For most people, buying a home is a transaction undertaken once or twice in a lifetime.
Todd Wyatt is making a living at it.
The founder and president of Lacombe-based Rescue Realty said his business has purchased more than 50 properties in the past 4 1/2 years. Most of these are now being rented out.
As its name implies, Wyatt’s company specializes in buying property from people who are having difficulty selling.
They might be teetering on the brink of foreclosure, forced to liquidate as a result of a divorce, selling a house from an estate, under pressure to close a deal quickly, or simply lacking the equity to put a deal together via traditional means.
Rescue Realty buys vacant, occupied or rental homes in any condition, said Wyatt.
Often, it can make the numbers work by obtaining more favourable financing or performing renovations that improve the property’s rental value.
“We’re not out there stealing people’s houses,” stressed Wyatt. “That’s the one misnomer of this kind of business.
“We assess the home and give fair-market value.”
Financial backing comes from a network of investors. They provide the capital Rescue Realty needs to close each deal in exchange for a joint-venture interest in the property.
Investors’ payback comes from rental revenues and appreciation of property values.
“Central Alberta has a need for quality and affordable rental houses,” explained Wyatt.
Rescue Realty is also active in property development, buying old houses and replacing them with larger dwellings like duplexes and fourplexes.
It’s now also in the market for bigger multi-family properties, and even office and retail premises.
“I’d like to buy 50 apartment units this year with investor capital, and/or some commercial property — office space preferably,” said Wyatt.
With a small fleet of bright red vehicles emblazoned with its name, Rescue Realty’s local profile is on the rise.
The business was even featured in the February issue of Canadian Real Estate Magazine.
Rescue Realty got its start after Wyatt, who was an elementary school teacher in Red Deer, subdivided his lot in Lacombe and developed a duplex.
“From that point, I basically decided real estate was the way to go.”
Influencing his decision was Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter’s best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad. The investment guide, which advocates financial independence through real estate and other strategies, struck a chord with Wyatt.
His decision to focus on “distressed” vendors was motivated in part by Wyatt’s own experience of going through a divorce and finding himself with a house but too little equity to sell. There were already others in the business of buying houses, but he felt he could conduct himself in a more professional manner and create a positive brand.
Still, Wyatt found himself in “probably the toughest end of the real estate market, as far as deals went.” It took creativity to make sales happen, and early support from his mother Leanne Wyatt.
“My mom probably owns seven or eight properties with me.”
Another influence on the development of his business was Wyatt’s membership in Calgary-based property investment club Real Estate Investment Network. REIN has included Red Deer, Sylvan Lake and Lacombe on its list of the best Alberta communities in which to buy real estate, and Rescue Realty only deals in those markets.
Looking forward, Wyatt is contemplating licensing or franchising his business model for use elsewhere.
“It’s going to happen at some point,” he said, confirming that he’s had interest from prospective operators but has lacked the time to pursue this new opportunity.
Additional information about Rescue Realty can be obtained by emailing Wyatt at firstname.lastname@example.org.