Lessons From the Immigrant Hustle: Andrey Sokurec

Homestead Road Announces Partnership with Minnesota Timberwolves

Company named team’s official home buying company for 2019-2020 season

 

(Minneapolis) December 2, 2019 — Homestead Road and the Minnesota Timberwolves are joining forces to help more Minnesotans “feel the joy” of selling a home as-is throughout the Timberwolves’ 2019-2020 season.

 

Homestead Road and the Minnesota Timberwolves partnership is centered around shared foundational values such as giving back to the community and offering superior customer experiences. The new partnership brings together two world-class organizations and raises awareness of the unique opportunity for Minnesota homeowners to skip the hassle of listing or repairing a house by selling “as is” to Homestead Road.

 

“We are thrilled to be an official partner of the Minnesota Timberwolves,” said Homestead Road CEO Andrey Sokurec. “At Homestead Road, we are committed to working with organizations that align with our core values. Those values are central to everything we do, from the people we hire, to how we work as a team, and most importantly, how we treat our clients. As a leader in the home buying market, we want to align with other excellent teams, and the Timberwolves are certainly one our clients love.”

 

As part of the partnership, Homestead Road will be featured on in-arena signage at Target Center and look for ways to partner with the Timberwolves in community outreach initiatives that are important to both organizations. The Homestead Road leadership team recently attended the Timberwolves Partners Retreat to learn more about the foundation of the organization, and plan to participate in other business and basketball events throughout the season.

About Homestead Road:
Homestead Road is an innovative home buying company based in Minnesota. The company helps customers “Feel the Joy” of selling their home “as is,” without paying for repairs or real estate commissions. Homestead Road buys more than 250 houses a year, has over 40 employees and made Inc. 5000’s List of Fastest-Growing Companies in 2018 and 2019. Learn more at homesteadroad.com

1. Pooled Funds from Private Investors

 

Private funds from friends, family, and acquaintances are the ultimate goal for many real estate investors.

 

But it takes trust, and trust takes a track record of success. Don’t expect your investment property financing to start out this way.

 

If you’ve been around the proverbial block a few times, and have established credibility with your friends and family, consider raising some private funds from them for your next real estate investment project.

 

One perk of this approach? You can often combine it with other forms of financing, such as a rental property mortgage from an online lender.

 

Here’s how Shawn Breyer of Breyer Home Buyers uses private funds:

 

“We use partners to put together small commercial multifamily deals and then we buy them out.

 

“I’m the one who sources the deals, performs due diligence, finds and manages contractors, and sets up and manages property managers. The partners that I bring in are other real estate investors and business owners that I’ve met through networking. We set up the terms on the deal and if they want in, we provide them with an annual rate of return over a specific payback period.

 

“Normally, we are able to rehab, rent, and refinance the properties within a year, so our velocity of money is high. We are able to keep their money working for them while we snowball our portfolio.”

 

2. Local Banks (“Portfolio Lenders”)

 

Whether you’re looking for commercial or residential investment property loans, local community banks – who keep loans on their own portfolios – can make great financing partners.

 

Nick Evans of CinchSell gets his long-term rental property financing from local banks. “Money can be easy to find if you’re bankable. Now, that also means paying taxes; you need to report your income, so you can provide tax returns to lenders.

 

“You can’t tell lenders you make X, and then have a tax return that says you make X minus all your ‘expenses’.”

 

By all means, take advantage of tax deductions for landlords. But don’t abuse them or misreport them to the IRS – even if they don’t catch you, it will make it that much harder to procure a rental property loan.

 

3. Conventional Rental Property Mortgage Lenders

Conventional mortgage lenders were around 50 years ago, and they’ll be around 50 years from now.

 

While conventional mortgage lenders usually aren’t the best option for flips, they can be great for your first one, maybe two rental property loans. Why only one or two? Because conventional lenders operate within tight credit guidelines.

 

First, they almost always report to the credit bureaus. That means your conventional rental property mortgage will appear on your credit report.

 

Which is fine for one or two mortgages. But most conventional lenders won’t lend to you if you have more than a couple mortgages appearing on your credit report.

 

The good news about conventional rental property mortgages is that they tend to be less expensive than other financing options. Lower interest rate, lower points and closing costs, the works.

 

Still, they come with other headaches beyond credit reporting. “The amount of paperwork and documentation required can be intense and painful,” explains Nichole Stohler of Gateway Private Equity Group. “The tradeoff is that we’ve been able to lock in historically-low fixed interest rates for 30 years.”

