is actively involved in the business with him, but he deliberately kept her from having to work on this job until it was almost finished. “I love that we’re a team,” he says, but he likes tossing her the “softballs” (such as painting) while he does the demolition and takes out the trash. If you’re a fan of HGTV—as they are—you see the common thread in this arrangement.
Flipping houses is Beerley’s second act. Burned out by the high percentage of travel his IT job required, Beerley started looking for an alternative to working at Microsoft.
He and his wife already dabbled in real estate with two rental properties. But he realized his goal of buying one house a year for 10 years was unattainable at his current pace. While studying for his real estate license, he discovered not only the wholesale real estate market, but HomeVestors. Before making the leap, he refinanced two of the houses he owned and asked for increases on his credit cards “while I was still attractive to banks.”
“Every house you set up as a rental helps you work toward not working as much,” he says.
His prize for winning the competition? Bragging rights, he says, adding that it also comes with a $1,000 travel voucher. “Although I suspect that it’s for travel to (HomeVestors’) annual convention.” Which is not a bad place to show up at when you’re a winner.