My New Assignment in Real Estate

By Chuck Weldon | Principal, Weldenfield

WeldenField has been active in real estate for almost 50 years. One day God gave us a new assignment: He sent us 4 investors who challenged us to advance the Gospel through investing in real estate. This led to the creation of the WeldenField BAM Real Estate Fund which is a Business as Mission Company.

The Cobbler’s Kids Had No Shoes

The goal for a Business as Mission Company is simple to say but hard to achieve: Can you create a business that generates market rate returns while delivering spiritual impact?

WeldenField is a family office active in alternative investments, banking, and real estate including acquisition, development and construction of multifamily, single family, hotel, active adult, and land development for three generations. After investing in more than 40 BAM Companies on 5 continents, we realized that the “cobbler’s kids had no shoes”. Why were we not applying the same intentionality in our own businesses?

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At the same time we were trying to answer that question, God started sending some of our investors to challenge us. They were acting like Prophets. One of them, Ramon, said, “I know how to make money and I know how to give money away to advance the Kingdom, is there a way to do both?” These investors challenged us to take on the assignment to make money and have spiritual impact in real estate.

It didn’t take much to push us on to the right path. WeldenField believes in social impact and making the world a better place to live but what excites us is spiritual impact. We see social impact as an on ramp for spiritual impact. Lots of people feed the poor, provide jobs, save the planet and so on but what makes BAM unique is the transformation of hearts to know Jesus.

We identified value-add multi-family as having the most missional potential in our business lines. Value-Add is where you buy an existing apartment community, upgrade it, increase rents, all in an effort to make the property more profitable. Our business plan is to deliver our investors market rate financial returns and spiritual impact at the same time.

But like all change, there are good and bad consequences. Our investors are happy with their returns. Our residents are happy with the social foundation we build in the community because people are lonely these days and often don’t know their neighbors. And those who have decided to become followers of Christ are changed forever. But what about our residents who could not afford the rent increase. We are learning how to serve them by helping them find replacement housing, giving them some extra time to find new housing, and other creative ideas. We are not perfect but we are trying to learn how to be a good neighbor. As I recall, someone famous mentioned that in a sermon a long time ago.

To accomplish this WeldenField would need to bring to bear its real estate experience and an experienced BAM team committed to and responsible for our spiritual results. So, we created the BAM Real Estate Fund where we purchased 5 properties across 3 states.

The SPU Team Came to Town

Somebody along the way called Seattle Pacific University (SPU) and said maybe you should go to Birmingham and interview WeldenField. SPU arrived with a lot of professional equipment like cameras, lighting, umbrella things, etc. but the most professional thing they brought was their experience and coaching. The process was engaging and fun, but most of all helpful. Answering their thoughtful questions helped us refine our thinking and bring clarity to everything from our elevator pitch to our investor presentation.

Watch The Fund SPU video here.

The Results

While SEC restrictions mean we cannot tell you about the financial outcomes we are experiencing—although we are happy with them—let’s talk about the spiritual impact. You are welcome to reach out to us and learn more about the financial results.

We meet residents where they are, but we don’t want to leave them where they are. Our plan is to intentionally provide each resident an opportunity to participate in activities and fellowship at the property which are designed to draw them into to a Gospel conversation. Simply stated what can we do to bring people far from God into a personal relationship with Him. After talking to other real estate groups trying something similar, we really did not know what to expect. Each group had a different strategy, and we could not see much predictability in the results. We concluded we must be intentional, measure results, modify our strategy constantly, learn from others, and fail forward. We bring the same disciplined KPI approach to the spiritual side as we do on the business side. We measure everything. As Ramon said to us, “You don’t treasure what you don’t measure.”

By God’s grace, at the time of this writing, we have seen approximately 60 lives turning to follow Jesus. We meet every Monday to pray and discuss the Fund. What a joy to learn about another brother or sister choosing to follow Christ while providing our investors good financial returns.

This work through The Fund proves it is possible to deliver both market rate financial returns and spiritual impact at the same time. To God be the glory!

By Chuck Welden

chuckw@weldenfield.com

www.weldenfield.com

May 4th, 2024

Center for Faithful Business

Seattle Pacific University

Dr. JoAnn Flett, Executive Director

Email

cfb@spu.edu

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