Top producer Erin Mandel considers herself a “vessel of communication” for her clients. Aside from being a top producer at the largest real estate firm in Chicago, she has served on many boards including YPN, CAR, IAR, and WCR. Listen to our conversation and learn why almost 100% of Erin’s business is repeat clients, and why developers choose her exclusively to sell their highest priced properties.
D.J. Paris 0:15
Hello, and welcome to the 20th episode of Keeping it real, the only podcast made by Chicago real estate agents for Chicago real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris, I am your host through the show. And this is our 20th episode. And we’re really excited. So allow me to brag for just a quick moment not really brag, but just sort of give you an idea of of what’s been happening. So when I started this only a few months ago, really, the idea was to highlight top producers in hopes that other brokers in the industry who aspire to be top producers could learn from some of these agents who are really just killing it out there. And we were sort of not even sure that brokers will want to talk and be featured. And thankfully, it’s we have, gosh, we have so many podcasts, interviews lined up at this point, we’re kind of booked, probably through about the end of the year. Seems like we’ve gotten such a positive response. And when we started out, I think the first episode, which is a very good episode, you should go back and listen, if you haven’t heard with Jodie Adelberg. I think maybe 50 People listened right away. And we thought, oh, gosh, maybe people aren’t that interested? Well, as of yesterday, or 19th episode, we had over 2000 subscribers. And we’re on pace now to do over 3000 in the next couple of weeks, so it’s growing. So it must be resonating out there with people who listen, and we’re very grateful that you are listening, the best way you can support us is you can leave a review on iTunes or Google Play. Certainly tell a friend about the show anyone who’s a broker who is looking to, you know, increase their business or want to learn from people who are already doing it. Well. This is a great place to do that. And also, we’re also going to be having sponsorship opportunities. So stay tuned for that if you’re a business you want to get in front of, you know 2000 Plus Realtors every week, we can you can sponsor an episode, and I want to just give a couple of quick thank yous to people who helped make the show work. First of all, my boss, Nick Patterson, who is allowing me to do this on on company time, we really appreciate that Nick, also our producer, Jen, Jen is amazing. And she sets up all the interviews does a lot of the post production and the pre production and she is invaluable. So thank you, Jen, and also my monthly co host Carrie McCormack who we do our Monday market minute and she is fantastic. And we’ve been getting such great feedback on her episodes as well. So just wanted to say thank you to everyone, especially the listeners. Please keep listening. If you have any suggestions or people that we should be interviewing or questions that you want me to ask of these top producers or carry send those send that into us. You can also follow us on Facebook keeping it real pod Twitter same and our website keeping it real pod.com. So thank you and onto our interview with the fantastic Aaron Mandel.
Right today on the show, we have Aaron Mandel, Aaron was born into a family of developers from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she has grown up in the real estate business that real estate’s more than a career choice, but rather a true passion for Erin she joined at properties in 2010 After a successful six year career with the Belgravia group. While at the Belgravia group, Mandel sold over 85 million totaling over 85 million with 280 Personal real estate transactions. Aaron was also the Rookie of the Year in 2006, and has been a top 1% per broker with all Chicago Realtors for many, many years. At that properties. Aaron Duggan is a top producer and dedicated real estate broker. She has nearly tripled her transaction size since 2012 and is on pace to have another record year 2017. She takes a strong leadership role in managing client expectations and truly believes in dedicated service during and after the sale. As a result, Erin’s business is heavily maintained by referral and repeat clientele with minimal market time and a business plan tailored to each individual mental prize herself on completing every transaction to the exact liking of her client maintains a professional yet personal appeal when representing both buyers and sellers through education, creative financing and adaptation to the rapidly changing market conditions. Aaron is committed to providing the highest level of client service with not only the use of cutting edge technology but also making sure to personally communicate all parties involved with each transaction. And and I want to point out some of your accolades Aaron has served as the director as a director for Chicago agent sorry, it’s Cago Association of Realtors from 2014 to 2017 She was Chair for the YPN which is the Young Professionals Network with Chicago Association of Realtors 2012 to 2013. She also has an active role in the National Association of REALTORS car we just mentioned, Illinois Association of Realtors and the Women’s Council of realtors. 2012, the Women’s Council of Realtors awarded Aaron Entrepreneur of the Year. She’s also an art pack major investor, and Aaron contributes to the children’s special charities and Special Olympics of Chicago Marwin Children’s Hospital, the great Chicago Food Depository Ronald McDonald House and step up Chicago, which is near and dear to my girlfriend’s heart. So welcome to the show.
