Silver linings isn’t just 2016-2017 Chicago Association of REALTORS® President Matt Silver’s Twitter handle — it’s his guiding principle.
A longtime industry veteran, Matt brings a legacy of professionalism, elegance and service to his role.
His exposure to real estate began when he was a child, riding in the backseat of a “three block-long Oldsmobile” as his family – his father Verne, mother Marlene, and brother David – road tripped throughout the United States. While they drove, his brother would push him to create his own business of some kind; for David, it was an airline – sort of an early prototype of Southwest Airlines – and for Matt, many years later, it would be real estate.
“I remember sitting in the backseat and seeing the for-sale signs – all the acreage,” he said. Today, those signs aren’t nearly as frequent – the land’s been bought and developed. But those vacations played an integral role in setting the stage for Matt’s eventual career in commercial and residential real estate.
Matt graduated from Michigan State with a degree in Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management. He worked for Marshall Fields as a manager, and then for one of the original partners of Lettuce Entertain You. Eventually, he began to burn out, and turned his attention to wine. But before he could switch from restaurants to selling wine, his father talked him into going into packaging sales together.
After ten years, he found himself struggling to break the six figure mark. His wife at the time, who has Crohns disease, sometimes was too sick to get out of bed; per Matt’s dedication to family, he wanted to find a career that allowed him to be around to help her if something was wrong. And true to his father Verne’s favorite saying, “Good luck is the result of hard work,” he went on a series of over 200 informational interviews – everything from medical device sales to real estate. Following several different informational interviews on the commercial side, Matt got excited again.
“I had this, ‘Oh my God, I can crush this,’ moment,” he said. “I knew that you could earn a really solid living, and what I liked most was that it could be done the way I wanted to do it. I remember saying that I didn’t want to get put in a room to smile and dial. I wanted to problem solve, be stimulated, and get really creative with it.”
Although Matt eventually then made the jump to residential real estate, he still has a soft spot for commercial. “It’s very rare for a residential sector to do well without commercial offerings,” he stresses. “And, no one wants to live in a strictly commercial area. Commercial is very important to me.”
His residential career began at Rubloff, under the mentorship of Jim Kinney. “For the first few weeks, Jim would sit with me and we went over every contract, every piece of paper, every sale – any detail I might need to know,” Matt said. “It was an interesting time to be in the business because we were switching from books that were printed every day to computers.” Technology, he notes, that has actually made the job of a broker easier, and gives them opportunity to provide even stronger service to clients.
“Real estate has never felt like work to me,” Matt said. “It’s the culmination of every job I’ve had in my lifetime – particularly at Rubloff, where I was in my element and I could rise rapidly.”
After Rubloff sold, Matt switched to @properties for a brief time – they were expanding to the North Shore, and they were a new perspective for the market. And then the market crashed. “For a period, it was as if everything in my life was saying ‘time for a change!’” Matt said. “I was on the board, going through a divorce, the market was tanking…and I reevaluated everything.”
It was at this point that he met Matt Farrell, a fellow C.A.R. board member. They hit it off, and Matt made the switch to the growing boutique firm, Urban Real Estate – a “mutually beneficial” decision. After a year there, he began talks with Matt and Michael Emery about becoming a partner. Two years ago, it became a reality.
“And it’s been incredible,” Matt said. “I love what we do, and our dedication to doing it in the most elegant way.”
Elegance, after all, is one of Matt’s trademarks, right alongside professionalism. It’s a trait he wants to encourage membership to embrace this year. “The people I know in this business are hardworking, dedicated, sincere,” he said. “This is true in all 77 neighborhoods. It’s incredible the impact we have with All Chicago and Boys & Girls Clubs. We don’t just move property. We build relationships that are, more often than not, lifelong, because we become trusted advisors.
“When we work together, together we accomplish a lot. I want to focus on the behind the scenes work that brings value to the process. We aren’t order takers – we have intrinsic value to the transaction. It’s part of what we do. People want to trust the expert, and the only way to become the expert they trust, is to say what you mean, and mean what you say.”
One of the things you’ll often hear Matt say is, “To give real service, you have to give something that can’t be measured, bought or sold with money, and that is integrity and sincerity.” This service is what makes Matt so treasured by his clients, everyone from first time homebuyers to professional athletes and CEOS. And it’s becoming apparent in his presidency: in his first month, Matt hosted three forums for small and large office managing brokers, as well as past presidents, to provoke conversation and listen to feedback. He’s well-known for taking members’ phone calls, and trying to problem solve for their issues. And, he keeps a list of what he wants to accomplish in his year as president on his iPhone – handy for referencing on-the-go.
In his Inaugural speech, he also challenged his fellow Chicago REALTORS® to strive to be uncommon, not just ordinary.
His drive to go above and beyond, and to give back to his community, propels his interests outside of his work.
“If I’m not at work, or at a hockey game, or doing some parental duty, I’m at a charity event, because that’s what I want to do with my free time: give back,” he said. “I’ve been given so much, and had so many incredible opportunities, but I want to give back.”
This is a passion which has also been passed down to his beloved son Grant, who has become involved with All Chicago, even creating a video as part of a school project to raise awareness.
Together, the two of them can often be found at a hockey rink. Grant plays, and Matt used to, up until a few years ago. Their vacations likely center around going to see a game on the road, whether that’s in Toronto, LA, Boston or San Jose.
Outside of hockey and charity work, if he has any free time left, Matt can usually be found at home reading a book. Education is very important to him, and he wants to encourage his fellow REALTORS® to seek out opportunities to further their knowledge, whether by talking to a mentor, or by pursuing a certificate or designation through REALTORS® Real Estate School.
Again, it circles back to his desire to elevate the industry’s professionalism. “I want this to be the start of the conversation,” he said. “That’s my main drive: I want someone – whether it’s a client or a member – to know that I did right by them.”
Watch Matt’s Inaugural Gala Speech