One of These Two Guys Just Loves to Sell New Homes

ikeI responded to a 1995 Pioneer Homes ad for “New Homes Sales Counselor,” with the above picture of Ike and me. The VP of Sales said, “Out of 300 resumes I chose only three – when would you like to start?”

The company put me in an on-site trailer of their Coventry Estates subdivision, ranked 59th out of sixty locales. The gangs on the north had just bumped off the 7/11 clerk. I had a Sunni mosque on the east border, a Shite mosque on the west and the largest Evangelical African-American church on the south. New home sales are a notch up from used cars and two notches above door-to-door because six months later I moved into this terrific model home botanically landscaped, 5-star interior décor and AC. Better yet, my US Navy tour of Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines coupled with four years of living/work experience in Brazil and Egypt served me well in this ethnic ‘briar patch.’

My Bostonian of French-Portuguese-Irish decent Project Manager told me my job was to, “get them off the street and on paper. Let the loan officer determine whether the customer could afford the home.” I got my EMBA from Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead School of Management, whose patron saint was the owner of Progressive Insurance. Peter B. Lewis took his company from 0 to a 164th ranking on the Fortune 500 by selling auto insurance to drunk drivers. My Houston melting-pot customers were my ‘drunks’ because everybody wants a new home. All I had to do was show them how they could buy one.

I was familiar with the VA’s no money down home loans, having done that twice myself but Fannie and Freddie Mac’s 3% FHA lending process was enlightening. Home builders like Pioneer would kick-back two of that 3% if the buyer used their loan company. Only 3 out of my 100 homebuyers put any money up front. The Shia family all cash, the Vietnamese couple and Indian family went with 20% down payments. I began to believe that I was really a great salesman. I even sold a new 3b/2b $80,000 home to a family on welfare. How was I to know that I was only a foot soldier in the “Big Short” of 2008 .