Kim Kerbis • 21 Years of Real Estate Success

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Kim Kerbis has been a top Chicago producer in real estate for 21 years. She has served on boards locally and at the national level. Her clients love her attention to detail and she teaches brokers how to get the same results at through her class “Kerb Appeal” at her firm, @Properties. Her clients love her, and you will, too!


D.J. Paris 0:14
Hello and welcome to episode three of keeping it real podcast the first podcast for real estate agents made by real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris, I am your host. And if you’re new to the show, what we do is go out and find really successful or impressive real estate agents and we interview them and we have them tell their story and also give tips so that everyone in the community can share and learn. Today is no exception. We have Kim Curtis on the show from App properties and she has a really impressive career. She has been in business for 21 years and is served Aside from her own personal production served on boards, including National Association of Realtors, she’s going to we just got finished talking she discusses how she got started, how she’s built her business, but also some of the as a teacher. She is an educator with people in her own firm talks about how to improve your skill set with your buyers and also talks about a lot of ethics issues that you can be aware of. So you can always do the right thing for your clients. So without further ado, let’s get started and Kim Curvas coming up.

Kim Curtis was born and raised in Chicago and began her real estate career in 1997 at the habitat company and quickly became a top producer there. Within two years she received a broker’s license in Illinois, and by 2001 She was also licensed in California and Colorado. Over the years she has received the following certifications. ABR which is accredited buyer’s representative CRS certified residential specialist GRI graduate of Real Estate Institute realtor Institute rather and the CNE my personal favorite, this certified negotiation expert. She was a member of cars ethics and grievance committee from 2005 to 2009. And she’s also served on cars Professional Standards Committee since 2010. In the last few years, Kim has been representing ad properties as a large firm rep at the national level where she serves on the board of directors for National Association of Realtors. Kim is also known for her working with buyers course curb appeal, which she teaches the new agents at at properties outside of real estate. Kim has been a vice president of the Francis Parker Alumni Association, where her primary goal is increasing scholarship funds for the school and was recently elected to the school’s board of trustees. Welcome to the show.

Kim Kerbis 2:45
Thanks for having me.

D.J. Paris 2:47
Great. Well, you have done a lot with your real estate career and intro I just read, although you didn’t get to hear some of it. It was pretty extensive. And so tell us a little bit more about how you got involved in real estate.

Kim Kerbis 3:02
Well, actually, I, I’ve been in the business now I think 21 years. And I do have a mother who was an architect and developer in Lincoln Park and in Chicago. So I did always I was always exposed to real estate and design and architecture. So that was kind of always there. But then well, about 21 plus years ago, I was laid off from my previous position right before I was about to get married. And so I kind of had a month off in the summer and my best friend and I were playing tennis at the DePaul tennis courts, Fullerton and Sheffield, which is now at Whole Foods. And we’re playing tennis. And there’s these two really good looking guys who are playing tennis next to us. And at the end of the hour, as we’re getting in our cars, we see them getting in there. They’re very nice cars. So my best friend said to them, you know, what is it that you guys do that you get to play tennis in the middle of the day and still drive away and such nice cars. And they both said, We’re real estate agents. And it turned out to be the Devereaux brothers who did a lot of business back then. And so my friend turned to me said, Oh my God, that’s what you should do. And so I literally I got married, and within a month I you know, started taking my classes and within you know, the year was in business, and I started at the habitat company, you know, six months after that.

D.J. Paris 4:22
Wow. And then how, how have things changed? Since you know over the last 21 years? How is your business evolved?

Kim Kerbis 4:30
Like think, you know, technology obviously is a big part of that because when I started fax machines were new technology. Pretty much nobody had a cell phone I remember stopping a car with client when I had clients where an agent wasn’t that the showing time at the location. And I stopped I had to stop my car and like, you know, at a payphone and make a phone call to see work where the agent was and So yeah, facts. And we were if you remember the MLS system, it wasn’t a computer, but it was a black screen with, you know, orange text. And it was like a das based system. So you type in area equals 807. And ber bedrooms equals two plus. And that was the MLS at that time. So I wasn’t I haven’t been around since it was a paper MLS, but it was still a pretty basic system. So, you know, that has affected everybody. But that, you know, the software that we have now and the technology that people have today is just extraordinary that I have seen in the 21 years that I’ve been in business.

D.J. Paris 5:39
Yeah, I would imagine it’s in some ways made things easier, and in other ways, probably not made things a lot easier. But certainly, it’s nice to at least be able to see photos.

Kim Kerbis 5:49
Right. And then And then even when the MLS kind of got better, there was just a single photo of the exterior of the building. And we would always tease the MLS because it was basically like a guy in a car, who took a snapshot never even got to other car, let alone that close up and half the time there’d be a tree in front of the property. And it’s it’s extraordinary, just how quickly it’s changed in 20 years.

D.J. Paris 6:12
Well, I’d like to ask about your designations, you have many and I’m a huge fan of doing education for realtors, tell us a little bit about you know why you pursued those and how they helped you in working with clients?

Kim Kerbis 6:27
Well, my basic thing is I just kind of always believe in education. So I mean, I have a master’s degree, which has nothing to do with real estate. And I just did it because I love it. And so I feel very comfortable in this in the school or classroom setting. So pretty much when I once I got the sale, and at that time was called the salespersons license. Within a year or two I was I got my broker’s license because I thought, Oh, well, one day, I’ll be a managing broker. And so there was an additional training required with that. And then I just sort of thought, oh, it’s really good to kind of sharpen your sword every couple of years. So at a certain point, you know, I think I got the GRI first, which was actually the most challenging. And then later got the NOAA or the CRS I got and then GRI and then the APR. And so I just always felt like it was important to be in addition to the continuing ed that’s required, that there’s additional training that you can do, and it it does make you think about things in a different way. And hopefully you’re learning something from each, you know, developing techniques or adding techniques to your own, you know, quill or your own toolbox. And then I also think it’s a great opportunity to meet other people. And so I think I did my CRS in different locations. And so and in fact, it’s all deductible, so you could like you could do your CRS in Hawaii, and you know, deduct the whole thing. And so you’re you’re meeting other people from different places. And so the idea also is that you’re possibly increasing your referral base as well, you know, from state to state. But it just it’s really just an inherent thing that I love education and so it also kind of makes sense about the teaching too because once you kind of develop a pattern or a per i call it you know, developing a protocol, you know, you want to I mean, if you’re I don’t know, I just sort of feel like I want to share that with other people to help them because I did not have any of the training and habitat company honestly.

D.J. Paris 8:24
Sure well and a different type of company for sure. And tell us in the let’s that’s a perfect segue into you becoming a teacher as with respect to new brokers or brokers new to at least at properties tell us a little bit about curb appeal your your own course.

Kim Kerbis 8:40
So initially started at that properties did maybe like a five or 10 week session of agents who are new to the company or new to real estate and I was asked to do the listing there was one class I’m listing and after a couple years I realized I was actually really good much better at the buyers are much better at teaching the buyer side because I had developed this technique and it seems so simple, but it really just comes down to having a meeting with clients before you set before they set foot in your car. And before you kind of spent any time out on the road with anybody setting up appointments or whatnot. I think it’s really important to get an idea and there’s obviously 100 questions that you can ask people but everything from you know how much counterspace to the current when somebody says you know I want to be kitchen. You we all assume that we know what they’re talking about. But you know if they’re struction is two feet has two feet of counter space. For them a big kid you know, doubling their counter space is only four feet, right? We’re but if you have four feet now, maybe 12 feet is big. So just kind of like really zeroing in or, you know, drilling down on what they have now and what they’re looking for, you know what their needs are what has changed in their life. And then I also kind of call it the getting to know you as in K and O W And then also that, like, trying to find what would prevent them from purchasing, like getting to the know, like, if there used to be that getting to yes, I’m trying to find what what are the obstructions that would prevent somebody from moving forward. So whether it’s a medical bankruptcy or divorce or you know, something bad on their credit, you want to find out all those things before, at least I do want to find out all those things before they get in my car, and I want to make sure they’re pre approved. And I want to make sure they’re realistic. And I want to make sure that they know the market and, and things that impinge on the market. And you really it’s all about learning, teaching them the process, and then also setting expectations about what’s realistic. So that’s a long answer. But I mean, it’s it’s a two hour interview that I have with clients before we go out to property. So that was a huge investment that I make. But I still think it’s better than making a single appointment. And then fine, because i It’s all you know, we all learn from our mistakes. And so I just everything that I teach in my class are things that I’ve learned from making mistakes with clients, like not finding out that there was a divorce or bankruptcy or, you know, whatever it is, or that they had a pool table that I didn’t ask about all those things I like to share in class. And my feeling is, if people can kind of take one thing away from the class, that then then they can they can incorporate it into their protocol, whatever their business is, then I feel like I’ve made a difference.

