Category Archives: Blog Posts

Five Years Ago Today

MobileLoaves&FishesFive years ago today, Give Realty made its very first donation of $1050 to Mobile Loaves & Fishes, on behalf of Gregg and Nancy Vossler.

There was no check presentation, nor any photos taken, but the experience will be forever etched in my memory. The trajectory of my life changed that day. I’ve never been happier or more fulfilled and I have learned a lot about myself in the process.

Here’s a short list:
1. Possessions are just stuff, most of which has to be dusted, cleaned and maintained
2. I can’t wear more than one pair of shoes or earrings, or carry more than one purse at a time
3. Money doesn’t buy you happiness (but it does help you buy a nice car to drive around while you are looking for it!)
4. Relationships are what is important – in life, in love, and in business
5. Success, happiness, and age are only defined in your own head. Don’t let other people’s definition mess with yours.

I spent a lot of time in my teens and twenties imagining what my life would be like when I go to the age I am now (49, if you are wondering). What I imagined is nothing like my life turned out to be, but I’ll never look over my shoulder and wish I took a different path. Best of all, I’m really looking forward to where my path(s) will continue to take me. ~ Laurie

We Have Survived, and Thrived, Thanks to You!

It feels like yesterday and I can remember it as clearly….checking the Texas Real Estate Commission website every two minutes to see if Give Realty had been entered into their system so I could  legally “go live” with the Give Realty brokerage website.

I can hear Donna Summer’s singing “I Will Survive” as I write this.  In July of 2008 I had been divorced for less than a year and had just had my 44th Birthday. Why in the world was I starting a business when I had such a thin financial safety net and have never been a solo entrepreneur before?  And why a real estate brokerage– where the only consistency is the inconsistency of a paycheck?  What the hell was I thinking?

When Give Realty was founded on July 23, 2008, statistically there was a 50/50 chance we would be around to celebrate our 5 year Anniversary. Not only has the brokerage survived, but I have personally found my life’s passion in the process.

It hasn’t always been easy.  Mistakes have been made, a few bridges have been burned, and many lessons learned.  Most importantly – treasured friendships have been formed; I finally figured out what I want to do with the rest of my life and I’ve never been happier.

AngelLogoIf you have seen the invitation for the Anniversary Celebration today, you will notice an angel theme. That’s because we consider each and every client to be an Angel Investor in Give Realty. Thank THEM for what they have allowed Give Realty to do for the community. They are the reason why over $250,000 has been donated to nonprofits.  Without clients, we can’t give.  I’ve often said the greatest benefit of the business model is the caliber of our clients and their willingness to make the world a better place.  They do so, not just through the business model, but in their everyday life.  Our clients are stellar examples of why Austin is the place to be.

There are other contributors too.  I’m not sure Give Realty would have survived if we had started the business in some other city.  Not only did Austin’s economy hold up better than most, but the entreprenuerial spirit is thriving and the community has been extremely supportive. A big thank you to the nonprofit community as well!  You’ve been instrumental in spreading the word and sharing our message.

It really takes a village to keep it all together. I hope that each and every one of you understand how important you are to our survival.  We are really looking forward to the next five years. We can’t do it without you!

Austin broker’s business model: Give back

Article originally published in the Austin American Statesman.

LaurieIt was, Laurie Loew says, one of the bravest moves she has ever made: Starting her own Austin-based real estate company on July 23, 2008.

Loew’s marriage had dissolved the year before, and she wasn’t sure she’d be able to keep working in real estate. But she decided to move forward with her plan to use a “socially responsible” strategy that she hoped would differentiate her firm — which she named Give Realty Inc. — from the competition.

The concept was that Give Realty would be a “philanthropic brokerage” that would donate 25 percent of every sale or commission to a local or national nonprofit of each client’s choice. Having grown up in a Catholic family with nine siblings in an 1,800-square-foot home in Scottsdale, Ariz., Loew says the strategy also aligned with her upbringing — particularly her mom’s mantra to her to always “count your blessings.”