 

Think of them as training wheel rental property loans. Great to get started, but then you’ll want to move on.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Andrey Sokurec, who shared his inspirational story. First immigrating to the US with no money and not a word of English, Andrey is now at the helm of Homestead Road, the largest real estate company in Minnesota.

 

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your company.

 

My name is Andrey Sokurec and I am the co-founder and CEO of Homestead Road, the largest home buying company in Minnesota. Since 2009 we’ve helped over 700 customers sell their home “as is”, without paying for repairs or real estate commissions. Homestead Road has more than 25 employees, earned $32 million in revenue last year, and made INC 5000’s List of Fastest Growing Companies in 2018. We are also proud to maintain a AAA Rating from the Better Business Bureau and to have been a finalist for their Torch Award for Ethics.

 

I am also a real estate investor, mentor and the founder of the Midwest Real Estate Investment Association.

 

Please tell us about your life before immigrating to the US.

 

I was born in Belarus in 1981 to a highly educated family of doctors, lawyers, and engineers. My two brothers and I were encouraged to go to college and build professional careers, too. I earned a degree in finance and in business law and went to work for a bank, but I knew that I wanted to own my own business one day.

 

I did start a small business on the side with a friend, supplying convenience shops with things like juices and chocolate, but that venture failed. With strict government regulations on business and a salary of only $500 a month at the bank, I knew I would never be able to create the kind of future I wanted in Belarus. So, I took a leap of faith and followed my older brother Pavel to Minnesota, where he had moved a few years earlier.

 

Please tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.

 

I knew from a young age that I wanted to own my own business and that the United States was the best country in the world for building a business.

 

After working construction when I first arrived in Minnesota, I found a job as a loan officer for a bank in 2005. It was 100% commission based, so if I didn’t sell, I didn’t get paid. Because I didn’t speak English well, I looked up people with Russian last names in the phone book and literally made cold calls from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

 

I spent any extra time I had reading more business books and attending seminars to learn about ways to build wealth. I knew real estate investing was a time-tested way of doing that. At that time investors could buy property for zero down in America, which was completely unheard of in Belarus. I bought my very first rental property at the urging of my mentor who told me if I didn’t buy it, he would.

 

When the real estate market collapsed in 2008, I saw a great opportunity to begin buying more property. I had no money of my own to invest at that time and the loans that had been so freely available suddenly dried up. So, I wrote a business plan and began searching for investors to provide the capital.

 

My plan was to buy a house with the investor’s money, then I would fix it up and manage it, and eventually, we’d sell it and split the profit. I went through hundreds of “no’s” to get to the occasional “yes”, and I began building from there.

 

My biggest advantage at that time was my previous experience as a door to door salesman selling pest control products in college back in Belarus. In those days, I literally knocked on thousands of doors and met people from every walk of life. That experience served as my most valuable business school because it taught me never to give up.

 

When I started Homestead Road with a business partner in 2009, we had to rely on hard money lenders to provide the capital to buy multiple houses at 48% interest. It was a huge risk, but there was no other choice than to go all in and do everything we could to make it work.

 

Today, in 2019 money is much more freely available and we’ve grown to be a $32 million dollar company with more than 25 employees. There’s still stress there, of course — we have a huge payroll to cover every month in a business where margins are slim.

 

Looking back, why do you think you have been successful? Was there any specific decision, event or encounter that skyrocketed your success? Also what advice do you have for newly arrived immigrants that want to pursue the path of entrepreneurship?

 

I’m really proud of the business that we’ve built and the reputation we have for being an ethical company. The key to Homestead Road’s success has been our dedication to having a great culture — it started with a vision, a strong set of core values and hiring the right people. We are dedicated to doing the right thing and serving people well. If you don’t go the extra mile, you won’t be successful.

 

My best advice is to start by finding at least one mentor. Look for someone who has been in your shoes and can help you learn the ropes and keep you inspired when things get challenging. Expect that there will be setbacks al

We’re willing to bet you’ve seen at least one episode of “Flip or Flop” or any number of other home makeover shows packing the HGTV schedule. There’s no denying the role they’ve played in motivating regular folks to get into the business of buying distressed houses, renovating them, and selling them. Easy-peasy, right? Fun, too! Glamorous, even.

 

But the reality is a bit more complicated than these heavily edited TV versions of real life would suggest. In fact, there’s an awful lot about flipping houses that the average investor probably doesn’t know. Below, we shed light on the myths about home flipping that buyers should never let cloud their judgment.

 

Myth 1: It’s easy to flip houses

We have real estate TV shows to thank for fueling the idea that it’s possible for anyone with a contractor and a sense of design to flip a house. The truth is, flipping a house can be a big challenge.

