Odell Lamartiniere should include juggler on his resume because he’s one busy guy. Lamartiniere, an admitted early bird, starts his workday at 4:30 a.m., sometimes after spending the night in his office, so he can keep all of the balls in the air as he juggles the responsibilities of five companies, eight employees, three children and one wife.
His primary company is Lamar Properties, which rents or leases-to-own about 80 houses in a $10-million portfolio of single family homes that he owns. These homes, which range from $125,000 to $250,000, are located in the Lafayette area. Almost all were built recently, and about 90 percent of them are lease-to-own, an unusual business model for a Louisiana homebuilder.
He also manages another $6 million in rental/lease properties for other investors. One of those investors is his first employee, Adam Broussard, who started by opening the mail six years ago and was with Lamar Properties through the explosive growth years. Now Broussard owns nearly $2 million of his own property and oversees daily operations.
Lamartiniere reckons he has one of the largest companies of single-family rental/leased residential properties in the area, providing housing for a lot of people who don’t qualify for traditional financing. Not all have credit challenges. Some are self-employed, some are divorced and some are struggling because medical bills crippled their credit ratings.
“People go through struggles, but they still want to buy a house. They pay a little higher rate with us, but we don’t have as many fees [as traditional financing]. We offer ease of operation because we don’t concentrate on credit scores,” Odell said. “They apply directly through our web site, www.lamarproperties.net, and we make a common-sense decision on whether they qualify. We don’t have a mold. Everybody gets consideration.”
While two of Lamartiniere’s employees concentrate on sales, another focuses on marketing the properties. “We advertise in local publications and also put signage on our properties. We get some repeat business, too. We get three or four applications a day.”
After the economy sank in 2008, Lamar Properties grew from a portfolio of $900,000 in homes to one of $10 million in a five-year period. “We did that during the slow time when loans were hard to get. The banks and finance companies weren’t cooperating. However, the need didn’t disappear. We filled a need. Others stopped, but we built more houses. We said ‘this is an opportunity.’