Maybe not your typical high school senior, Ben VanderWoude ’06, would tuck himself into a corner every study hall of his senior year to study for his Residential Builders license. Which he obtained that spring.
He also purchased his first rental property that year.
The week after graduation, with both builder’s license and diploma in hand—while his classmates were off celebrating graduation at Beach Week—Ben took the 40-hour class needed to get his Real Estate Salespersons license as well.
A junior at Hope College a couple of years later, Ben completed the Real Estate broker, or top level of his real estate license, working it into his college classes as a for-credit independent study.
Then he graduated a semester early from Hope with his accounting degree.
“I always had an interest in real estate and building, and I think I recognized I had time on my side,” Ben explained. “Real estate is a ‘get rich slow plan.’ It takes time for real estate to go up in value for mortgages and debts to be paid down. So I was motivated to start.”
Ben is one of six VanderWoude children, all HC graduates, and one of the delightfully unexpected quadruplets the family were famous for back in the early 1990s. The rest of his multiples went off to prestigious universities like Tufts and Tulane, but he stayed close at Hope to continue managing the 50-some properties he was then in charge of, mostly property of family friends.
It helped that he had role models around him in the Holland Christian community, dads of friends: “I had a few different people in my life who worked in those areas that I admired and respected, saw as a mentor, and were role models,” Ben added. But also “I liked the challenge of it. Just because most kids don’t go get a real estate license their senior year of high school it doesn’t mean it’s not possible, right?”