There was a time when the most important cheques in Brett Wellman’s life were the ones that went straight into his bank account, to fund a lifestyle that most other twentysomethings would envy.
But eight years later, things are very different. Today, the most meaningful cheques in Brett’s life are the large cardboard ones his real estate clients hold as they pose for photos after a sale. Why? Because those cheques represent a minimum of 50 per cent of profits from the sale that will be donated to charity.
This radical generosity is the foundation of Purpose Realty, the real estate company Brett started two and a half years ago. “We started with the framework that this is who we are,” Brett says, “It’s not a gimmick, it’s not a reason to get more business. This is what the Lord has called us to do, and we are seeking to be obedient to that.”
As you can imagine, a lot happened in the last eight years.
A wake-up call—and an idea
“I was living a life basically for myself,” Brett says, describing his life before 2012. But it was in 2012 that Brett says the Lord “did what it took” to get his attention. “In my case, that was a pretty serious injury to my spine,” he shares.
“Looking back, I needed something of that magnitude. It got me to really reflect. What is the path of this life I’ve been living? Coming out of surgery, I was way more open to the faith and connecting with people that just really, really cared about each other. I got back into church for the first time in a long time, and then I got baptized and committed my life to Christ. From there, everything began to change.”
Soon, through a Bible study about life purpose and spiritual gifts, an idea started to brew in Brett’s mind. As he was challenged to consider his giftings and purpose, Brett began reflecting on questions that would change the trajectory of his life.
“I thought, why am I so skilled in the business world? Why does it just click for me? [At the time], it was more like a pipe dream: What if I owned a business where half the profits went back to the Lord in some way? I thought that would be really cool. However, I was busy in my oil trading career at the time. So, I tucked that thought way away, and carried on the Christian journey in the business world. All this time, things are changing, and my perspective is changing on the workplace and on what I do.”
A second wake-up call
After committing his life to Christ, some changes—like cleaning up his language, he shares with a laugh—felt trivial, like “the tip of the iceberg.” But one of the harder things, Brett shares, was his posture toward money.
“You know, when Christ says, ‘You cannot love both God and money,’ I really believe that! But you don’t realize it initially. I didn’t really realize it until I got so discontent. I was, I don’t know, in the top one per cent of the world’s earners, and yet I was comparing myself to my peers who were making seven figures. It just made no sense!”
“Instead of, what’s the next job that can pay me the most amount of money? I could ask other questions, like, what am I really passionate about? What do I want to do with my life?”
The discontentment eventually led Brett to quit his job—and it served as a second wake-up call. “I had some time for the first time in my life, and I went to Ukraine to volunteer. From day one, it was so plainly obvious: the people in the church there, they were filled with joy. They had so little compared to what I had—the necessities of life and not much more—and they were filled with joy. I was like, I’m missing something here.”
Halfway through that two-month trip came the turning point that would change everything. “The Lord just stripped away this lingering greed and love of money from me. When I got back, I just didn’t care about it in the same way, which allowed me to think about career differently. Instead of, what’s the next job that can pay me the most amount of money? I could ask other questions, like, what am I really passionate about? What do I want to do with my life?”
That’s when Brett was reminded of a long-time desire to try real estate. “I got my real estate licence. It was not even a year into that, that I realized, I love this. This is what I’ve been waiting for. But then I was like, okay, how do I do this differently? I was very specialized as an oil trader, but now I’m entering an ocean of real estate agents. That’s when it clicked—what if this is that opportunity to have a business that gives back half the profits to the Lord?”
After a lot of prayer, Purpose Realty was founded.
Business strategy: ‘Pray and trust God’
Starting a new business is never easy, especially with such a radical and unconventional business model. “It is a huge trust exercise to start something and put your giving first, while knowing, maybe this won’t work,” Brett shares.
Today, Purpose Realty has 15 partner charities, including Compassion Canada. “We wanted partners that are all in with what they’re doing and seek to steward their resources well,” Brett says.
And they’re coming up on a huge milestone: “Two and a half years since launch, we’re coming up on six figures of donations. We’re pretty excited about that.”
