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HomeSubject AreaFair HousingDoing What’s Proper: 60+ Years and Counting

Doing What’s Proper: 60+ Years and Counting


Stephen Baird

© Courtesy of Baird & Warner

Baird & Warner CEO and President Steve Baird, a fifth-generation proprietor of the brokerage, attracts on the actual property ideas of his father and former firm chief John Baird.

Key takeaways:

  • Chicago brokerage Baird & Warner is honoring its former president, John Baird, and advancing homeownership fairness with a scholarship for legislation college students working in honest housing.
  • By a program known as Have interaction, the corporate brings collectively brokers and brokers to speak about doing enterprise with shoppers protected below federal, state, and native honest housing legal guidelines.
  • Now, the corporate has introduced a three-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity Chicago that features coaching for would-be owners.

In 1966, Chicago actual property brokerage Baird & Warner issued a public assertion: Everybody deserves the suitable to personal a house. Shortly after that, firm managers notified shoppers saying they’d not discriminate within the sale of houses.

Right this moment, that seems like fairly commonplace fare, particularly in June as brokerages and REALTOR® associations mark Homeownership Month, a time to rejoice the advantages of possession and advocate for insurance policies that foster homeownership alternatives.

However in Chicago within the Sixties, these actions represented a profile in braveness. John Baird, then president of the corporate, took a controversial stand starting within the early Sixties, testifying earlier than the Chicago Metropolis Council, and later the Illinois Common Meeting, in favor of antidiscrimination legal guidelines. He even resigned from the Chicago REALTORS®, together with two different brokers, to protest the affiliation’s opposition. (Though REALTORS® have supported honest housing because the mid-Seventies, the affiliation advocated towards such legal guidelines all through the Sixties, reasoning that house owners had the suitable to get rid of their property nonetheless and to whomever they selected.)

“He was criticized and threatened on the time,” says son Steve Baird. “We bought numerous letters, optimistic and destructive. Our archives are fascinating on this. He wrote a response to every one.”

“Within the letters I’ve from Dad, the best way he wrote about it was, it was the suitable factor to do and It makes good enterprise sense. It was an ethical crucial and a enterprise crucial,” says Baird, now CEO and president and the corporate’s fifth-generation proprietor. “A extra equitable housing market is a more healthy housing marketplace for the town. Why would you not wish to supply your property to the widest market attainable?”

Right this moment, Baird & Warner honors and amplifies John Baird’s legacy in quite a few methods. Maybe an important is to maintain his efforts current, says Lucy Baird, Steve Baird’s daughter and the corporate’s historian and director of company impression.

By a program known as Have interaction, the corporate’s brokers and brokers have a possibility to speak about honest housing year-round, not simply throughout Truthful Housing Month or Homeownership Month. It’s an opportunity for actual dialogue about working with teams protected below federal, state, and native legal guidelines. Chicago legislation prohibits housing discrimination on the idea of race, intercourse, shade, age, faith, incapacity, nationwide origin, ancestry, parental standing, sexual orientation, gender identification, marital standing, navy standing and supply of revenue.

The corporate has 4 Have interaction occasions slated for 2022.

“We’re not preaching,” says Steve Baird, “We’re saying, ‘Listed below are the distinctive issues you need to perceive so you’ll be able to take a look at these teams as a supply of enterprise.’ We view it as nondenominational and nonpolitical. We’re not out to pressure folks to vary their opinions, however we don’t tolerate discrimination in any kind. It’s a fundamental core precept of who we’re as an organization.”

That precept has actually labored for Baird & Warner, the oldest frequently working brokerage within the nation. It’s one of many nation’s largest residential brokerages, rating thirty first in T3 Sixty’s record of the High 1000, with greater than $7.7 billion in gross sales in 2021.

Final yr, the corporate took one other step within the drive for housing fairness, endowing a scholarship on the College of Illinois at Chicago Faculty of Legislation. College students who work within the faculty’s Truthful Housing Authorized Assist Middle & Clinic are eligible to use. Baird & Warner has dedicated $215,000, which is able to allow the scholarship to go to 1 scholar per yr and to 2 college students each few years.

The scholarship concept germinated as the corporate geared as much as commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Truthful Housing Act in 2018.

“We began out asking, ‘How can we recommit to honest housing?’ That was 4 years in the past, and it led to this,” says Lucy Baird. “We had invited [the UIC clinic] to talk as a part of Have interaction. It’s Chicago’s solely public legislation faculty with a various scholar physique. Leaders on this house are so necessary, and investing in future leaders in honest housing felt like an necessary funding.”

The scholarship is funded by Baird & Warner’s philanthropic arm, Good Will Works, and the Stephen W. and Susan M. Baird Basis. Good Will Works’ mission is to empower homeownership and strengthen communities. “We give 4 giant grants annually. Final yr, we raised and gave away $600,000,” says Steve Baird. “After we make these giant contributions, we’re not simply writing a test.” The corporate plans to maintain working with the UIC clinic on agent coaching. Equally, by a three-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity introduced in Could, Baird & Warner brokers and brokers have a possibility to function instructors in Habitat for Humanity Chicago’s Public Homebuyer College.

Baird & Warner celebrated its 167th anniversary this yr. “This group helped us achieve success,” says Stephen Baird. “It’s a giant metropolis—a fantastic metropolis—but it surely has its downside. It wants individuals who will proceed to make it a greater place.”



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