Real Estate

New Story shows how luxury agents can pay it forward as philanthropic partners

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There are few businesses as people-focused as real estate. And in luxury real estate, agents become especially attuned to anticipating their clients’ needs and helping their dreams come true, and their exceptional service is paralleled when it comes to supporting charitable causes.

That compassion helps drive the success of nonprofits like New Story, which counts Sotheby’s International Realty as its largest real estate partner. The humanitarian organization has built more than 3,300 homes for unhoused people worldwide, constructing 37 communities in four countries and transforming over 15,000 lives.

“I first became aware of New Story when the organization participated in an Anywhere (formerly known as Realogy) event in 2017 and Brett Hagler, a co-founder and the current CEO of New Story, delivered his compelling vision,” recalls Budge Huskey, President and CEO of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. “This led to me and my wife becoming personally engaged with the charity.”

Inspired, Huskey went to visit Hagler in Haiti to witness New Story’s work, where there’s an ongoing humanitarian crisis in desperate need of help. “The challenges of Haiti are simply beyond imagination. And yet, the passion of the New Story team, combined with the optimism of the Haitian people, led to the creation of an entirely new life for those with so little. I returned and committed to rallying our team to this great cause. Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, along with my wife and I, have been building homes ever since.”

The necessity of New Story

Titanyen Community Project, Haiti (image courtesy of New Story and Mission of Hope)

Wanda Ford

The United Nations has projected that global homelessness could grow from 1.6 billion to 3 billion people by 2030. As real estate agents know all too well, everyone needs and deserves a place to call home, and that’s why they’ve stepped up to help.

“I’ve been in the building and real estate world for over 40 years, and everything about this mission speaks to me,” says Wanda Ford, Real Estate Associate with LIV Sotheby’s International Realty. “I love the ingenuity of the process and the hope that New Story brings. It feels good to be a small part of that.”

Titanyen Community Project, Haiti (image courtesy of New Story and Mission of Hope)

James Pearsall

“A hundred percent of what you can give is used to build homes for families in need,” says James Pearsall, REALTOR with Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty. “The first year that we donated, our local newspaper shared our story just before Christmas. I soon got a call from a neighbor who wanted to confirm the address of where to send a donation to New Story — he wanted to build a house, too.”

The efficiency of New Story and the ease of contributing are noted by Ford as well. “I can look back at the end of the year and know I have personally financed the building of a number of homes,” she says. “I contribute a fixed amount from each of my closed transactions. It’s so easy to do, and Sotheby’s International Realty has been so supportive of my efforts.”

To combat social issues, it will take collaboration and ambition

Luxury agents are accustomed to setting and hitting large targets, so they’re great partners for nonprofits with big goals — like addressing global homelessness. The Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s next objective for New Story is to raise an additional US$400,000 in order to build the second phase of the Titanyen community in Haiti after the success of the original Titanyen community has already been completed there.

“If we can channel our enthusiasm for real estate into helping to house families — who will then build on the foundation of home ownership to benefit future generations — it will be all the more satisfying; as agents, we’re personally invested in helping people find homes,” Pearsall says.

To date, Sotheby’s International Realty has raised more than US$1.2 million for New Story, and those dollars go a long way. With its modular building designs and efficiency in putting donations to work, New Story can assemble a safe, sustainable home for the second phase of the Titanyen community for under US$7,000.

Titanyen Community Project, Haiti (image courtesy of New Story and Mission of Hope)

Budge Huskey

“I keep my network updated on what’s happening with New Story, and always share that this is one of the ways my business gives back,” says Ford. “By doing so, others have been exposed to the mission and have made their own donations to the cause over the years.”

For Pearsall, it’s important to support a charity with such tangible outcomes. “Knowing the impact I have on a family is a game changer. I really can’t explain the feeling my wife and I had that first time we donated — to know we were genuinely changing lives.”

Huskey agrees. He says that while any humanitarian cause is worthy of support, a nonprofit like New Story is unique. “There are few opportunities to donate to a charity where such a small amount of money can truly alter the course for generations to come, and where every dollar goes directly to the cause and isn’t used to pay overhead,” he says. “New Story is connected to what we do — it is the power of home.”

Support the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s goal to build 60 new homes in Haiti. A donation not only helps construct houses in vulnerable communities but builds the foundation for a future where the basic human right to shelter provides the comfort we too often take for granted.

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