The traditional way of doing real estate is on it’s way out, and that’s a good thing… 

According to the National Association of Realtors D.A.N.G.E.R. Report that was released in 2015 The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical, and/or incompetent agents.”

To be quite blunt, we refuse to operate this way. A house is the single largest investment that most people will make. It just doesn’t seem right that a hair dresser should have to be more educated than a real estate agent. I was the number one agent in my county for 16 years in a row until I finally “saw the light” and realized that money wasn’t what makes a person happy.

Read on to see what changed me and the way I work, and why we started Movie Night to Defeat Hunger.

Doing things the hard way started early for me.

One of my earliest childhood memories is when I was about 5.  I was teaching myself how to ride a bicycle, (had probably already declined help) and as I was making the turn in Mom and Dad’s gravel driveway, the wheel fell off. I went head first into the gravel and put my hands out to break the fall jamming tiny little rocks into my palms.  The wheel came off because I had spent all morning taking the training wheels off and then putting them back on.  The last time I guess I forgot to tighten up the nuts.

My natural affinity of The Hard Way continued in middle school.  I was built like a distance runner, in other words, skinny and not too fast, but I could go forever..  I was pretty good at cross country but in track my 7th grade year I tried to pole vault.  Vaulters are usually muscular and fast, I wasn’t.  At the end of the year I hadn’t even placed in a single meet so at the end of the season team meeting the coach, Mr Wolf, was talking about what everyone needed to work on over the summer, he said to me, “Heron, you need to stick with cross country”

I did things the hard way but I was also very stubborn.  Mr Wolf ticked me off by telling me I sucked, so my new goal was to prove him wrong.  I thought of myself like Rocky Balboa,  I worked out like crazy every day.  One day, when it rained, I took an old broomstick, cut off the end and practiced my drills while I watched Saturday morning cartoons on TV.  I even started drinking raw eggs like Rocky did in the movie, they really aren’t that bad, if you don’t puke when the slime hits your tongue that first time.

By the time 8th grade track season started I was the best on the team.  At the end of the season I was undefeated.  In fact, I went on to break the school record in high school and a state finalist.  I went to the Junior Olympics where I won Indiana, won the Midwest and was in the top ten at the National Championship.  I had plans at that point of going to the Olympics in ‘88.

I did things The Hard Way, but I never gave up. That comes in handy with real estate.

The easy thing at that point would have been to go to IU on a scholarship but…  No easy way for me.  Instead I headed west to California State University as a walk on.

That’s where it happened.

At the first track meet my freshman year, during warm-ups, with my grand parents in the stand all the way form Indiana, a freak accident happened.

I noticed that the landing pads were not set up right and I pointed it out to the judge. His reply was “they are fine, jump or forfeit.” No way was I going to quit so…

my first warm up jump, I was about 15 or so feet in the air, upside down, at the end of a pole, when it was knocked out from under me by the landing pads. I was falling straight down, head first, and was lucky to be able to turn myself just enough that I didn’t land on my head or break my neck. But the damage had been done.

I felt stupid, even embarrassed, to fall like that in front of the crowd, my teammates, and my coach and my grandparents who drove all the way from Indiana, so I jumped up, grabbed my pole and tried again.  That’s when the adrenaline wore off and I knew something was wrong, seriously wrong.  I collapsed in mid stride and fell to the track in excruciating agony.  It turned out that the fall had jammed the femur of my leg up into my pelvis, breaking it.

I had never thought before about how dangerous this sport was. After that, I couldn’t get it out of my head. After months of therapy my hip eventually healed but like Bo Jackson, NFL and Major League Baseball star, after the injury I was just never the same.  My Olympic Dream was gone, just like that.

Movin On

I was so bummed out that I dropped out of school and did whatever I could to pay my bills for a couple years around San Francisco but eventually moved back home to Indiana.  I didn’t know what I was going to do.

One night while watching TV I stumbled across one of those infomercials, get rich with no money in real estate.  My new goal was to become a millionaire.  It looked easy on TV.  I bought my first rental property in ‘87 and soon after that got my license and became an agent.  I was working at a National Franchise office with a guy that my Mom went to school with as my boss, really I had it pretty easy.

