Consistently ranked as a Chicago Top Producer and one of the highest-performing agents at Baird & Warner year after year, Jim Abbott is no stranger to getting asked about the keys to his success. He has two simple pillars that he always shares, he says.
Number one: “Over-communicate and stay organized. Although we buy/sell homes daily, the average buyer/seller only does this every 3-5 years on average. The market and technology will be different than the last time they bought or sold and we need to walk them through that. Give updates, let them know the next steps are, and create a timeline to follow. Be their go to person that keeps in contact with their lender, attorney, inspectors, etc. They have so much to do, anything we can do to help them will be appreciated!”
And number two: “Any chance you get to exceed someone’s expectations, do it! Your job is to execute at 100% but people will remember the small stuff that is unexpected or above and beyond that. It can be as simple as stocking their refrigerator with some snacks and drinks for the day they move in or helping them coordinate painters/movers/etc.”
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Becky Sexson has earned numerous professional accolades since launching her real estate career five years ago — from being named Baird & Warner’s Rookie of the Year in her first year in business, to being named a Rising Star in Chicago Real Producers magazine, to being designated as a Top Producer in Chicago by the Chicago Association of REALTORS®.
But before transitioning from a career path in the not-for-profit space, “real estate was not really ever on my mind,” Becky says.
That all changed when she went through the process of buying a condo, which sparked her interest in the real estate. And, as she tells it, it was her now-husband who first made her believe that a career in real estate might be the perfect fit.
“He put a bug in my ear,” Becky explains. “He would say, ‘hey, I think you’d be great selling real estate. You’re really organized, a great networker, you’re really outgoing, you can build relationships and you’re good with numbers… Maybe it’s something that you might want to consider.’”
So Becky ended up getting her license and jumping into real estate, giving herself a year in which she would devote herself to building her business full-time, with the same level of dedication and planning she had used to structure and excel in her previous 9-to-5 jobs. It ended up being one of the best decisions she ever could have made, she says.
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Baird & Warner is synonymous with Chicagoland — but did you know that our brokerage also offers agents national and global reach?
Here at Baird & Warner, all of us take fierce pride in being a part of Chicagoland’s largest independent and locally-owned real estate company. We just celebrated our 166th birthday; that’s more than a century and a half of making real estate easier for buyers and sellers across Chicagoland.
From helping to lead the rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire, to expanding the L, to fighting for Fair Housing, to strengthening our communities through our Good Will Works charitable arm, our story is the story of Chicago. Our long history has provided us with deep roots in our community, giving us the kind of local experience and expertise that no other brokerage can offer. We know these communities better than anyone else, and we’re always committed to finding new ways to adapt, innovate, and meet our clients’ changing needs.
That means we’re committed to the idea of making real estate easier for everyone — even if you’re buying or selling outside of Chicagoland. We like to say that our agents are local experts with a global reach, with the strategic partnerships and connections it takes to provide our clients with unmatched service whether they’re buying or selling across the state, the country, or the world.
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Baird & Warner offers very competitive commissions as well as impactful support, training, and business planning that empower our agents to develop more sustainable long-term businesses that will be able to grow, scale, and support their goals for many years to come.
And did you know that on top of all that, Baird & Warner can also help put more money back into your pocket each and every year? Here’s how we do it:
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After years in the not-for-profit space, Virgil Jones made the leap into residential real estate — and his growing business is a testament to the power of hard work, building relationships, and continuous learning and growth.
Before transitioning into real estate, Virgil spent 16 years leading educational not-for-profit organizations. In his previous position as CEO of LINK Unlimited Scholars, a scholarship and mentoring organization, Virgil had the opportunity to search for, develop, and build a new headquarters for the organization.
“This experience drew me into real estate,” Virgil explains. “And although I continued to lead LINK for several years after we built this new facility, it piqued my interest in real estate. I learned so much from this experience, and was fortunate to work with top leaders and professionals in the market.”
