"The key, to me, is to always have focus. Specializing is key to real estate success."
You might think setting a Guinness World Record for being the most productive real estate agent in the world would be the peak of any real estate professional’s career, but when Ben Caballero, CEO and president of HomesUSA.com, earned the title, he was just getting started.
In fact, after qualifying for the 2017 recognition by submitting his sales volumes and totals (3,556 home sales for $1.444 billion) for 2016 to Guinness, Caballero followed that up by selling 4,799 homes for $1.9 billion in 2017.
“I think you can only submit every two years, so we will evaluate and make our decision about resubmitting after the close of 2018,” he said mildly. “Really, the point is more to enjoy real estate and keep moving forward. I don’t like backward.”
Caballero certainly has very little familiarity with moving backward. Before becoming the certified “most productive real estate agent in the world,” he was a real estate broker by 21 and a home builder for 18 years. Furthermore, that $1 billion benchmark he hit for the 2017 world record was not his first billion-dollar milestone. He exceeded $1 billion in 2015 for the first time and has repeated the achievement every year since. However, he is quite adamant that “the point,” as he refers to it, is not the numbers but the overall growth for his clients and his real estate business.
“I’ve always changed as the market changed and grown in my real estate business as the market has grown. To me the key is to always have focus. Specializing is key to real estate success,” Caballero said. “I’ve never said, ‘I’m a real estate broker and I’ll do whatever you need,’ to my clients. The most important thing is to focus and be willing to refine what you do to meet your clients’ needs and your business’ needs.”
Caballero’s intense focus created his incredibly wide present-day reach. In 2003, Caballero already had plenty of experience with the unique needs of home builders, but he realized something more was needed to facilitate the sales process between builder and the owner-occupant buyer. That realization led to the multiyear development process that ultimately yielded the HomesUSA.com platform, which serves as an interface between realtors and builders and streamlines the listing process for both.
“I had been insuring the sale of homes for people buying new homes so builders could sell homes without contingency agreements. Essentially, a buyer would come to my company to get a committed offer from us on their home so that they could buy a new home without including a sale contingency, which most builders cannot accept,” Caballero explained. “We were, essentially, ibuyers, in 1988.” Before that stage in his business, Caballero had been a builder himself. “I have always been involved in home-building in some capacity,” he said.
In 2003, however, it became clear to Caballero that Texas builders needed a platform to manage their homes in MLS and market the properties to real estate agents and realtors.
“I started working on the platform software in 2003, had a couple false starts, and launched it in 2007, right in the middle of the housing crash,” he recalled. “I remember thinking, ‘If I were really so smart, I wouldn’t have timed it this way.” In the two years following the launch of the HomesUSA.com platform, however, his sales volume fell by about 5 percent. By comparison, local sales volumes fell by more than 50 percent.
“I felt like I was doing pretty well, even though our market was down,” Caballero said. By the time the recession was over, he had refined the platform to perfectly suit the highly individualized needs of his very high-volume clients. “We are always refining and improving the platform. As more clients adopt it, they tell us about their needs and we continue to refine it. It is always amazing to me the details you can adjust to make things even better.”
Profiling, but in a Good Way
Caballero describes his platform as a series of profiles that overlap and complement each other in order to create a system designed especially to interface between builders and real estate professionals.
“We work off profiles: community, plan, and builder profiles to start, then ZIP code information, school district information, geographic proximities, and even construction materials,” he explained.
“There are a lot of things a builder can log once about their development, and we can log once about a certain area or community that then do not change very often. We can change the information if we need to, but we do not usually need to.
By comparison, the same process without the platform might take 20 minutes to an hour just to input data. With HomesUSA.com, when we receive the builder’s request, it goes into a queue and turns that data into a listing in an average of 13 minutes,” Caballero concluded.
Multiplied by 4,799, Caballero’s platform saved builders a minimum of 23,995 minutes in 2017 alone. That’s nearly 400 hours spent doing something other than creating listings for their properties.
Consider that the entire platform is custom-designed to fact-check itself for accuracy, and the appeal for builders and agents becomes obvious.
“Say a builder sells a home for $350,000, but their admin accidentally puts in an extra zero, so now that home is submitted to us at $3.5 million. The program will kick it back as not fitting the profile and the error is caught and rectified,” he said.
A Platform with a Purpose
Caballero credits the development of the HomesUSA.com platform to his single-minded focus on serving a specific population within the real estate industry with a single, clearly stated purpose.
“Our guiding principle is that homes sell faster when their beauty and quality is reflected in the MLS,” he explained. “We believe we do this better than anyone else, and that helps us see clearly when we are working to solve a problem. People around us may wonder how we make things work, but purpose helps you perform under pressure and, furthermore, perform your best.”
Ben Caballero will deliver the keynote presentation at Think Realty’s National Conference & Expo in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, February 16, 2018. Tickets available here.