Gail Spreen from Streeterville Properties of Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty knows the value of hyper-local branding. Gail has been a top real estate professional in Chicago for 26 years by specializing in one neighborhood – Streeterville. In our conversation Gail discusses the importance of getting involved in your community, and how merging your passion with your business can result in an amazing career.
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D.J. Paris 0:00
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Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real the largest podcast made by real estate agents and for real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris, I am your guide and host through the show. And in just a moment we’re going to be speaking with the Chicago legend Gail spreen. But before we get to Gail just a few quick reminders first, as always, thank you for continuing to support our show the ways in which you can help keep us growing two ways. While there’s many ways but I’ll only ask for two. One is to tell a friend and think of another real estate professional that could benefit from hearing from these types of episodes, interviews with top producers send them over to our website keeping it real pod.com If they’re already podcast, people just have them pull up any podcast app they use search for keeping it real they’ll find us but they can stream everything on our website as well and then the second way you can help us follow us on Facebook dot com forward slash keeping it real pod reason for that is we also in addition to posting all of our interviews, we’ve post videos of our interviews but also we post an article that we find online every single day written specifically to help you grow your business. Thanks guys hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. And now on to our interview with Gayle stream.
Today on the show we have Gail spreen from streetable properties at Jameson Sotheby’s by the way, Gail is an absolute legend here in the Chicago real estate professional industry. But for all of our listeners that aren’t yet familiar with Gail, let me tell you a little bit about her. Gail has been a real estate broker since 1994 and has focused her career entirely on the Chicago market working with large developers within the city, also specializing in the Streeterville neighborhood and downtown core. Gail represents a true real estate professional with disciplines and market knowledge to assist her clients in all aspects of their home buying and selling experience. Gail is proud to call st Earl her home and is also extremely This is an understatement, extremely active in both the residential and business communities as a five time president of soar, which is the Streeterville organization of active real residents rather, Gail is constant continually working to keep Streeterville neighborhood she works in the within the city departments and developers to make improvements to their projects that will enhance and improve the neighborhood and create value for the entire area. For those of you who are not as familiar with Chicago, if you’ve ever visited Chicago, you’ve been to Streeterville which is where the Magnificent Mile is Michigan Avenue all of the great shopping right on the water and is probably my my favorite area of the city too. But we want to Well oh and by the way, and you should visit Gail on her website at Streeterville properties.com. Gail, thank you so much for being on the show.
Gail Spreen 3:55
Oh, thank you, DJ, it’s great to be here.
D.J. Paris 3:58
You and I met not that long ago at a top producer event that you were on the panel for and I was fortunate enough to be able to moderate and I thought you had such great information to share to all of the realtors who were there, that we were thankful that you were able to come on our show and do the same for all of our nationwide listeners. So we appreciate it. Tell us a little bit since you’ve been in real estate since 1994. Tell us a little bit about how you got into the business and you know how things have changed over the years?
Gail Spreen 4:34
Well, they definitely have changed a lot. I actually got my sales license in 1991. And I I know that was back when you had to work for a broker at our time. And then I got my broker’s license in 94. But back when I got my sales license, I was like I don’t know what value is how can I actually tell somebody? This is really worth this much. So I went and I worked at an appraisal company at Night, and just typed appraisals so that I could like learn what the appraisers were talking about how they valued property. And then they started having me help them. And I was doing this kind of in the evenings and on weekends, as I worked at Draper and Kramer during the day in that department. Yeah. So I became an appraiser. And which gave me an I did that for 15 years, just Chicago downtown condos, when other appraisers didn’t want to come downtown and have to deal with condo buildings, I’m like, I’ll do the report. So I did 1000s of appraisals during those years. And you really learned something about all the buildings about value. And so I think it was, it was really helpful in my whole career in real estate is to really understand what the appraiser goes through, and how to value a property, and then to incorporate that into my real estate selling. So there’s been a number of stages through this, but it’s all kind of, you know, brings everything together.
D.J. Paris 6:05
And it’s, it’s so fun. I don’t mean to interrupt, I did want to make a big point, because Gail just said, a really important thing, talking about understanding the value of properties, through her experience, doing lots of appraisals over the years and, and also starting out sort of interning and working to learn that and realizing not just as a potential nother stream of income, but how she can bring that value back to her real estate clients and, and how 99% of Realtors don’t have that experience. And it really separates you from everyone else. What a really smart idea. I imagine that makes you very valuable to your clients?
