The Chicago Association of REALTORS®, the “Voice for Real Estate” in Chicago since 1883, represents over 17,000 members from all real estate specialties including commercial sales, development, property management, appraisal, auctions and residential sales.
Get to know our members who share their expertise to help shape the future of our association and industry!
We chatted with our 2020-2021 Public Policy Committee Vice Chair Erik Schwab, Corcoran Urban Real Estate, to find out more about his career path, why he volunteers and more.
How long have you worked in the industry?
Why were you interested in getting into real estate?
Back in 2007 when I first got my license, I was still in college at DePaul University. It seemed like the perfect way to earn some extra money to help with my student loans and a great part-time gig once I graduated. I was also considering going to law school, so it was the perfect opportunity to gain some first-hand knowledge and experience with contracts and negotiations.
What’s your biggest achievement in your career to date?
That I am still here. I think it’s important not to underestimate the challenges that come with a career in real estate. There are times when it may seem like everything is working against you: clients don’t want to follow your advice, lenders over promise and under deliver, the economy starts to crash around you (thank you 2020!) and on and on. With all of that, if at the end of the day my clients are happy and I’m able to continue becoming a stronger and better resource for them, that’s what I’m proudest of. For me, the dollar amount of a sale or the number of closings are nice things, but true achievement is something deeper.
What has helped you most to get where you are today?
Good support from some great mentors. From my first managing broker at a small suburban office to where I am today, I have been fortunate to have a great support system. I am able to rely on that when I need help or encounter something in a transaction that I’ve never run into before. That type of support keeps me and my business growing. I’ve been very lucky to have that level of support.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
The flexibility and freedom I have being self-employed, and also, my clients, even the difficult ones! Being self-employed is a dream. It comes with a great amount of freedom, but also an equal or sometimes greater amount of responsibility. It can be a tightrope sometimes, but both of those things keep me excited and feed my desire to continue to grow in this field. And I love the variety I get to experience from my clients. Every client is different, their goals are different, every deal is different. I think that level of variety is hard to find in other fields and for me, it keeps things fresh and exciting, and of course challenging at times, which I love.
What advice would you give others who are looking to take their career to the next level?
Be prepared to grind it out when you need to, and be sure to enjoy the big moments when they come. Being a REALTOR® is not as clean and simple as it may look on TV. Very few professions offer the freedom to build your own business and be your own boss from almost day one, but that type of opportunity requires a lot of work. Work on building your business and client base, but just as importantly, work on building your own confidence and abilities. Never stop trying to learn and never be afraid to seek out help and guidance when you need it. If you stick to that, then very little will hold you back.
What does volunteering mean to you?
Volunteering is both an honor and a challenge. I think it is important to volunteer for the right reasons. For me, I look at it as an opportunity to better not only my own skills, but more importantly, to help better the industry and career that I have chosen. The committees I sit on are awesome environments where REALTORS® from a variety of different backgrounds come together to help protect our fellow members and also help shape the future of the industry. It is deeply humbling to be a voice in those discussions.
What has been most valuable to you/your business since you got involved in our industry?
Making sure to take every opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the industry. From CE classes and conventions to collaborating with fellow REALTORS® in my office, I find that continuing to learn and adapt as the industry evolves helps make me a better REALTOR®, and more importantly, it makes me a stronger advocate for my clients. Nothing is more valuable than that to me.