REALTORS® Go the Distance for Habitat

November 7, 2013

Wednesday marked the 13th year NAR has participated in a Habitat For Humanity build to kick off the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, but this year Toni Enderli, CEO of REALTOR® of Excellence from Cape Town, South Africa, plans to do more.

Enderli says he'll swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco on Monday, Nov. 11, with the goal of raising $10,000 for Habitat For Humanity of Greater San Francisco. An extreme swimmer, Enderli has raised money for various nonprofits and causes by traversing the waters of Antarctica, Strait of Gibraltar, and the English Channel, among others.

“Swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco is a way for me to say thank you to America and NAR for sharing knowledge about what’s happening in real estate,” Enderli says.

Phillip Kilbridge, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco, says the obstacles facing affordable housing in the city are twofold: the high housing costs and availability of land.

San Francisco’s median home price hit $1 million in April – its highest level in six years, according to the San Francisco Association of REALTORS®. Kilbridge says it has become increasingly important to provide opportunities for lower income families to own a home.

“We have to take advantage of every acre we can,” Kilbridge says.

And the location of this development does just that.

The two and three bedroom single-family homes will be constructed on a one-way street with only inches separating each unit. But the houses will be built tall, complete with roof solar panels, and ocean views from some of the third-story windows.

R. Brian Matza, broker and contractor with Nob Hill Realty, remembers running drills during his days as a firefighter along a narrow strip of land adjacent to a highway in San Francisco’s Oceanview-Merced-Ingleside neighborhood. Yesterday, he visited the area again – this time as one of 75 REALTORS® who volunteered their time to work on the 28 houses in this Habitat project.

“Because of the high housing costs in San Francisco, the affordability index is really difficult, especially for entry level,” says Matza, a San Francisco native. “Now to see this coming in here, it’s a fantastic thing and I’m happy to be part of it.”

Individuals who apply for Habitat homes must have qualifying credit to receive the 0 percent mortgage and the ability to pay back the loan. They must also take financial management classes and contribute 500 hours of “sweat equity” on Habitat projects. Future residents of this development will be selected next summer and will move into the new homes early in 2015.

“These homes are a huge asset development for families,” Kilbridge says. “They can use it as a stepping stone for more education, stability, and deep engagement in their community.”

–By Erica Christoffer, REALTOR® Magazine

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