Albert Allen has coupled his passion for connecting people and giving back to the community into his real estate career. Here’s how his commitment to service has built his network.
Being a Part of ABoR
The biggest thing is the collaboration with other REALTORS®. I don’t have a mentor, but I do call on other agents with questions. It’s amazing; they lift you up and push you. I had been volunteering a lot, and the ABoR leaders were the ones who encouraged me to lead: “Have you thought about applying for this and that? Because I like the questions that you’re asking me right now.” So, that’s good for people who want to be a part of something greater than themselves, and who want to actually shape its future. That’s something I’ve gained by being a part of the Association and the ABoR Foundation.
I want to encourage other people to get involved, because that’s the way people welcomed me. You have all of these people who give and give, but they’re scared to put their hand up, or don’t think they should. To them, I want to say, “Yes, you can be involved, and you need to show up.” I’m on the Diversity Committee and different planning committees, and we do have a voice in the larger community. It’s pretty cool because we all come from different, diverse backgrounds — and there’s always going to be someone else smarter or have had different experiences in the room. So, the people that are on those committees are there because they’ve gained wisdom that they can impart. Come for the ride! Learn some, leave some. There is a place for you, and the time is very minimal.
Diversity at ABoR
I was pretty fortunate that my wife was actually on a diversity committee in her professional organization. So, I got to be a part of that as her lackey, getting paperwork and things like that. When the opportunity came for a committee call with ABoR, I put my hand up to be a part of it. I am a double racial minority — black and Hispanic— and my wife is Chinese, so our kids are a little bit of everything. At the Association, diversity isn’t just about race, it’s about inclusion regardless of race, gender, age, religion, identity, and experiences. The Diversity Committee has conducted surveys and polls on what our membership looks like, and what we as an Association want our membership to be; and learning more about implicit bias and training for our members. As an Association, we’re focused on what tools we can provide our members and brokerages — and learning from our brokerages on what their policies are to get those resources to smaller brokerages so they can put policies in place. We’re working with the Board for guidance, too, helping guide them on what we do as an Association.
On Giving Back
When I joined Realty Austin, they’re all about community service. The big focus for Realty Austin is give, give, give, give. It took me six months or so to get really involved in ABoR and it was first through ABoR Foundation in 2016. I learned what we were doing as an Association, and joined the Fundraising and Housing Committees in 2017, and my involvement took off from there. Some people give their tithe at their church, others give their time and money to organizations. But the employers that I’ve always worked with have always made service a part of their foundation. I’ve just been fortunate that that’s been part of the culture for the people I’ve worked with. When you give, you’re going to get something in return. It’s just the way it’s baked into my business. The advocacy and the volunteerism and the REALTOR® business overlaps and just becomes a part of your life.
I’m the Vice Chair of Rebuilding Together Austin, and we’re actually a recipient of the ABoR Foundation. That’s how I originally got involved with Rebuilding Together Austin. We come in and rehab these homes, and many of the owners are disabled or seniors who are unable to maintain their homes. We beautify them and do the plants, remove the clutter, and it not only gives the owners a sense of pride to keep maintaining it, but now their neighbors are like, “Holy cow, this is awesome!” The home is no longer an eyesore. The people who own the homes are doing the best that they can, but nobody wants to be the ugly house on the block. Everyone can fall on hard times, so our work definitely helps.
And as far as clients go, I’ve actually roped a couple of them in, to volunteer and donate as well! And the joy for me comes when they get involved. When I had my client appreciation party, I actually invited Rebuilding Together’s Executive Director to do a presentation about the work we do. When we had a Topgolf fundraiser, I sponsored a couple of bays and invited a few folks to that. It was more about providing awareness, and if they want to be a part of it, we’ll accept their donations.
On Being a Part of ABoR Foundation
The ABoR Foundation community is amazing. You meet your peers who are a lot like you, and you get introduced to some really cool organizations. On the flip side, members can introduce other organizations that they support to our attention. It’s also an easy way to volunteer directly, post-COVID. A lot of people want to volunteer, but volunteer opportunities are usually associated with a sizable financial contribution. Being a part of the Foundation allows us to amplify the impact of any financial contributions made through us. So, if people have always wanted to do a Habitat for Humanity build or a Community First! Village build but never had the opportunity or the money to organize one, the ABoR Foundation is an avenue to work with and be a part of these great organizations.
One of the coolest things the Foundation does is its Scholarship Program, and it’s expanding. Every year we add more scholarships. It’s not just available to students of REALTORs®; it’s open to all high school seniors in our MLS area, it’s based on a student’s individual merit, and it’s very inclusive. Since we open it up to all of the areas ABoR serves, we get students from multiple counties with different backgrounds. It’s a great thing for members to share with their clients. And it’s not only that but getting to know all of the recipients’ stories, learning what they do, and what their dreams are. These REALTORS® and Affiliates and all of these different partners who donate want to, and are fortunate enough, to follow up with these kids, and some of them keep up with them ten years later. They actually get to see them grow into adults.