Over the past nine months, agents, broker-owners, and other real estate professionals have been working overtime to keep their businesses going while eking out time to support their communities through a heart wrenching year.

In fact, industry professionals have increased their giving efforts to record levels in response to the pandemic, according to the National Association of Realtors Community Aid in Real Estate (CARE) survey published Thursday.

Charlie Oppler

“Realtors are in the business of helping people and serving their communities, and we’ve seen countless examples of this play out nationwide during this pandemic,” NAR President Charlie Oppler said in a statement. “To hear that my colleagues in the real estate industry have pitched in to an even greater degree than usual is indeed heartwarming, but it is also not surprising.”

Sixty-seven percent of NAR members-at-large reported volunteering at least once a month — a one percent increase from 2018. On average, members logged eight volunteer hours per month with the majority of their time going to community efforts (76 percent).

In addition to volunteering, 82 percent of members-at-large made charitable donations, with the majority of their dollars going to community nonprofits and other large-scale nonprofit organizations. The median donation amount was $1,100 with 85 percent reporting that volunteering and monetary donations are part of their annual business plan.

Broker-owners increased their monthly volunteer rate from 77 percent in 2018, when the last CARE survey was taken, to 79 percent in 2020. In addition to increasing their volunteering rate, broker-owners also increased their level of monetary giving from 81 percent to a whopping 92 percent. Much like members-at-large, broker-owners pushed the majority of their dollars toward local and large-scale nonprofits with a median annual donation amount of $2,000.

Lastly, 68 percent of Realtor association executives and multiple listing service staff members reported volunteering monthly in 2020. Another 91 percent of executives and MLS staff members said they made donations — a two percent increase from 2018. Furthermore, Realtor associations doubled their median annual donation amount from $5,000 to $10,000.

“Historically, Realtors have a proven track record of donating time, money and energy toward various charities and volunteer efforts,” Oppler said of industry members’ COVID-19 efforts. “Since I entered this industry, I always valued giving back to the community and the ideal of paying it forward.”

Sixty-eight percent of members said their firms encouraged them to increase their volunteering hours this year. Over the past nine months, the majority of Realtors delivered food to elderly or high-risk households (20 percent), performed wellness checks (14 percent), hosted virtual meet-ups (13 percent), or volunteered at a local food bank (11 percent).

When it came to donations, food banks (36 percent), masks and protective gear (27 percent), food delivery service to high-risk households (20 percent), and food delivery to frontline workers and children (16 percent) were the most popular causes.

Oppler said he’s challenging NAR members to increase their giving again in 2021, with a goal of five million volunteering hours by next December. Members can log their volunteering efforts at NAR’s Realtors Are Good Neighbors homepage to receive a digital RAGN badge.

“I have no doubt that America’s 1.4 million Realtors will continue to help our neighbors and lend assistance wherever possible as we collectively work to move beyond COVID-19 in the coming months,” he said.

Email Marian McPherson

coronavirus | NAR
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