“Why have we been given so much, that even when the world shuts down, we have no worries? All our needs are met, and yet, the needs in other parts of the world continue.”
In light of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, one might think that pausing or scaling back such radical giving would be an understandable decision. But even in the midst of the pandemic, it was important to Brett and his team that their giving continue to come first.
“With our model, it was really important that our giving come first. [The pandemic] definitely slowed us down, but the Lord has been quite faithful since the economy has started again. We’re growing, and it’s exciting.”
In fact, the COVID-19 crisis only strengthened Brett’s resolve to be as generous as possible. “I haven’t ever had to worry about where my shelter or my next meal is coming from. But the kids and families that Compassion is reaching have to deal with those problems all the time,” he reflects. “Why have we been given so much, that even when the world shuts down, we have no worries? All our needs are met, and yet, the needs in other parts of the world continue. We’re very grateful that the Lord has continued to grow the business and our impact in this season.”
“That is our strategy, to actually trust God. Because if God gives you an idea for something, He will provide in His time.”
Through challenges like the critical first year of business, Brett has had many business strategies drawn up on the whiteboard in his office. But ultimately, all those strategies have come back to one, simple phrase: Pray and trust God.
“The whiteboard had all my business strategies on how to grow Purpose. It was full of all these very smart things. You know, ‘Top 10 Real Estate Things to Do to Grow Real Estate.’ [But] the more I tried on my own strength… the harder things got.”
“In year two, I erased the whiteboard and wrote, ‘Pray, and trust God.’ And it hasn’t come off. Fundamentally, that’s not all we do, but that is our strategy, to actually trust God. Because if God gives you an idea for something, He will provide in His time.”
Beyond the SOLD sign
At the end of the day, all of this is about people—meeting people’s real estate needs while helping others in need. “Our slogan is, ‘Helping others, while serving you,'” says Brett. “We help our clients with their homes [and] we use that transaction to help others.”
For something as life changing as buying or selling a home, the fact that it can also change others’ lives through charitable giving is something that brings immense joy and encouragement to Purpose Realty’s clients.
“At the end of the day, we don’t hold up a SOLD sign in front of their home, we hold up a cheque with their donation and their impact.”
“We get to remind them at the end [of their real estate journey] why we’re doing what we’re doing. At the end of the day, we don’t hold up a SOLD sign in front of their home, we hold up a cheque with their donation and their impact. It’s a reminder and keepsake of what we’ve accomplished beyond their housing need,” says Brett.
“It’s just really cool that we can have that kind of impact together. Yes, it’s the business that gives, but it’s their home, it’s their livelihood, it’s their joy and their sorrow, and through that, the impact is there.”
In the midst of such big moments in life, Purpose Realty enables homebuyers and sellers to be part of something bigger and beyond than themselves.
“Real estate can be very, very personal,” Brett says. “Sometimes it’s a beautiful season of life—marriage or a growing family or some good thing. [But] sometimes it can be challenging things, like broken relationships or death. Some of the most rewarding stories are those [clients who tell us], ‘Thank you for guiding us through a tough time in life, and thank you for bringing us into the giving [and] bringing some light out of a tough circumstance.’ Those are probably the coolest conversations we get to have.”
Through it all, Brett’s ultimate conviction is that God gets all the glory. “It is Him every step of the way. I’ve seen that from the beginning until now,” he says. “He’s the one that changed my life from somewhere that was going nowhere, to a place of purpose. We’re doing this for the Lord, because we love Jesus, and this is how we express our love, by providing for the needs in our world.”
Do you or someone you know have a real estate need? Work with Purpose Realty, and support Compassion in the process! Visit their website to start your real estate journey.
Purpose Realty works with a network of Christian real estate agents to serve clients across Canada, from coast to coast. If you are interested in making an impact and serving the Lord with Purpose Realty through your real estate career, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does your business want to partner with Compassion to make an impact? Get in touch with one of our relationship managers.
Feature photo caption: Brett in September 2020