Leading by Investing

Leading by Investing



How a local entrepreneur focuses on the community through the lens of commercial real estate

The role of “leader” is a double-edged sword, and those bearing the title receive strong positive or negative regard. Leaders are valued and respected, as well as targeted and scrutinized. Everyone can hold the title leader. Whether leading cohorts, family, or community, establishing the type of reputation your leadership title holds directly affects your effectiveness and influence.

Local community investor and entrepreneur Greg Homan spent the last 25 years buying, selling, and investing in commercial real estate. He aligns his goals with the next generation in mind and strives to inspire young leaders. You may know of his community involvement best by his pinnacle piece, The Citrus Tower.

When asked why he purchased The Citrus Tower more than 20 years ago, he lightheartedly cited advice he read in Donald Trump’s book, “Art of the Deal.” As he read Trump’s encouraging advice to invest in towering real estate, Greg looked around the city he grew up in and thought, “There’s a tower; I’ll buy that one.”

On a more serious note, the tip he gives future investors and leaders is to invest in vacant land. However, without a pocket of cash, his second choice is commercial property. “Commercial real estate is superior to residential real estate because as a landlord, one has a much stronger hand to evict a delinquent commercial tenant than one does with a residential tenant. Investing in commercial real estate also gives you an immediate return on your investment, whereas your only hope of a positive return on investment in vacant land is appreciated value over time,” he said.

“Commercial real estate is superior to residential real estate because as a landlord, one has a much stronger hand to evict a delinquent commercial tenant than one does with a residential tenant.”
— Greg Homan

Greg spent the early part of 2015 on a vintage restoration project for the Citrus Tower, restoring Clermont’s “claim to fame” to its original look. He is now working with local entrepreneur Rob Wilkins, from Citrus Flyer, on a new 50-mph, one-and-a-half mile zip line. The latest project update is the original landing spot is not high enough, which means a rapid descent and a requirement for a premium braking system.

Although being involved with the community is a big part of Greg’s focus, Clermont is no longer the small town where he grew up. As he looks back through the years, he worries “for young folks trying to get started in the hostile business of commercial real estate.”

“The American dream is being threatened, and it is much harder to accomplish now than it was when I started out,” Greg says.

He relates a recent example of how he leveraged his leadership influence with other local entrepreneurs to help Clermont’s city council find ways to alleviate the $1.5 million deficit in the city’s 2016 budget without implementing an extravagant fire assessment fee. Nevertheless, the council came at commercial real estate owners from another angle and raised the millage rate, continuing the hostile environment for business and landowners.

Although it is increasingly difficult, Greg encourages the next generation of young commercial entrepreneurs to be patient and buy when a seller needs to sell. Making money in commercial real estate happens when you buy, not when you sell, he said. Furthermore, young entrepreneurs should look for good investments that make money 24 hours a day, because expenses never rest.

As a new leader stepping forward, remember your reputation precedes you wherever you go and is almost impossible to repair. Greg encourages young entrepreneurs to never sacrifice integrity for financial gain and keep Matthew 16:26 in mind: “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (NIV).