Five years later, Give Realty has surpassed the quarter-million mark in charitable giving, with donations to date totaling $259,527 to nearly 80 nonprofits, Loew said. They include Manto Coahuila Orphanage, the Austin Community Foundation, Safeplace, Any Baby Can, CASA and Austin Pets Alive.

Loew said her firm generated $1 million in revenue in the past five years, including more than $300,000 in the 12 months that ended in June. Assuming the current sales pace continues, Loew expects to top the $500,000 donation mark within two years.

Debbie Johnson, director of Austin Gives, a nonprofit organization that recognizes businesses that give back 1 percent or more of their pre-tax earnings, said Give Realty “epitomizes great philanthropy in Austin.”

Loew “not only gives back way more than most businesses, but she is also committed to creating other, new philanthropists so there is a magnified effect to her giving,” Johnson said by e-mail.

Nationwide, corporate giving is typically just over .1 percent of revenue and just under 1 percent of pre-tax earnings, Johnson said.

Susan Raymond, executive vice president of New York-based Changing Our World, a global consulting firm to nonprofit organizations, corporations, private foundations and philanthropists, said a “fundamental change” is taking place in the way communities and companies look at their relationship to one another.

In an e-mail, Raymond said companies like Give Realty “represent a growing trend in which the success of business creates resources to strengthen community. This has always been the case in many ways – successful business creates jobs and economic value which strengthens community. But to that benefit is now added a more purposeful resource transfer, that adds to the inherent relationship a conscious contribution to the nonprofit institutions that serve the larger societal need.

The changing model, Raymond said, is a “win-win; business gains, economies gain, and the larger community is strengthened by the shared attention to societal needs.”

22laurie-articleInlineFrom the outset, Loew said the “socially responsible” business model she adopted was life-changing.

Loew said when she made Give Realty’s first donation — $1,050 to Mobile Loaves and Fishes on July 31, 2008 — the nonprofit’s receptionist didn’t quite know what to make of it when Loew dropped off the check.

“I literally cried on my way home, I was so happy,” Loew said. “It felt really good.”

Her next client worked at Dell Inc., resulting in a $1,600 check to the Downs Syndrome Association of Central Texas. Dell Inc. matched the contribution, for a total gift of $3,200.

Loew said that even as she watched her retirement savings dwindle during the firm’s first two years as she struggled along with the economy, she refused to change her business model, continuing to donate the full 25 percent.

“It was an investment in my future, and in Austin’s future,” said Loew, whose firm has two full-time agents, one part-time agent and an administrative assistant.

Loew said if every local real estate agent had given one-fourth of their commissions to nonprofits, it would have resulted in more than $14 million being donated in May alone.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg of what can be done,” she said.

Paul Hilgers, president of the Austin Board of Realtos, said Loew “should be recognized for the creative business model that she has, and we are interested in exploring other opportunities for Austin Realtors to make a difference in their community like she has.”

He said it will be a topic of discussion for the board and its foundation going forward, including in upcoming strategic planning sessions.

That’d be just fine by Loew, who said her business model is not about her becoming wealthy, but about “doing some good in the world.” And it has altered her definition of success along the way.

“I have never been happier,” Loew said. “I literally get goosebumps every day. You can create change.”

Being Part of the 1%

Blog article originally posted on Austin Gives on July 15, 2013.

LaurieOK, not THAT part – the Austin Gives part!   It feels really good to give back to our great community and to make it stronger.  To know my company and employees are making a difference.

I was very naïve about the giving component in my business when I started Give Realty.  There are two things I learned about nonprofits that really opened my eyes and allowed me to realize the big impact my small company was having.

Unrestricted funding.  I had no clue as to how important donations with “no strings attached” are to an organization.  This is very different than grants, which are awarded to nonprofits for very specific purposes.  Unrestricted funds can also be used to get matching funds from grants and government entities.  At the nonprofit LifeWorks, an unrestricted donation of $100 can be leveraged to get up to $700 in matching funding.

Impact.  Nonprofits are masters at getting the most bang for your buck!  You don’t have to give a large amount of money to have a considerable impact.  Below are a few examples of what nonprofits can do with $1, $10 and $100.

