With over 300 active loans currently on our platform, it’s clear that we have some incredible renovation projects happening around the country. While you may have come across these homes on our platform, we thought it would be of interest to highlight the people behind the projects and give a little more detail about their work. To that end, we’ve begun a Monthly Borrower Spotlight post, in which we interview some of our best borrowers and delve into what has made them so successful. You can read previous Borrower Spotlight posts here, here, and here.
This month, we caught up with Florida-based renovator John Constantine, founder of Golden Rule Home Solutions, who has been working with Groundfloor for several years. We recently hopped on the phone with John to chat about his career path and what he is most looking forward to in the future.
How did you get into home renovation/house flipping? How long have you been flipping houses?
I began flipping houses in 2015 after completing my stint in the military. My grandfather is also in the industry and he’d been flipping houses in our area (Manatee County, Florida) for over 20 years, so when I returned home, I decided to jump on board with him to learn the ropes.
Once I learned the business, I decided to strike out on my own in 2016. I’ve always prided myself on having a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial mindset, so I was more than ready to dive right in. That’s why I was so pleased to find Groundfloor -- they allowed me the ability to go off on my own and to access financing to get my start.
Fast forward to now, and I have four years of experience under my belt, with multiple properties successfully completed and sold. Fun fact: at 88 years old, my grandfather is still renovating homes! I am grateful to have his expertise to continue to learn from, and I’m proud to collaborate with him from time to time.
How many projects have you completed? How many are you currently working on?
To date, I’ve completed 15 projects after starting my own business in 2016. I actually just sold two of my houses within the past two weeks, and I’m working on three more properties currently.
Can you tell us about some things you’re currently working on? What are you especially excited about?
I have one house I’m working on that is located in Sarasota, outside of the area I normally work in -- in fact, it’s the furthest away property I’ve taken on so far. This is an exciting project because I’ve heard that particular community is a little more booming than my usual haunts, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that impacts the final sale.
I’m also excited about a home I’m working on in Palmetto, Florida. This property is special to me because I acquired it through a referral -- my first one! My landscaping guy actually approached me to purchase his home because I’d told him to keep an eye out for any investment properties that seemed promising. I love that he felt confident enough in my work to sell me his home.
Finally, I have two more properties coming up in the near future that are also from referrals. I will be purchasing a home from my neighbor and from a family member to renovate and sell. It’s wonderful that people are actually approaching me with homes to sell now -- I think that speaks volumes about the work I’m doing, and it definitely beats having to go and source properties myself!
What is your connection to where you work? Why did you decide to get into this business there?
I live and work in Manatee County, near Tampa. I was born and raised here, and apart from my military tour, I’ve lived here basically my whole life. As I mentioned before, my grandfather was in the flipping business for years before I got started, so when I decided to enter the industry, it was really a no-brainer for me to stay here to benefit from my grandfather’s connections and expertise.
In my view, the market in Manatee County is good -- I believe there are better markets out there with higher profit margins, but I feel comfortable basing my business here and expanding outwards as I grow. That’s one reason I’m looking forward to testing the market in Sarasota -- this will be my first time flipping there, and if it goes well it hopefully won’t be the last!
How did you find Groundfloor?
Groundfloor was recommended to me by an agent I used to work with. She’d found a deal for me and mentioned Groundfloor as a lender I should look into working with. Though that original deal ended up not working out, I’m thankful for it because it led me to Groundfloor.
What has been your experience working with Groundfloor?
It’s honestly been awesome. I love that with Groundfloor, it’s a team effort -- there’s always someone (whether it’s my sales rep or another team member) in communication with me to check up on the project, see how things are going, and make sure I have what I need. I’m all about that personal touch of people helping people, rather than it being simply a sales transaction -- I believe when we all help each other out, we will all thrive.
What are some of your goals for your business in the next few years?
One of my favorite things about being in the real estate business is that I have the power to provide homes -- even dream homes! -- to everyday people. I love being able to work hard to produce something positive into the world -- I’m a huge believer in karma, or the idea that “what goes around, comes around,” so I really do think putting good out into the world will ensure good eventually makes its way back to you.
Real estate, for me, is the perfect way to do this. Not only am I providing people with a beautiful new home for them to make memories in, I’m also creating job opportunities and improving neighborhoods. Often when I’m working on a project, neighbors will come up to thank me for helping make the community better and stronger. It’s such an awesome feeling to be a part of that, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do meaningful work in my community.
On a more granular level, I’m hoping to increase the number of projects I have to 10-20 a year. Last year, I increased my project load from 2 houses a year to 6-7 houses a year, so I’m confident that I’ll be able to scale up even more.
If you could give a newer flipper one piece of advice, what would it be?
I chose to name my company Golden Rule Home Solutions because the golden rule of “treat others as you want to be treated” was one of the very first values my grandfather instilled in me. It’s a value I adhere to in my personal life, and it’s also how I choose to run my business. If I see someone on my team or on a team I’m considering working with that doesn’t hold that same value -- for example, someone who isn’t following through on their word, not showing integrity, cutting corners, or the like -- I part ways with them. I’ve made mistakes like that in the past, so now I make sure that my values align with whoever I’m working with.
That would be my biggest piece of advice to those just starting out in the flipping business: figure out what your core values are and make sure that whoever you work with aligns with those values. If your values aren’t a match, the partnership ultimately won’t be a good fit, and that person or company will not contribute to the goals you’re setting for yourself.
Thank you so much, John! It's a pleasure working with you.
Follow John's real estate ventures on Instagram at @ijohnconstantine.