And of course there’s always the possibility of hidden problems and repair costs.

 

“Problematic septic systems, rotten trusses, and unstable foundations can eat your profits alive if you’re not careful,” according to Brian Rudderow of the real estate investing firm Tactical Investing, in Colorado Springs, CO. “Every second of wasted time is another mortgage payment that you will be responsible for making.”

 

Myth 2: A house flip can be done quickly

On the small screen, home improvement gurus flip a house in a month or two, but Rudderow says house flipping can be an extremely complicated process, and sometimes a time-consuming one as well.

 

“You have to deal with homeowners insurance, taxes, utilities, permits, inspections, appraisals, title insurance and closing costs, possible HOA fees and special assessments, liens, insurance claims, shady contractors, materials being delivered late or incorrectly, and much more,” he says.

 

Experts can fully gut and flip a house in a month or two, but it’s because they have plenty of knowledge and experience under their belt.

 

Myth 3: Flipping houses is a way to get rich quick

Flipping houses can help you build wealth, but it’s not a path to immediate profitability.

 

“It normally takes first-time home investors much longer than they expect to complete a quality renovation, and they often make the mistake of forgetting that they will have to carry costs during the remodel,” says Andrey Sokurec, property investor, trainer, and owner of Homestead Road, in St. Louis Park, MN. Those costs include the actual price of the home, closing costs, and renovations.

 

On average, Sokurec says, an investor makes about $30,000 in profit on a flip. “But you also need to be prepared for the reality that you can actually lose money on a deal if surprises come up.”

 

Myth 4: More money, more profit

According to Sokurec, $30,000 is the average amount investors make, so you might think that flipping a more expensive house can yield substantially higher profits. But this is not necessarily the case.

 

“The more expensive a property becomes, the more limited your buying demographic becomes. This can mean longer holding costs,” says James Judge, an agent at HomeSmart in Phoenix who has designed and flipped over 50 homes in the past five years.

 

Myth 5: You need loads of cash to flip a house

Yes, an unlimited budget will make flipping easier, but that doesn’t mean you need a boatload of cash to pull off a successful flip. If you don’t have a large nest egg, Sokurec says you can take out a home equity line of credit or get a business loan.

 

“Loans can come from a bank, mortgage broker, or private lender,” he says. “In fact, most first-time investors borrow the money from friends or family.” That’s because people without house-flipping experience will have a more difficult time getting financing.

Belarus native Andrey Sokurec views his story as fitting the mold of the American dream. He progressed from sweeping floors for a construction company to becoming the founder and CEO of the home-buying business Homestead Road.

 

“I’m just one of a lot of immigrants who get lucky to get the green card,” Sokurec said. “When I moved, I didn’t have any money and could hardly speak English. I’m still learning it, but it didn’t stop me from learning and building a business.”

 

While his brother had studied at the University of St. Thomas, he did not know anyone else in the United States, he said.

America is the best country, I believe, to realize the opportunity, and a lot of people want to be here,” said Sokurec, a Golden Valley resident whose company is based in St. Louis Park. “A lot of people who live in America don’t realize that. It’s a privilege to live in this country.”

 

Although he had earned a degree in finance, banking and business law in Belarus, he began working as a pizza delivery driver and in construction.

 

“Just imagine how bad a construction worker I was,” he joked, given his previous experience in banking. “I don’t know how to swing the hammer right, so the only job available was for me was sweeping floors.”

 

He sought to work hard and traveled to the library to read every book he could find about how to succeed in business. For example, he was influenced by Minnesota businessman Harvey Mackay’s book “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.”

 

“That’s really changed the way I think and shaped my future,” Sokurec said. “I found great mentors. I really appreciate what they did for me.”

 

As part of his research, he learned about customer service from Las Vegas-based shoe company Zappos through its Inside Zappos service and studied the business techniques of such name-brand companies as Nordstrom and Amazon.

 

Sokurec said that if a company can share great customer service, “The world will be a better place.”

 

He said he has tried to be an entrepreneur since he was about 12, leading small businesses in Belarus. He entered the corporate world as a commercial loan underwriter for a bank based in Russia. Throughout his career, he has been an avid reader about the cultures of successful companies.

 

He founded Homestead Road about 10 years ago, about five years after moving to the United States. The company buys homes from people in as-is condition and fixes them up.

 

“Our typical customer is like a 45-plus person who has a parent’s house to sell, and they want to do it easy and stress-free, because selling a house is very stressful, but selling your parent’s home is even worse,” Sokurec said. “So, a lot of people don’t want the stress of all the showings, Realtors and repairs.”