Erin Mandel 5:45
Thank you so much for having me. That was quite I don’t, I don’t very.
D.J. Paris 5:50
Yeah, no, it’s impressive. And I don’t think anyone has, I don’t think we’ve interviewed anyone with who have served on as on as many boards with this many accolades. So we’re really grateful that you spend a few minutes with us. So thank you.
Erin Mandel 6:02
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
D.J. Paris 6:05
You’re welcome. Well, tell us a little bit about how you got started in the industry.
Erin Mandel 6:09
So I grew up in real estate. So to be honest, I tried to get as far away from real estate as possible. My family encouraged me to get a business degree and go to law school and become a developer. And I said, Hey, you know, my passion is in music, I’m going to get a journalism degree. And I moved to LA in Paris, they worked for Universal Records, I translated French interviews with artists. And what I started to realize is that, although my passion the business part of it wasn’t exactly my favorite piece, I decided to leave the artist on the stage and ultimately decide to help them in ways in which of producing albums as they do now, or scanning for festivals and that I would get back to something I really understood around the kitchen table and join Belgravia as efforts in real estate in Chicago.
D.J. Paris 7:02
Wow, you went from really a huge shift, we interviewed a broker not that long ago, who was a piano player and went to, you know, went to music school, and then with zero experience in real estate went on to become a top producer. And he said that for him. The discipline of practicing with respect to learning the craft of being a pianist, you know, obviously helped him in real estate. Talk about like, your first few years and as shifting from working in the music industry over into real estate, you know, what, what was that? Like?
Erin Mandel 7:36
No, I can, you know, I echo his sentiment and everything that he said, I mean, I ultimately feel as though musicians constantly have to reinvent their sound, right? Like you have your passion, your core, the way in which you beat to your record, or the way in which you, you know, put yourself out into the universe. And I think as a real estate agent, ultimately, I am just like a vessel of communication. I am the person who communicates information between seller and buyer developments in developer land and acquisition. And it’s important for me to be able to kind of bob and weave through ways in which people articulate and communicate. So I think that the first couple of years for me was really understanding the intricacies of new construction, acquiring buildings, converting rental to condominiums, and then being able to facilitate the best way in which to sell the building and what was a very booming 2005 2006 market.
D.J. Paris 8:41
Yeah, and then, and then the crash happened, and how did that affect your business?
Erin Mandel 8:46
So I did such a great job and my first Development at 2300. Commonwealth they sold 72 units, it was about a $22 million sell out, and they awarded me an opportunity to be the lead at 565. West Quincy, which was 241 units for about 80 million and I couldn’t have been more excited to start on this huge development. We pre sold half the building. And the news happened the market had major dislocation, and I ended up selling and reselling that building 13 times over believable. So I was if you can imagine I went from collecting contracts in 2005 2006 on Sunday afternoons not knowing that much about earnest money and attorney review periods and just how you know Belgrave You did such a great job of handling the back end of the business that was really just the front face to really understanding or getting what you would call your MBA and how to really conquer every objection you could possibly imagine we lost financing. We had to stop construction One time period 50% of the building had to be owner occupied and had to be sold before we could close, we had a $30 million construction loan we had investors to satisfy so it was a real education and how to get things done.
D.J. Paris 10:15
I can imagine. And I Yeah, I bet and I don’t want to gloss over the amount of success you’ve had even you know, since then, because if I heard you correctly, we’re talking before we started recording that you you’ve worked with over 1500 buyers and sellers, is that correct?
Erin Mandel 10:35
I think that’s about the number. You know, I tend not to report too much of my sales. I do a lot of business with people who like to be quiet. And I’m you know what I’m super cool with that. I think I what I really like to do and what pushes the needle for me ultimately is trying to help people make good decisions. So I think if you talk to the, you know, the first time homebuyers all the people that walked into the sales centers of all of these Belgravia developments, you know, I taught them about earnest money, I taught them about back end debt ratios, I taught them about lenders and attorneys and made sure that they were protected. And oftentimes, they weren’t represented by a buyer’s agent. And so when they went out to their second home, or transitioned into another place in their life, they really look to someone to help guide them. And I’ve really been that force. And that brings a lot of pride and joy to me. So much so that I’ve really been able to grow a business whereby I have two full time people helping helping me with my brokerage business.
