Who knew when Grant Manning and Kirk Hansen were running around the playground together at age 8 that they'd end up as business partners? Well, that's just what happened. Hansen began investing in real estate in 1998. By the end of 2002, the two had purchased several properties as partners and were the new owners of an existing Century 21 franchise. The company has 40 salespeople and closed $175 million in sales in 2005.
Innovative twists: To sell more homes at a higher price, the company makes small loans to sellers lacking home repair money. There are provisions for repayment if clients don't sell. Otherwise, the company recaptures the loan money at closing. The company has also discovered a way around San Diego's high prices; associates team up buyers who can't afford to buy a home on their own. Hansen estimates associates at the company have done a dozen or more such deals.
That's not all: In 2004 Manning and Hansen became 50 percent partners in a second San Marcos office, Century 21 El Dorado, started by two of their top-producing associates.