Seeking a change and knowing that he wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial path, Virgil moved into the real estate space — and interviewed with many different brokerages before finding the right fit.
“I looked at probably five or six different brokerages. I went from small to some of the big-name ones,” Virgil says. “I heard of Baird & Warner, and I knew that it was a very professionally run organization.”
And once he interviewed with the management team at Baird & Warner – Lincoln Park, he was “pretty much sold,” he remembers.
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Community isn’t just a buzzword for Baird & Warner broker Brendan Perlin. Brendan was born and bred in Chicagoland — and he’s putting his local connections and expertise to work for a breakout 2021.
Originally born in Glenview, Brendan moved into the city at 18 to study at DePaul University, and he’s called Lincoln Park home ever since.
“I always find myself bringing up what ‘used to be there,’’ Brendan says. “Being in the city since I can remember, and seeing everything change building by building and neighborhood by neighborhood, I constantly find myself remembering, reminiscing, and bringing up the history to other folks.”
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There’s one piece of wisdom that Sarah Jaffe reflects on often — a quote from the writer Gail Sheehy:
“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”
Sarah certainly is the living embodiment of growth and change. After all, she made the decision to dive headfirst into a new real estate career — in the middle of a pandemic.
“Real estate was probably never on my radar until May of 2020,” Sarah says. “I already know I made the right decision. There’s not a day where I look back.”
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As you get started in real estate, joining the right brokerage is one of the most important steps you will take on your journey. The support of your brokerage is one of the biggest contributing factors to getting your new real estate business off the ground quickly and successfully. But with so many choices out there, how will you find the brokerage that will be the right fit for you — and for where you want to take your career next?
I encourage new-to-the-business brokers to look at seven factors when researching real estate brokerages. From most important to least important, those criteria are:
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- Access to management and support
- Training and coaching
- Office culture
- Broker services
- Business opportunities
- Commission structure
Millie Rosenbloom has had a long and celebrated career in Chicago real estate — and her unique perspective on the industry started at a young age.
Growing up, Millie says, her mom and dad used to buy properties to fix up and sell. She moved a lot during grade school, while gaining a lifelong understanding and appreciation for architecture, building homes, and the many kinds of work involved in real estate along the way.
Once she decided to start down this career path, Millie initially had something of a turbulent beginning.
“When I first started, I interviewed with Habitat. And they did not hire me because I didn’t have any experience. So I found a small little firm and went to work there, and six months later they closed their doors, unfortunately,” she says. “So I wound up going back to Habitat.”
This time, Millie interviewed and got hired. She then spent 15 years working her way up the ladder, eventually becoming part owner of the company. Over this span, she grew the brokerage division from 15 agents to 120, before selling it to Baird & Warner in December of 2007.
“And I’ve been here ever since!” Millie says.
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Here at Baird & Warner – Lincoln Park, our brokers are some of the most productive in the city — and we know how important a strong support team is for keeping the flow of business moving.
Consistently praised by our brokers as some of the best in the business, our office-level support staff includes multiple full-time administrators who are available to assist with listing management, marketing production, closing logistics, and much more. And with a full-time management staff of three, brokers in the Lincoln Park office have unrivaled support, guidance, coaching and mentorship at every stage of their careers.
Let’s take a deeper look at how our office-level support helps our agents to make the most of new opportunities, focus on their business strategies, and gain a competitive edge in the market:
Operational Support: Freeing You Up to Focus On What Matters Most
Attentive, driven, and professional, our operational support staff provides our agents with the specialized support they need to run a full-time business. Having a dedicated support staff in our office frees up time for our brokers to focus on the lead-generating activities that are central to growing their businesses. Depending on your business plan and strategy, this might include cultivating leads online or in-person; preparing market research and putting it into practice; negotiating deals; attending listing and buyer presentations; learning and growing in ongoing training sessions or classes; or taking part in local networking events to grow your sphere.
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