Local Agents Pull Off a $6,000 Miracle

Brokerage juggernaut Global Living was looking for a way to make lives better for others quickly and cost-effectively. What they found was so quick and cost-effective, it surprised even them.

In less than an hour, Global Living Team agents raised $6,000 to build a safe home for a family in need like this one in South America. | Photo: New Story

In less than an hour, Global Living Team agents raised $6,000 to build a safe home for a family in need like this one in South America. | Photo: New Story

How would you like to be able to raise the money you need to build your home in about an hour?

For some of the world’s poorest, it’s now possible to do that. And one of this region’s largest and most successful real estate sales teams is partnering with the group that makes this possible as a way to make a difference on a larger scale than just pitching in on building affordable homes.

The Global Living Team, one of the top five producers in the Keller Williams Realty family, is partnering with New Story, a nonprofit organization that builds homes for the homeless in some of the world’s poorest regions through a Save the Children-style model where donors get to know the families their money is building homes for. (Prior to taking the reins here at Property, your editor ran the Philly Living Blog, sponsored by Global Living founder, chairman and realtor-developer Noah Ostroff.)

Global Living CEO Jake Dreyfuss explained how this partnership came to pass.

“We love organizations like Habitat for Humanity, but we also know that in Philadelphia, it can be difficult to get work [completed quickly] on a job site,” he said. “We were looking for something scalable that could produce quick results.”

And that’s where New Story comes in. The nonprofit charity has as its goal “turning slums into thriving communities” for the 828 million people who live in inadequate housing in some of the world’s poorest countries. For just $6,000, New Story can build a safe and sanitary home for one family in need; donors adopt the family and learn about its hopes, dreams and challenges. Then, when the home is complete, they get a video from the family showing the construction of the home and the ways in which it has improved their lives. The charity currently focuses on building homes in South America and Haiti.

Dreyfuss learned about the group when he and other Global Living team members heard New Story representatives speak about a year ago. “We’d been looking for a [charitable] partner that could offer a connection with the people we’re benefitting, and ever since we heard them speak, [establishing a partnership with New Story has] been part of our mission, because we’re also concerned about homelessness and getting homes to people in need.”

How New Story goes about its work also appealed to Dreyfuss. “100 percent of their donations go towards building the home,” he explained. (The organization’s administrative costs and staff salaries are covered by foundation grants.) “All the labor and materials are locally sourced, and they’re open and transparent about their sources.”

Global Living approached New Story about setting up a partnership last fall. The acid test came last month, when team members pooled their resources for a fundraising blitz.

“We wanted to see if we could donate a house in an hour,” Dreyfuss said.

Team members set up a boiler-room-style operation in a Global Living conference room, working social media, making phone calls and sending text messages to friends and clients past and present encouraging them to contribute.

“We were able to almost make two houses in that time,” said Dreyfuss.

Such was the effectiveness of the drive that Dreyfuss decided the team’s original goal of donating one house to a family in need this year was insufficiently ambitious. “When we saw how quickly we could do it, we went for donating four houses this year to families.”

And even that might not be ambitious enough: Dreyfuss admitted that he would personally like to raise the money to build a home every month. Team members will be able to assist with every sale: a portion of their commissions will go towards building another New Story home, and clients will receive materials explaining the project and family being funded with those commission donations at the closing table. (Of course, there’s an ulterior motive for this: the agents hope they too will be motivated to chip in.)

Dreyfuss said that Global Living’s first New Story home will probably be built for a family in Haiti. It’s still possible to donate money to build that second house via the “Global Living Gives Back” fundraising page at New Story; eight days remain until the campaign ends. After that, Dreyfuss said, “New Story is interested in developing the technology to expedite contributions and integrate with Global Living.”