Buy a vacation home, rent it with a property management company, move in yourself, buy property management company! Hot Springs, Arkansas has a trend of vacationers becoming property owners and residents. Hear how Will Lindsay, with virtually no real estate experience, purchased Hamilton Shores Realty and changed his day job overnight. Now Owner and Principal Broker of Hamilton Shores Realty, Will takes us inside the world of vacation rentals and property management on this episode of the Grindstone.
KE: Welcome to this episode of Main and Mulberry, the Grindstone. And I’m Keith Essary. I’ll be your host today. I’ve been a small business operator for about 20 years. So I am very familiar with the grindstone and being on the small business grind. And today we have with us Will Lindsay. Will is the owner and principal broker of Hamilton Shores Realty. Will, how you doing today?
WL: I’m doing great. Keith. Thanks for having me.
KE: Absolutely. Yeah. So you are in Hot Springs, Arkansas, right?
WL: Yes, sir. I am.
KE: Gotcha. And tell us a little bit just about – to kind of open us up. What is Hamilton Shores Realty? What do you guys do there?
WL: So our real estate office sits out on Lake Hamilton, which is one of the recreational lakes. We have a chain of three lakes in the area, it’s very popular. So summertime is popular. So we do a variety of real estate needs, whether it’s like sales, residential, commercial. We also have a property management company. So the property management company, we take care of everybody knows the VRBO’s and the Airbnb. So we do vacation rental management. We also do long term rental. So if you need a house in town for a year, or if you need a, you know, a condo on the Lake for the weekend, you know, we take care of that for, for other owners of the property. So, that keeps us really busy. We’re fortunate enough to have an office out on the Lake and be close to our properties and take care of those for our owners.
KE: Yeah. So if my office sat on a lake, man, I wouldn’t get anything done. You’re, you’re looking at a lake. How do you get anything done?
WL: I purposely, I think my wife did this. She made my office in the back of the building where I don’t have a Lake view window. So she gets the Lake view and then some of our other folks, but, no.. So it’s, it’s good. It’s nice. I don’t get to enjoy the Lake as much as like to just because we’re, we want to make sure everybody’s happy while they’re here. I’m enjoying the Lake, enjoying the live racing, horse, horse racing we have in town in the spring, which is another draw among, you know, everything else. We’ve got activities in the fall. So Hot Springs has become a, you know, it’s, it’s the highest tourist count for the state of Arkansas. So it’s a very touristy area with a lot of different things to do year round. So we, um, we’re, we’re able to, to help people, whether they want to buy something or read something. We, a lot of people own second homes here, uh, as a getaway. So, so we enjoy dealing with people, um, all aspects.
KE: That’s cool, man. So if I’m hearing you, right, so you’ve got more of a traditional real estate company where someone can employ you or one of your agents to find them a home there that they want to purchase. It just what most people think about for real estate. But you also have a lot of properties that you manage that some of them can rent by the night or by the weekend. And then others, you can do long term rentals. And so as things are happening, whether it’s the summertime and everybody’s on the Lake, or whether it’s the spring and it’s horse racing season, or, you know, whether it’s a St. Patrick’s day parade or whatever. So people that want to come in town, just the traditional vacation type things, or a weekend away, then you’re able to provide them a place to stay. Things like that. Is that, is that, did I hear that right?
WL: Absolutely. Yeah. We’re, we’re kind of the one stop shop. So, you know, our properties, you can call our office and rent one for a weekend or a week. Um, we take care of everything. So from taking care of the guests when they’re here and also, like I said, taking care of the properties for the owner. So, you know, if you’ve got somebody out there that, um, that wants to rent their property out, um, we take care of that to them while they still get to enjoy it when they want to come. Um, so that’s, that’s a neat feature. A lot of people are able to make income off of their second home, um, and then allow other guests to enjoy it as well. And so it’s, it’s a win, win. The Lake Hamilton’s built up with a lot of condo properties, um, that allow us to do that. So it’s, it’s a good fit year round.
KE: Yeah. I see it all fitting together a little bit now. So if someone is looking for a home over there, then you’re, you’ve got the agency side, you can help them find that second home, but they might not can be there all the time. They want to rent it out. So then they can engage on the property management side. You take care of it, there, all the maintenance and those types of things for them. So it’s hands off and you’re helping to bring people in to stay. So it kind of all works together in some sense.
WL: Right, Right. I, you know, I’ve got property owners that live coast to coast. Um, it’s funny, I’ve got several, I’ve never met personally. We email, we talk on the phone, but for whatever reason, they own real estate and Hot Springs and they need somebody to take care of it. So we’re able to do that, um, without them ever being on site in many cases. Uh, so we’re, you know, we’re a one stop shop there. And then, um, like I said, yeah, it rolls over to the real estate. You know, where a lot of our clients that have rented from us for a weekend. I said, man, we just fell in love with hot Springs. We live in Dallas, we live in Memphis. We live, you know, wherever I live, you know, within a few hour drive, we want a place there. So we’re able to take care of that, find them something to purchase and, um, you know, go from there.
