In the fall of 2011, Jessica Hunt was working for a boutique real estate firm in Cambridge, Mass., where she’d moved to be with her fiance, when a blood clot lodged in the left side of her brain, causing a stroke. She was 26 years old.
A year-and-a-half and two surgeries later, Hunt had a strong desire to become a productive real estate agent again. She joined Coldwell Banker Residential Properties in Cambridge in April, but has yet to land a client.
One obstacle to getting back into the business — Hunt had worked in real estate since age 18 — has been the lingering effects of the stroke.
Hunt suffers from aphasia — which makes communicating her thoughts in speech or writing difficult. Despite making large strides in other aspects of her recovery, like walking, Hunt still needs help with some tasks, like getting around by car.
Hunt — now 28 and married to her fiance, Jon Peters — needed some help to become a successful agent again.
Frustrated, last month Hunt reached out to Chris Smith, the high-profile real estate speaker and co-founder of the real estate marketing firm Curaytor, for help.
Smith, touched by a YouTube video Hunt’s father had made about her stroke and recovery, decided to do something.
“It’s so inspiring,” Smith said. Along with the difficulties associated with the stroke, Hunt faced “the same challenge that every other Realtor is facing.”
Smith tapped his deep Rolodex to jump-start Hunt’s quest to have what other agents might call normalcy: an Internet Data Exchange (IDX)-enabled website, a customer relationship management platform, marketing, leads and clients.
“What do you need to be normal?” Smith says of how he approached the mission.
Vendors who work with Curaytor jumped to donate their services: IDX website provider Placester donated a website and logo to Hunt; Follow Up Boss gave Hunt access to its CRM platform; Better Voicemail provided its phone call-managing service; and Happy Grasshopper provided its email and follow-up marketing service.
“I couldn’t finish (the video Hunt’s father had made about her recovery),” said Seth Price, Placester’s vice president of marketing. “I’ve been really blessed with my health,” he said.
To contemplate that someone just a little younger than him had their life flipped upside down hit him hard. Others in the real estate industry also took up Hunt’s cause.
Realtor.com is donating free ad space on the site for a three-month period in the Cambridge area. The site will provide a display ad that will appear along the right side of the search results page for searches in her market. When she gets listings, the site will promote two of them to featured status at no cost to Hunt.
Lisa Archer, a well-known real estate personality as one half of the Geeky Girls, gave Hunt the “LiveLoveBoston” domain name for her new website. Archer, who runs the similarly named “LiveLoveCharlotte” in Charlotte, N.C., had already registered LiveLoveBoston and planned to use it in the future.
Real estate transaction management platform dotloop has also given Hunt a free premium account — for life.
Now that she has the tools in place, Smith says he is planning on leading the charge to drum up business for Hunt with a social media campaign featuring the hashtag #HireJessicaHunt. Smith, with the help of dotloop, coordinated the production of a video to spearhead the campaign.
Video, coordinated by Chris Smith, that will be used to promote the #HireJessicaHunt campaign.
Hunt, who is getting her driver’s license soon and has partnered with agents in her office to split commissions when they come in exchange for communication and transportation help, has been surprised and thrilled by the help.
“I love real estate,” she says of her determination to make it in the business.