Real Estate

For I Heart Real Estate, it’s about more than real estate

CEO Christopher Stevens invites employees to volunteer with him

HW+ I Heart Real Estate team

When the I Heart Real Estate team isn’t busy with clients, it’s a safe bet that the company is helping someone, somewhere, in a time of need. Founder and CEO Christopher Stevens insists on it.

On the I Heart Real Estate blog section of the company website, a post authored by Stevens entitled “Do You Have Heart?” is near the top. An excerpt from the post reads “Confucius said, ‘wherever you go, go with all your heart.’ Hubbard said to ‘do your work with your whole heart, and you will succeed – there’s so little competition.’ Although there are many more idioms, expressions, and clichés, here at I Heart Real Estate having heart truly has an important meaning.”

For Stevens, it’s about more than just a paycheck. Stevens quit his corporate job to follow his passion for real estate, but even after joining the field, he felt something was missing from the industry. So, he created I Heart Real Estate — a company currently licensed in Ohio and Michigan that flies in the face of what Stevens calls “the big box brands.”

“I realized they all conducted business pretty much the same way, made the same promises and that the traditional brokerage model was too expensive,” Stevens said. “That’s why I created I Heart Real Estate — to disrupt the overpriced and outdated real estate brokerage model.”

The mission

Stevens, now with 20 years in the real estate industry, targeted “go-getters and dreamers” to be a part of the agency, he said, pursuing agents and brokers that he said were tired of paying high commission splits and realized they needed to be supported by their broker — instead of the other way around.

“We allow and want all of our agents to become the best version of themselves,” Stevens said. “By creating this environment, we are confident that client experience will be second-to-none.”

Stevens and the company partnered with The Crawford Crew, a 501(c)(3) organization focused on ending HPV-related cancers, and the Lisa Denardo-Pete Polk Memorial Foundation, a group that provides financial support and advocacy for children and families in need. Employees, colleagues and associates are also always allowed to volunteer at any of the charities that I Heart Real Estate is partnering with, Stephens said.

“Participating in charity is easy for us,” he said. “The more we give, the happier we feel. Volunteering is very simply the act of doing good things for others and the community, which results in a sense of accomplishment. Our role as volunteers gives a sense of pride and identity. We want to involve any and everyone that wants to be involved.”

While volunteering for the Lisa Denardo-Pete Polk Foundation, Stevens said his four children benefited from the experience just as much as he did. “Their perspective has improved, their gratitude and appreciation for the blessing in their life have been realized and they have even made some new friends along the way,” he said.

The impact of COVID-19

For Stevens, the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic only offered more opportunities for I Heart Real Estate to give back, he said. One example, he said, was setting up a virtual 5K charity run instead of an in-person race.

“The current COVID environment has only impacted the personal aspect of charitable work, but the mission was the same,” he said. “We found that many charitable activities limited personal interaction. However, we could still provide monetary support and achieve similar results. Many of our traditional initiatives were limited by the pandemic, but we still found creative ways to participate and offer much-needed support.”

Like many real estate firms, I Heart Real Estate took a cautious approach during the pandemic, putting the agents, buyers, and sellers first. The company handed out a “Buyer Tool Kit”, which included things like disposable shoe-covers, hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes, facemasks and introduced contactless transactional solutions — including additional access to technology, virtual showings and remote closings.

Despite how hot the housing market was last year, Stevens and I Heart Real Estate still found time to do what they felt was most important, and a recent trip to spend time with children at the Methodist Children’s Home underlined the true passion Stevens finds in his day-to-day activities.

“Having had the wonderful opportunity to participate in many events, you quickly realize that the families and children are genuinely deserving and so incredibly appreciative of all the charitable work,” he said. “However, the irony is that it is not about what we give to them, but rather what they give to us.”

This article was originally featured in the September issue of HousingWire Magazine. To read the full issue, go here.

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