KE: Yeah. I’m with ya. And it’s a, um, you know, it’s, it’s an interesting destination. You mentioned like driving from Dallas and driving from Memphis in the Hot Springs where it’s, you know, where it’s located is an interesting location, just because you can get to it from either side from major metropolitan areas now, but that really during this period that we’re going through with the pandemic, there’s a lot more, you know, there’s a lot more people driving to vacation than they are flying to vacation. So I’m sure tourism is still doing pretty well there. But tell us, are you from there, did you grow up in Hot Springs?
WL: So I, I’m not originally from Hot Springs. I grew up in-state, Arkansas, and Southern part of the state. But, um, as a, as a child, as teenager, my parents set up place here just like a lot of the people do had a condo. So we visited her a lot and enjoyed it. And so, um, you know, that gave us just opportunity at some point to, uh, to think about being here. Um, I was a sales manager previous to owning the business about 10 years ago, purchasing it. But, um, I was a sales manager in East, Texas for a manufacturer. So I had a lot of sales background, Salesforce, that sort of thing. Um, but after, you know, 10 plus years in that business of traveling nonstop, you know, I wanted to settle down a little bit, had dreams of owning my own business. Like a lot of people do. So the, uh, the funny thing is that the previous owner of my company, um, was, uh, the company has been here over 30 years. And so she actually managed my parents’ condo for rental. And so they became close friends and as she got time, she was ready to slow down semi semi-retire. Uh, you know, I got word of that. And so it just, the opportunity came up for us to meet and, and, uh, you know, work out a deal. And so 10 years later, we’re here full time and, um, and enjoy it. We have a good, you know, it’s a great business, get to meet a lot of people. I think that one of the positives is meeting our guests, maybe our clients real estate wise, um, you know, just getting that personal feel. Um, I was ready to slow down. Like I said, from traveling also from just an employee side of, you know, from having 50 employees to going down to, you know, we have real estate agents in office, but just, um, a little bit less grind there. So it’s been enjoyable. It’s been a fun ride so far.
KE: So that’s a cool story, man. That’s so, alright. So you live in this place in Arkansas and you have a vacation home in Hot Springs. Your parents have a vacation home in Hot Springs. So you’re spending some time there. Parents decide, okay, want to move to the, to the Hot Springs area. And then they’re dealing with a property management company. That’s maybe it’s helping them rent it out when you’re not there. And then it w or whatever, and keep up with it. And then they move there. And then, so your kid, you come along and you grow up there. Um, you, you start working, but then the property management company is, um, gets ready to sell your parents have a relationship with it. You as a kid, you buy this thing 10 years ago, and now you’re doing the exact same thing. You’re helping people come into town, hoping that they love it. They’re helping them to manage the property. You’re just doing the, you just fall in the family way, right? I mean, it’s,
WL: Yeah, it is. It’s, it comes full circle. So to speak, you don’t, you know, you don’t think of that. And then things just work out the way they do. So, uh, yeah, it’s, it’s been interesting. And, um, like I said, we’ve, we’ve enjoyed it. And, um, you know, as you know, as the being a, a business owner, it can be a leap of faith, you know, when you not have to own your own business, leaving a good career, that you’ve got to jump into something that my wife… you know, the funnier story is she’s a, you bought a real estate company before you even had a real estate license. And I literally did. And so that’s, it is funny, but you know, when you, you’re putting the pieces together and, you know, it’s, you come from a sales background and you just feel like, Hey, it’s, it’s something I can do. You know, you, you, you look at it hard and, and you just take that leap. And so it worked out, you know, and, and I know it doesn’t always happen for everybody, but, you know, it’s worked out good. And the big thing was I bought an established business that had been here with a good name. And so we’ve been able to grow off of that. And, and we’ve grown exponentially, um, in the last 10 years. But, uh, I think it’s just, you know, little younger blood with newer, you know, different ideas. And I have a great relationship with the previous owner. She still sells real estate here with me. We have great relationships, so that’s continued on. And so, uh, yeah, I think it’s been a win for everybody.
KE: That’s great, man. I love to hear stories like that, but there had to be, it couldn’t, it can’t all be, you know, like he says, a literal leap of faith. They can’t all be good all the time. Right. Something had to keep you up at three o’clock in the morning was making this decision or after your biomass, that’s the hard thing. What, what woke you up? What’s the 3:00 AM wake up.
WL: So, you know, just as far as behind the business, uh, you know, the biggest scare, I guess, is going from a, you know, a steady paycheck that hits the bank account every week to, um, you know, eating what you kill, so to speak. So, you know, if we didn’t, our whole business is structured around commission, whether it’s real estate commission, whether it’s rental commission, that’s how we get, you know, that’s how we pay the bills. And so, um, you know, that’s a little nerve wracking. Um, and in 10 years ago we were just coming out a recession, you know, 2008 when we had the recession. So we bought that about just a few years after that. So we’re still coming out of that. So, you know, there’s a lot of things there, you’re just, you’re hopeful. Things are in the right direction and they have been, um, the good thing is people never quit wanting to come to Hot Springs. It’s just gotten stronger and stronger. So, um, so the rental property management side of our business has just grown and grown and grown. Um, I’ll watch says, I don’t say no enough. I finally started saying no to a few things. I’m just taking on a lot of different properties, but we fill our niche. We kind of know what, we’re, what we feel like we’re good at. And, um, so we stick with that and that’s, you know, vacation rental and long term residential stuff. But, um, so we strive to keep going hard at that and growing it, uh, as well as, you know, growing agents and growing the real estate. Cause we want to be able to help people, um, you know, achieve those goals of buying their own home here.
