Inman Connect Las Vegas returns live, Oct. 26-28, 2021, at the Aria Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the lead-up to the big event, we’re talking with scheduled speakers about the moments that made their careers. Consider this just a taste of all the knowledge that will be shared at ICLV. Make plans to join us.
Tim Heyl, the founder and CEO of Homeward, has been a well-known name in the real estate industry for over a decade.
Homeward is an Austin-based startup that partners with agents and purchases houses on behalf of their buyers. The buyers then lease the homes back from Homeward while they work to sell their old properties. Once the buyers sell their old homes, they are able to purchase their new homes from Homeward.
“Most alternatives to traditional real estate minimize or replace the agent,” Heyl said in a statement earlier this year. “But we are agents ourselves, and we’ve built this for agents. We believe today’s seller’s market makes agents more important than ever.”
Heyl’s appreciation for real estate agents comes from being one himself. Prior to founding Homeward, he was a top producer at Keller Williams for years and founded the team, The Heyl Group.
Today the team still dominates the industry and has consistently been named the top team in Austin by the Austin Business Journal.
In an interview with Inman, Heyl broke down the three moments that shaped his career.
An out-of-the-blue phone call
At the time, Heyl had just been named the top agent in Austin by the Austin Business Journal. Keller read the article.
“I had the coolest conversation with this person who I had already been following on every talk that he gave, book that he wrote, or training that he created,” Heyl said. “To get a call from the person who had given me the blueprint was just one of the most incredible things.”
Following the phone call, Keller served as a mentor to Heyl for many years.
“Gary taught me not only how to build a real estate team, but how to think like a business owner,” he said. “Honestly, following him and learning from him truly changed the trajectory of my entire career and my entire life. He taught me to focus and think big.”
To this day, the two are still good friends.
Meeting Ben Rubenstein
Ben Rubenstein is an entrepreneur and founder of both the online marketplace, Yodel, and the lead generation platform, OpCity.
He is currently the chief revenue officer at realtor.com, which acquired OpCity.
Rubenstein served as a mentor to Heyl during the conception of Homeward. The two met in 2016.
“He came to the office and said ‘I wanted to meet you, Tim, because I heard you’ve built a really big real estate lead conversion team that has figured out how to scale homeowner relationships in the real estate space,'” Heyl said.
At the time, Rubenstein had just sold Yodel and was starting a new company with a solution similar to the one Heyl was providing in his market.
Two years after the meeting, Rubenstein had sold the new company, OpCity, to realtor.com for $222 million.
Heyl told Inman that he was blown away by how quickly Rubenstein was able to grow the company. He went to visit him to learn about how he did it.
“I asked him, ‘How did you build something so big and so fast?’”
During the meeting, Rubenstein walked Heyl through how to raise capital. “It opened my mind to a whole new world. I had so many ideas,” he said.
At that point in time, Heyl had already successfully built a title company, a home insurance agency, a real estate brokerage and a lead management company for agents. With Rubenstein’s mentorship, he was able to partner with investors who helped get Homeward off the ground.
Too good to be true?
In 2019, Heyl was trying to figure out the best way to appeal to homebuyers. To do this, he got on the phone with as many as possible and asked about their homebuying grievances.
He got in touch with a buyer in Dallas who needed to sell his old home before they could buy a newly built one. The homebuilder gave the buyer Homeward’s number.
“He wanted to know about Homeward. And I’ll never forget, I spent about an hour explaining to him how our solution works,” Heyl explained.
The call started off great, he continued. The buyer was not only receptive but extremely impressed with what Homeward had to offer.
However, at the end, he was too skeptical to jump on board. He was convinced there were ‘gotchas’ and told Heyl that he’d need to hire a lawyer to make sure he wasn’t getting screwed.
Heyl told Inman that at that moment, he fully appreciated the value of a real estate agent.
“Homebuyers and sellers have so much trust in real estate agents. They don’t buy homes every day, they don’t sell homes every day,” he said. “The reason why real estate agents continue to play such a resilient role in the homebuyer experience is because consumers have a base level of built-in trust.”
The buyer on that call was convinced that there was going to be a catch that would cost him tons of money. Heyl knew the way to build a trusting relationship with homebuyers was to first build a trusting relationship with real estate agents.