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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At Baird & Warner, we’re known for our unparalleled training opportunities that make it easier for new brokers to accelerate their success. But did you know that we also offer a wide variety of tools and resources designed to help experienced brokers increase their efficiency and generate more business — including the ability to assemble the team that you need, whenever you need it?
Agents at Baird & Warner don’t just have a few tools lying around to pick up and experiment with from time to time; they have entire workshops and a workforce of support staff that serve as the engine for their real estate businesses. This behind-the-scenes machinery is all designed to increase efficiency and drive production so that agents can focus on what’s most important – building their businesses.
For experienced real estate brokers, being able to have a team on-demand is an incredibly valuable service. Experienced agents are busy enough as it is; having to go through the process of staffing up a support team can be an enormous amount to take on. You have to figure out the job descriptions; post and manage listings on job boards; screen and interview candidates; go through onboarding; figure out payroll and scheduling. This can all become tedious and time-intensive, especially when you’re also trying to stay focused on generating new leads and servicing your existing clients.
And on the flip side of the coin, if you ever hit a stretch when you’re not so busy, you might find yourself paying for professional services that you don’t actually need at that time.
At Baird & Warner – Lincoln Park, our agents have the ability to build a team on-demand — getting the qualified assistance they need, when they need it, without having to jump through hoops. It’s all about giving busy agents time back to focus on the activities that matter most.
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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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If you’ve been following the news lately, you know that there are some pretty substantial changes in the competitive structure of the real estate business going on right now. On a market-wide level, for instance, the real estate services site Zillow has recently been active in making acquisitions of smaller companies; by and large, Wall Street is having a bigger impact on what brokers do on a daily basis here in Chicago and around the country.
As experienced brokers know, the real estate landscape is ever-changing. But the more things shift and evolve, the more convinced I am of the incredible importance of building a relationship-based business that is not reliant on leads from third party companies.
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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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Residential real estate is a career field that is exciting, dynamic, and incredibly rewarding — with nearly unlimited earning potential and endless opportunities for learning and growth.
It is also a career path that exemplifies the old adage, “you get out of it what you put into it.” Many of the decisions you make early in your career can have an enormous impact on your future — either setting you up to create the sustainable, lucrative, and flexible business you’ve dreamed about, or limiting your capacity to grow and earn over time.
Want to put yourself in the best position possible for success? Let’s explore five pitfalls or missteps to avoid when getting started in real estate:
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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