$1 donated to the Capital Area Food Bank can be leveraged to purchase $5 worth of food which will provide the ingredients for 3 nutritious meals.

$10 will provide 600 nails for an Austin Habitat for Humanity Home build.

$100 invested in spay/neuter surgery will prevent the need for 12 dogs or cats to be put in a shelter.  Did you know the average cost to shelter an unwanted pet costs is $40 per day?

See how easy it is to have a considerable impact?  You don’t have to be wealthy to do a wealth of good in Austin!  My sincere thanks to all the Austin Gives members for committing to give 1% or more of pretax earnings back to the community on an annual basis.

SafePlace: Why Your Donations Matter

Guest Blog by Katelyn Gorski, Communications Assistant at SafePlace.

Irizarry Safe Place Donation

Pictured left to right, Give Realty Agent Sarka Mraz, Denise Irizarry, and SafePlace Community Relations Coordinator Steven Olender.

On June 4, Give Realty donated $782 to SafePlace on behalf of first-time homebuyer Denise Irizarry.

SafePlace is an Austin non-profit ending domestic violence through safety, healing, prevention and social change. SafePlace is most widely known for our 105 bed shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We also run a variety of other services including counseling, community education and a 24-hour hotline for those in crisis–512.267.SAFE or relay/VRS for the Deaf community.

The connection between the work of Give Realty and that of SafePlace is a strong one. Give Realty clients like Denise are embarking on a new phase in their lives when they purchase a house. By choosing to donate to SafePlace, they are also sharing this moment in their lives with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who are beginning to rebuild theirs. It’s no wonder that more Give Realty home buyers have chosen to donate to SafePlace than any other organization, for a total of $9,571.90 since Give Realty was founded.

The need for SafePlace is staggering. In 2012, Austin had more than 9,000 reported cases of domestic violence and over 900 reported rapes and sexual assaults. When you look at these numbers, please do so with the understanding that research estimates that less than 20% of rapes and cases of domestic violence are actually reported. Unfortunately, the need in Austin is so great that our shelter is always full, and there is always a waiting list. In 2012, SafePlace had 861 emergency shelter clients, 86% of whom reported exiting to a safe location when they left us. These 861 clients spent a combined total 34,887 nights in the shelter.

The survivors who seek refuge at SafePlace have lost their sense of home and safety. We do what we can to give that back to our clients at every step in their process. Our hospital and legal advocates ensure that no one who seeks help is alone through the process of going through a sexual assault examination, or reporting and prosecuting a rape. Our shelter, built after numerous focus groups with survivors, is divided into six clusters, each of which has a shared kitchen space and living area. This helps build a community among survivors, leading to 78% of adult clients reporting a reduced feeling of isolation. The kitchen space also gives our clients the autonomy of cooking their own food and eating meals they like. This is a small act of power for someone escaping a situation in which he or she felt powerless. Through free counseling services at SafePlace, they learn they are not alone and that the abuse is something that happened to them and not something they have caused.

Survivors often must choose between returning to live with their abuser and becoming homeless. Some residents transitioning out of the shelter move to our Supportive Housing Program, which offers longer term housing and also trainings to prepare survivors for their lives post-shelter. There were 196 residents (adults and kids) in our supportive housing program in 2012.

It’s important to note, SafePlace serves more children than adults. We have an on-site child development center and K-12 charter school so that children fleeing violent situations will not risk being the target of an abusive parent and will not fall behind academically. We want everyone living here to feel as safe and comfortable as possible at all times.

We are so grateful for all the Give Realty program has given to our clients. So much of the work we do depends on donations. The amount donated from Denise’s purchase covers three days of operating costs for our school. To learn more about the many programs we have at SafePlace visit us or follow us on social media. Let’s keep Austin SAFE.

Quarterly Donations Recap (April to June, 2013): Helps Exceed a Milestone!

This has been a great quarter for donations! Thanks to our clients, we were able to donate a total of $30,436 this quarter, bringing our total donations since our founding to 258,280.55, and exceeding the exciting milestone of $250,000 in donations!

