Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

InFront; New Enterprise Aimed at Homeowners in Foreclosure Two Recent UF Grads Learned Real Estate on the Fly, and Their Company Is Turning a Profit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

InFront; New Enterprise Aimed at Homeowners in Foreclosure Two Recent UF Grads Learned Real Estate on the Fly, and Their Company Is Turning a Profit

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE LIGHT

Jacksonville's high foreclosure rate might indicate economic doldrums for some home owners, but can bring big business to companies in the right place at the right time.

Gregg Cohen and Alex Sifakis, both 23 years old and former classmates at the University of Florida, started Progress Home Buyers just six months ago, eschewing steady, salaried jobs for real estate.

The pair now buy and sell distressed properties, buying discounted homes that sellers need to get out of fast and quickly flipping them to investors willing to pay a bit more.

Their business so far has been mainly with properties facing foreclosure, and to that end, they couldn't have entered the market at a better time.

Last quarter, Jacksonville had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, according to RealtyTrac, a company that gathers and sells foreclosure data. About 3,600 homes -- or one for every 133 households -- were in some stage of foreclosure.

That was bad news for homeowners, but great news for Cohen and Sifakis, who incorporated in January.

Neither had any background in real estate, but they spent about $20,000 on seminars and learning materials to catch up. Although Cohen's father had encouraged him to learn about the business on the side, he was a little hesitant when his son decided to quit his full-time job at Johnson & Johnson and move into it full time, Cohen said.

"My dad said, 'Whoa, Gregg, take it easy,'" he said.

"It took a few months of explaining before my parents jumped on board."

So far, business has been good. …

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