Sale of Westover Hills Home Helps Fund Greenhouse in Eastern Europe

It has been a crazy spring in Real Estate- at least here in Richmond.  Everyone I know who is tied to the Real Estate biz seems to be busier than they have been in years.

SOLD after 12 hrs on the market

And seriously- mortgage rates hit 3.67% a few weeks ago (they went up to 3.71 again… blast!) so people who are used to renting are finding that it’s actually a lot cheaper on your monthly budget to buy a house right now.

A few weeks ago, I helped some people sell their gem of a house on Sylvan Rd in Westover Hills (at right).

 

Easiest. Transaction. Ever.

 

Kennon & Sarah, the owners, were some of the easiest people to work with.  We struck up a fast friendship over living in strange and far off places- they having lived and worked in Nigeria for a spell and us in Indonesia.  We also happen to share the woes and wonders of living with a 3 year old boy.

Over the several years they owned the house they did all the right things to set it up to sell quickly and for a good price.

Sarah happens to have an amazing eye for interior design:

 

Tied Together.

One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to give a loan to someone whenever a house sells.

This house provided a loan for Emrie, a farmer in the small Eastern European country of Georgia.

click for more on Emrie’s loan

Emrie will use her loan to build a greenhouse so that she can grow vegetables through the winter and earn additional income by selling them in the market.

What’s the connection between homes in Richmond and loans for struggling entrepreneurs?  Click here.


Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Compass Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

From Woodland Heights with Love

Last week saw another closing.  This time in Woodland Heights- maybe my favorite Richmond neighborhood.

It was an old house.  A foreclosure.  The kind of place you dream about fixing up: a 1920’s house with a ton of space and even more character in a great location.  It was just begging for a young couple with a creative spirit to give it new life again.

Over the next 3 months or so, my friends are going to be repainting siding, refinishing floors, rebuilding the wonderful wrap-around porch, knocking down walls, creating an entirely new kitchen area, a new bath on the main floor, custom pantry and laundry room, new master bedroom with a totally new bath.  It is going to be a spectacular house in a few months.

Brian Ward, at Greenleaf Renovations, will be in charge of the renovation.  Old homes are his thing; he doesn’t build new ones (though I know enough about contracting to know that that would probably be a lot easier.)

“Given the existing housing stock, we think it is much more sustainable to take care of what we have and renovate it to suit our current and future needs.”

I can get behind that.

The other wonderful thing about this house is something that you will never be able to see by driving by: it’s tied to the dreams of a grandmother in Kyrgyzstan.

Click to learn more about this Kiva loan

Whenever clients of mine close on a house, I give a loan to somebody in the developing world.  You can learn why on the about page.  But the bottom line is what I think is a simple but powerful idea: what if, when you achieved your dream of home ownership, you made sure somebody else’s dream came along with it.

A sort of buddy system for dreams.

This house in Woodland Heights will be a source of financial stability over the coming years for a young family here in Richmond.

And in Kyrgyzstan, Mrs. Kanymetova, 63, (pictured in center) has requested the loan to purchase more sheep, which will breed and increase her flock size, which will be a source of financial stability for her and her family.

From Woodland Heights to Kyrgyzstan, I think the average person has the same dream: the opportunity for our hard work to provide our families with financial stability.

Freedom from worry.

And now, thanks to Kiva, another home in Richmond is tied to the dreams of another hard-working family in the developing world.

 

At the moment, Mrs. Kanymetova’s loan is still not fully funded.  Want to help her get her sheep?  Click on her picture to learn more about her loan and about how lending your money through Kiva works.

Click to join the RealRVA Lending Team.  We are simply a group of people who want to help struggling entrepreneurs in developing countries to succeed.



 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

In Which I Have Become… a Bank

“A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t really need it.”

 

Back in July, I helped a nice young couple buy a house in Church Hill.  They used a loan to buy their home, like most of us do.  And you know the deal; every house that I help someone buy or sell in Richmond, I connect to a struggling entrepreneur somewhere in the world.  The concept is simple- dreams should be on the buddy system.  Whenever you achieve a dream, don’t let it stop there.  Bring someone else’s along with it.

Wahhab's motorcycle shop

So when I got my paycheck, I gave a loan to a young guy named Wahhab, in Iraq (that post is here).  He was trying to expand his small motorcycle repair shop.

Looks like Wahhab’s business is doing well; last week, I got my first repayment(I don’t get any interest).  The monthly payments come back in the form of Kiva credit, and you can either choose to put the credit back on to my credit card, OR youcan relend it to another borrower.

Helping somebody achieve their dreams at no cost to you- you just have to part with your money for a while.

 

When you go onto Kiva’s website, you can see a picture of the people around the world who have requested loans through Kiva to help them with their small business.  You can click on them and see a bit of their story, and what their business idea is.

After you make a loan, you can see the people who have borrowed from you and where they are in their repayment.  Right now, I have loans out for borrowers in Iraq, Nicaragua, and Indonesia.

People’s business begin to prosper, and they make small monthly repayments.

