Many real estate professionals are known for supporting incredible causes in their communities. It takes a special broker to not just support a cause, but identify the overlooked needs of the most vulnerable and found an organization designed to bring lasting relief. Broker/Owner Dan Spransy of Realty Executives Cooper Spransy created Before 16 to help meet the most dire needs of children located a world away — while simultaneously paving the way for them to become part of the local community. The life changing impact Before16 has made for international orphans and the families who have welcomed them in would not be possible without the team at Realty Executives Cooper Spransy championing the cause.
This is just one of the reasons Realty Executives Cooper Spransy is Realty Executives International’s Brokerage of the Month for January 2018. The leading Madison-area firm with more than 70 real estate professionals serving Dane County, the city of Madison, and surrounding neighborhoods is celebrated for agent productivity, office culture, agent retention and recruiting — and yet continues to raise the bar and take “making a difference” to a remarkable new level.
Before 16 is a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation that strives to match older international orphans with host families who are either considering adoption or will advocate for adoption, in the hopes of finding a loving family for each child. The process starts by welcoming an international orphan into the host’s home for 4 weeks, allowing the child to experience family life away from an orphanage while the host works to create opportunities for families considering adoption to interact with the child.
For many of the estimated 153 million orphans around the world today, age is of the essence when it comes to outside intervention, as they will ‘age out’ of foster care and orphanage systems at only 16 years of age. Forced to live in an adult world while still in adolescence, many children face exploitation and manipulation often involving crime, drug abuse, and prostitution.
“We are dedicated to rescuing as many orphans as possible before they turn 16 years old and age out of the system,” said Spransy, who together with his wife founded Before 16 in August of 2016, after they opened their own hearts and home to an orphaned girl from eastern Europe, in connection with Project 143, which now works in partnership with Before 16.
“For the countries in eastern Europe we currently work within, the children have less than a 1% chance of being adopted in their home lands. However, the good news is that the chance of being adopted jumps to 70% once a child has been placed with a host family,” Spransy said.
Realty Executives Cooper Spransy has stepped up in numerous ways to see young lives changed through Before 16. Many Executives have volunteered at events like the first annual golf outing and trivia night fundraisers as well as donating clothes, goods, gift cards, and more. As for any Executive who wishes to donate a portion of their commission, the brokerage will match donations on a monthly basis. Thousands of dollars are raised annually by Realty Executives Cooper Spransy and it’s agents through this channel alone, which helps to cover the ongoing transportation and administrative costs involved with hosting international orphans.
Most notably, many members of the brokerage have taken an enormous leap: hosting and adopting children themselves. To date, more than 40% of Before 16’s total hosting grants have been directly affiliated with Realty Executives.
“It has been incredible watching our Executives take action, inviting these children into their homes, and even now pursuing adoption. It’s a big risk to invite an older child or young adult into your home to become a part of your family, as orphanage or foster-care living can often bring out defense mechanisms in the children well into the future. Our Executives have moved forward with hosting and becoming major advocates knowing this is the case. The sacrifices they have made are truly incredible and yet they say it is one of the most rewarding things they have ever done. The lives of these children will forever be changed because of what members of our firm have been doing,” Spransy said.
So what’s next? Before 16 is looking to open up chapters in other locations. “A number of people have approached us and asked if they could do what we are doing in their area which is definitely the big goal. I don’t want Before 16 to just be responsible for hosting 10 kids per session, I want it to be 1,000 kids per session! That is why we continue to push, grow, and set very high goals, so that we can rescue as many kids as we possibly can in our lifetimes,” Spransy said, who shared the message of Before 16 with the Realty Executives system at the company’s most recent Regional and International conferences.
Dan Spransy and the team at Realty Executives Cooper Spransy have never been ones to shy away from a challenge. Just over five years ago, the firm started out with only five agents and has grown by 1,300%. The incredible agent count growth has come as a result of being more rather than less selective.
“Some might say we have done recruiting all backwards since we joined the Realty Executives franchise, but it was intentional. Our brokerage was independent for the first five years of operations, and when we decided to join Realty Executives we sat down to talk about our strategy. Rather than pouring our resources into trying to recruit agents, we chose to focus our efforts on helping our current agents get where they want to go through training and mentoring,” Spransy said.
As for the firm’s goals? Becoming one of the best places to work in Madison while maintaining a reputation for success and high agent productivity was high on the list. Realty Executives Cooper Spransy continues to hit their targets, capturing the Best Places to Work honor by Madison Magazine in 2016, and gaining national recognition in 2017 in REAL Trends’ Up and Comers report for transactions closed.
“We are currently third in our marketplace in a very tight race for highest per-agent productivity by sales volume. With so many millennial and new-to-real-estate professionals represented in our brokerage, I couldn’t be more proud,” Spransy said, referencing broker metrics powered by the South Central Wisconsin Multiple Listing Service.
“Our brokerage is not an easy one to get into, but for those who do ‘get in,’ it is clear we will do everything we possibly can to help agents succeed. Last year we turned away at least as many people as we said yes to, probably more. That included a number of high producers in our market. I didn’t want them working here because our culture is our most valuable asset. Everyone loves coming to our open, modern office and spending time here, learning from other agents, and being a part of the team,” Spransy said.
It’s working. Spransy’s strategy has attracted many agents from other companies who often approach the firm directly about opportunities with Cooper Spransy. The brokerage regularly holds classes suggested by its Executives and facilitated by the company’s most successful real estate professionals. Many join the office because they want to learn more from seasoned Executives about how they can grow their businesses. And often the ‘right fit’ for the team has been a fresh face.
“I actually love bringing brand new agents into the business and teaching them how to do it right. Sure it’s more of a long term strategy but as a result we have an incredibly young office and at the same time a very high production rate. We created Cooper Spransy University which is a series of training videos on the basics of being an agent in our office and we mix that with weekly live classes and groups they can attend to grow their business. I am building Realty Executives Cooper Spransy with the intention of being around for a long time,” Spransy said.
With high levels of success and productivity come more opportunities to give back in meaningful and creative ways; often life changing ways, such as the opportunities presented especially because of Before 16.
“There’s something special about Realty Executives Cooper Spransy. It has been my pleasure to support Dan Spransy as he continues to shape a culture of excellence which attracts people of strong character who have become top producers in their marketplace. The growing market share and dynamic increase in agent count that Realty Executives Cooper Spransy has experienced is inspirational, and a clear indicator of strong leadership and solid core values,” said Wisconsin Regional Developer Dale Schaechterle. It’s clear that giving back so that others may have “a future and a hope” is at the top of that core value list.
Pictured above, from L – R: Controller/CFO Kate Gabriel, Broker/Owner Dan Spransy and Office Manager Alexa Lee of Realty Executives Cooper Spransy.