Online homebuilding platform and startup company Welcome Homes has hired former Compass sales manager Benjie Burford as vice president of sales, the company announced Thursday.
Welcome Homes creates custom homes with modern designs for the company’s users and boasts a six-month turnaround for completing new homes, in contrast to the standard 12 months or more needed for a new build. Welcome Homes also has a price guarantee, so that buyers don’t have to worry about cost overruns — in the event a home does cost more to build than the price agreed upon, Welcome Homes will eat the extra cost. The company currently operates in Tri-State area counties of Westchester County, New York; Greenwich County, Connecticut; and Bergen and Morris Counties, New Jersey.
In his new role as vice president of sales, Burford will manage and grow Welcome Homes’ sales team and broker groups across the company’s different markets.
Burford has credentials leading more than 200 sales managers who managed in excess of 22,000 agents while serving as national head of sales management at Compass from 2018 to 2021. Prior to that, Burford held upper-level management positions at a number of real estate investment firms and brokerages, including Conlon/Christie’s International Real Estate.
“I loved what I was doing at Compass and Compass is a phenomenal company, but this was too good to pass up,” Burford told Inman of his transition to Welcome Homes.
When Burford first learned about Welcome Homes, he told Inman he was intrigued by the concept. It seemed to him like a modernized version of the early 20th-century Sears homes, which could be ordered from the Sears Modern Homes catalogue, reinvented for the internet era.
“People did like, barn-raisings almost, but they did home-raisings or they would hire a contractor to build the house that they bought through the catalogue,” he said. “I just always thought that was a very intriguing concept, being of course from Chicago — this is Sears country — we had a lot of Sears homes here as well, so I was familiar with it.”
But when Burford then took a look at Welcome Homes’ pristine home design, saw the credentials of its team members (Anthony Carrino, vice president of design, has hosted multiple HGTV shows, for instance), and saw the company had “a very solid group of VCs” backing it, it sealed the deal for him.
Welcome Homes launched its first home model, “The Oasis,” in March 2021, and thus far, has sold at least five homes in Westchester and Putnam Counties for a price starting at $850,000 (prices go up, based on how users customize and select features for their home). The company is seeing demand for its homes grow rapidly, and has received over 1,600 inquiries from potential homebuyers, according to a recent press statement.
That demand is what largely spurred Burford’s hiring, and is also the catalyst for the company’s projected personnel growth of 500 percent within the next year.
“Since Welcome Homes launched just eight months ago, we’ve seen incredible momentum and demand for our new-construction homes,” Alec Hartman, CEO and co-founder of Welcome Homes, said in a statement. “The housing market is hot in the Tri-State area and around the country, and we’re excited to bring on Benjie Burford to support our growth strategy.”
Burford told Inman the company hasn’t yet made a final decision about which markets it will expand to in the coming year, but he thinks that Tennessee, Texas and Florida are all major contenders since those states are seeing significant growth.
He added that local real estate brokers and builders also have an opportunity when it comes to working with clients who are interested in building a new home with Welcome Homes.
“We’re revolutionizing the new construction business in many ways, but we’re doing it in such a way that it flows seamlessly with the current industry,” Burford said. “So if you think about it, everything is done online — we can do all the design work online — but when push comes to shove at the end of the day, we’re working with local brokers and local builders to make these homes happen. So we’re very much a local company when it comes down to it.”
Update: This story previously stated Benjie Burford was a former Compass executive, but Burford did not operate at what Compass defines as the executive-level of the company.