Building urban community: Living Room Realtors

| Print |  Email
Articles - March 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013

 

BY LINDA BAKER

0313 FOB GamePlan LivingRoomRealtors
Jenelle Isaacson oversees Living Room Realtors an expanding real estate agency in Portland.
// Photo by Sierra Breshears

On a recent Tuesday morning, the Southeast Portland office of Living Room Realtors feels more like a Pearl District art gallery than, well, a real estate company. About 30 people are milling about a warehouse-style space featuring an open-cubicle environment, exposed brick walls and a collage series made of recycled packaging labels resembling brightly colored flowers.

The agency’s energetic vibe is more than skin deep, says Living Room’s owner, Jenelle Isaacson. “We are a stylish, optimistic, forward-looking company,” she says. Dressed in an elegant black pantsuit and boasting a mane of red hair, 36-year-old Isaacson presides over a fast-growing agency that almost tripled its sales volume last year.

The 5-year-old company is also turning real estate conventions on their head, eschewing traditional sales strategies that focus on high-performing agents in favor of triple-bottom-line business practices. Creative marketing revolves around people living and working in Portland’s signature neighborhoods.

At Living Room, there are no flyers featuring agents’ mugshots, Isaacson says. Nor do realtors participate in the Million Dollar Club, an industry tradition advertising how much money agents make. “No other profession does that,” says Isaacson. “It’s embarrassing.” Instead, Living Room’s culture, marketing and growth strategies revolve around a clear mission: “to develop vibrant communities.”

A longtime realtor and single mother of two young children, Isaacson founded Living Room in part because she wanted a more family-friendly work environment. She also wanted to create an agency that made sustainability a priority. At Living Room, all agents are Energy Trust-certified, biking is a preferred mode of transportation, and Isaacson is working to get the company certified as a B Corp, signifying social and environmentally responsible practices.

Carving out a visible neighborhood presence is the “third leg” of the Living Room stool, Isaacson says. Even as many agencies go virtual, Isaacson sought a tangible way to deepen her referral network. “I thought if we had a brick-and-mortar storefront, people would identify us as the neighborhood experts. I wanted that community presence.”

In 2011 Living Room’s sales volume was about $59 million; in 2012 that number jumped to about $167 million. There are 45 agents working for the company, up from 21 in 2012. That growth trajectory, of course, is due in part to the improving housing market, especially in the urban core neighborhoods serviced by Living Room. But the company’s collaborative environment also has an impact on the bottom line, Isaacson says. Working in real estate can be a lonely enterprise, with long hours and little sense of community. But at Living Room there are no private offices, agents share information freely, and weekly meetings are devoted to figuring out how agents can “best service clients as a team.”

 



 

More Articles

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


Read more...

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

Change at the pump?

The Latest
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
001thumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

New Jersey and Oregon are the only two states in the U.S. that ban self serve gas stations. But these two holdouts may be ready to give up the game. New Jersey is considering legislation that would lift the state's ban on pumping your own gas. Oregon is considering smaller scale changes.


Read more...

Intrepid reporter checks out ZoomCare rebrand

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
dentistthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Like all good journalists, OB editorial staff typically eschew freebies. But health care costs being what they are, digital news editor Jacob Palmer couldn't resist ZoomCare's offer of a three-in-one (cleaning, exam, whitening) dental office visit, guaranteed to take no more than 57 minutes. 


Read more...

The Backstory: Portland Youth Builders

The Latest
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
blog002 1BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward  housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.


Read more...

Photo Log: The 2015 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
greenthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Oregon Business celebrated the 100 Best Green Workplaces with an awards luncheon yesterday at the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Destination Resorts 2.0

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

As the recession recedes and tourism grows, Central Oregon resorts redefine themselves for a new generation.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS