2020 wasn’t just one for the books. It could constitute a whole book itself. There were numerous negative events and days throughout the year, many where we didn’t know what the future held. But there were so many positives as well. 2020 taught us appreciation for what we have. It taught us to cherish each day. It taught us what’s most important in life.
As a real estate agent, I had quite the roller coaster year. There were days where I literally thought I wasn’t going to make it, like when things were at a standstill during the first 4 weeks of quarantine. Then there were days of incredible elation, such as June of this year where I put $2.5M under contract and the virus looked to be subsiding, at least in Illinois. I had stressful transactions, and I felt immense appreciation from clients after closings. It keeps things interesting, to say the least.
In the end, I had $7.1M closed/pending in total transactions, doubling my previous best year. After a couple years of decent production, 2020 catapulted me to the next level and it has made me eternally grateful to all my clients. I have a goal of $10M in volume for 2021, which would get me to top producer status in Chicago. I’m excited and nervous, but I’m confident that things will continue to be positive with the right mindset and work ethic.
So as I plan for the next year, I always look back at the past year and make note of what went well and what didn’t go well. There were so many memorable days and transactions, but if I had to define the year, these were the five that illustrate it best.
5. 3721 N Elston Avenue #4S – Coming it at number five was a transaction that fell apart. It was also my first contract of the year, on January 2nd. This condo was beautiful: tall ceilings, roof rights, elevator in an 8 unit building, HUGE private garage spot, only one in the building, and big enough for 1.5 cars. Listed at $425,000, we were under contract at $380,000 as it was over market value. While the inspection was very clean, the buyer still came up with a laundry list of 15-20 items they wanted addressed, which was surprising to me. Still, I was going to get this deal done and on a cold Saturday night in January, I brought cleaning supplies and tools to fix most of them with the other agent. Cleaning rust off the garage floor, wiping down the fireplace glass, etc. We had it done. Then it appraised for $356,000 which was absolutely ludicrous when there were two solid comps within a half mile that sold for $385,000+. Despite doing my best to keep it together, the buyer backed out. It went back on the market in February, got multiple offers, and closed at $385,000. C’est la vie. To add insult to injury, despite doing everything in my power to get the next place for this client in the proper manner, this person did not see it that way and let me go. But the positive results to eventually come from that made up for it (more later).
4. 2918 N Sheridan Road & 1800 W Grace Street #207 – It’s a tie at 4th place, as these two deals were happening around the same time, right as the pandemic was first raging through in the spring. 2918 N Sheridan Road is a beautiful mid-century townhome in East Lakeview that my buyers were under contract on in early March. Then when everything hit the fan, it seemed as though this deal may not make it as all lending standards were thrown for a loop. However, the buyers’ love for the place along with the stellar work of their loan officer made it happen despite delays and restless nights. It ultimately closed in late May and everyone was happy. For 1800 W Grace Street, this awesome timber loft condo was a fun place to list. We actually had a full price offer the first weekend of listing in February, but they backed out 3 days later. We had another cash offer that didn’t pan out and then the pandemic hit and showings stopped. Nothing for 3 to 4 weeks. I was nervous. Between this and Sheridan, I wasn’t sure if the pandemic would allow any deals to happen for me. But there was a little light when showings picked up again. One here, one there. Then we got an offer that was good, and we were able to come to terms. It closed in early June and I could breathe a little as the market was picking up steam again.
3. 3938 N Southport Avenue #G – This 2 bed, 2 bath condo on the Southport Corridor was an incredible challenge during a pandemic as we couldn’t even show it with tenants living there. We had it listed in 2019 for a few weeks and ultimately rented it out instead, planning to relist this year. But with the pandemic, tenants that were rightfully concerned over people touring the place, and incredible restrictions during a downtime, I wasn’t sure if we would be able to sell it. The tenants kept it looking incredible, and with newer appliances and nice features like radiant heat flooring and massive storage, the home was a great value for the area. Eventually we were able to secure a buyer and after a LOT of negotiating, we were able to get it closed. This definitely illustrated the challenges we faced this year as we navigated this new environment we were thrust into.
2. 5319 W Byron Street – I can’t have this list and not include this home. This incredibly warm and inviting Portage Park bungalow was the perfect home for my buyers. And I don’t throw around the term ‘perfect’ lightly. It’s very hard to find something a buyer would consider perfect. Generally there are a few homes that a buyer can love, but every once in awhile there comes along a home that hits that top level. The problem was, there were 75 other buyers that saw this home when it first came on the market. There ultimately were 11 offers for the home and despite not being the absolute highest, my clients won out over everyone else by determining what the seller wanted and meeting that criteria. It was so incredibly meaningful because I know my clients were losing hope after we had been looking for several months. I didn’t want them to settle because I knew that would be so disheartening for years for them. But this was the one, without a doubt. And it’s incredibly rewarding when it all works out.
1. 1931 W Diversey Parkway #1D – When I think back over 2020, this was the defining transaction. And not because of anything particular about the home. It’s a very nice 2 bed, 2 bath in west Lincoln Park/Lakeview area that needed a few adjustments before going back to market. But it’s #1 because of how it came to be. Circle back to transaction #5 above which was an incredible challenge that ultimately fell apart. That buyer’s attorney thought I did an excellent job despite everything (go figure!) and started referring me to others, including to her brother, the owner of this home who had it listed with another agent at the time. Once the listing agreement ran out, he had me come through to give my advice. And honestly, not much needed to change. It needed a little staging to showcase the home better, and I knew I had to be there for every showing to turn on the lights and open blinds so that buyers’ first impressions were good ones. I don’t just put homes on a lockbox and “set it and forget it.” Being there to do the little things like this means the difference between selling and sitting sometimes. We were able to get two offers the first weekend and successfully close. But I felt this deal brought my career to that point full circle because of what transpired earlier in the year but also it was a culmination of everything I had learned to that point. My client was so appreciative of everything I did, and that was an incredible feeling to have.
Looking forward to 2021, I’m hitting the ground running in January with a couple closings scheduled and some listings that will be starting prep work. I also have a few buyers already looking and will likely make moves quickly. It makes me excited for what’s to come and hopeful that 2021 is a little steadier of a ride. But for everything that 2020 gave us, it taught me patience, trust, and gratitude. And for that, I’m thankful that 2020 happened.
If anyone you know is planning to buy or sell in 2021, I would greatly appreciate an introduction. You can always call/text me at 847.373.8114 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!