A Happy House: Local Realtors Giving Back

Steve Parker
National Director
A Happy House at Keller Williams Realty

The conversation begins with an audacious goal – Steve Parker wants to give away a billion dollars and impact 100 million lives. Who could complain? But it’s the innovative shift he’s brought to his industry that we found fascinating. Steve and the team at A Happy House have found a way to partner with homeowners and non-profit organizations to make this proclamation more attainable. 

In our conversation with Steve, he broke down the path they forged to get to today where they give away 25% of their commission on every real estate transaction to local charities.

What was the initial motivation to start A Happy House?

The real estate agent community does a great job of getting out there and being a professional service provider. If you want to buy a house or sell a house, they have that process down pat.  But what if we could show the world that the real estate community is really about the love of people?

So we just started asking our clients what has their heart. Tell us what you care about, where you serve, what’s your favorite charity. And the excitement in their response was contagious. When we got to the end of each real estate transaction where our client bought or sold a house, we simply cut a check to their favorite non-profit. Suddenly we found ourselves at a pet rescue following closing or down the street at a homeless shelter we didn’t know existed. Now we find ourselves going out into the neighborhoods planting flowers for mothers living in subsidized housing or visiting local seniors or building access ramps.  

The momentum from those early transactions has just ignited this movement we call A Happy House. 

Why support lots of nonprofits versus focusing on a few?

Large corporations tend to pick a handful of organizations focusing in on one or two nonprofits or issues. That seems to be the general model. But we go along with our customers. Wherever they have a heart, our contribution follows. Each week we are introduced to another amazing nonprofit, we gain a better understanding of the need and how these remarkable organization address the need. We can’t go back now, we are just beginning to dream with our nonprofit partners about their goals and what they could do with more resources – more financial capital, more volunteers. We’re dreaming together to make it happen.

You mentioned that the needs feel even greater than they were in 2020?

On the front end of the pandemic, nonprofits were generally doing ok. The world pulled together. Somewhere along the road to recovery the pendulum shifted and right now we find that the nonprofits need help. They are calling us looking for more pro-active solutions to their financial deficits and innovative ways to continue serving those in need.

So you have offered A Happy House model to non-profits and their core supporters?

Yes, we decided to partner with the non-profits by offering them A Happy House model as an alternative fundraising solution. The housing market continues to boom. So if their donors and volunteers – the families already committed to their mission – want to make sure their favorite nonprofit benefits from their real estate transaction, we make that happen. 

We help the non-profits with a marketing campaign, communications calendar, graphics and storytelling to explain the opportunity to their loyal supporters. By doing this, we are able to come alongside a non-profit and help them accomplish the amazing work they are doing. For each supporter that closes on a transaction we ensure that 25% of our agent’s commission is given back to the nonprofit. And you don’t have to be a Keller Williams agent to participate.  You can be with ReMax or Century21 or Better Homes & Gardens, Sotheby’s whatever.  Any agent can support the non-profits in their community or the non-profit’s their buyers and sellers care about by using A Happy House model.

We hope that A Happy House helps connect homeowners and home buyers to their personal passions and helps the non-profits with the heavy lifting they’re facing in meeting their fundraising goals.

How does your team feel about giving 25% of their commission away?

There is no better way to do business.  There’s something so encouraging when you are able to come alongside an organization or an individual and do what’s right.  We are all continually impressed and thankful to be a part of this.  Frankly, we would all like to figure out a way to give more away!