D.J. Paris 11:41
100% agree, and I just I love the idea, aside from it being incredibly useful to say, Hey, before we go see any property, I do this extensive conversation to make sure I fully understand your goals, your objectives, your needs, your timeline, and, and also very practical to because now you have all of the information to be able to serve, the better. But also, it separates you from literally 99% of the other, you know, other brokers out there who are also trying to win that business. And certainly, you know, if they even talked to three other brokers before you, no one else is doing that, or at least few brokers are and so that alone, at least, you know, and being able to explain it as, Hey, I can’t do my job without a really, you know, important conversation about what you guys need is probably, sadly, unique in this industry. So

Kim Kerbis 12:37
and I liken it to any other professional, you know, you go to a dentist, and they don’t just immediately put their hands in your mouth and start pulling teeth, you know, there’s a consultation process. And the more that we you know, again, whether it’s a doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, the more the that professional has a conversation about what the goals, you know, that that somebody is looking to achieve and what the strategy is to get there. I just sort of liken it to every you know, every time you walk into a doctor’s office, there’s like an intake sheet, right? And then

D.J. Paris 13:12
there’s 5050 questions on what are you allergic to? Are you learning this and so all of those are important because you can’t do your job without those answers either. So and then,

Kim Kerbis 13:23
probably not like before, I know, some people will just like do it in the 15 minutes before a showing. And I really like to control the environment, I want them relaxed, I want them focused, I don’t want their I don’t do it in a Starbucks because I don’t like the sound of coffee making going on, you know, I want that person to know that this is very important that I’m dedicating my time to them that they’re my entire focus for that period of time, I’m taking notes. And, and again, I just think of any other professional where there’s a consultation before anything happens. And the other part of it is that you want to set their expectations about you. And so for example, let’s say you don’t work on Sundays, or you don’t take phone calls after 7pm. That’s an opportunity for you to share what their expectations of you should be as well. And then finally, it’s really about creating a relationship. And so I think that you save a lot more time down the line, when you just kind of do it in this focus way and then later you can say, oh, yeah, I remember we had that conversation about the lead based paint disclosure or whatever it is. So it’s like it’s a basis for it’s a jumping off point for all sorts of things. So I’ve just, that was like the big difference that I made in my business. From my second year to my third year was just and that was before I had a forum for it or before I had a package for it but just like having a sheet of paper and a pen and sitting down with people in the conference room, which just was like a night and day you know, 180 degree difference in my business.

D.J. Paris 14:55
Probably also gets the deal closed more quickly. because you now know exactly what the person is looking for the couple’s looking for. Yeah yeah and it’s it’s it’s just very very smart way to go about working with buyers and sellers obviously you probably do the same thing on the on the reverse side yeah do you did have you did tell us about it unusual experience where with your with the two flat brokers do you mind sharing it just to change up the

Kim Kerbis 15:30
it’s like, again you we always learn from our mistakes or at least our experiences and this was a two flat over on was now right by the Mariana was at Lawrence and it was a really beaten up to flat and it was being sold. It was an estate sale it was being sold as is. And I was doing showing with these two women and their agent and and I’m telling you there’s literally nothing more saving like the house had been stripped. The one thing that was leftover was like an old fashioned farmhouse sink, which was awesome. But I don’t even know the plumbing wasn’t working, it was just a mess. And so anyway, we’re going down into the basement and, and I could not believe it because I walked I probably walked first which of course now I wouldn’t do but at the time we didn’t know about we weren’t thinking about security. But anyway, and buyers are behind me. And then the agent came down and he literally fell through the stairs, and they were just so rickety. It was awful. The good news is he didn’t fall far, because it was one of the steps were like the second or third step from the ground. So he just hit the step and just took a long step down. But it was really scary. And you know, the good news is nobody was hurt. And there were no lawsuits. But it was just that moment when you realize that kind of anything can happen. And then we all need to be.

D.J. Paris 16:51
Sure. And I want to talk a little bit about some of the boards that you serve on in particular, I know you do a lot with ethics, you also are on the National Association of Realtors, board of directors. Are there any, you know, over all the years? You’ve seen? Are there any particular avoidable sort of situations that you think brokers really should be aware of and be making sure they’re in compliance with?