We thought it would be nice to take a look back at all the donations we have made on behalf of our clients since the beginning of April.Give Realty Donations

  • $4,854.00 Donated to CASA of Travis County on Behalf of Hugh McGowan and Julie Warner. This donation provided a CASA advocate for a year to three children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
  • $1,238.00 donated to Planned Parenthood on behalf of Becca Roberts.
  • $1,566.00 donated to Foster Angels on behalf of Jason and Kendall Clark.
  • $694.00 donated to Animal Trustees of Austin on behalf of Mary Hill. This donation provided for 69 rabies vaccinations or 23 cat neuters or 12 dog spays or 2 lifesaving heartworm treatments.
  • $694.00 donated to Meals on Wheels and More on behalf of Mary Hill. This donation provided for 283 meals to be delivered to the homebound.
  • $2,512.50 donated to Emancipet on behalf of Farzaneh Pourabdi. This donation was part of an Emancipet challenge grant and, as such, was matched by Mr. James Armstrong & Mr. Larry Connelly.
  • $5,150.00 donated to The Care Communities on behalf of Kim, Tommy, and Carol Johnson.
  • $782.00 donated to SafePlace on behalf of Denise Irizarry. This donation provided 3 days of operating costs for the school that the children of domestic violence victims attend while at SafePlace.
  • $2,237.50 donated to The Care Communities on behalf of Kim and Carol Johnson
  • $1,949.25 donated to Camp For All on behalf of Dave and Kelsey Campbell. This donation will send 4 children to camp.
  • $1,248.75 donated to the food pantry at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on behalf of Dave Johnson & Kathy Raesz. This donation provided for 2 Quarterly extended 6.28semi-monthly food pantry orders, each consisting of 30 loaves of bread, 30 gallons of milk, 30 dozen eggs and around 35 cases of canned foods.
  • $1,120.00 donated to Austin Pets Alive! on behalf of Ashleigh and Jeremy Tolliver. This donation provided basic care – spay/neuter (if the animal hasn’t been already), microchip, vaccinations, and any other basic medical care they might need like a basic wellness exam, medication for a cold, etc. – for 11 animals.
  • $950.00 donated to St. Louise House on behalf of Esther Zacarias in memory of Dr. Joe Zacarias. This donation provided all the care needed (food, shelter clothing, counseling, career placement) for 30 days for a client and her children.
  • $1,440 Donation to ATX Winterguard on Behalf of Michael Vazquez and Judy Easton and in honor of Helen Vasquez.
  • $2,000 Donated to the Central Presbyterian Church on Behalf of Kim and Carol Johnson, in honor of Jim Lancaster, and in memory of Rose Lancaster.
  • $2,000 donated to Dell Children’s Medical Center Foundation on behalf of the Brindley Family.

We will continue to bring you quarterly donation recaps throughout the year. Look for the next one in September!

10 Steps to Selling Your Home

Selling your home can be a daunting process. Is it a good time to sell? What do you need to do to prepare to sell your house? How should you price your home? A licensed Realtor© can help you with every step of the process.

We want to share the specific steps that we lead you through to sell your home.

Family in front of house1. Define your goals, wants, needs and expectations. A good place to begin the home selling process is by exploring your short and long term goals in life and how selling your home fits in. We will walk through a process we use to thoroughly understand our client’s goals, wants and needs to ensure that your expectations are met.

2. Determine the best price for what’s going on in the market right now. We assess the current state of the market and what comparable homes are actually selling for by reviewing a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on your home. That way, we can objectively determine its fair market value and price it right.

3. Prepare your property so that it is in top-selling condition. Most of us don’t keep our homes in top-selling condition. We will work with you to help you see things from a buyer’s point of view. We will consult with you on what to repair, replace or remove so that your home makes a GREAT first impression.

4. Implement time-proven, research-based marketing strategies. Your home will be marketed with a marketing plan that has the highest potential for bringing not only the most buyers, but also the most qualified buyers to your doorstep.

5. Show your property. Always keep your home in top-selling condition. When you leave for work, make sure that your home remains in top-selling condition. You know what they say about first impressions!

