Concierge Auctions is bringing the gift of home to families in developing countries.
By Courtney Runn, Photos courtesy of Concierge Auctions, Headshot by Courtney Runn
Laura Brady met Miriam for the first time in a small village in Nicaragua, but she immediately recognized her face.
“We have your picture in our office,” Brady remembers telling her, and the woman began to cry. Miriam couldn’t believe this woman living in Austin knew her and cared about her.
Brady, the president of luxury-real-estate auction firm Concierge Auctions, traveled to Nicaragua last year with several co-workers for her company’s Key to Key initiative, which builds homes in developing areas for every home the company sells, in a Toms-inspired model. Brady and her team hang pictures of every house recipient on the walls of their downtown Austin office to keep those new homeowners in the forefront of their minds. As Brady’s employees auction off luxury properties every day, these pictures remind them there is more purpose in their work than finding clients their third or fourth or even fifth home.
Brady co-founded Concierge Auctions in 2008 with her business partner, Chad Roffers. Brady was selling real estate in Florida in the early 2000s when she met Roffers. The two could already see patterns in the market that hinted at the looming recession and developed a method of auctioning luxury properties to combat the lethargic selling rate. The company quickly grew, and six months later, Brady moved to New York City. The company soon expanded globally, with Brady and Roffers selling properties internationally.
Concierge Auctions has maintained its rapid growth, opening an office in downtown Austin, where Brady works when she’s not traveling. Staying ahead of technology curves and producing award-winning videos to market the company’s homes have kept the business on the forefront of the real-estate world and garnered Brady national attention. Among its many awards, Concierge Auctions has been listed as one of America’s fastest-growing companies three years in a row by Inc. magazine.
Philanthropy has always been a key value for Brady as she built her company. While her team participated in a variety of projects, she didn’t develop a committed partnership until meeting Caroline Pinal at a conference. Pinal and her business partner worked for Toms (the shoe company that launched the one-for-one model and matches every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need) before founding Giveback Homes, an organization committed to instilling social good in the real-estate world. Concierge Auctions partnered with the company to establish the Key to Key program, which officially launched last year.
Brady describes her first trip to Nicaragua as life-changing and hopes to return soon. All her employees now have the opportunity to help build the donated homes, and the company most recently sent a team to El Salvador in October. To date, more than 150 homes have been built through the program. Brady says she now can’t even imagine the company without Key to Key and says some of her recent hires accepted the job offer purely because of this philanthropic component.
“Younger generations want to better the world,” Brady says. “It is going to be something that is definitely a growing trend, if not a necessity, for businesses if they want to retain good talent.”
Brady and Miriam remain in touch via Facebook. Brady was pleasantly surprised to receive a Facebook friend request from her Nicaraguan friend, and until the next time they meet, Miriam’s picture remains on the wall in Concierge Auctions’ Austin office with the word “cherished” beneath it, a constant reminder of the value of a home.