Kim Kerbis 17:17
Yeah, so I was on ethics and grievance kind of during the downturn. And so what we saw a big influx of was procuring cause cases. And that there is no honestly there is no simple answer for that because I am honestly, if you have five people on a particular board hearing a particular case, maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I swear you could get and you have a different set of people hearing the same case, you may get an answer, I really wish that national association would come kind of come up with a lockstep way in which procuring cause can be dealt with. But that is a place where I think the there’s more procuring cause cases when the market is tight, and people are not making money, so they get more grabby. And then when the market is better, they’re more comfortable, and there’s like better flow. And so they kind of let things they’re more likely to let things go. Go by, I think the easiest or the one, one of the best things that people can do, obviously, is keep records, you know, keep emails, and the hard thing is when people text you, because it’s hard to kind of it’s well, it’s not hard, but it’s a little bit more, takes a couple more steps to archive that material. But keeping good files, keeping notes, you know, when you talk to this person, or saving those kind of significant emails, I think are ways that people can kind of protect themselves. And then actually, it’s been this year has been kind of quiet with pro standards there. I’ve only set on a couple cases. But there’s a ton of people on first standard. So there may be more after that I’m just not aware of. So I don’t have a simple answer to say how can people protect people? I think protect yourself. I think it’s more about, you know, keeping good records and keeping good files on on client and attorney and whatever interaction?

D.J. Paris 19:18
Sure, no, it makes perfect sense. And just to go back to your own personal production, because you have had a very, very successful career as a producer. Of course, we just talked about you as an educator and author of serving as a board member giving back to the community. But why do you think and I love this isn’t always easiest question to answer for someone to talk about themselves. But why do you think you’ve you’ve built a successful practice? Why do you think your clients are happy and refer business to you?

Kim Kerbis 19:46
I think I mean, I’m good at my job. Although of course it’s a profession, but I am really responsible and responsive. But mostly I think it’s because I’m real, I’m not fake. And I don’t try and pretend that I’m somebody that I’m not. And I think that’s actually easier for younger and truly meaning like younger agents, like people who are like in their, let’s say, 20s and 30s, who they’re within the zeitgeist, it’s a lot easier to be yourself than it was 20 years ago, when I started where, you know, there was sort of like a way in which real estate agents talked or dressed, or the cars that they drove, or their hairstyles, or their shoes, or whatever it was, that was sort of like that classic, you know, what it meant to be a female real estate agent, you know, you look like acts, and I think now, it’s, it’s more open to whoever you are, whatever type of person, I just think this, I just think society is, like, more open to it. But I think at the time, I was kind of be myself before it was cool to be yourself. And I, I, that authentic word is so overused these days, but I do sort of think that I never tried to, you know, bullshit people, I never, I just never tried to put on airs of any sort. And I just was what I was, and you either liked it, or you didn’t. And that was okay. And, but I’m still professional, and I still take it really seriously. But I just wasn’t fulfilling the kind of old fashion modes of women in real estate at the time. So I think that kind of just differentiated me and then with, when I develop this to our meeting, that also just kind of differentiated me in a different way.

D.J. Paris 21:38
Yeah, definitely. I think that’s a, that’s a really complete answer. And so I think you just have the standards for, obviously, for yourself, or, you know, the amount of work that you do for a client, but also for, you know, also separates you from from everyone else who may be, you know, competition, which I’m sure you don’t even view as competition.

Kim Kerbis 22:02
But, you know, I think we’re all competitive in some ways, or at least I’m very competitive, but what I try and do, and I’m not always good at this, because we can, you know, get down on ourselves, but I really try and see what other people are doing, and learn from them and see if it’s something that I can incorporate into my business too. So, you know, just the longer you’re around, and you see how other people interact, or how they present themselves, or how they do showings, I’ve, I just you learn a ton from other people. And then I think it’s all about sort of like being, you know, I don’t know, you just you take a concept that they’re doing, and you apply it to yourself, but you, you make it your own when you do it yourself. And so you’re, you’re getting inspired by them, but then you’re incorporating it and kind of you know, for me, I’m playing like the chem twist on it. But I think we can always continue to learn from other people. And I swear, I’m sure other every other agent will say this, which is we learn something new every day, we think we’ve got it, and then some you know, something will happen. And you realize, oh, I hadn’t thought of, you know, I hadn’t anticipated that particular thing. And so then you just learn from it. And you you know, try and be better the next time so that you can anticipate it.

D.J. Paris 23:13
I think that’s a perfect answer. Well, thank you so much for your time, if anyone can how can clients reach you if they have needs of buying selling renting? What’s the best way for them to reach you?

Kim Kerbis 23:24
Yeah, so my office number is 773-305-0585. And my email is Kim Curtis at at property stack calm. And they also do have a website, which is like effects chicago.com And so there’s like a nice introduction and photo of me and that kind of stuff.

D.J. Paris 23:41
Awesome. Well, Kim has been in business for 21 years and she’s obviously done been incredibly successful not just in the personal production but as an as an educator as well as serving on boards and we’re really appreciate she’s busy. Well, we appreciate and thank you so much.

Kim Kerbis 23:59
Thank you so much for having me. Have a great day.

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