David Caveness, president and CEO of Carpenter REALTORS®, received RISMedia’s National Homeownership Award this past November during the 22nd Annual Power Broker Reception & Dinner, held in conjunction with the 2017 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.
An honor brought about thanks in large part to Caveness’ 43-plus years of excellence in the business, the National Homeownership Award is bestowed upon a member of the real estate community who continuously demonstrates extraordinary contributions toward increasing homeownership and building better communities.
“I decided to get into the real estate business at the age of 16,” says Caveness. “My father, a West Texas guy who earned his living as a doctor, used to take me out to look at ranch land with real estate people, and I thought being a broker was the coolest thing ever.”
So, after graduating high school, Caveness went to the University of Denver, graduating with a BSBA degree in real estate and construction management, entering the business in 1974.
Throughout his esteemed career, Caveness has served as director of Education for the Iowa Association of REALTORS®, national director of Education for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service and general manager for First Realty/Better Homes and Gardens in Des Moines, Iowa, before coming to Carpenter REALTORS® in 1989 as vice president and regional manager. In 2013, he was named president and CEO.
Since coming to the firm, Caveness has helped build the Indianapolis-based company from six offices and 120 agents to where it stands today with 32 offices and 685 agents.
Looking back on 2017, Caveness notes that the robust market has kept things exciting.
“This past year surprised me, as did 2016,” says Caveness. “I’m bewildered by just how strong the market is and how weak the listing inventory is. It’s virtually a fraction of what it was just a few years ago, and yet, this year we’re going to hit record sales in both units and dollar volume.”
As long as the market continues to expand and the company continues to do well, Caveness says Carpenter REALTORS® will keep up with the growth by adding locations and agent count. In 2017, the firm saw the addition of a few new neighborhoods, a trend Caveness is expecting to replicate this year.
“We’ve done some small mergers, which has helped us grow our business in the last year,” says Caveness. “We’re pretty careful about it, but we do see our company as a growth company, and as long as the market supports it, we will grow.”
Agents are attracted to the firm, he believes, because the company creates opportunities for brand new agents to enter the real estate business.
“We kind of specialize in that, and we’re proud of it,” says Caveness. “We prefer to hire new agents rather than a retread of someone that was trained elsewhere. We want to recruit people through our pre-licensing school and put them in our career-start training program that we offer each month and train them the Carpenter way.”
While keeping up with the latest and greatest technology can be a challenge, especially for someone of his tenure, Caveness surrounds himself with people who can keep tabs on what’s happening.
“They monitor what’s happening out there in the real estate industry coast to coast and look at what’s working and what’s not,” says Caveness. “Part of our culture, and we really work this every day, is that we’re not attracted to the shiny penny. We’re not pioneers. We study what other smart people are successfully doing, and then we adapt it.”
While that may mean losing out on being the first to jump on something, it ensures that the firm is making the right moves for its business model. Taking the time to study something before implementing it also leads to positive results.
One way the firm differentiates itself from the competition is by not charging agents transaction fees, in addition to paying for everything a new agent needs—except for their first set of business cards.
“We provide the materials, the support, the coaching and the training, and that training never stops,” says Caveness. “Our competitors even call us the ‘training company,’ and while they might hope to seduce our people away, we pride ourselves on that. We provide the opportunity to begin a real estate career and build a long-term, financially rewarding career with our company.”
Many of the firm’s agents have been with the company for a long time, and Caveness feels that this is one of the reasons the company has been so successful over the years.
Another big differentiator is the fact that Carpenter REALTORS® still advertises every Sunday in the newspaper. In fact, Caveness believes this is still the best media reach in the marketplace, enjoying the exclusivity it provides the company.
“We’re very much a traditional residential real estate company,” says Caveness. “We’re not in any other businesses. For a company our size, that’s kind of rare. All we focus on is helping people buy and sell homes, and it’s making us more and more unique.”
Vitals: Carpenter REALTORS®
Years in Business: 47
Size: 32 offices, 685 agents
Region Served: Central Indiana
2017 Sales Volume (as of Nov. 1, 2017): $1.15 billion
2017 Transactions (as of Nov. 1, 2017): 7,000
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