It’s Christmas morning, and we hope your day s is filled with love and elation and gaily wrapped gifts and the warm aroma of cinnamon – because when Santa made his list and checked it twice, finding out who was naughty and nice, he surely put Realtors near the very top of his Nice List.
“In this dreadful year, the silver lining for Realtors was the amazing gift of opportunity,” said Linnette Edwards, founder/associate broker, Abio Properties, Oakland, Calif. “As a wave of buyers have clamored to move, we responded with grace under pressure. We adapted to safety protocols, mastered virtual skills, and doubled down on compassion – and those who excelled at learning and helping have had a prosperous year.”
But Realtors, for whom charitable giving has long been a meaningful tradition, have also doubled down on giving back.
“We passionately believe we’re in this business to help people and build communities, not just sell real estate,” Edwards said. “With so many people struggling to pay bills and feeling isolated now, we can’t turn our backs on our neighbors.”
The brokerage decided at the beginning of the pandemic to support struggling restaurants by co-sponsoring a #FeedTheFirst campaign.
“Donations went directly to local eateries, which then cooked and delivered meals to hardworking medical and emergency responders,” Edwards said.
The company also ‘adopted’ eight needy local families to help at Christmas, and will launch its annual a warm coat collection early in January – all in addition to ongoing support of the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) and STAND, which protects and shelters women and children from domestic violence.
Among Realtors, the giving spirit is fundamental.
“In the midst of a climate of fear and struggle, we have had our best year ever,” said Faron King, broker/owner, Coldwell Banker High Country Realty, Blue Ridge, Ga. “But we are also doing our best to ensure that those who need help are getting it.”
In addition to supporting the brand’s Coldwell Banker Cares Foundation, donating dollars at each closing to supporting causes including the American Heart Association and Habitat for Humanity, King’s agents this year are supporting local food banks, women’s shelters, and the non-profit Craddock Center, which delivers educational and cultural programs to children and families in Southern Appalachia.
Not surprisingly, Realtors are quick to zero in on where their dollars are needed most.
“As statistics reveal a concerning incidence of food-deprivation this year, we donated the money we are not spending on company holiday parties this year to Feeding Northeast Florida,” said Christy Budnick, president/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty, Jacksonville, Fla.
Also, said Budnick, with toy drives are down some 40 percent this year, mostly because consumers are not out and about seeing those familiar donation boxes, the company and its agents donated heavily to local toy drives and to the Dreams Come True Foundation, a wish-fulfillment program local to northeast Florida children.
The spirit of giving thrives from coast to coast.
“In my 30 years in real estate, this is the first time I can remember when real estate has benefitted rather than suffered from a weakened economy,” said Chris Trapani, co-founder/CEO, Sereno Group Real Estate, Los Gatos, Calif. “Some of our agents are having their best year ever, and it’s a gift that both humbles and inspires us.”
Sereno Group, whose longstanding ‘One Percent for Good’ campaign ranks the company 21st on the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Corporate Philanthropist List, has already given nearly $800,000 to 30 local charities, Trapani said, as each agent contributes one percent of gross commission to local charities.
“This year, we are redoubling efforts to give back,” he said, “sometimes with more than just money.”
During the ravaging summer fire season in Fresno, he noted, Sereno agents were front and center in the effort to save and relocate endangered horses and other animals.
“One of the biggest gifts in Santa’s bag in this year of pandemic and natural disaster has been the will and the effort to adapt, assist, and thrive,” Trapani said. “Giving back is our way of expressing that.”
There was another gift in Santa’s bag this year, noted Mark Stark, owner/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona/California/ Nevada Properties, headquartered in Las Vegas.
“That gift was the historically low interest rate environment that contributed to real estate’s record-breaking year,” sad Stark. “But our agents are well aware that the prosperous year has come as others suffered. “I get one or two calls from sales managers every day about what agents are doing to give back to the community.”
The company and its agents help fund a number of local charities as well as the work of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Charitable Foundation, which offers community grants to groups promoting health, education, and the environment, Stark said.
Little wonder that Santa is proud as we round up the wrapping paper and set the table.
“We’re staying home, staying safe, and doing what we can to help our neighbors,” said Abio’s Edwards. “It’s a time for taking stock and looking forward.”
As for 2021?
“I’m positively bubbly,” she said. “We’ve learned so much. The indicators are strong. I look forward to a great New Year.”