In the following interview, Brandy Gaiser and Bruce Bleiman of Giving Tree Realty talk about their unique business model, and what they expect the next year in real estate to look like.
Brandy Gaiser and Bruce Bleiman
Giving Tree Realty
Years in real estate: Brandy: 17 Bruce: More than 30
Region served: Charlotte, N.C.
Average sales price in your market: $200,000
Average market time: Inventory is so low in Charlotte right now that any home that is priced right and in decent shape will sell almost immediately.
Lesley Grand: Tell us about the unique concept Giving Tree Realty was built upon.
Bruce Bleiman: About five years ago, my wife, Brandy Gaiser, and I decided that we wanted to start our own brokerage. We looked at many different franchises and in the process, discovered that it was like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. The reason: We wanted the pillar of our business to be giving back to the community, hence the name “Giving Tree Realty.” While we have spent years working on our concept, it has only been since February 2013 that we have been up and running as Giving Tree Realty. Already we have 19 brokers working with us. This time next year we hope to be at 50.
LG: Clearly, this is not only an important cause, but a big differentiator for your firm.
BB: Everything we do in real estate circles back to the foundation of giving back to the community. When we interview an agent about working for us, we ask which charity is near and dear to his or her heart. The Giving Tree then pledges to complete the circle, which means a portion of every sales commission our broker-associates make is donated to a charity of their choice. I want to stress that real estate brokerages that give back are not a new concept, but engaging agents who work for the brokerage is. Our broker-associates become a thread that helps tie the community together. We partner with non-profits and hold community drives every 60 – 90 days and have very successfully partnered with such charities as The Humane Society and Second Harvest. We are also committed to serving our local military. What we are really trying to do is change the landscape of real estate, one home sale at a time.
LG: How has this helped develop your brand?
BB: We have an amazingly strong brand, which is automatically bolstered through our work with charities and giving back to the community. Many financial institutions partner with us in order to be aligned with our success as REALTORS® and because of our very strong commitment to giving back.
LG: Is there a segment of the market that you’re particularly successful with?
BB: For the last 14 years, Brandy has specialized in REOs. Today, she continues her specialty. While many area brokers only worked REOs when the market was soft, Brandy was in from the beginning. Now, when many brokers have stopped working with REOs, she has a very good share of that market.
LG: What cutting-edge strategies have you recently adopted?
BB: We just partnered with Dotloop transaction management, which is 100-percent Web based. Our contracts, for instance, are now all done online, so you don’t have to print it to sign it. Different iterations of the contract are kept online, making it easy for cooperating brokers and everyone involved in the process.
LG: What do you see for the year ahead?
BB: We could not be more excited about the growth of our company. I don’t think there is a better time to be expanding in the real estate business and we are helping our broker-associates create their own careers—careers that are financially rewarding as well as emotionally rewarding.
For more information, visit www.givingtreerealty.com.