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Last year, Lisa Bayless of Long Realty sold a staggering 151 homes in Pima County — while also donating over $100,000 from her commissions to local schools, police, and food banks.
And yet Lisa is one of the rare professionals today who still answers her own phone.
One testament to Lisa’s role in the community is that she was recently awarded the distinction of being named Honorary Commander to the 68th Rescue Squad of the U.S. Air Force.
“The Air Force selects civilians and brings them on to Davis-Monthan base. They educate people about the operations of the base, with the hope that you can be an ambassador to the community. You cannot apply for this distinction. The Air Force contacted me. They had read some things in the media.”
What drew the attention of the Air Force was Lisa’s extensive commitment to charitable giving in the community.
Lisa’s “Community First” policy means that she donates at least $500 from every commission she earns to a local charity. She sees a reciprocal relationship: “the health of the community really impacts the value of the local housing market, and vice-versa.”
Lisa does almost all of her charitable giving to organizations in OV. “90% of funds stay in Oro Valley. Obviously, there are so many worthy organizations, but Oro Valley is the community that we live in.”
One thing that makes her philanthropy so remarkable is the unique and creative nature of her gifts.
For example, she recently sponsored the city’s Fourth of July fireworks. She also provided two new K-9 units to OVPD named “Diesel” and “Risu”. (Both animals are Belgian Malinois, considered of the world’s best service dogs.)
Food security is another area where Lisa likes to give back. Her donations provided 100 Thanksgiving meals and stocked a food pantry for seniors. She also paid off the lunch debts of local public-school students.
A recent $25,000 gift made possible the purchase of 500 Edison educational robots for use in the classroom at Innovation Academy, Wilson K-8, Copper Creek Elementary, and Immaculate Heart School.
Lisa credits her philanthropic bent to growing up with her family in Tucson.
“My parents always gave to charitable causes. They had lots of good fortune in their lives and liked to share with others. They would take me to non-profit organizations that they were involved in. My father was the CEO of Tucson Electric Power. The company did lots of charitable giving.”
Lisa left the desert to attend college in chilly Maine, and then continued on to complete her advanced degree in Counseling & Social Work from Boston University.
“I left home because I wanted to have different experiences and meet new types of people. I came back because my family was still here. I think it was a great thing to have the opportunity to go different places. You do that, and then you go back home to where you belong.”
When Lisa returned to Arizona in 2007, she found that her training in counseling was incredibly helpful in working with families that wished to buy or sell a home. “I began to understand that real estate is as much about people as it is about the commodity itself.”
Lisa says that she approaches each client meeting – especially the first – as she would a counseling session. She focuses on listening to her clients and understanding their unique needs and concerns.
“The client does not have to adapt to me. I have to adapt to them.”
Indeed, home sales always involve a human story. “I sold a home with a gentleman who had stage four cancer. He used the proceeds from the sale of his home to finance his life dream of visiting Ireland.”
One of her trade secrets: “I answer my own phone. There is no central phone number. The client will only deal with me.”
Lisa has been ranked in the Top 1% of realtors in the U.S.
“Being a realtor is a great career. You’re not stuck at a desk, and every day is different. You get to solve problems and communicate with different people.”
Roughly 50% of her clients come from Pima County, and the other 50% are from outside the area.
“The service that I provide is not about me — it’s all about the client. Every person is unique, with their own needs. It’s not a one-size-fits-all. Sometimes people buy and sell for very positive reasons, sometimes there are real-life struggles. Regardless of where the client is or what that situation is, we work with that.”
Lisa volunteers on the board of the Boys and Girls Club, the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Oro Valley Optimists Club (“they’re very optimistic”), and the board of the Arizona Heroes Memorial, among others.
By Tom Ekman, J.D., M.Ed.