If you’ve ever benefited from being the recipient of a loan (maybe a mortgage, a car loan, if you use a credit card…), think about giving a loan to somebody.  Somebody who really needs it.

Consider this definition of a bank: A bank is a place that will loan you money if you can prove that you don’t really need it.

Many people in developing countries have zero chance of getting a loan from a national bank, making it next to impossible to achieve their dreams.  You know… it takes money to make money.

What’s stopping you and me from lending to people who the banks refuse to?


 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

 

The Outsider

I used to think of poverty in terms of not having enough stuff.  Not enough food, not enough house for your family, not enough clothes to go to school or work.  These things are all true… but they are all observations from an outsider.*  Because as stressed out as I get about bills and budget sometimes, I have a college degree hanging on my wall.  I have a Prius and a minivan in the driveway.

But those whose day-in, day-out experience in life is one of continued poverty- they usually define poverty along different lines.  A feeling of helplessness.  A lack of opportunity.  Lack of access.  A stripping of dignity.

And that’s the heart of microfinance.  That’s why I believe in it, that’s why it is so effective in lifting people out of poverty; Charity can give people the “stuff” they need, but it does little if anything to restore their dignity.  Microfinance gives them the opportunity to reclaim both.

 

 

Quotes on Microfinance

“At the most basic level, the key to ending extreme poverty is to enable the poorest of the poor to get their foot on the ladder of development.” -Jeffrey Sachs.  Economist.  Director of Earth Institute at Colombia University

 

“Microfinance stands as one of the most promising and cost-effective tools in the fight against global poverty.” -Jonathan Morduch, Chair, UN Expert Group on Poverty Statistics

 

“Where once the poor were commonly seen as passive victims, microfinance recognizes that poor people are remarkable reservoirs of energy and knowledge. And while the lack of financial services is a sign of poverty, today it is also understood as an untapped opportunity to create markets, bring people in from the margins and give them the tools with which to help themselves.” -Kofi Annan

 

“Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Give a woman microcredit, she, her husband, her children and her extended family will eat for a lifetime.” -Bono

 

“I’ve seen the power of microfinance all over the world in the eyes of mothers and fathers.  It’s unmistakable the joy and deep satisfaction they feel from being able tow work hard and provide for their children and their future.” -Rich Stearns. President, World Vision U.S.

 

So what’s the connection between Microfinance and Real Estate?  You might be surprised.  Click here to learn.

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com


*In anthropology, that outsider’s perspective on a different culture is referred to as an “etic.”  The insider’s perspective on their own culture is called an “emic.”  Nerdy note: The concepts of Emic and Etic came straight out of linguistics, and many people would argue that anthropology itself was born out of the study of language.  In fact, the guy who coined the terms, Kenneth Pike, was a linguist in the same organization I used to work for!  Emic comes from the linguistic term phonemic, which refers to a meaningful unit of sound in a language.  Etic comes from the linguistic term phonetic, which refers to the wide range of sounds in a language which may or may not be considered a meaningful unit.  If 50 people read this post, 49 of you are praying that I don’t go into any more explanation on that point (oh how I would love to)… but I digress…

 

The Story Behind the Sign (a Kiva Loan for Maria)

Whenever someone sells a house, there’s usually a compelling life story behind it.  Maybe a new baby or a new job.  Maybe someone’s been saving up for years and waiting to move to a new house, a different neighborhood, and now the moment has come.

And then there are the stories that are more sadness than excitement.  Another foreclosure.  A lost job.  A decision between keeping a house you love or paying medical bills.  A lot of our friends and neighbors here in Richmond have those stories.  More than you might think.

When you see a For Sale sign in someone’s yard as you’re driving around today, what do you think the story is behind that sign?  Chances are, it’s a compelling one.

Last month, I helped my friend and colleague Kelly Blanchard sell a house with a story.  But not the fun, “we’re selling our house because I got a promotion and our dream house just came on the market” type of story.  The other kind.  A house being sold out of necessity- out of loss.

Click photo to learn more about Maria's loan

So today, with that story on my mind, I’m making my Kiva loan for that house to Maria, in Nicaragua.  She’s a single mom who is responsible for the care of 4 other people.  In many developing countries around the world, once you get into debt, it is impossible to get out.  Exorbitant interest rates and even the threat of violence comes with debt.   That weight is a heavy one for a single mother.  This single mom needs to pay off some loans, and she needs an honest loan to do it.

Thanks to the people who responded to the last Kiva loan I made, and to the people who made their first $25 Kiva loan last week!  I’ve added a dollar on to Maria’s loan on behalf of each of you.

 

Why do I give a loan whenever someone in Richmond buys or sells their house with me?  You might be surprised.  Click here to learn.

Right now, Maria has 22% of the amount she needs to pay off her high interest debt.  Why not help her meet her goal?   The RealRVA Lending team is for people who want to loan money to folks in developing countries because we realize that we are lucky to have the access to loans and financial services that we do.

Join the RealRVA Lending Team

 

Lend to Maria and other struggling entrepreneurs like her.