D.J. Paris 11:31
That no, that is truly, truly incredible. And, you know, I also want to talk about the boards that you’ve served on, you’ve served on YPN, you’ve served at Carr. Also, it sounds like with IAR, and national. And I specifically I want to mention the Women’s Council of Realtors, because I feel that there are a tremendous number of and I know men can join as well, but certainly it is called the Women’s Council of realtors. And I think there’s a lot of women that just do not know about this organization, you know, and they should, because I actually did attend an event of theirs years ago, and I was so impressed by how supportive the members seem to be towards each other. And so I know you you have worked with them for some time as well.
Erin Mandel 12:14
So all of these Association, I will tell you this. I received a phone call in like late 2009. And a gal from Women’s Council said, Aaron, we think it’d be a great fit for YPN. We’re just starting this chapter in Chicago, would you come in for a first meeting, and I sat around a boardroom with five people who are now all top producing agents in Chicago. And as the market has shifted, and multiple offers have become something that’s the norm. We have 6am calls, 8am calls, 3pm calls, where we all kind of check in with each other to see, you know, how everyone is best handling our practice, because we just really, it’s a it’s a it’s a band of people who really care about, you know, our ethical ground in this community.
D.J. Paris 13:12
Yeah, and so if if you’re a if you’re a realtor, and you’re not a member of the YPN and don’t worry, you don’t have to be young to join. Or you should definitely
Erin Mandel 13:23
know why. The young the young is it’s a young at heart DJ young at heart.
D.J. Paris 13:28
Yes, I go to YPN events and I am certainly not young. But they are they are wonderful and great opportunities to meet people in the industry and to learn a lot. Also, Women’s Council of Realtors I couldn’t be a bigger fan of I think if you notice, we men are not smart enough to put a men’s Council of Realtors together only women think to do this. And even if you are a man, you can join the Women’s Council but it is such so wonderful. I couldn’t I can’t say enough nice things about about any of the organizations like that. So let’s talk more about you. So I do want to make sure we talk about the new development you’re working on in Lincoln Park on Arlington. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Erin Mandel 14:13
Sure. So what a full circle opportunity. I got my start at Commonwealth and Belden and I am you know 12 years later circling back just a few blocks down the road on a beautiful one way. tree lined street, Booth Hanson and boutique properties along with contemporary concepts and LG has put together this incredible eight unit masterpiece quite frankly. It is 3030 foot wide plus interiors, eight homes, elevator building garage parking. There’s a single family home at 439 Arlington that’s also being remastered it’s just it’s it’s been such a gift in such an opera Tuna need to be able to represent something so magnificent?
D.J. Paris 15:03
Yeah, you know, let’s talk a little bit more about development because there are a lot of realtors, who who are just familiar with how to start getting involved. Are there specific tips that you would have you would recommend to somebody who’s looking to go down that path?
Erin Mandel 15:20
No, I think development is one of those pieces where, you know, there’s a lot of like upfront work, right? Like you really have to understand a developer, the notion of pre sale, the notion of making sure that you can relay the message of a home from paper to and floor plan to conceptualizing what it will look like. You know, when you when you get into the ground, I think my best advice would just be to really speak to people who have some history or some past in the new and pre construction arena. And there are the best in the business. Belgravia is one of the best in the business, they have an in house development firm, and they strictly do pre a new construction. And you have great firms in the suburbs as well. I mean, polti puts their new salespeople through a great program, people really learn how to sell, you know, from paper to model to new construction to walking homes to closing.
D.J. Paris 16:24
That’s, that’s Yeah, it’s so interesting. Development is really so foreign to so many, many realtors. So I appreciate you giving us some insight. We got an email this morning. And I have never read an email on the show yet. But I wanted to Well, I won’t read it. I’ll just paraphrase. But a one of our listeners who is newer to the industry, and I don’t have his name in front of me, but anyway, he said I am brand new to the industry. And I don’t know what firm he works at either. But I’m sure hopefully he works at a firm that has good training. But he said what would what would you recommend I do first? So I’m gonna post that oppose that to you, what would you recommend a brand new realtor would do first to start growing this case his business?