Gail Spreen 6:44
Well, I think it helps. And it makes me more confident when I’m talking to people about where to price their property, where to put an offer in where the value really is, I can say, Hey, I’ve been an appraiser for 15 years. And, you know, this is how this kind of works. When I have to meet with other appraisers, it’s helpful to because I know exactly what they’re needing to get the report done. And if the data is not there, how do you work within that and come up with a value, I had to do that the other night with an appraiser who was struggling. So I kind of gave him some direction. And hopefully we’ll get the deal done. Nice and clean.
D.J. Paris 7:24
Well, that’s that’s, that’s a wonderful I’ve always been impressed with, with with realtors who go and really either get those certifications, or even really just study and learn, you know, to bring additional value, I think is so important. Especially now, when so much of it can be automated, right? A lot of like the Redfin’s and Zillow ‘s of the world have have taken some of the hard work away from the realtor of locating properties. But now you can come and say, Well, let’s talk about value. And here’s where I have 15 years of experience. And here’s where I think the actual price point should be. And that’s super powerful. I love it. Let’s I would love to talk to you. Because I know being a local present person in your community has been your you’ve branded it as your business you are you were in the community, you’re active, you have leadership roles. And for a lot of our listeners who you know, haven’t yet decided to really get involved with whatever area they’re passionate about, or where they want to focus their business. Can you talk a little bit about how that’s, you know, just how important that is to you and ultimately has that helped your business?
Gail Spreen 8:42
You know, I think it’s helped my business a lot, because especially now people are looking for expertise. So being able to really know your product, know your neighborhood know everything about your neighborhood, is really a much more of a value to bring to you to bring to the table when you’re working with a buyer or a seller. I feel like I can sell Streeterville probably better than anybody because I have a passion for it. And it usually comes through in the way that I talked about the neighborhood where I have a long term vision for the neighborhood and how it continually will get better and better. So I came to Streeterville in the beginning of 1997 and worked for Dan McLean of MCL on the development did South Street or belt back at that time, there was hardly anything here. And so being you know, seeing the neighborhood get built up, the neighborhoods just getting better. We could not even get a restaurant barely here in street or in South Street or well, because there wasn’t enough density. So now to see all the restaurant options we have, it’s hard to support them all because it’s you want to support them all but then you’re out like, you know, eating or, you know, eating all the time. But but so it’s really been A great part of my market from, from being an expert to knowing a lot of the people in the neighborhood. So having been here so long and worked with that people worked with people who are selling or buying, I always feel as a buyer, they become my neighbor. So I want everybody to be happy in our transactions, I want the seller happy, because with my economic development hat on, and my appraiser hat, I want to create value in everything that we’re doing. So I want them to get their best, you know, the best price, but on the buyer side, I want the buyers happy as well, because they’re going to be my new neighbor. And because I also feel that reputation is everything, especially in a niche market, I will go above and beyond for everybody for everything. Because I want everybody happy. And I always believe that, you know, that’ll pay off in the long run, to keep everyone happy. So it’s been a big part of my market, from doing all the different community work that I do for all these 20 some years. So and it’s been really fun. I love it. So it’s all been good. Yeah, I
D.J. Paris 11:11
wanted to I was curious, because obviously, you know, you work with clients, you know, throughout Chicago, not specifically only in the Streeterville neighborhood. But But that’s your primary focus. What percentage of your business is actually in Streeterville?
Gail Spreen 11:26
I would say probably about 90% is like, Yeah, I do some River North, I do some Lakeshore east, a little South Loop. And I really don’t necessarily want to go north of North Avenue. I don’t blame you. I mean, I can be super efficient. You know, sometimes when I’m just stay very local. Sometimes when people see me west of Michigan Avenue, they’re like, oh, my gosh, you’re out of your territory. And, yeah, but but so most of my business is like, right, you know, right here in Streeterville, which is great, because, again, everything’s super efficient, then and I can, you know, I can do a lot more in a smaller area, because I have been able to keep everybody happy having great partners within the industry, from your painters to your cleaners, we get a lot done with, you know, we can just coordinate a lot, very easily because we’re very local and very, you know, in a small area.