 

 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

 

From Church Hill with Love

I had the good fortune of helping some old friends buy a house in Church Hill.  It just closed, so that means it’s time to tie another home loan in Richmond with a microloan for someone… somewhere.

This time the someone is actually 10 women, and the somewhere is Indonesia.  Confession: I used to live in Indonesia, so it is hard for me not to send most of my microloans there.  I look at this picture of women and I feel like I’ve met them.  I know exactly how flimsy those sandals feel in your hand and I can picture the street market where they were probably purchased.  I see their decidedly Indonesian strike-a-pose deadpan stare at the camera and I am once again there.  In the heat.  Smell of smoke.  Smell of smog.  Animals and kids.  Muddy shoes.  I miss it.

One of the women is going to use her part of the loan to buy 2 piglets, pig feed, and improve upon her barn.

These women are taking out a group loan.  This is very common in microfinance.  A group of neighbors takes out a lump sum of money and they are all responsible to pay the full amount back.  If one woman does not repay her share, the other women must pay her part.  This is actually one of the things that makes microloans in developing countries so successful; there is accountability.  Each of these women will support and encourage the other to work hard, plan well, save, and be successful in her business.

In the group, everyone has a stake in everyone else’s success.

Isn’t it the same for all of us?

RealRVA Lending Team

 

 

Want to change the world in a small way?  Join the RealRVA Lending Team.

Want to learn more about microfinance?  Check out some of the Microfinance Websites on the right.

Baby Steps… All you need to do is link to this post on twitter or your facebook page to earn $1 more for this loan.  Just leave a comment and let me know that you did!

 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Compass Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

 

A seed takes root in Iraq

The RealRVA Lending Team gave a  loan last week.  This loan was made on behalf of some clients who just bought a home with me as their Buyer’s Agent a few weeks ago.  The husband likes riding motorcycles, so I thought Wahhab would be the perfect match.

Wahhab Razzak Jabbar

Wahhab Razzak Jabbar, Iraq (Kiva.org)

Wahhab is from Iraq. He is 27 years old, single, and lives with seven family members.
He opened a shop for selling and repairing motorcycles in 2007. He has good experience and a good reputation and he is well known in his area.

He was requesting a $2400 loan to pay the annual rent for his shop. He is aiming to gain more profits so he can improve his family’s quality of life.

RealRVA and 75 other lenders pooled together our money to give Wahhab the $2400 loan he needed.

Click here to read more about Wahhab.  There’s also interesting info about how loans work in Muslim countries.

Want to give a loan to somebody like Wahhab?  Join the RealRVA Lending Team!

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

In Which I Continue to Find Meaning in Work

Here’s the thing about Real Estate- and if you’ve ever bought or sold a house, you’ll know what I’m talking about; when a house changes owners, there are a lot of people involved… a lot of people who want to get paid. I was hit over the head with this fact when we bought our first house. I’m buying one house from one person… yet my settlement statement says that I owe a lot of money to a dozen different people… and I don’t even know who these people are or what they did to deserve my money! I worked hard, sacrificed, and finally achieved the dream of home ownership, and now all these people are putting their hands in my honey pot… all because I bought a house… You are welcome.

Ok, don’t get me wrong here. Now that I’ve been in the Real Estate world for a while, I know what those different people do when your house gets bought and sold. And believe me, it’s good that they are there. But when I started my Real Estate business, I started thinking; all these lawyers, insurance agents, inspectors, appraisers, bankers, brokers, underwriters, Real Estate agents putting their hands in your honey pot when you buy or sell your house. What if we put someone else’s hand in the pot… someone who could really use it? What if when we achieved our dreams, we committed to bring someone else’s dream along with it.

 

Dreams are Tied Together

That last sentence is my business model.  I spent 7 years fundraising my salary while working for a nonprofit.  We always had a modest income, but by the time our second baby came around, we just could not make ends meet financially.  I had avoided it for as long as I could, as hard as I could… but now baby #2 came and I knew it was my time to sell my soul to the man.  Find a job that actually paid.  So my Real Estate business represents my dream.  It’s my dream of doing something I like doing, something I’m really good at, something that gives me enough flexibility to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids, and it’s my dream of not having to worry about if we will have enough money to pay the bills every month.  I want my dream to succeed, and I want to make sure I bring other peoples dream along with me.

 

When someone buys or sells their home with me as their Realtor, I give a microloan through Kiva.org to somebody in a developing country on behalf of my real estate client.  The connection: most of us could never buy a home if it wasn’t for the fact that a bank is loaning us a lot of money.  So whenever someone takes out a big loan here in Richmond to achieve their dream of home ownership, why not give a loan to somebody in a poor country who needs a loan to achieve their dream as well.

For most people in the developing world, a loan of just a few hundred dollars is life changing.  I’m a firm believer in the power that microfinance has to end cycles of poverty in the life of a family in the way that charity never could.

 

So friends, my goal in 2011 is to provide microloans to 30 people in developing nations. 30 people given access to financial stability, independence, and access to a dream. 30 families with an opportunity to finally break the cycle of poverty.

If you or someone you know is going to be buying or selling a home here in Richmond, I would love to help.

 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com


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