 

His company’s trademarked slogan is “Feel the joy.”

 

“What it means that when people work with us, they will have an experience,” he said.

 

They can even leave dirty dishes in the sink, he said, and his company will work with groups like the Salvation Army to donate furniture and other household items to people in need.

 

Because people often have an emotional attachment to the homes, Homestead Road invites clients to gather with neighbors and family members to bid a final goodbye to the house. The company provides them with a watercolor picture of the house that echoes some of their memories of the house.

 

“Their best memories might be a door in the basement that mom, as a measurement, might use for kids and grandkids,” Sokurec said.

 

He had the idea after clients asked if they could return to their former homes to take pictures, even if the houses had already been transformed with a different color paint or other changes.

 

“There’s still so many emotions that people had while they were living in that house,” he said.

 

The idea of providing the paintings came while searching for a company logo. Through an online search, company leaders learned about a woman who painted her mother’s house in watercolors after residents of three small Massachusetts towns were displaced by a reservoir.

 

“She wanted to create those memories, so she started painting those homes in watercolor,” Sokurec said. “We contacted her, and she told the story, and we bought the painting from her. It became our logo.”

Since the company is in the business of rehabilitating structures, the company decided to make a move for its own headquarters from the Parkdales office complex at the West End in St. Louis Park to two renovated floors of a four-story building at 4820 Minnetonka Blvd. After about a year of work, the project is slated to be complete next month.

 

The company continues to grow, with expansion to Milwaukee planned and about $32 million in revenue last year. The company made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing businesses in the country.

 

“My business philosophy is you have to empower people and have a self-managed business where people take ownership for the results but people have freedom to do it,” Sokurec said. “Our plan is to become a household name in 10 years for people who want to sell houses. … It’s a big, audacious goal, but it’s kind of exciting.”

 

He and other office staff members occasionally still lend a hand with the house projects.

 

“I’m still sweeping the floor,” he said.

 

While Sokurec grew up in a small condominium instead of a standalone house in Belarus, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from, and he retains a picture of his former complex.

 

“It’s still emotional,” he said of the building in his small town. “I grew up there.”

 

He praised his new country effusively.

 

“I love the people,” he said. “I love the core values people have here, and compared to other countries, it’s super easy to do business.”

 

Reflecting on the opportunities in the United States, he referenced the Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

 

Sokurec advised, “The only person who can stop you from achieving anything is yourself. If you have determination, any person can achieve any dream in America.”

Homestead Road earned the rank of 662 on the Inc. 5000. This is the second year the home buying company has claimed a spot on the list of fastest-growing private companies in America.

 

Homestead Road helps people “feel the joy” of selling their home as-is. The company bought and sold more than 40 houses every month this year. Homestead Road is headquartered in Minneapolis with more than 30 employees and operations throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Inc. Magazine ranks Homestead Road #22 as a Top Real Estate company and #8 for Top Minneapolis companies.

 

In 2019, the company purchased a four-story office building and moved the company headquarters to the top two floors. With more than double the amount of office space, Homestead Road’s new headquarters allows them to continue hiring additional staff to support their growing number of clients.

 

“Being named to the Inc. 5000 list for the second year in a row is a huge honor for us,” said Homestead Road CEO Andrey Sokurec. “As we celebrate this win, we also look ahead to another successful year. Relocating our headquarters puts us in position for further growth.”

 

Homestead Road is a veteran and leader in the home buying industry. Since 2007, it has purchased more than 700 properties from people who want to sell their home as-is, with no commissions, no showings and no need to make repairs or spend hours cleaning.

 

“Homestead Road was born from a passion to make the world a better place by providing a truly valuable service to our customers,” said Sokurec. “At Homestead Road, our Core Values are central to everything we do, from the people we hire to how we work as a team to most importantly, how we treat our customers. The growth of our company is the result of our unwavering commitment to excellent service.”

 

About Homestead Road:
Homestead Road’s mission is to help every customer “feel the joy” of selling a home as-is by providing transparent, no-pressure offers and exceptional customer service. Andrey Sokurec and Alex Delendik had a vision of creating a different kind of home buying company that educates consumers and helps them make the best decisions for themselves. Homestead Road has won numerous awards, including Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces and was a finalist for the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Ethics.

Selling a parent’s home can be stressful! HomesteadRoad’s mission is to make the process transparent and as painless as possible. Andrey Sokurec sat down with KARE 11’s TVPatEvans to offer advice to families facing this LifeTransition.

https://vimeo.com/user14179445/review/312776141/766d465d93


I had the pleasure of chatting with Andrey Sokurec, who shared his inspirational story. First immigrating to the US with no money and not a word of English, Andrey is now at the helm of Homestead Road, the largest real estate company in Minnesota.

