The residential real-estate firm advocates for families finding homes by giving back to local nonprofits.
By Brianna Caleri
In 2018, Laura Gottesman was in Bolivia. She joined HeartGift for a mission trip, with the charity providing no-cost lifesaving heart surgery for children with congenital heart defects in countries where these services aren’t readily available. A woman very proud of her own family— members of which are prominently featured on her Gottesman Residential Real Estate website—she found she was good at connecting with families who traveled astounding distances for a chance to save their children. She thought about her own children and comforted the Bolivian patients in the same way. She thought about her own family as she explained the procedures to children’s parents, helping doctors to fit as many surgeries as possible into the weeklong service trip.
Gottesman built her company on the idea of luxury experience, regardless of a property’s square footage or asking price. Amid—and perhaps enabled by—all this luxury, Gottesman redirects the company’s success to charities like HeartGift and into the community.
“It’s not just about us,” Gottesman says. “It’s about being better stewards in the community. It’s about spreading the success.”
Gottesman Residential, recognized multiple times by the Austin Business Journal as one of the city’s Top 10 Women-owned Businesses, has philanthropy built so deeply into its identity that 50 percent of its net profits go to charity or back into the Austin community. This year, for the first time, agents can donate a portion of their closing commissions to HeartGift in honor of their clients. At the end of the year, Gottesman Residential will match the contributions and aims to underwrite next year’s mission trip. That tallies up to a year-end goal of $50,000 exclusively for HeartGift.
It’s easy to keep the staff aligned in donating to the cause. Giving back is a cornerstone of the business and a prerequisite of joining the team. (Gottesman says she only accepts the best agents, and the team happens to be overwhelmngly female. She maintains it’s a natural result of a strong, woman-dominated industry.) Gottesman pitched HeartGift as a firm beneficiary. Even so, the charity was chosen through a vote, and the company relies strongly on collaboration in day-to-day activities.
Gottesman Residential is based in a converted home in West Austin, where the agents participate in weekly meetings, team-building exercises and even occasional retreats to promote a familial team feel. To spread the magic the agents are helping fund with their charitable efforts, Gottesman is considering sending those with the most contributions on the next HeartGift mission.
Residential real estate is about advocating for families finding their place—literally—within their communities. Gottesman sees a responsibility for her team, not just as real-estate agents, but as professionals and people, to help expand our home communities and reach out to improve others that could use the help. Just as the woman-led, woman-dominated team is a product of a strong real-estate community, she believes service and philanthropy are products of a strong company.
“I think it goes hand in hand, not just with real estate, but with anyone professional,” Gottesman says. “Especially if you’re selling our community, you want it to be a better place to live.”