Erin Mandel 17:07
So I think you know, we’re in an interesting time. I mean, this is a we have about I think we have about 18 more months at this very fast pace market. In spring, anything I’ve put in on the market at under half a million when in multiple offers with at least five offers on the same day. So for any new agent, I would recommend a training be close to as many open houses as possible to learn the tenor of the pace of the business and to understand how fast it moves. And I think another piece or two would be to enjoy as much of the association as possible. I have to tell you that, you know, there are people that the matt Larry Scott Newman, Tommy Choi, people who own their own firms, who are, you know, some of my dearest colleagues and when I look at the MLS, and I see that this person is or could potentially be my cooperative broker on a transaction, it’s just such a peace of mind to know that they’re so well versed, they’re involved with the Association, they understand the ethical and moral code that we adhere to, and that they really like taking the time to start their own company. And we all kind of came up together. So I guess my best piece of advice would say to, you know, surround yourself with people who really enjoy best practices and just choose to carry each other forward. There’s always enough business for everybody.
D.J. Paris 18:28
Great advice, and I’m gonna piggyback you mentioned Tommy Choi, I’m good. I have a quick little Tommy Choi anecdote to, to add to that. So I just recently we interviewed his partner, Josh for the show. And I asked Josh, I think this made it onto the episode, but if it didn’t, I’ll repeat it. Or I’ll give it to you now. I asked Josh, what do you what are your goals for the year? And because I’m always interested, and I don’t ask that of everyone. But Josh is a very goal driven type of person. So he he he said, Well, we don’t really have sales goals. And I said, Oh, that’s what kind of goals do you have? Because Josh is very much about giving and giving back and, and being philanthropic. Obviously, you are as well with all the boards and the various charities you support. But anyway, he’s he goes, Man, we don’t really have a lot of goals. He said, But he goes, we actually do have what he goes Tommy’s goal, and this is they’ve been in the business, I think, more than 10 years at this point. He goes Tommy’s goals to meet 365 new people over the next year. And and I thought, What a great message. You know, here’s a very successful team, who likely works almost exclusively by referral, just like yourself. They but they’re going back to the fundamentals and he said he goes DJ, if Tommy can meet 365 new people in the next year, one a day, he goes we will have more business than we’ll know what to do with and so I just love hearing those fundamentals that even after tremendous success, still going back and doing doing the basics, you know, which
Erin Mandel 19:55
I will agree and I’ll tell you this, so Tommy is my work husband i We are always invited to the same event and we always go together. And I will tell you that Josh Weinberg was the first person to walk through one of my Belgravia open houses when he was working to Pulte Homes. So I go way back with both of them. And when I travel around the world, and I’m in the pool, and somebody comes up to me and says, Are you from Chicago? And I say yes. And they say, What do you do? I said, I sell real estate, and they say, Do you know, and it’s either Josh Weinberg or Tammy Joy anywhere, I will tell you that best practices is always making sure that you know that nothing is below or above you, yes, I am the person who will meet great take care of whatever needs to happen, you know, immediate, nothing is nothing should be above or below the the fundamentals of this business are, are really concrete. And I think so long as you continue on that you are really, you know, setting yourself up for continued success.
D.J. Paris 21:14
I 100 100% agree. And I want to ask you about your record collection. This is completely off topic. But it’s so fascinating to me, because you were in the the music industry, you have 4000 What do they call them pieces of vinyl, or we just call them records, but either way, you have 4000 records?
Erin Mandel 21:31
All right about about it, I cannot wait to listen to those jams, DJ.
D.J. Paris 21:41
You know, I I know people say that I’ve been playing. I’m I have a little silly band. And, and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 30 years now. But I just can’t quite, you know, pull the trigger on a turntable just yet. But. But I know people say that they say that the sound, the analog sound is just a bit different. So maybe you
Erin Mandel 22:02
recently started dating somebody about two months ago, I’m getting a little personal here. And he said to me, please don’t move this too quickly. Because if you move it too quickly, we’re gonna get bored, and it’s not going to be good. You know, we’re in our 30s now. And when you get to that age, you know exactly what you want. And you move the needle too quickly. It’s just becomes maybe boring. So towards the end of our third or fourth date, I think he said something to me, like, you know, would you just come home with me and listen to one of my records? I said, I think you’re trying to close the deal here. You said I think I am. And so we went back to his apartment. And he and I said, Are you going to turn on some romance? And he said yes. And it was, it was pretty
D.J. Paris 22:49
funny. Well, well, you will you know, my girlfriend, Liz. And it actually Aaron did in the oddest of coincidences. This was not setup necessarily through my girlfriend. But you are coming to our Halloween party in a few days. But But Liz has never seen stop making sense by the talking heads, which is like the greatest concert movie of all time. If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely have to. But anyway, so I’m going to force Liz to sit down and watch all of stop making sense. I would be more than happy to join you for that. Let’s, yeah, I also want to just just because we always like to ask a few sort of funny experiences. Just tell us about the tellers, the marker incident where with the flooring, this is a pretty great one.
