Yesterday Inman published “3 reasons to embrace social responsibility.”
I argued that social responsibility is crucial at the brokerage level due to the rise in socially conscious consumers, the need for agents and brokers to connect on a deeper level with their clients and that doing good helps increase business.
Here are four real estate brokerages that are embracing social responsibility in a way that is both innovative and impactful.
A tradition of giving: Windermere Real Estate
Since 1989, Windermere Real Estate has been servicing its communities through its non-profit arm, the Windermere Foundation. Portions of the proceeds earned through real estate transactions goes to support low-income and homeless families in the community serviced by the brokerage.
Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $26 million dollars to finance its philanthropic activities, with a goal to reach $30 million in giving by the year’s end. It’s worth noting that the foundation is well on its way to exceed its goal of $30 million.
Windermere’s culture of love and passion for the community is evident in they way the company’s agents and staff speak on its behalf. Phrases such as “It goes beyond houses, it’s about relationships” are central tenets to the brokerage and to its agents.
On one of Windermere’s advertising videos, you can hear Jill Jacobi Wood, daughter of John Jacobi, the founder of Windermere Real Estate, speak of her father’s motives to “start a (real estate) company that put relationships before sales quotas.”
It’s all or nothing: Unit Realty Group
For Joe Schutt, it’s a matter of being all-in with your giving back initiative — or not at all. Giving back 5 percent of the brokerage side of the commission to local charities was essentially a no-brainer for Unit Realty Group, mainly because social impact is in the fabric of Unit Realty Group’s DNA.
The brokerage has a history of giving back to the community — whether it’s through money, time volunteering or in-kind giving. This past year, Unit Realty Group teamed up with Cole Haan for an event called “Stepping out for second chance.”
The event was meant to highlight Second Chance, Inc., a local nonprofit in serving the poor and the homeless in the Boston area. The partnership with Cole Haan was an opportunity for Cole Haan shoppers to learn about Second Chance, but more importantly, it was an opportunity for Second Chance to educate the participants on the organization’s goal, its mission and its work.
To give or not to give — never the question: Give Realty
I had the opportunity to speak with Laurie Loew, managing broker and owner of Give Realty in Austin, Texas. A series of personal life-changing events lead Laurie to launch Give Realty as the real estate market was going under.
What seemed like a loosing real estate proposition — giving 25 percent of every commission — became one of Laurie’s greatest strengths, and essentially, it’s what built her real estate business into a force for good in Austin, Texas.
Give Realty’s desire to give back has not only yielded much recognition, but also a particularly unique value proposition for the company. As Laurie described it, the “secret in giving back has been the types of clients Give Realty has had the joy to work with.”
“These clients only come to us because of who we are and what we do. We do not compete for business the same way other brokerages do, and in essence, that is what gives us a unique value proposition in real estate.”
Global perspective and local impact: Century 21 Redwood Realty
Our brokerage recently experienced some staffing changes due to our expansion. All of these changes brought forth the need to re-evaluate our corporate identity, and ultimately put in clear terms our value proposition.
As a result, Century 21 Redwood Realty embarked on a journey to become a community-centric real estate brokerage with the goal to have our corporate team and and all of our offices — 10 in total — develop one single identity, and a more consorted effort to be a force for good in each of our offices’ communities.
As part of a series of multiple corporate innovation and system roll outs, Century 21 Redwood Realty partnered with American Charities with the goal of enhancing corporate philanthropy in all levels.
Each Redwood office will also have Redwood Gives Back ambassadors — local Redwood agents who will liaise between the corporate and their respective offices on company and local philanthropic initiatives.
The common thread between all the brokerages above is that they have recognized in their own ways that selling homes is a pathway to greater societal impact.
In a industry where our value proposition to our clients and ourselves is conditioned by our sales metrics, being able to show that we care about the community in which we operate sets us apart from any other industry.
If real estate is strictly about selling homes, not only are we missing its true potential, but we are also diminishing its value to our clients and to ourselves. Real estate salespeople sell. Real estate agents care. It’s time we start caring a little more.