The concept of a “new lease on life” is important to many recovering addicts who equate sobriety with a second chance. For Kyle Morris, an agent with F.C. Tucker Company in Carmel, Ind., sobriety and real estate both were his redemption.
When Morris, who struggled with opioid addiction, began his recovery journey more than six years ago, he looked to a career in real estate for the flexibility he needed to put his sobriety first. As his own boss, he felt the freedom to be open about who he was. “Some of my problem in the past was that I just hid this from everybody,” Morris says. “I thought that maybe if I’m open about it, the accountability might give me a better chance.”
Like real estate, the core principle of most recovery programs is service. Marrying the two proved to be a perfect fit for Morris. Six months into his sobriety, he started practicing real estate. It took another six months to close his first sale. His business got off to a slow start, but he was committed to making real estate work, he says. “I was happy if I made $30,000 to $40,000 a year and just stayed sober. That’s what my goal was.”
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But Morris has far exceeded that goal today, building a robust team of other agents who are also in recovery. Morris and his teammates share a strong sense of service and a desire to help others in need. So, they’ve made a conscious decision to work with many underprivileged clients who can’t afford desperately needed home repairs—and they’ll do the work for free.
“We’ll go in and change faucets, rescreen patios, replace wood trim, mulch a yard or whatever we need to do so that buyers can look at the good stuff,” Morris explains. Though not all his clients need this kind of help, Morris says his team stands ready to assist anyone with any kind of need, whether it’s related to real estate or mental health and addiction. “We’re really big believers in the ripple effect. A lot of our contractors are in long-term recovery and have built successful businesses around what we do.”
Morris recalls one client he helped who was on the brink of foreclosure. She had come to him looking for a rental, and in the process, he learned about her home—which was all but abandoned. Morris promised to help her refurbish and sell the home before the bank reclaimed the property. “It needed a ton of new landscaping, and I replaced the wood trim outside that was rotted. I painted it and cleaned the carpet, removed the fridge and cleaned the rest of the house up.”
Morris was able to sell his client’s home for $30,000 more than she owed on her mortgage. “The gratitude I saw on her face and how happy she was to get out of a desperate situation was enough,” he says.
At the time, Morris was about a year sober. He didn’t have much money and couldn’t afford to do such extensive work for free. But he didn’t care. He had faith that his service-rooted efforts would pay off. And they have: He’s created a word-of-mouth network that brings referrals to him constantly.
This success allows Morris and his team to give back to their community even more. In three years, they’ve donated nearly $70,000 to local organizations focused on substance use, mental health and homelessness. Morris also has sponsored 100 people in recovery programs and given hundreds of hours of his time to dozens of recovery and mental health-centered organizations. He sits on the boards of multiple organizations, rents homes to people in recovery and dedicates his spare time to helping addicts find a sober lifestyle.
“The circles I run in, everyone does what I do. This is a lifestyle choice,” Morris says. “For the record, I did this to save my own life, and now I’m going to help another person because I was given that kind of help, too. People look at that homeless person on the corner, and they feel sorry for them or are appalled and look away. I just want people to know that you don’t know what that person is capable of if they get help—because that person was me.”