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Fast Money

Interested in capital gains? Convert real estate commissions into cash.

After working in real estate for more than 20 years, John L. Stedman knew there had to be a way for agents to get their commissions sooner than the standard 30 to 90 days. So in 1992, he started Commission Express.

"We provide a valuable service for real estate agents and brokers to convert their commissions into cash," says Stedman. Agents can sell their accounts receivable to Commission Express and get their money in two days.

Since the company started, it's purchased $12 million in commissions; sales for 1998 were more than $3.5 million. Commission Express began franchising in 1996 and currently has 11 franchises in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and North Carolina; it's looking for franchisees nationwide.

Franchisees receive an exclusive territory, initial training, ongoing support, proprietary management software, and information on marketing and advertising. Start-up costs range from $34,000 to $43,000. During their first year in operation, franchisees also need access to at least $80,000 in capital for buying commissions. "Real estate has [traditionally] been a business of delayed gratification," says Stedman. "With Commission Express, brokers can sell a house today and get paid next week."

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This article was originally published in the April 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Fast Money.

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