Profiled: Colin Reilly, President, Townsend Kane Real Estate Solutions

Colin Reilly, President, Townsend Kane Real Estate Solutions

Colin Reilly grew up in Tucson, Arizona as the youngest of four. He and his brother attended Baylor University, where Reilly double majored in marketing and entrepreneurship, and his brother studied finance and entrepreneurship.

After school, they returned to Tucson and eventually decided to go into the real estate business together. Reilly has been investing in real estate since 2003 when he and his brother became HomeVestors franchisees, who at the time had around 350 offices throughout the United States. Their franchisee company, Harvest Properties, became the number one HomeVestors office in the country and received numerous awards during that time.

In 2009, Reilly and his brother opened up a boutique real estate investment firm, Townsend Kane, a company that buys distressed properties in Arizona. They purchase pre-foreclosures, complete extensive renovations, and resell them within 30-45 days. In addition, they also own approximately 100 commercial and residential rental properties.

Reilly is married with four children, and enjoys travelling with his family.

What do you currently do at Townsend Kane?

Townsend Kane is a company that buys distressed properties in Arizona. Our primary lead source often comes from people who are facing foreclosure.  Once a homeowner misses three payments, the mortgage company will send a notice of default and then engage a law firm to start the foreclosure. Pima County publishes a list of homes that are in default and then homeowners generally have 90-days to bring the default current, sell the house or do a work out with the lender.

Townsend Kane calls on people who are in default to see if we can offer a possible solution. It’s a stressful time for these folks because I’d say most of them haven’t considered selling their homes up to this point.  Every circumstance is different and unique.  It might be a struggling single parent, or a family dealing with a tragedy like jail, divorce, or death.

So we’ll visit with these folks. We actually go to their homes and explain what we do, and see if we can be a good backup option just in case they’re not able to get back on their feet. For the homes that we do buy, we offer relocation assistance. Sometimes it will be somebody who’s elderly who is losing their house, but they don’t have family or anywhere to go, and it’s really traumatic. Part of our value-added consideration is to pay for a professional moving company to help move them from A to B or we might even help them find a new place.

Once we close on a home and help the family relocate, we will sketch a comprehensive remodel plan.  Most of the time we are gutting houses and following a designer inspired method to put them back together within 45-days. This is quite an undertaking to completely makeover a home in that short a time period. It takes an experienced, competent and trustworthy team.  Once the remodel is complete, we will stage the house, professionally photograph it, and list it on the MLS and expect a contract within the first weeks.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

Our sister lives in Texas and called me one day and said, “Hey, you should look at this HomeVestors idea.” Real estate has always appealed to us but we didn’t have very much experience in the field. My brother and I were entrepreneurially minded so the HomeVestors option seemed to be the perfect path to give us the knowledge we needed to get into the real estate investment business. We discovered that being a franchisee was like running your own business.  The franchisor would provide national branding, training, processes and procedures and ad campaigns. We became very excited about it, and I don’t think we could have chosen a better industry to pursue.

What defines your way of doing business?

No deal is the same. Every deal is complex and has unique factors to it. It’s like putting a puzzle together. There may be somebody who is in foreclosure, maybe they have several liens on the property, and it’s being able to craft a win that we can feel good about as a business and also feel like we’re adding tremendous value to the homeowner. That might involve negotiating with the banks to get discounts or calling the foreclosing attorneys and getting people more time in the house to move. Frequently, people are there for 10, 20, and 30 years, and the idea of moving in a matter of weeks is almost impossible. The most exciting part of the process for me is using creativity to determine the very best outcome to a bad situation.

What keys to being productive can you share?

Ask yourself, what’s the single thing I can do today that will have the biggest impact on my job? You’re probably looking at your desk, and there are probably files on it, unanswered emails, and stuff that can monopolize your time if you’re not careful. Not to say you don’t do the boring administrative stuff, but I think it’s identifying the roadmap and saying my actions and activity can have a significant impact on the results of what I’m trying to accomplish and I can’t lose sight of that. So make time every day to focus on those things, the one action you could do that would have the more significant impact on your profitability, the company, or the success of your job.

Tell us one long-term goal in your career

My long-term professional goal was to be able to retire by the time I was 40 but that was nine years ago! As I’ve gotten older and matured more, I think those financial goals have become less important.  The focus on my personal scoreboard is more about how I’m doing as a husband, father, and employer.  I focus on creating a positive, enriching environment for my staff by helping them accomplish their personal goals to advance financially and to sharpen their skills.

What would you tell your younger self?

I would probably say that God is sovereign, and he is responsible for your success or failure. Also, because 20-year-old me probably felt like I had the tiger by the tail and could do anything, I think maybe I did not recognize the spiritual component of each opportunity given to me and the skills that I was born with. I can’t take credit for that. All I can do is be a good steward of those gifts and make sure that I’m doing well with them and I’m improving the lives of others around me.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

Never give up. Focus on what you can control, which is very little; your work ethic, your attitude, the ability to put one foot in front of the other. I think there are plenty of people in my situation who have experienced great success and bitter failure. Of course, some people have had it far worse in terms of their demise and ups and downs in business.  It really doesn’t matter because you can’t control your circumstances.  My ability and determination to press forward has served me well.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?

Take a risk, find a mentor, and roll the dice. When it comes to investing in properties, people can read books about it, they can dream about doing it, but until they actually put a plan into action, they’re just sitting on the sidelines, and the first deal might not be a huge financial windfall. You may make a little bit of money, or you may break even, but the education you learned in that experience is priceless. No book or slideshow or lecture about someone else’s story can replace you doing it yourself. It takes a plan, it takes capital, and it takes knowledge. But most of all, I think it takes being bold enough to take a risk.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

I really enjoy traveling as a family. We’ve been on safaris, we’ve done mission work, and we’ve visited the Dominican Republic and Mexico. I also enjoy traveling for pleasure. I’ve been to Switzerland, Europe several times. I’m also involved with a men’s Bible study that I host at my house every week and I really have a strong bond with these amazing guys.

What are a few influential books you’ve read and/or websites you keep up with that you’d recommend

The 4

Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goalsby Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, and Sean Covey.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leapby James C. Collins.