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your company.

My name is Andrey Sokurec and I am the co-founder and CEO of Homestead Road, the largest home buying company in Minnesota. Since 2009 we’ve helped over 700 customers sell their home “as is”, without paying for repairs or real estate commissions. Homestead Road has more than 25 employees, earned $32 million in revenue last year, and made INC 5000’s List of Fastest Growing Companies in 2018. We are also proud to maintain a AAA Rating from the Better Business Bureau and to have been a finalist for their Torch Award for Ethics.

I am also a real estate investor, mentor and the founder of the Midwest Real Estate Investment Association.

Please tell us about your life before immigrating to the US.

I was born in Belarus in 1981 to a highly educated family of doctors, lawyers, and engineers. My two brothers and I were encouraged to go to college and build professional careers, too. I earned a degree in finance and in business law and went to work for a bank, but I knew that I wanted to own my own business one day.

I did start a small business on the side with a friend, supplying convenience shops with things like juices and chocolate, but that venture failed. With strict government regulations on business and a salary of only $500 a month at the bank, I knew I would never be able to create the kind of future I wanted in Belarus. So, I took a leap of faith and followed my older brother Pavel to Minnesota, where he had moved a few years earlier.

Please tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to own my own business and that the United States was the best country in the world for building a business.

After working construction when I first arrived in Minnesota, I found a job as a loan officer for a bank in 2005. It was 100% commission based, so if I didn’t sell, I didn’t get paid. Because I didn’t speak English well, I looked up people with Russian last names in the phone book and literally made cold calls from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

I spent any extra time I had reading more business books and attending seminars to learn about ways to build wealth. I knew real estate investing was a time-tested way of doing that. At that time investors could buy property for zero down in America, which was completely unheard of in Belarus. I bought my very first rental property at the urging of my mentor who told me if I didn’t buy it, he would.

When the real estate market collapsed in 2008, I saw a great opportunity to begin buying more property. I had no money of my own to invest at that time and the loans that had been so freely available suddenly dried up. So, I wrote a business plan and began searching for investors to provide the capital.

My plan was to buy a house with the investor’s money, then I would fix it up and manage it, and eventually, we’d sell it and split the profit. I went through hundreds of “no’s” to get to the occasional “yes”, and I began building from there.

My biggest advantage at that time was my previous experience as a door to door salesman selling pest control products in college back in Belarus. In those days, I literally knocked on thousands of doors and met people from every walk of life. That experience served as my most valuable business school because it taught me never to give up.

When I started Homestead Road with a business partner in 2009, we had to rely on hard money lenders to provide the capital to buy multiple houses at 48% interest. It was a huge risk, but there was no other choice than to go all in and do everything we could to make it work.

Today, in 2019 money is much more freely available and we’ve grown to be a $32 million dollar company with more than 25 employees. There’s still stress there, of course — we have a huge payroll to cover every month in a business where margins are slim.

Looking back, why do you think you have been successful? Was there any specific decision, event or encounter that skyrocketed your success? Also what advice do you have for newly arrived immigrants that want to pursue the path of entrepreneurship?

I’m really proud of the business that we’ve built and the reputation we have for being an ethical company. The key to Homestead Road’s success has been our dedication to having a great culture — it started with a vision, a strong set of core values and hiring the right people. We are dedicated to doing the right thing and serving people well. If you don’t go the extra mile, you won’t be successful.

My best advice is to start by finding at least one mentor. Look for someone who has been in your shoes and can help you learn the ropes and keep you inspired when things get challenging. Expect that there will be setbacks along the way, it’s part of the journey.

It’s also crucial that you understand how the financial system works in the United States. When you arrive here without an American credit history and no social security number, you can’t even get a cell phone, much less a car or a home loan. So plan for that before you arrive and consider finding someone who can help sponsor you while you get on your feet. Once you do get a credit card, be careful. It is so easy to over-leverage yourself and end up with debt at such high-interest rates you will struggle to pay it back, much less get ahead.

I advise everyone to Invest in your own education. As motivational speaker Tony Robbins famously said, “success leaves clues.” In other words, take seminars and go to networking events where you can meet and learn from people who are successful in your field.

Do whatever it takes to build the life of your dreams, and realize that when some things don’t work out, it’s feedback, not failure. America is the land of opportunity and you can make it here, too.

Written by
Amine Rahal
Tech Entrepreneur and Contributor on several publications, Amine is best known as the CEO of IronMonk Solutions, a New York based digital marketing agency.