An Ugly First Project Proves a Beautiful Success for a Budding HomeVestors Franchisee Bernardo Mazzucco
After spending five years as a property specialist, I decided to become a HomeVestors of America franchise to help reduce my learning curve. With two strong national brands – HomeVestors™ and We Buy Ugly Houses™ – that are both known for solid business practices and standards, HomeVestors is a national company that is actually made up of a network of 1,150 local small independent businesspeople.
And for franchisees like me, an entrepreneur originally from Venezuela, national brand recognition helps support capitalization. To build a business buying, renovating, and selling property, you’ve got to have money. With the trusted HomeVestors brand, hard money lenders actually competed to finance my deals. Also, all new independently owned and operated HomeVestors franchises like me start with UG University. At UG University, we are introduced to the national brand and marketing campaigns, taught conscientious business practices, introduced to proprietary tools, and mentored.
It can be difficult in a franchise organization to balance ambition and competition with camaraderie and cooperation. Rivalry has the potential to cannibalize market opportunities, while collaboration also helps us improve our businesses and build fulfilling careers. The brand my fellow franchises share with HomeVestors gives comfort to both franchises and consumers alike. Having this kind of shared assurance minimizes potential for negative feelings that could compromise the franchise network, and when franchises feel well supported, they can focus their efforts on the communities they serve.
And one of those communities becomes our local fellow franchises, which I can tap into as much or as little as I want – from knowledge sharing to coordinating marketing buys. With this warm fellowship and support, we enjoy the independence of small business ownership but still get to be part of a team. It was with this foundation that I embarked on my first project in Orlando last year as one of the “We Buy Ugly Houses” people.
The house was a single-story ranch built in 1984. When I purchased it, it had enough junk to fill five dumpsters strewn inside and out accompanied by an overwhelming smell inside that forced my crews and I to rotate to help us endure it – it literally made us sick. Multiple animals ranging from those with four to six and eight legs had infested the house, which had not been cleaned of hair, waste, or mold in over three years despite it still being used. An overgrown landscape hid creepy finds like buried dolls in the backyard.
My favorite part of any house renovation is the landscaping, which this house required extensively due to out-of-control vegetation. We also completely redid the bathrooms, installed new appliances, placed flooring throughout the house after a deep disinfecting and cleaning treatment, put in new attractive and efficient lighting and sprinkler systems, painted both inside and out, and installed new air conditioning ducts. We painstakingly cleared the property of all ugliness and transformed it into a sparkling home that will be loved by occupants and neighbors for years to come.
I loved taking the house and giving it new life because it made it functional again, but also because it will now help rather than hurt community home values. This year, I did my best to do small things in a great way, and this house was a perfect example of that. It was so perfect, in fact, that six months after we finished when I saw a call for HomeVestors’ annual The Ugliest House Of The Year® contest, that this house came to mind. Last year, HomeVestors franchises purchased nearly 10,000 houses, and each year, the company puts a call out for the most dramatic makeover from among those houses.
Many may know our brand, but may not have seen the actual hard work we do on the houses we buy, dealing with everything from rodent infestations and natural disasters to neglect and vandalism. Proud of my own project, I submitted the story on my first HomeVestors makeover with the most incredible “befores” and “afters”, which were selected as finalists from entries nationwide. These finalists were then posted to the HomeVestors and We Buy Ugly Houses Facebook pages for a national vote, which my project won and was then awarded the title of The Ugliest House Of The Year 2021. This recognition earned me a few honors, one being a national press release about the project and me in which our CEO, David Hicks, said:
“We’re proud of Bernardo and what he’s accomplished in such a short time. The Ugliest House Of The Year® represents the best of the thousands of houses that were considered hopeless by other buyers, but not by HomeVestors franchisees, who see potential and know how to make it a reality. They don’t just buy these houses, but they also put in the labor to make these properties whole again.”
The other honor, more important even than the actual title or accolades from our CEO, was that HomeVestors made a $20,000 donation to my local Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando and Osceola County. As America’s number one home buyer, we pride ourselves in buying homes that traditional buyers generally don’t consider. These homes, once improved and reintroduced as valuable real estate assets, help maintain an affordable housing supply. Habitat for Humanity also works in local communities across all 50 states, working towards a vision both of our organizations share of a world where everyone has a decent and affordable place to live.
This news led to me being featured on my local television station as well as a lead role in the official check presentation to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando and Osceola County, a moment I was able to share with my family and colleagues, as well as the CEO of HomeVestors and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando and Osceola County. My professional journey as one of the We Buy Ugly Houses people over the last several months has overwhelmed me with gratitude and pride as my first HomeVestors project has not only validated my franchise affiliation, but has also led me to heights I never would have imagined by making a truly ugly situation beautiful.
About HomeVestors of America, Inc.
Dallas-based HomeVestors of America, Inc. is the largest professional house buying franchise in the U.S. with more than 125,000 houses bought since 1996. HomeVestors recruits, trains and supports its more than 1,150 independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisees that specialize in building businesses based on buying, rehabbing, selling, and holding residential properties. Most commonly known as the “We Buy Ugly Houses®” company, HomeVestors strives to make a positive impact in each of its 176 markets.