Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Even 'Ugly Houses' Have Potential Buyers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Even 'Ugly Houses' Have Potential Buyers

Article excerpt

Byline: Earl Daniels, Times-Union business writer

Mark and Charlene Coon want to buy ugly houses.

And that is why those "We Buy Ugly Houses" billboards have popped up in the Jacksonville area.

The Coons have bought into HomeVestors of America Inc., a franchise that buys and sells houses that need repairs or so-called ugly houses.

The Dallas-based company's philosophy is that many people who are selling a house will accept a discounted offer if they can complete the sale quickly and are not required to make needed repairs.

The Coons moved to Jacksonville about a month ago from Sarasota to become the first local franchisees of HomeVestors. The company decided the area could have four franchises, including the Coons, based on the area's demographics.

Mark Coon, a former CPA, and his wife, who together once ran a dry cleaning business, wanted to own a franchise in Sarasota, but they were sold out. They then tried in the Tampa area. And that area was sold out, too.

"I think so much of this franchise concept that we moved here to get one," he said.

Coon said HomeVestors provides franchisees with the ability to borrow money from an affiliated lending company. And that could give him an advantage over independent investors, who may have limited cash to buy several houses at a time to repair and then sell.

He said the company's deep-pocket marketing budget gets the attention of potential sellers via the billboards.

HomeVestors was founded in 1989 in Dallas. In 1996, the company's founder, Ken D'Angelo, developed a franchise business. By the end of 2001, the company had 84 franchisees in nine states, which was a 53 percent growth rate over 2000. In 2001, the company was listed on Entrepreneur magazine's list of best new franchises.

Most of the houses bought by HomeVestors franchisees are in need of repair and usually do not fit into the normal retail real estate market. …

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