Erin Mandel 23:35
So um, I took on a listing about four months ago, and I told the sellers, I pulled comps and I said to the sellers, look, there have been no single family home sales in your market and a quarter mile radius. In the last two years that has sold at this price point, it might take me about a year to sell it, I just want to give you a proper expectation. sure that okay, so we put it on the market, we aggressively priced it somewhere around 1.85, just to make sure that we are drawing the proper amount of people in eight days I received multiple offers. We select one particular buyer, they’re strong and they’re financing. They’re working with a great group of people. They’re set to close in just a few hours and I go through for the final walkthrough and I realized there’s a bunch of scratches on the floor. You can imagine at this price point that the buyer and the seller are particular as they should be, it’s a lofty dollar amount. And so my associate Emily goes to grab on some of those wood floor markers. Sure, kind of like bridge the gap and this is in full disclosure, the buyers or the sellers aware we just want to make everything as presentable as possible. So I started to take that as spresso pen and I’m writing you know, kind of coloring, if you will. And as the color as the as the color, you know, kind of bleeds into the, the floor, it’s black and it looks like I legit took a Sharpie pen before and I’m thinking to myself, this new buyer is gonna walk in and they’re gonna think who is this dumb real estate agent? And why did she sharp before my would and so I took a run around the block literally a run around the block is to catch my breath or maybe exhaust myself right and I came back in and it looked absolutely perfect it just literally like a fine wine. You did some some room to breathe.
D.J. Paris 25:47
No, that’s good that that that the marker color fell your way because I’ve had those, those would markers are odd, and they always dry differently to what you expect them to dry. And so I’m glad yours dried, fell the way that you wanted it to. That’s that would be ball, could you imagine $1.8 million, somebody sees sharp, you know, essentially what looks like a Sharpie all over the floor. That’s wonderful. And I
Erin Mandel 26:13
was, you know, I was prepared to say, you know, I’m gonna have to pay to refinish the floor and a small section of the home regardless. But you know, when you’re used to really trying to deliver a perfect product and a perfect service and you really hold yourself accountable to a really high level of just all the way around on your transaction. I was just more disappointed in myself than anything for really doing that.
D.J. Paris 26:39
But when all worked out, I guess
Erin Mandel 26:41
fine. It was an hour and a half of that of sweating from head to toe.
D.J. Paris 26:48
You know, let’s, I think you’ve said it all. What is the best way if anyone’s listening who is a buyer or seller would be interested in working with Aaron on any real estate transaction she does it all and has done it all extraordinarily well for a long time. What’s the best way they should reach you?
Erin Mandel 27:07
Not Twitter. I think the best the best way to get a hold of me is just that straight up thing called his cell phone. My phone number is 312-399-0848
D.J. Paris 27:20
And what’s the best email to reach him
Erin Mandel 27:21
I’ll email is also pretty simple. It’s Aaron era n at att properties.com.
D.J. Paris 27:28
So yes, any other errands that have come after her do not have that email address that
Erin Mandel 27:35
the original gangster era and adapt properties.
D.J. Paris 27:38
I’m so grateful for your time on the show. And I am so excited to meet you in person in a few days. I’m assuming you’re wearing a costume because this is a Halloween party. Or we will expect you to at least put something on to or
Erin Mandel 27:51
maybe I will dress as a civilian you know I’m going to try and break these 80 hour work weeks and you know maybe just like come as like just me Aaron the person. No, I’m just kidding. DJ have a great customer.
D.J. Paris 28:02
Oh, you did? Well, no, I don’t care if you don’t have a costume, but I am going to be in my girlfriend Liz who you know, we’re going to be in the most ridiculous costume that I’ve ever done. And I usually I do do myself this is absolutely the best. So I will by the time this episode airs, the odds are that we will have a picture together and I will put it in the episode so people can see it in the description. And you it’ll be pretty pretty ridiculous.
Erin Mandel 28:28
So I mean, this sounds like an epic way to really kind of rule me out here. I’m just keeping it real. I mean what’s keeping it real more than you know us in a in a Halloween costume? I better bring my A game.
D.J. Paris 28:38
Yeah. Well you did today. So thank you so much for being on the show. And we appreciate your time and everyone. If you’re interested in working with Aaron her informations in the notes here and she just gave you and thanks for being on the show. Thank you so much DJ