Is It Time To Bring Holistic Concerns and Mindfulness to Real Estate?Nov 02, 2021 06:00AM ● By Sandra Bolan
Many of us buy organic and grass-fed foods to avoid exposure to chemicals, hormones and antibiotics, but when it comes to cleaning our homes, many of us use bleach, aerosol cleaners and antibacterial soap with impunity. As for outside the home, landscapes often harbor herbicides, fences are often covered in lead paint, and PVC garden hoses proliferate.
However, a growing number of people are opting to live chemical-free, and some are seeking to buy homes with as few volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as possible.
“I believe real estate is the next frontier that will be radically transformed by the wellness movement,” says Tori McGee, an Atlanta-based real estate agent who specializes in holistic real estate. “Our homes, communities and surrounding environment directly affect our daily behaviors and lifestyles, and together these determine up to 90% of our health outcomes.”
Some of McGee’s clients are not only concerned about their well-being, they are immunocompromised. Pilates instructor, studio owner and California native Rebecca Nelson, for example, opted to start reducing toxins from her life and eat clean more than 15 years ago. She did so for her own well-being since she has a gene mutation that reduces her ability to detox. But she also wanted her young family to grow up to be strong and healthy, and she knew that common household toxins can impede that process. When she moved her family to the Atlanta area earlier this year, she did so with McGee’s help.
“Tori is amazing and unique in her own way. But I think that is the culture of holistic reality,” says Nelson. “You don’t feel crazy. The whole buying process feels authentic and true to how we want to live our lives.”
Prior to moving across the country, Nelson, 46, bought and sold homes with traditional real estate agents—and she asked a lot of questions. She asked if anyone had tested the home for radon gas or mold or if they had evaluated the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of the home. She asked if lead paint was used in the home and asked about the home’s air and water quality.
“I would look like a complete crazy person. But I’d prefer to not be the one educating the professional,” Nelson says.
McGee conducts tests of all kinds and also has a long list of nontoxic service providers and remediation experts with whom she consults. But they weren’t easy to find. Many companies call themselves “green” or “environmentally safe,” but they are actually “green-washed nontoxic,” she says. “Greenwashing” is an emerging term for when a company presents itself as having more of a positive impact on the environment than it actually does.
McGee started out as a nutrition specialist in 2008, never intending to become a real estate agent. But in 2003, she made a conscious decision to remove all chemicals from her family’s life because her young daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, and McGee made it her mission to do what she could to help her daughter.
Research has shown that exposure to common toxins found in carpets, floors, cleaning supplies, lawn care items, as well as food and personal hygiene products may contribute to learning disabilities, according to ADDitude, a resource for families living with ADHD.
When McGee began looking for a home of her own to buy in 2013, she realized there was a need for holistic real estate agents. “No one really cared,” she says. Most traditional real estate agents acted like mold and other toxins were no big deal.
In 2015, she received her Realtor’s license and felt that she needed to create wellness for homes. “It has to be a lifestyle. If [real estate agents] aren’t living it and it doesn’t mean anything to them, then how are they going to care for their clients’ health?”
The reputation of a real estate agent is only slightly better than that of a lawyer, car salesperson or a member of Congress, according to a Forbes study of the most and least trusted American professions. So when Kathryne Determann learned about a realtor who was positioning herself as "mindful," she, along with fiancé Matthew Oglesby, thought it a tough sell.
“I’m just naturally skeptical about these sorts of approaches and jargon, like ‘mindful,’ ‘sanctuary’ and ‘holistic,’” says Oglesby. “It had nothing to do with Mindy. I’m just intrinsically skeptical of that sort of talk, especially when applied to a capitalist enterprise like real estate.”
Oglesby is referring to Atlanta-based mindfulness-oriented real estate agent Mindy Roberts.
The home-buying process, especially in the Atlanta market, is more emotionally stressful than ever before. With this stress comes a lot of distrust on the part of buyers and the selling agent. But Roberts takes a mindful approach to help her clients understand that everyone is on the same team and they all want the same thing—to close the deal.
“I like to create as little room for letdown as possible,” explains Roberts, an accredited real estate agent of three years with a specialty in mindfulness. There is, however, no certification for mindful realty.
Roberts admits Oglesby was tough to get on board because he felt the home-buying process was going to be out of his control and he wasn’t going to be heard. But Roberts changed his mind.
“I just think there’s so much power in validating someone’s emotional state,” says Roberts, who found the couple a mid-century home in a neighborhood they liked.
“We wanted to make a thoughtful purchase and preserve a piece of Atlanta history,” explains Determann.
The couple purchased a former home of baseball legend Hank Aaron, but like many other homebuyers, they got sucked into a bidding war. It was a “wild process,” says Determann, but “Mindy helped us feel grounded through the offer process. Determann admits they were surprised their offer was accepted because it wasn’t the highest bid. In fact, there was an all-cash offer for over the asking price on the table.
“I feel like we wouldn’t have gotten that [house with] anyone else,” says Determann.
Before she started bringing mindfulness to realty, Roberts worked as a consultant for commercial real estate agents. She admits she didn’t have a particularly high opinion of realtors at first, but a group of agents helped Roberts “deconstruct” her “vices against real estate agents” and encouraged her to become a realtor herself.
“My mindful practices are just a step further; they only exist in my business because they exist in my personal life,” she says.
A big part of Roberts’ process is to help her clients remain unattached. That is, if they don’t get something they want, the disappointment doesn’t define their existence.
Roberts “talks a lot about how stress comes from fear of the unknown and a lack of trust in ourselves,” says Oglesby. “She talks about the importance of making sure you’re aligned with yourself and your priorities so that there is less room for letdown and more room for better outcomes.” ❧
For more information about Mindy Roberts and Tori McGee, visit
Staff writer Sandra Bolan is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for more than 25 years and has contributed to publications in the U.S., Canada and Bermuda. Contact her at [email protected].