By Zoe Eisenberg
REALTORS® have been giving back to their communities for decades. However, a new company is working with agents to provide a different kind of service: building homes for those in need.
The company, Giveback Homes, aims to turn the real estate community into a humanitarian community by allowing REALTORS® to donate part of their commission toward building homes for those who cannot afford them.
“By creating a trusted network of real estate agents, mortgage brokers and interior designers who want to do social good, we can build homes for families in need while giving our members an inspiring way to stand out in a competitive industry,” says Giveback Homes founder Blake Andrews, who began his humanitarian work with TOMS shoes. Years ago, Andrews approached Blake Mycoskie, a friend and the founder of TOMS, and asked if he could work at TOMS to learn about social entrepreneurship. Mycoskie agreed, and Andrews spent 3 years working for TOMS. During that time, Andrews went on a Global Village trip to Nicaragua, where he saw the impact a pair of shoes had on a child’s life and thought, “what would happen if you give them a home?”
“What initially started as my first giving trip became my life mission,” says Andrews. “I was there to get shoes on children’s feet but I was more worried about putting a roof over their head. The TOMS model gives one pair of shoes to people in need for every pair of shoes they sell. I started to think about how I could create a similar one-for-one model with homes.”
So this visit became his inspiration for becoming a social entrepreneur and founding Giveback Homes.
“Since REALTORS® are already in the business of homes, I thought there might be a way to sync the two,” says Andrews. “That’s how Giveback Homes was born. Now, people in the real estate community can sign up to become a member of Giveback Homes. For every home they sell, they can pledge any amount to help build a home for a family in need.”
Here’s how it works:
• A member of the real estate community pays $50 a month to become a Giveback Homes member
• When they sell a house they can donate any portion of their commission to Giveback Homes
• 100 percent of their donation goes to the build of a home
• Once someone is a member, they receive a digital package so they can use the Giveback Homes logo in advertising and on business cards as a way to differentiate themselves from other REALTORS®
• REALTORS® are testifying that homebuyers and sellers have chosen to work with them over other Realtors® because of they are a Giveback Homes member.
• Giveback Homes collaborates with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Nicaragua, LA and soon Dallas
The company began building in Nicaragua, and have since raised over $45,000 and built 10 homes in just six months. They have recently begun to expand to Los Angeles and Dallas. Giveback Homes’ first Habitat for Humanity build in the U.S. took place Thursday, February 27 in the City of Lynwood, Calif., where HFH GLA is currently constructing seven new homes. On site, Giveback Homes’ members teamed up to participate in a full day of building activities to work towards creating a brand new affordable and sustainable home for a local hardworking, low-income family.
More than 30 generous real estate agents gathered at the construction site in Lynwood, Calif., to donate their day, along with a dozen Habitat for Humanity crew members acting as mentors. The Lynwood homes are expected to be complete by November 2014. At that time, Giveback plans to come back and be with the family as they move in.
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