KE: You said a couple of things there. And one of them, I hear a lot as I talked to a lot of small businesses that it’s hard to say no, and not I’ve found that in my business too. So we, you know, we’ve got all the gear to record podcasts and all that. And some is like, Hey, can you come and re you know, record a wedding? Or like, well, I want that money I’ll do that, but, but I don’t need to cause it’s a distraction away from the car. That’s a theme. I hear a lot. It’s kind of taken on too much. You know, like a rental properties will, can you rent out my convention room? Sure. You know, there was small business, but it’s also, you know, the ability to be able to be flexible and to pivot as a small business. That’s where that, you know, that’s the core of it is that you do realize the staff that you have and the expertise that you have. So when something like COVID happens, a lot of businesses are able to pivot. Now we’re bigger. Businesses are not because it takes a lot until you’re seeing bigger businesses. A lot of them you’re really in trouble right now, chains and things like that, shutting down the smaller businesses can be more agile. Did you have to pivot or make any changes due to the, to the pandemic? Was anything happened there?
WL: Yeah. So, so here in Arkansas, um, during the initial, you know, I guess March and April, even part of May, they completely shut down any short term rental, unless you were renting to, um, essential workers or somebody that had to be here on business, that sort of thing. So at virtually just completely shut down that side of our business. Um, and, and the real estate market slowed down as well. Everybody kinda, you know, lack of a better term hunkered down and just waiting for, you know, a better day. And so thank goodness that was shortly. We do have a lot of long term rental properties. Um, and thankfully we’ve been blessed. I mean, people were still able to pay their rents. Our owners were able to, you know, make mortgages and, and keep up. We had little issues there being, you know, still considered a rural area. Um, I think a lot of times we don’t get hit as much. Maybe there’s a more metropolitan situations, but so we were fortunate, but luckily we came out of that, um, quickly. And when we did, man, it’s been on fire ever since whether it’s real estate or somebody just wanting to come for a vacation, it’s just been really, really busy here. And you mentioned that earlier, I think people are taking shorter vacations, uh, driving instead of flying as much. Um, so that’s, I think that’s benefited Hot Springs in a big way. Yeah,
KE: That’s right. I mean, where it is, where it’s located by these major metropolitan area. So I may have had a trip planned to The Bahamas, or I may have a cruise or something like that, but I’m not going to do on, certainly not getting on a cruise, you know, with was having a pandemic, but I can go and drive for three hours and be in a resort area of life where, like you said, there’s tons of lakes, there’s horse racing, there’s a downtown strip. So the destination that has to play a role in the success too, right. If the, if the destination is doing well, a business like yours is doing is doing well. Right,
WL: Right I think that’s the key, definitely a key. So, um, yeah, we have an official, uh, uh, you look around at all the, the boat dealerships here, you can’t hardly find a boat to buy. Um, they’re just out of stock, you know, that just everybody’s spend a year to buy a boat or buy something, buy an RV. Um, those kinds of things, people take taking advantage of what they can do to social distances, still enjoy life, um, during the pandemic. Yeah.
KE: Hopefully, hopefully they’re doing right and they’re not spending that PPP money on a boat. That’s what we gotta have.
KE: But I love talking about Hot Springs. I like to go to Hot Springs. So I don’t want to talk about Hot Springs too much because then other people are going to come there and they’re going to mess them up my vibe, you know,
WL: You know, a little bit of a hidden secret for some…
KE: And I want to keep it that way. And I’m just kidding. But yeah, so I appreciate you talking with this man. Where, where can, if somebody wanted to visit Hot Springs or is interested in your services work and they found out more about you.
WL: So the, the easiest way to get, get to us is through our website, which is, um, https://www.hscondos.com/ Or you can call here – our office, our phone number’s (501) 520-6699. We’d be glad to help you send us an email, you know, contact us through the website or call us we’re, um, we’re here seven days a week to serve. So I’m glad to help anybody if they just got questions about Hot Springs. Um, we seem to do a lot of, a lot of that. You know, it’s just part of our business to help people figure out where to go, what restaurant to eat at, or what attractions to go do. Um, we’re, you know, anybody must, staff’s glad to help do that.
KE: So cool. Well, I appreciate that. And, uh, I appreciate spending time giving us a little window into how you bought the business and, uh, some of the personal information there enjoyed speaking with you and for our information, um, anyone who’s out there listening that wants to hear more interviews like this with more business owners, this is the Grindstone series. You can find it at mainandmulberry.com and we appreciate you being with us today.