Agent Spotlight – Dan Nelson

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an experienced real estate investor, Dan Nelson is the broker you want in your corner. 

He’s got more than 20 years of experience in the Chicagoland market, getting his start when his wife decided to rehab and flip a house, building that into a profitable business. “It feels like we are living in a real-life HGTV show with all the chaos and definitely all the fun.”

Dan knows that buying and selling real estate is a smart way to build wealth — but it pays to do your due diligence and make decisions based on facts instead of emotions. 

As someone who’s managed countless projects, his unique insights are an abundant resource for anyone looking to learn more about house hacking, flipping property, earning rental income, and becoming a serious real estate investor.

With a background in product management, marketing, and learning and development, Dan is a perfect fit with Baird & Warner Lincoln Park and our individualized approach to growth and support.

He believes that one of the most rewarding aspects of a career in this industry is forging a strong relationship with each client, truly getting to know them, and helping them achieve their dreams. Dan especially enjoys working with budding real estate investors and offers insider tips and guidance on how to create a successful strategy for receiving rental income.

One of his clients was a young house painter who dreamed of buying a rental property and using that income to build his portfolio. Dan was able to pair him with the perfect piece of real estate and now he’s making plans to acquire his second one this year. 

Naturally gregarious, Dan’s open and easy communication style makes him an expert negotiator and a wise advisor. His favorite part of being in real estate is the opportunity to listen to and share his knowledge with a diverse audience. 

His keen eye for detail and savvy perception skills also help him triumph at the poker table. Dan’s mastery of the deck was the original source of funding for his family’s emerging rehab business, and he still keeps his hand in the game.

Amongst Chicago’s historic 77 neighborhoods, he feels most at home in Andersonville, a laid-back area on the city’s North Side which is known for its architecture, Scandinavian roots, and high concentration of local and independent businesses. 

Andersonville began as a small village of Swedish immigrants in the mid-19th century and still celebrates that flavor with its annual Midsommarfest in June and the St. Lucia Festival of Lights every December. It’s also one of Chicago’s most welcoming communities and features plenty of opportunities for shopping and dining. 

Dan and his family love popping into the Taste of Lebanon on West Foster for healthy and affordable dishes like chicken shwarma, falafel, hummus, and baba ghanoush. For a thrilling night out, they adore the Chicago Magic Lounge, featuring a 107-seat cabaret theater, a speakeasy performance bar, and one of the country’s best libraries of magic literature and memorabilia. 

He loves to explore the city’s scenic Lakefront Trail bike path, which connects lush green spaces with dramatic urban views, beaches, and cultural institutions. It’s an easy and fun way to get to some of Chicago’s most iconic hangout spots like Del Campo’s Tacos, Caffè Oliva, and The Dock.

More and more consumers are looking for ways to generate additional income in nontraditional ways, and Dan has a gift for helping others choose the right property with the maximum amount of earning potential. This could be the ideal time to purchase a multi-family residence or a home with an accessory dwelling unit as a way to jumpstart your real estate portfolio.

Find out more about Dan’s love of transforming homes and inspiring his clients on his website, check out his Instagram, or reach out to him directly at

How to Help Your Clients Become Real Estate Investors

Historically, investing in real estate has been one of the most effective ways to find financial freedom, especially in the Chicagoland area. It’s a smart way for people to build generational wealth and diversify their portfolios. 

It’s a unique asset class that has lower volatility than stocks and offers a safe way to hedge against inflation or uncertain times. Responsible real estate development can revitalize and strengthen communities by boosting property values and tax revenue, leading to better public services and success for locally-owned businesses.

Most brokers join this industry because they are driven to help match their clients with the perfect home for their family or find the ideal location for an innovative commercial enterprise. 

You also have the power to guide your clients toward making advantageous financial decisions. Here are some smart strategies for encouraging your buyers to become real estate investors and boosting your real estate brand to the stratosphere.

Become a Subject Matter Expert

In the business world, an SME (subject matter expert) is a highly qualified professional who has advanced knowledge in a specific field

Finding your niche is key to establishing your reputation as a trusted advisor. Whether you specialize in a certain area, historic buildings, or multi-family dwellings, doing your research and staying in front of current market trends is vital.

Chicago’s 77 community areas each have a distinct flavor and possible opportunities for residential or commercial investments. In-depth market analysis utilizing the latest AI-powered technology will give you the data you need to steer your clients to the most potentially profitable properties. 

You should also be aware of upcoming development projects, zoning ordinance changes, economic policies, and how to evaluate deals and estimate cash flow. 

The National Association of REALTORS® provides a certification program in real estate investing that takes a deep dive into 1031 exchanges, NOI (net operating income) modeling, and practical insight into professional property management.

By developing your expertise, you’ll inspire homebuyers to expand their horizons and explore the possibilities of building wealth through this type of investment.

Educating Your Clients

The next step is to sit down with your clients and truly understand their goals and financial situation. Many potential homebuyers are unaware of the options available to them or the safety and tax benefits of purchasing property as an investment.

