During these times of uncertainty, it feels like we’re all just searching for a little light to get us through dark times. Seeing the real estate community pull together to help others through the unique challenges we’re facing now is encouraging.
Inman spoke with a few agents and real estate professionals to find out what they are doing to support their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Brian Callahan, Realtor at RE/MAX Plus, Rochester, New York
Brian Callahan wants people to know that he’s available, despite recent business closures and cancellation of large group gatherings.
“I personally am available directly by phone anytime,” Callahan told Inman.
In addition to his work as a Realtor, Callahan serves as president of the Flower City Down Syndrome Network. Callahan, whose eight-year-old son was born with Down syndrome, is focused on staying available to others who have loved ones with Down syndrome and need support, despite closures and cancellations due to coronavirus.
“We’ve got some big stuff coming up that we’ve had to cancel,” Callahan said, like events for World Down Syndrome Day on March 21.
“We’re just trying to stay vigilant and make sure we’re available,” he said. “Kids are still born every day, hospitals are still open. We want to make sure we’re available to handle questions about Down syndrome. We still have digital outreach, we have a website and a phone.”
“If I could get supplies and hand them out, I would,” Callahan added. “But there are no supplies to get at this point.”
Aimee Vora, Realtor at Brand Name Real Estate, Sumter, South Carolina
Agents and landlords like Aimee Vora are finding ways to help their communities financially during this trying time.
Vora has five rental properties that range in rent price from $650 to $700 per month, and she offered her tenants one month rent free.
“Most [of our tenants] live paycheck to paycheck and a couple are on SSI,” Vora told Inman. “We decided that one month free was the least we could do for our tenants.”
Vora also started allowing food trucks and vendors to set up shop on her personal property to try and bolster business.
“We have two acres and no [homeowners association] so it seems fitting to allow businesses to set up shop on my yard if it can help them,” Vora said.
Adriana Bates, co-owner of Clear Mortgage, Kansas City, Missouri
Adriana Bates, offered to help individuals provide breakfast or lunch for their children whose schools have closed via a Facebook post.
“If the school closures have you concerned about your child being able to eat breakfast or lunch- please let me know. I (and Clear Mortgage) will do what we can to help. Groceries, milk, bread – just let me know,” the post reads. “Feel free to PM- no judgement! (Instacart is a wonderful thing and we will deliver to the house ASAP!)”
“Kansas has cancelled school for the remainder of the year,” Bates told Inman in an email. “We understand that many children rely on the school system for their meals … We have helped five families through the Instacart grocery delivery program [thus far]. I am assuming, as the school closures continue, we will help more.”
“We are willing to help nationwide, not just in our local market,” Bates added. “We have had many companies offer to share the bill, but have yet to take anyone up on that.”
Amy Cesario, Realtor at Slifer, Smith & Frampton, Denver, Colorado
By extending her outreach to the community beyond initial social media posts about connecting volunteers with those in need, Amy Cesario has encouraged others to help in whatever capacity possible, and has simply served as a good listener for those who need someone to talk to.
After receiving multiple messages from clients and friends asking what the climate was like in Denver right now and what they could do to help, Cesario sent out an email to all her contacts just to check in, with the subject line, “Are you doing okay?”
In the email, Cesario asked people to contact her via call, text or email if they needed anything or just wanted to talk. She also included several links to Denver-area volunteer organizations that need aid and volunteers, so that people could reach out to them. In addition, Cesario included an update on the Denver market, and a funny video to make people smile.
“The response was overwhelming” Cesario told Inman. “Mostly heartwarming, but I found a few people who were not doing okay, so I was able to call them first and I will continue to check on them.”
“The clicks on the volunteer links are three times what I would see on any of my other emails,” Cesario added. “We have an awesome governor who keeps putting out amazing information, so I will keep focused on the good information and [hope people] are sharing and repeat it because we all tend to hear the bad and miss the good.”