Red tie. Black slacks. White shirt.
It is closing-day attire at VanderMorgan Realty and 31-year-old Justin Bolin is hours away from attending the final phase of a home sale.
Bolin, who started VanderMorgan with three other people in 2008, now has 25 agents.
“It’s all about the services that you provide the buyer. Without that, you’re just the key to the door and that’s the last thing you want to be,” he said. “The better you are to people, the more referrals you get, the more repeat business you get.”
VanderMorgan has a contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to market its for-sale foreclosed properties in 13 counties. It has the same deal with the Department of Veterans Affairs for properties in two counties. The company is also working on its first housing neighborhood.
“We started VanderMorgan Group, which was the house for our insurance offices. And VanderMorgan Realty sounds a lot better than Justin Bolin Real Estate,” he said. “It creates a little more gravitas.”
Bolin said he thinks VanderMorgan should be ready to franchise to other parts of the country in about five years.
“I feel that I have to build the platform here. I need to bring in other companies and agents from out of town to display the inner workings of an office environment,” he said. “We have a computer-based real estate program that is in the incubation phase.”
As a senior at Butler High School in 2000, Bolin and a friend saved the life of a suicidal woman who jumped off the Fifth Street bridge. After graduation, a recommendation from the Richmond County sheriff got him into fire training in Burke County, which accepted 18-year-olds. He became a Burke County firefighter and EMT, then joined the Air Force after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
After his stint in the military, Bolin came home and had a six-month wait to go to college for a career in medicine. That’s when he saw the ad for real estate agent classes from a Century 21 broker.
“Within six months, I had closed 24 houses … got back into a comfort zone with my family. Home is home. I fell into real estate.”
Starting his own company was the goal from the first day he got into the industry. He worked the needed three years to get his broker’s license.
“My goal was to have all the things a big company had, but as a small company. I didn’t want to look like a mom-and-pop right out of the box,” he said.
When Bolin isn’t selling a house, he’s coaching youth baseball. He and a friend created ThunderStix Baseball so underpriviledged youth can travel the Southeast, playing twice a month. He also coaches two Master City teams.
“It's not about baseball at the end of the day, it about them being future life leaders. The tool of baseball can be used to teach these kids respect and responsibility,” Bolin said.
Bolin still lives in south Augusta.
“That’s where my roots are and where I intend to keep them,” he said.