Welfont posted an over 11,000% three-year growth rate, making it the Fastest Growing Real Estate Brokerage in America by Inc. Magazine. The business magazine published a glowing report of Welfont’s growth, and placed the company 16th total among the Fastest Growing Companies within the U.S.
That staggering growth is the kind startups dream of. The story of how Welfont got there involves servicing a unique class of buyer.
Welfont today has strong management and market presence, combined with an above average profit model built on a truly niche clientele. This meteoric growth wasn’t accomplished overnight.
Welfont had to rethink the entire client / vendor relationship, and created a customizable full-service plan. Why so much effort on service, with virtually no return? Welfont serves arguably the least sophisticated class of real estate buyers – the nonprofit sector.
A lot of nonprofit buyers lack real estate knowledge, especially when it comes to managing commercial assets. Welfont created a plan to secure 100% financing to acquire anything from vacant land in Atlanta, to office and retail space from coast to coast, working directly with banks and even hard-money lenders to get deals funded.
That care and effort is the Welfont difference.
Non-Profit Real Estate Challenges
Due to the associated risks of real estate ownership and the commensurate financial responsibilities, roughly 80% of all real estate donations are declined. The staggering number of real estate donations passed up each year by nonprofits, thanks to the lack of service to this market, created a window of opportunity for Welfont’s founder, Dr. Joe Johnson.
Johnson realized that minimizing the risk to non-profits, combined with corporate America savviness, could help in finding suitable, high-quality disposition strategies for their underutilized or underperforming real estate. Most lenders walk away from underperforming real estate, especially when coupled with loans that are nonrecourse to the nonprofit.
Dr. Johnson pulled together a team of like-minded professionals who wanted to do more than merely transact real estate. The goal was simple: assist nonprofits in acquiring substantial real estate assets for the purposes of liquidation to cash, or organizational use.
By 2015, Johnson’s dream was not only failing to gain traction, it wasn’t going anywhere. His entrepreneurial sense told him that he needed to change the model and go from a consulting business to a full-service real estate firm serving nonprofits. His investor senses had told him to bring on a new leadership, alongside three agents and a broker of record.
Johnson had self-funded the venture, and was passionate but limited because he didn’t want to dilute the ownership. With this in mind, Dr. Johnson committed to funding the extreme growth they were about to experience. But the most difficult part was funding the cash commitment to finance the acquisitions for his newly acquired nonprofit clients.
Removing that financial funding blockage from the supply train of buyers was a major milestone for Welfont.
The next challenge came, unexpectedly, from Welfont’s clients. Their lack of real estate resources created a demand for customized services designed to build confidence and unleash considerable buying power.
Welfont’s Marketing Service employed an army of agents, affiliate agents, and support staff, to source qualified real estate opportunities that met the unique criteria of nonprofits. The company uses an extensive network of databases, educational events, trade shows, and networking events, to identify properties that fit that predetermined profile.
The necessary due diligence, especially on commercial assets, is especially complicated for a lot of non-profits. Welfont solved these challenges with detailed due diligence services, such as lease abstracts, environmental studies, property condition reports, other third party reports, clear titles, and more. Committing to the principles the company found success with, Welfont is only reimbursed for actual direct costs if and when the transaction closes.
Welfont also began providing insurance to mitigate risk from damage or theft, through an intricate arrangement with a national insurer for an umbrella insurance policy. Covering all assets that Welfont manages for their clients, the company secured rates much lower than market value with no markup for the client.
Overtime, Welfont began to take traction. And with the development of a great leadership team, it ultimately took off and grew faster than any other real estate brokerage company in the history of the Inc. 5000 list.
Welfont manages the complete cycle its clients’ assets, from acquisition to disposition. Even if that asset is vacant or leased up. The client can easily navigate the often complex investment side of the deal, with a partner who truly cares about the outcome. Welfont’s growth is built on a unique kind of client, a network of individuals helping to achieve common goals, and trust built from the ground up.