6. Receive an offer. When a buyer decides to buy your home, an offer will be presented. We will advise you on the offer and whether the buyer is qualified to purchase your home.

7. Negotiate to sell. Most offers require some level of negotiation. We will work together to decide your parameter and we will negotiate on your behalf.

8. Have your home appraised and inspected. Once you have accepted an offer, we will work with the buyer’s agent to coordinate an appraisal, inspections and a survey (if required). If the buyer requires that certain repairs be made on your home, we will continue to negotiate on your behalf and recommend vendors so we move successfully from contract to closing.

9. Prepare for closing. A few days before closing (also known as settlement), we will contact the title company and the buyer’s agent to ensure that all the necessary forms and documents have been prepared. We will work with you to review the closing documents and let you know what additional forms and information you need to bring to the closing meeting.

10. Close! At the closing meeting, ownership of your property is legally transferred to the buyer. We will be present to advise you and ensure that everything goes according to plan.

A Milestone Week!

It’s been an exciting and busy week here at Give Realty. In the past week we have made four donations, helping us to achieve three different milestones in the process.

Irizarry Safe Place DonationFirst, we donated $782.00 to SafePlace on behalf of Denise Irizarry. Not only did this donation provide 3 days of operating costs for the school that the children of domestic violence victims attend while at SafePlace, but it helped us reach two exciting milestones. With this donation, SafePlace became the nonprofit to receive the most charitable donations from our clients – $9,573.90 over the past five years.

Sarka Pic

This donation also represents the first transaction and donation for agent Sarka Mraz, the newest addition to the Give Realty Team. Congratulations Sarka! From what we hear, making this donation and touring SafePlace was a very special experience for Sarka – but we will let her tell you all about it herself in a few weeks.

Donations two and three consisted of $2,237.50 to The Care Communities on behalf of Kim and Carol Johnson and $1,949.25 to Camp For All on behalf of Dave and Kelsey Campbell.

Dave Johnson St. Andrew'sOur final donation in the past week was $1,248. 75 donated to the food pantry at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, on behalf of Dave Johnson & Kathy Raesz. This donation provided for 2 semi-monthly food pantry orders, each consisting of 30 loaves of bread, 30 gallons of milk, 30 dozen eggs and around 35 cases of canned foods. It also helped us to reach a third milestone.

With this donation, Give Realty exceeded the very exciting milestone of $250,000 in total donations made to nonprofits on behalf of our clients since our founding in July of 2008!

To say that this has been a wonderful week for all of us would be an understatement. We want to thank each and every person who helped make these milestones possible – we couldn’t have done it without you! We also want to let you know that we are just gearing up; look for many more donations and milestones in our future.

How Long Does It Take to Sell a Home?

22laurie-articleInlineThere is no easy answer – some homes sell in a few days, others may take several months. Recognizing the key factors influencing a sale can give you significant control over market time.

The proper balance of these factors will expedite your sale:

• Location is the single greatest factor affecting value.
• Neighborhood desirability is fundamental to a property’s fair market value.

• Buyers compare your property against competing properties.
• Buyers interpret value based on available properties.

• The real estate market may reflect a seller’s market or a buyer’s market.
• Market conditions can not be manipulated; an individually tailored marketing plan must be developed accordingly.

• Property condition affects price and speed of sale.
• Optimizing physical appearances and advance preparation for marketing maximizes value.

• The more flexible the financing, the broader the market, the quicker the sale and the higher the price.
• Terms structured to meet your objectives are important to successful marketing.

• If the property is not properly priced, a sale may be delayed or even prevented.
• Your home generates the most interest in the real estate community and among potential buyers during the first 30 days it is on the market. If it is not properly priced during this time, we miss out on this peak level of interest.

A licensed Realtor© will work with you on each of these factors to help ensure that your home has the best chance of selling quickly.

How it Works

When you buy or sell a home, 25% of Give Realty’s commission is donated to the 501(c)3 nonprofit of the client’s choice. That’s right – YOU choose the recipient. Learn More

Change your address. Change the World.®