Like the other attendees, Sherry Chris came to the Luxury Connect last October to learn the ins and outs of high-end real estate. But as Brett Hagler took the stage to introduce his charity, New Story, Chris quickly realized that she was there for a greater purpose.
- New Story Charity and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate have partnered to build 80 homes in Ahuachapán, El Salvador.
- The partnership is a first for New Story Charity, as it has never officially partnered with a brokerage before.
- BHGRE is encouraging their extensive network of agents to create individual campaigns for their local offices, or to donate individually on the BHGRE campaign website.
- BHGRE CEO Sherry Chris says the brokerage's commitment to Ahuachapan will go beyond just building homes. The brokerage intends to invest in other ways to make sure the community will thrive long-term.
But as Brett Hagler took the stage to introduce his charity, New Story, Chris quickly realized that she was there for a greater purpose.
New Story’s mission is to “transform slums into sustainable communities” by crowdfunding houses for homeless families living in danger. The charity has built hundreds of homes in Haiti and El Salvador and has a new project started in Bolivia.
“As I’m sitting there listening to him, this vision came to me where I thought: ‘Well, would it be cool if we did this [funded a community] at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate?'” said Chris.
“Then I started thinking the houses could be in our colors — green and orange, and yellow and teal, and blue and pink. And that’s where the vision started.”
Fast forward nearly a year later, and the vision Chris had in the audience that day is finally coming to fruition.
From idea to reality
On August 15, New Story Charity and BHGRE officially launched a campaign to build 80 homes in the community of Ahuachapán, El Salvador.
The partnership is a first for New Story charity, which has never strategically worked with a brokerage to build one of its life-changing communities.
The campaign is off to a solid start after hosting a soft launch at Inman Connect San Francisco earlier this month. Within 36 hours, the team raised $42,000 — enough to build the first seven homes, and since then BHGRE has been raising additional funds.
Hagler, New Story’s co-founder and CEO, says what makes this campaign different is that BHGRE is funding the entire community rather than a select number of individual homes, which is how the process usually works.
Chris notes the decision to fund all 80 homes is part of brokerage’s vision to become a long-standing presence in Ahuachapán.
“It wasn’t one of the flash-in-the-pan ideas. We really built it out. We really want to do more than build some houses,” she said.
“We would really like to be involved in a community as a brand and as a group of real estate companies.”
Looking to the future
Going forward, BHGRE franchisees and affiliated agents will be able to create team campaigns or give individually through the brokerage’s special New Story homepage. Furthermore, participants will be able to track their progress and see precisely where their funds are going.
After each home is built, the receiving family will get the title and deed to the home, along with a no-profit, no-interest mortgage complete with a personalized payment plan.
The $6,000 the family pays back will then be used to build additional homes or other community structures.
Hagler says this pay-it-forward model empowers homeownership and allows the families they help to maintain a sense of dignity.
“When I was down in El Salvador, I had a mother tell me, ‘My dream is to be able to tell my grandkids that I was able to provide a house for them, and it wasn’t just a handout.'”
Hagler and Chris say they are elated with how the BHGRE community has pooled together, and they are expecting that the brokerage will set the precedent for future partnerships and campaigns to come.
Finally, Chris says the partnership has enhanced the sense of community among her team that spans three continents.
“For us, as a brand, what we’re able to do through our charitable endeavors and with New Story, of course being right up top, we’re able to foster a culture of giving within our entire network and brand.”