Commonly called “house hacking,” many motivated investors start out by earning income through renting out part of their property (such as accessory dwelling units like basement apartments or separate mother-in-law suites) or by living onsite in a residential building and acquiring tenants for the other units.

This rental income can reduce or eliminate housing costs while building equity and allowing your client to save money for additional investment properties. 

You should advise your buyers to work with a lender who will work with them to find financing options specifically available for investment properties and owner-occupied multi-units. The qualifications for multifamily property mortgages are different than those for single-family homes but definitely still achievable.

For example, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) guarantees mortgages with lower down payment requirements that are specifically designed for those with lower income or credit scores. Buyers can use this program to purchase a property with up to 4 units, as long as one will be their permanent, full-time home. 

Properties with 5 units or more are considered commercial real estate. If your clients are considering taking this route, they’ll need to have good credit and be prepared to make a larger down payment. Commercial mortgage loans also may have shorter terms than conventional residential mortgages — typically 5 to 20 years. 

These kinds of properties are also usually listed at a higher price point than residential ones, but they also generate more revenue, which makes it easier to grow your portfolio. There are many different types of commercial real estate, but these are traditionally the most profitable:

  • Apartments
  • Flex space (multi-use light industrial)
  • Self-storage
  • RV/ motor home parks
  • Strip malls with a balanced tenant mix
  • Student housing

Being a landlord isn’t for everyone, however. Be sure to talk to your clients about their lifestyles and expectations. Some people are ready to be fully hands-on, and some would prefer to let someone else handle the day-to-day oversight and dealing with repairs and maintenance. But property management companies can take a huge bite out of investment property income, so it’s crucial for your client to factor those expenses into their plan. 

Best Practices

Effective negotiation tactics are especially critical when it comes to sealing the deal on investment real estate. Honing your skills and specializing in this kind of transaction will give you valuable expertise and nurture your business. 

It’s vital to offer ongoing support to your clients throughout the process. Providing regular updates on market trends, answering questions, and offering guidance will make your clients feel more confident in their investment decisions and their plan for the future.

Be transparent and upfront with your buyers about the risks and rewards of investing in real estate. This is critical for building trust and establishing yourself as a trusted and reliable partner. 

At Baird & Warner Lincoln Park, we give our brokers every possible advantage to ensure they exceed client expectations. We leverage the latest property management and CRM technology to build a highly unique platform for our top-performing team. 

Discover more about finding success in an exciting and prosperous industry at the largest independent brokerage in the country — reach out today!

Agent Spotlight: Dan Asher

There’s one glorious ideal that drives Dan in his chosen career with Baird & Warner Lincoln Park

And that’s to help others. He believes that there’s no better path than helping people improve their lives by finding the perfect home. 

From a young age, Dan has been fascinated by architecture, buildings, and the idea of creating beautiful spaces. 

He studied at Missouri State University, graduating with a degree from their highly respected and unique Construction Management Program. It’s one of the only programs in the country that offer incredible opportunities for onsite training and internships in this particular field.

One of the reasons that Dan loves living in the Chicago area is its reputation as the architectural capital of the world. He enjoys admiring the city’s many iconic buildings like the Tribune Tower, Willis Tower, the Rookery, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Aqua skyscraper.

Dan and his family regularly go adventuring and take advantage of the nearly endless kid-friendly things to do and places to go that the city is known for. Some of his favorite places to spend time with his loved ones include:

Chicagoland is an exhilarating place to visit any time of the year, of course, but in the warmer months, Dan takes every opportunity for exploring the great outdoors and hiking some of the best urban trails on the planet with his partner and 2 energetic children. He also thinks this is a wonderful place to raise kids and loves helping potential homeowners find homes in Chicago’s diverse family-friendly neighborhoods.

The 1.8-mile Lakeshore Path is an especially awesome trail for both walking with the kids and admiring breathtaking beach views and cityscapes, as is the Chicago Lakefront Trail. In the summer, of course, it’s time to hit the beach — you should check out North Avenue, 63rd St Beach, and Montrose near The Dock, where you can indulge in comfort food like cheese curds, burgers, and tacos after a day in the sun.

Anyone visiting Chicagoland always gets a million suggestions for where to go and eat. Dan always has the inside scoop on sourcing gourmet grub in his favorite neighborhoods, but his absolute favorite place is Gather in Lincoln Square. Welcoming and low-key, it’s a no-frills gastropub where his family can savor decadent yet still-sort-of-healthy plates like glazed baby carrots, crispy Brussels sprouts with candied pistachios, and seared tofu with a caramel glaze.

As one of Chicagoland’s top real estate brokers, Dan simply loves what he does. He sees immense value in Baird & Warner’s people-centric approach to growing a real estate firm sustainably as well as their cutting-edge technology and organizational knowledge.

There are countless brokerages in the Chicago area, but Baird & Warner Lincoln Park offers an incredibly unique mix of elite office management, mentorship, training, and a warm, inclusive company culture. 

He’s excited about mentoring new agents as the Assistant Managing Broker and has some valuable insights to help those just starting out. His most crucial piece of advice for anyone entering this industry is to be consistent and focus on building strong daily habits.

