Just as the name suggests, Living Room Realty is on a mission to create a “living room” environment for their business and community.
The Portland, OR-based brokerage specializes in urban neighborhoods and supports local businesses to ensure those neighborhoods thrive.
Founder Jenelle Isaacson had practiced real estate for eight years before opening Living Room’s doors. Her vision of the company started when she began working on a “green” marketing campaign as an agent. She had been thinking a lot about how to operate a truly sustainable business, something that was meaningful to her, and also about how she wanted her business to be about her clients and her community.
In 2008, just as the market was crashing in many areas, Jenelle bought a building in Portland right next to The Tin Shed, a busy local breakfast spot, and launched Living Room Realty.
A brand we can all relate to
What’s with the name Living Room Realty?
Jenelle says she’d been thinking about how people are always seeking a certain space – a garage, office, den, etc. – where they can spend time and really live.
“I was expanding on that idea… and how when you’re in the right house you start creating more room to live. You start engaging in your community,” she said.
That’s how she landing on Living Room.
The company’s logo is a wheel shape with eight spokes. Each spoke represents a value created by the founding agents. Those values are diversity, connection, integrity, joy, balance, abundance, excellence and relevance.
With Living Room, mission and values all tie back to the local community.
From beginnings to B Corp
One of the things that’s very different about Living Room is the fact that it’s a certified B Corp, which means it meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance.
From the beginning, Jenelle and team were compelled to hold themselves to high standards rather than just say they’re green and recycle.
“It really helped us have something to strive toward, knowing we’d have more accountability,” she said. “And it gave us a guide to think about some of the metrics in our business.”
Jenelle said the audit to become a B Corp took about a year and she humbly credits her office manager with setting up and managing a lot of the hard work that went into it.
Rooted in blogging
One of Living Room’s most successful online marketing endeavors has been blogging.
When they first launched, they didn’t have a budget for SEO or web ads, so Jenelle set up a blog-based website and asked every agent to blog.
Knowing not everyone is a writer, she realized that didn’t matter anyway. What mattered were pictures of local homes.
“We have 43 affiliated agents at our company,” Jenelle said. “Every time they sell a house, they write a simple blog post. Because of this, our website collects a lot of organic traffic.”
She educates agents on the importance of the photos rather than the words. She recommends that they think of each blog more as a property flyer than a story.
What the agents like is after awhile, each has amassed an online portfolio of homes they’ve sold – something that’s easy to send to prospective clients.
“The blog has been a simple free tool that keeps on giving,” she said.
Living Room strongly values connecting with the local community and does this in many ways.
They send out a quarterly newsletter that highlights a local business – often clients’ businesses – and tell their stories. They also source as much as they can locally. For example, they will give closing gifts that are made locally like llama blankets from an Oregon co-op.
They also host events of interest to the local community like builder talks, and highlight local events on their blog.
Living Room Realty has by many standards reached success and beyond. They’re walking the walk – sourcing and participating in their local community, meeting the highest social and environmental standards a company can achieve, and making sales.
Jenelle said as of the end of 2013, they had the seventh largest market share in Portland.
Their customers are happy – and brokers and agents are having fun.
So, what’s next?
Jenelle would love to expand geographically across Portland. “I’d love to see the continued success of the brokers and would love to see our affiliated agents succeed in building businesses for themselves,” she said.
The pace will continue to be steady and healthy, she added. “I feel like anything that’s healthy grows.”