Baird & Warner, Chicago’s oldest residential brokerage, is donating $150,000 to local coronavirus relief.
“As our country grapples with the difficult realities of Covid-19, it is imperative that those of us in the industry who can rise up to help the communities that have supported us throughout the years do so now,” President and CEO Steve Baird said in a page-long letter announcing the donation, which he addressed: “To my industry colleagues.”
The contribution, made through the company’s charitable foundation, Baird & Warner Good Will Network; along the Stephen W. and Susan M. Baird Foundation, will go to the Chicago Community Covid-19 Response Fund.
The coronavirus has crippled the nation’s economy and Illinois remains under a stay-at-home order. The city has also begun using hotels to house patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 but only show mild symptoms or those who have been exposed to it.
While real estate services have been deemed “essential,” meaning they can remain open during the stay-at-home order, many brokerages are closed, with agents conducting business through virtual home tours.
In an interview Monday, Baird said nearly all the company’s business is being conducted virtually, though its offices remain open with minimal staff at each location.
Demand among buyers has not slowed dramatically, he said. Between March 21 and 25, more than 2,600 Chicago-area properties went under contract, according to MLS data cited by Baird & Warner. Prices on closed luxury home sales have remained relatively steady, as well.
Baird said he was surprised by how well March will end for the brokerage, with revenue approaching what the brokerage had pulled in for the same month last year. He expects a slowdown in April, but added that the company’s strong first quarter performance should help balance it out. Meanwhile, Baird’s title and mortgage units show sales far exceeding last year at the same time, he said.
Baird & Warner said it will focus on trying to avoid layoffs and pay cuts, which has affected other firms. New York-based brokerage Compass, which entered the Chicago market in 2017, laid off 15 percent of its nationwide staff this month. It was not known how many local employees were affected.
Founded in 1855, Baird ranked third in the city by sales volume in The Real Deal’s ranking of biggest brokerages last year. “Many businesses and organizations will struggle to recuperate their lost revenue during this pandemic, but we don’t have to sit on the sidelines and watch this happen,” he said.