Homebuying for good: Whatcom real estate team makes charity key part of business model

By Emily Hamann
For The Bellingham Business Journal

It’s real estate with a purpose.

Sean Hall and Rob Weston launched 2Roofs almost two years ago. It’s a Windermere Real Estate team that is working to not only get their clients in new houses, but to help get housing for people in Whatcom County who don’t have anywhere to live.

For every real estate transaction they help broker, Hall and Weston donate 10 percent of their commission to a nonprofit that helps house people.

“This comes out of our bottom line,” Weston said. “It doesn’t cost [clients] more to work with us. It doesn’t come out of their pocket or their profits.”

The local nonprofits they work with include Lydia Place, Habitat for Humanity, Opportunity Council, Sean Humphrey House, Northwest Youth Services, Skookum Kids and the Lighthouse Mission.

2Roofs has formed a reciprocal relationship with their charities. Not only do they give them money, but through their own networking they raise awareness about the charity. The charity can also use its networking to raise awareness for 2Roofs. If a nonprofit refers a client to 2Roofs, Hall and Weston double their donation to 20 percent of their commission.

Also 2Roofs gets some help on the marketing side from Windermere Real Estate.

“We leverage Windermere’s reputation and market share, so we’re not having to sell that side of our business,” Weston said. “We can put all our efforts toward our cause.”

Windermere’s reputation, as well as Weston’s track record as successful real estate agent before starting 2Roofs, helps assure clients that their transaction is in good hands.

“We set out on the journey wanting to provide exceptional real estate service,” Weston said. “Because at its core, it is our vehicle that allows us to do what we do.”

Once the transaction is complete, the client gets a customized photo book, with their own story, the story of their home, and also the story of someone who received help from the organization that benefited from the sale.

“That’s a big important piece, making sure our clients really feel the impact,” Hall said. “We want to connect the loop; we don’t want people to just trust that their sale did something.”

Eventually, they hope to get so busy that they can add more agents to their team.

“We have a fantastic pool of agents who would love to come work with us,” Weston said. “We would both love to be in a place where we’re more connected to the nonprofit work and more connected to the management and training of other people.”

They’re also working on a new project which will allow them to spread their business model all over the world. Realize Giving is still in its pilot program, but when it is fully up and running, it has the potential to allow anyone buying or selling a home, anywhere, to get connected with a real estate agent who has agreed to donate a portion of their commission to charity.

“Basically we can work literally anywhere in the world where there are real estate agents,” Hall said. “The agents are all excited to sign on, and the nonprofits are all excited to sign on.”

Using Realize Giving, real estate agents get connected with a client for free, instead of spending time and money advertising and networking.

“They’re really receptive because in the industry, when you get an unsolicited lead or referral, it’s like ‘thank you, yes, I’ll take take it’,” Weston said. “Because it’s very expensive to source leads.”

Normally getting leads takes up a lot of an agent’s resources, Weston said.

Weston brings 20 years of experience as a real estate agent to 2Roofs. Hall had spent his career in nonprofit and religious work. He helped to start churches, and worked in nonprofits and community development.

It all started when three years ago, Hall was looking for a career change. So he went back to school, which is where he discovered classes on social business — those that are created to address a social problem.

“It was an idea that was really interesting to me,” Hall said. “Businesses that exist to bring beauty in the world, not just about profit, but they’re about helping people and the planet. A triple bottom line.

At the same time, Weston was getting burnt out on real estate, despite his booming business.

“I had a fantastic year and my eyes were on the horizon to do something new, and Sean came back just on fire about this idea social business,” Weston said. “I was so excited about the idea of maybe reigniting that whole spark I had back in the day.”

The longtime friends started to come up with ideas for their own social business.

“We began to brainstorm this concept together,” Hall said. “Something in real estate where every sale went to help house a person in need, not by trying to reinvent the wheel, but by supporting great local nonprofits.”

The business allows Weston to do what he’s good at — selling real estate — while at the same time doing something to help nonprofits and the community.

“It turns every transaction into something memorable,” Weston said.


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