Dan knows that your true worth is based on how much you give to others. He recommends reading The Go-Giver and its follow-ups, a series of enlightening tales by Bob Burg and John David Mann. These thought-provoking works inspire him to give to others, provide support, and add value to every aspect of his life. 

His active, family-oriented lifestyle means he’s always on the move, but you can reach Dan on LinkedIn or at

Baird & Warner’s History of Supporting Fair Housing

April has been designated as Fair Housing Month to commemorate and celebrate the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This landmark legislation was part of the Civil Rights Act of that year and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or family status.  

During this tumultuous time, Baird & Warner — the nation’s first and Illinois’ largest family-owned real estate services company — was led by John Baird, the father of our current president, Stephen Baird, the firm’s fifth-generation owner. 

Studying and honoring our past helps us better understand the challenges faced by previous generations of Chicagoans and the ongoing struggle for equality, inclusion, and a just society.

Let’s explore Baird & Warner’s unique, 168-year history and the vital part our organization has played in bringing diversity and equity to the Chicagoland housing market. 

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Office Support at Baird & Warner Lincoln Park: Improving Agents’ Lives Through Systems & Tools

At Baird & Warner Lincoln Park, we know that a career in real estate gives you the freedom to build an extraordinary life.

Managing Broker David Bailey is often asked about the secret to becoming a top performer in this industry. “There’s no one ‘right’ way to launch a successful real estate business,” he points out. “Instead, I believe in an individualized approach, encouraging brokers to maximize their own natural style and strengths with the support of the office as a whole.”

Baird & Warner Lincoln Park inspires new and experienced agents to build an invaluable ecosystem and a custom business plan so they can truly thrive in their chosen field. The team offers an unparalleled level of coaching, mentorship, volunteerism, and continuing education opportunities. 

Let’s dive deeper into the unique tools and systems that will help you surpass your goals and achieve your dream of being a top earner in the Chicagoland real estate world. 

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Agent Spotlight: Jeff Nobleza

Chicagoland native and massive Cubs fan Jeff Nobleza had no idea that his path would lead him to a career in real estate. 

After graduating from DePaul University with a degree in Accounting (and a few bruises from playing rugby), he thrived as an accountant and business analyst, sitting for the CPA exam and starting to build his personal investment strategy.

Jeff decided to purchase his first home in 2006 as an optimistic and successful young professional. Unfortunately, the US housing market at that time was at the apex of the bubble which resulted in the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 and laid the groundwork for the Great Recession. 

His experiences during this time inspired him to pivot to the real estate industry, determined to help hopeful first-time buyers and families who want to establish a true home for their children and build generational wealth.

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Agent Spotlight – Mark Kowalik

Triathlete Mark Kowalik pivoted to a career in the real estate world after years of excelling in the hotel and travel industry. These experiences helped shape his dedication to providing the concierge customer service that’s launched him into the top 1% of sales of brokers at Baird & Warner. 

Mark is a graduate of Colorado State University, with a degree in recreation and tourism that encompassed marketing, business development, entrepreneurship, and the necessity of building strong client relationships.

He joined Baird & Warner in 2015 after serving as the General Manager of one of the city’s most popular travel companies. Within his first 12 months as a broker, he won the prestigious “Rookie of the Year” award from the Chicago Association of REALTORS®.

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How Brokers Can Create Healthy Habits – And Stick to Them

Thriving real estate brokers are always on the go and juggling multiple tasks; it can be difficult to develop and maintain healthy habits.

A balance between work and life is crucial to your success in this industry. That means you need to cultivate dedication to making good choices and working toward positive changes both personally and professionally.

Investing in yourself and your business is always worthwhile. Let’s dive into some science-based strategies and approaches that help you break away from unproductive patterns and establish more nourishing routines. 

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7 Daily Activities Real Estate Agents Can Do to Grow Their Business

Real estate is a competitive industry. To find success, you’ve got to be passionate and tenacious.

The Chicagoland market outlook for 2023 is relatively sunny, but brokers will still face certain challenges, including a lack of inventory. Client education and setting realistic expectations for both buyers and sellers are must-do moves for thriving in the New Year.

Structuring your day in the right way can send your real estate biz to the stratosphere, so we’ve gathered some insights from top agents and industry thought leaders on the best daily practices you can adopt to grow your business and extend your reach.

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2023 Chicagoland Real Estate Market Outlook

While many news outlets have a pretty gloomy take on what 2023 holds for the real estate industry, those in the know still see rays of sunshine. 

Since the pandemic, the national real estate market has been on fire, seeing an unprecedented feeding frenzy that resulted in the two busiest years anyone can remember. Now that things are normalizing, it only seems like a foreboding and dramatic shift. 

While the Chicagoland market might be a bit less competitive in the coming year, home prices should remain steady, property values should continue to appreciate (or hold steady), and it’s an ideal time for clients who were sidelined by the dread of a bidding war to start exploring their options. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into conventional wisdom, maverick predictions, and what you can do to ensure your real estate business weathers the storm and continues to thrive. 

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