As you can tell tough, easy wasn’t my style, so a year after I got my license  I started my first brokerage.  I sold over a thousand houses.  I was the number one agent in the county for 16 years straight.  I had a Century21 office for a while and ended up buying the RE/MAX franchise in 2006.  I also had 22 rental units.  Doing things the hard way usually worked for me.

Wasn’t Happy

The only problem was I just wasn’t happy.  I had spent all those years trying to prove people wrong or doing it “by myself”: I had all the “things” and the “toys”, the custom home, 6 car garage, pool, vacations at the ocean or the Bahamas, or the mountains. I had it all, but I just wasn’t HAPPY…

As I was filling out the paperwork for my first years RE/MAX awards, it was all based on nothing but money, not whether you did a good job, or helped anyone, just nothing but money.

I had one of those “Ah Ha” moments.

I saw my future

I realized I had seen my future before, and I didn’t like it.

I have a wall of photos in front of my desk and the one I noticed right then was one of me and my grandpa.

He died a few years before and what I remember about his funeral, my possible future, the church was packed, not an empty seat in the house.  The thing that struck me though was not a single person was crying, nobody said, “gee, I’m gonna miss that guy.”  He was well known in town. Had all the “toys”.

The eulogy was all about what he had done, all his “stuff”. The first farmer in the area to use rubber tires on his tractor, first one to use such and such sized plow, on and on about “stuff”.  At the time I thought; I don’t want to be remembered for my stuff.  I want people to miss me, or at least remember me with happy thoughts.

Filling out those RE/MAX forms and looking at that picture I realized I was doing the same thing he did.

Make a change

Right then I decided to make a change.

Little did I know that doing what I wanted, not what society and other people wanted me to do would cause such chaos. The short version of that story is I lost it all.  I lost the RE/MAX franchise, I lost my house, that my grandpa had built, I lost all 22 rentals, I ended up getting divorced, filing bankruptcy and getting in line at the food bank to feed my kids.   But that’s a story for a different time.

I wanted to be someone who gives back, and wanted to build a legacy, something my family could be proud of.

I wanted to be more than just a real estate agent. I wanted to be someone who gives back and to build a legacy, something my children and wife could be proud of.  That means no more 80+ hour work weeks.  I now limit myself to only taking on 4 new clients per month.  More like a boutique store, not Walmart.  It also means helping others and teaching what I have learned over the years to whomever wants to know.  Have you ever just wished that someone could give you the answers to a problem so you didn’t have to learn it the hard way, on your own?  I have, so I am now passing on the things I have learned, many times the hard way, so that maybe, just maybe, I can help someone that is in a similar place to where I was.

How to help

My wife and I have six kids between us so I have spent a lot of time in schools over the years, plus I was on the Tipton Community School Board for six years.  In all that time I  had never noticed before but there were a bunch of kids that all had the same backpack. When you go through a major life change it affects your perspective. You become aware of things you had ignored before. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.  It turns out that those kids were all on the governments free and reduced lunch program. Turns out almost 40% of the kids qualify.

So… After several late nights of thought…

Movie Night To Defeat Hunger was born.

This was a way I could use real estate to help and give back and make a difference in the community.

I truly believe that no child should have to go to bed hungry every night. It’s not the kids fault. They have no choice.

Hungry students, it turns out, is a very big issue, even in the wealthiest county in the state, and even in the middle of all these farms.

As a parent, I know what that feels like, it’s not good.

As a student, sure, meals are provided to you at school through these programs, but what about when you go home? How could you possibly focus on school, or make school a priority, when you go to bed hungry each night? …

Real estate has afforded me the opportunity to give back in a way I never thought possible. It has provided me with the resources to create a movement and an opportunity to work with likeminded individuals who are just as passionate about giving back to their community as I am.  I have been on the Board of Directors for Habitat For Humanity, The Tipton County Foundation, the School Board, and others. and I have been in line with other parents choking on your own pride to feed my kids. but I know I can do more.

Together We Can Make a Big Difference!

With more thought given to this, it has become our Mission with Movie Night to Defeat Hunger™ as the foundation—to donate $10,000 each year to local food pantries and other sources of help.

I am excited and looking forward to what lies ahead.

To connect with me directly regarding Movie Night to Defeat Hunger, or other matters, including; real estate, philanthropy, fund-raising or community leadership, email is preferred, and yes, I answers every email personally in 24-48 hours or as soon as I can, at: doug@heronhomes.com