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With 23-plus years in the real estate business, David Caveness has a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t work for the 600 agents that comprise the Indianapolis-based Carpenter REALTORS®. With 30 locations servicing 13 counties in the central Indiana region, Carpenter is well entrenched in the marketplace and benefitting from housing’s recovery.

“We had a solid year last year,” reports Caveness, the firm’s senior vice president and general manager. “We are optimistic and look for this recovery to continue.”

A large part of what has made Carpenter REALTORS® so steadily successful over the years is its commitment to building the right relationships with quality vendor partners who deliver needed products and services to Carpenter’s agents and their consumers. One such long-time partner is Madison, Wisconsin-based HSA Home Warranty.

Relationship, in fact, is what drove Caveness to select HSA in the first place. “We made the transition from another home warranty provider to HSA in 1998,” Caveness explains. “We had known about (HSA CEO) Bob Lehmann and his group for a number of years and had always thought well of them. When the representative we had worked with for years made a transition to HSA, we took a serious look at the product and made the switch.”

For Caveness, creating an effective home warranty revenue stream boiled down to finding the right vendor to build a strong, lasting relationship with. That’s why the decision to switch to HSA some 15 years ago began with the people involved.

“It’s all about the team of people at HSA and how they view our relationships,” says Caveness. “We continue to be happy with the relationship we have with HSA the entity and, more importantly, the specific people there—Bob Lehmann, Mike Clear, Burke Smith, Teresa Hedlund and Anne Marie Alligood, our local account rep.”

While Caveness emphasizes the importance of building strong vendor relationships, Carpenter’s agents, in turn, work to build strong relationships with their clients. The home warranty is the perfect vehicle to do so.

“When we first started promoting home warranties, the attachment rate was about 20 percent,” says Caveness. “Today, that rate has grown to anywhere from 40 percent to as high as 70 percent in some offices.”

According to Caveness, making home warranties part of the buying and selling transaction should be a given for agents.

“I can’t get any agent to explain why they should not make a home warranty part of the seller’s and buyer’s contract,” says Caveness. “This allows the buyer to get a home warranty that is comparable and compatible with everyone in the marketplace and eliminates so many worries. For sellers, if a good agent brings a buyer to the transaction, they’re going to ask for the home warranty anyway. So we recommend that the seller puts the HSA home warranty on at the time of the listing; that way, the home is covered during the listing period and the buyer is assured of getting the best warranty out there.”

Not only do home warranties provide the assurance that most necessary home repairs will be covered, it also gives home sellers a competitive edge. This fact was proven out during the real estate downturn.

“In some of our branches, we saw steady growth in home warranties,” says Caveness of the housing downturn. “When it’s harder to sell a property, you have to turn over every leaf, and agents who might not have bought into the home warranty strategy before, made the transition to incorporate home warranties into the process.”

What keeps the home warranty process humming for agents and consumers is the well-oiled machine behind the scenes at HSA. Beyond the initial training program, Alligood regularly spends time with agents, coaching them on the process, answering questions and fielding concerns. “If a consumer has an issue, Anne Marie is very quick and careful, working as hard as she can to resolve the situation and make sure the client feels like they’ve been handled fairly.”

Which brings it back full circle to the importance of relationships. “We see HSA as part of our client service team,” says Caveness. “HSA is an extension of us.”

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