Should you try a social good real estate model?
Real estate agents are often deeply engaged in their communities. In addition to finding people homes, they are prolific givers of time and money to local philanthropic causes.
Why? For one thing, real estate agents are often social types who enjoy interacting with and helping people. Second, it probably doesn’t hurt that volunteering is a great way to meet people who might want to buy or sell a house.
But some real estate agents are taking their interest in community service a step further. Instead of reserving charitable work for their free time, some are integrating it into their business. Some call it the “social good model.”
Laurie Loew, the founder of Give Realty, in Austin, Tex., is one of the pioneers of the model. The deal she offers clients: 25 percent of the commission goes to the charity of their choice.
“It filters your client base,” says Loew. “You get to work with people who care about other people.”
The idea came to Loew in 2008. She was trying to get her company off the ground, seeking a way to distinguish herself from the competition. At the same time, she was dealing with challenges in her personal life, including a divorce.
Those challenges, she says, actually helped her realize that, all things considered, she had a relatively fortunate life. That’s where she got the idea of connecting her business directly to philanthropy:
“I kind of had this light bulb moment where I said, ‘Why don’t I create this philanthropic real estate business and give back to the community?’”
So that’s what she did, and the idea has been a huge success. Since 2008, Give Realty has directed roughly $531,000 to over 140 nonprofits. Some of the most popular charities among her Austin-area clients include Meals on Wheels, Safe Place, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Austin Pets Alive, Emancipet (spays and neuters animals) and Leadership Austin, a group started by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce that focuses on training and developing community leaders.
She emphasizes that it’s the client who chooses the charity, not the business. That’s important because clients are more engaged in the idea when they’re passionate about the cause that their home sale or purchase will help fund.
Another real estate agent who has championed the social good model is Allison Parks, founder of Conscious Real Estate in Denver. Just like Give Realty, the firm gives a portion of its commissions to philanthropic causes. But what distinguishes Conscious Real Estate is its focus on homes that are based on sustainable building practices and more efficient or renewable energy sources. Those goals appeal to environmentally-minded clients as well as many who sense that they can save money in the long-term through a greener lifestyle.
According to Conscious Real Estate’s website: “We provide an opportunity for our clients to literally make a difference in the world by combining real estate transactions with social responsibility, while still receiving the very best service & professionalism they should expect from a trusted real estate brokerage.”
A social good model just might be the way to make your career more satisfying in a number of ways. It can bring you more clients and make you feel even better about the work you are doing to help people find and sell homes!