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.
On the last Wednesday of each month, we gather in the bright, homey confines of Manny’s Deli. Seated among the aromas of pastrami and bagels, we enjoy a fresh breakfast buffet and listen to successful Chicago REALTORS®’ industry tips, tricks and tactics which have stood the test of time. Here’s what we’ve learned so far this year.
Time and time again, these experts reiterate the importance of establishing and maintaining trusted relationships with their clients. They dedicate time to keeping in touch with their network via phone, email and text. These super stars ensure clients know and feel like they’re a priority.
Kevin Van Eck, @properties
“When sharing your listing research, it’s important to show and tell a story. Describe how the property has changed, talk through how you see its story changing for the future. Talk possibilities and use facts and figures to support them.”
Jennifer Ames, Engel & Völkers Chicago
“I’m a giving person, so I tell my team to make our seller feel like they’re our only client. We want to know more about their listing than they do, so they trust our expertise. Even if we haven’t signed any contracts, I walk through their rooms, comparing paint swatches. I show them how much I care.”
Melanie Everett, Melanie Everett & Company
“Anytime we meet with someone, we say, ‘This is how the search process works.’ We’ll do our first meeting, we’ll get a feel for what they’re looking for, and then the first action step after that is a tour day. A tour day is where we set up back-to-back their top five favorite properties. Then after that day, it’s one-off showings. As soon as we started explaining it to people that way, it made people get organized.”
Brad Lippitz, Compass Real Estate
“We’re in an “Amazon” age where people expect things immediately, so I try to answer my emails or phone pretty quickly. Even if it’s just to get a meeting on the books, I set up a call or a face-to-face before I vet them or do any research. People like that. And whether it’s during that initial contact or in the first meeting, I try to find their true motivations for buying or selling their home. This helps with managing expectations and finding solutions down the road.”
Sam Shaffer, Chicago Properties Firm
“I use the MLS, and I communicate to my buyers that I’m going to set them up with what I call the Holy Grail so, they have access to the most updated, accurate, real-time information available to them. I tell them if they feel the need to go rogue and searching on other websites, whatever they find, send me exactly what they’re interested in seeing. Then, I can research it on their behalf, and it’s a good way to stay in communication with my buyers. I welcome that as a way to know what they’re interested in.”
When your workload begins to exceed your own capacity, it may be time to build your team. These team-building superstars shared differing stories of growth and expansion, but their priorities are similar: they believe in consistent systems of accountability, talent retention and a shared, positive team culture.
Jill Silverstein, Compass Real Estate
“We do different contests. It’s not like ‘who has the most sales’ because that’s not everyone’s gig. Instead, we’ll do ‘who can secure the most coffee meetings or phone calls.’ For example, my team member Brian won recently, and I took him out for lunch. So, I’m setting up and following through with rewards.”
Danny Lewis, Dream Town Realty
“Before you start a team, be on a team. Find someone at your brokerage who you look up to— someone whose business you want to emulate— and ask if you can be on their team. There’s no question I could not have run a team had I not been on one in the first place. I saw how the team structure worked, I saw the type of questions they were asking the team leader, and so on.”
Joe Zimmerman, Keller Williams Chicago-Lincoln Park
“People always say, ‘Oh, if I could just hire me again.’ That could not be more false. At the end of the day, you’ve got to hire someone who’s not you, who is going to do the things you’re not good at and you’re not going to do. Typically, we’re entrepreneurs, we’re people persons, etc., so you need to find a comprehensive person who is going to do the paperwork and the behind-the-scenes things so you can be face-to-face with people.”
Nick Nastos, Fulton Grace Realty
“The whole point of a team is to help each other out. We hold team meetings; everybody is involved and knows what’s going on with each other’s deals. We cover open houses and do whatever we can to make sure we see the whole process through. That helps our culture and creates continuity.”
Your Business & You
We live in a world of options – which isn’t always a good thing. How can you and your business stand out? How can you be more than just another email, just another needless phone call, just another face talking about inventory or just another broker who can “get you top dollar?” The answer is more personal than you realize: it’s you. Get in touch with your story, own your value proposition and communicate what makes working with you worth it.
Rick Sobin, @properties
“You’re always going to get a question every day you’re out in the field. The question is: how’s the market? Part of your daily homework is to leave your house and have a very compelling answer.”
Karen Biazar, North Clybourn Group, Inc.
“To speak about authenticity, I believe in reaching out to people about what’s relevant to my relationship with them. It could be a past sale or a resource that I know they need versus telling them about daylight savings time. It also means you’re setting your priorities; there’s only so much we can do in a day. Develop good habits. I try— emphasis on try— to reach out to one or two people per day.”
Jason Stratton, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Koenig Rubloff Realty Group
“You have to find what makes you irreplaceable. Every one of us has a talent that makes us irreplaceable. You have to find how that goes with real estate. Mine is math and construction. When I speak to a client, that’s my angle. My partner is an interior designer, that’s her angle. Find out what your added value is to this industry and to your clients, and really hammer that in. That’s how you’re going to get referrals!”
Bari Levine, @properties
“I think you need to be honest about the market. You’re out there seeing what’s happening, so yes, you can look at all the stats, but when it comes down to it, your market is unique. You have the expertise. You just have to approach it in a very honest way, give your feedback, and make your clients feel comfortable. Be transparent and help them make the right decision.”
Phil Byers, Keller Williams Chicago-Lincoln Park
“Look within and ask yourself, ‘What skill do I not have?’ I looked at myself at the end of 2008, and I realized I really sucked at pricing. I realized I was wrong about price all the time. That’s when I developed this reputation among colleagues as being Mr. Market Guy, because I got really real about what the market does and how it works and how I watch it.”