D.J. Paris 12:29
So when those off those small percentage clients that maybe are moving to the suburbs, let’s say, is it your policy to, you know, obviously, you could always help them if you desire. But do you end up referring a lot of business to other realtors as well,
Gail Spreen 12:46
I do. So I don’t want to do anything. That’s not my expertise. So anything in the suburbs, somebody else can do it. And I’m happy to do referrals, as well as I’ve got people in the suburbs who don’t want to share that don’t know, downtown, and they don’t want to try, you know, they really want their clients to be taken care of. So I will do a number of split deals with them as I take care of their clients for them. So it’s a good mutual setup that I have with different brokers in different areas.
D.J. Paris 13:20
Yeah, it’s I think it’s so important. And I think it’s a lot of a lot of times brokers, when they get their license, they join a firm, they certainly hear at some point, choose an area, geographic location, get involved in the community, start studying in the MLS, go visit all the buildings, and within a couple of years, you’re going to be really knowledgeable, of course about that area. I just suspect Most brokers maybe don’t take the time to actually do that they get life gets in the way. I had on Matt Lera see from a few maybe a month ago, and he did the same thing in River North when he moved to River North. He didn’t know anything about it. And he spent the first five years literally walking from building the building going What are you an apartment building? Are you a condo how does this work? And he said after five years, he’s like nobody knows River North better than him. And you’re obviously have the same the same expertise and Streeterville. And that makes you so valuable to everyone who wants to move or move within Streeterville or move to is probably is that advice that you have for for anyone who’s looking to to grow their businesses pick an area and get involved and learn it.
Gail Spreen 14:31
I would recommend that. I think that’s the best way to really get going to work with other brokers to do open houses that other brokers that are working in that area to do that because I still do after all these years they still do open houses on the weekends. And I’m in front of people all the time. I enjoy it because I’m needing more neighbors that I might not know. People see you’re busy so activity breeds activity so they You think you’re busy doing things, so it’s just a great way to meet more people. And to get more leads, if that, if that is your goal, my goal is usually to sell things. So but I love meeting, you know, meeting people in the neighborhood and, and people that want to come into the neighborhood for who are just checking out different areas and really don’t know Streeterville. So I could go on and on about Streeterville. So at some point, I have to, you know, like, give them my, my overall kind of, you know, talk about it just to make them I, I also believe in no surprises. So when somebody wants to, they’re looking what’s you know, picking between River North Streeterville Lakeshore East South Loop, you know, old town, you know, just being very upfront with them, these are a lot of the positive and negatives, you’re going to see about the different neighborhoods, and then have a new, you know, letting them decide and pick what fits the best, their lifestyle the best, and what they’re looking for. I never really want someone to go, you know, and to pick a neighborhood and they’d be like, Wow, I didn’t really think about that. I want people to really be happy with their decision, whether it’s street or build, whatever neighborhood doesn’t, you know, I don’t care. I just want them happy. So no surprises.
D.J. Paris 16:20
Yeah. And now and I think that’s, that’s a great customer service policy, no surprises. And you know, I think now since we are most of us are working from home, most of the country, whether we like it or not, we’re stuck at home, I snuck into the office, but we barricade the doors so no one else can get in. But most of us are at home. And especially for the listeners who are real estate professionals, which is 99% of our listeners, now is a great time to get familiar with the inventory in your area. For example, here in Chicago, especially where Gail is and in the city area. Rounding around Streeterville is a lot of high rise apartment buildings. And now’s the time to do the virtual tours, do that go to each one of their websites and get familiar if you’re somebody that’s into rentals, but a lot of condo buildings have that as well. But now’s the time to really this is we have extra time these days. And so now’s the time to really get your knowledge down for your area, you know, study the MLS know what the average price point is, for a one bedroom or a single family home or an apartment, you know, all the different options like you can really use this time to get more knowledgeable and as Gail such, think of how valuable you know someone is who wants to move to Streeterville. Gail is the best resource. Obviously, she has lots and lots of years of experience. But Gail did a lot of studying outside of of her, you know, working with clients to make sure that she could bring that knowledge to our clients. So great advice. Gail, that’s really awesome. Also, you know, what I would like to mention for all of our Chicago listeners is your husband is is he a sculptor? Is that his profession?
Gail Spreen 18:01
He is he’s a professional artist. And one of the fun things that has happened through the years is a number of years ago Gallopin company commissioned him to do a bronze sculpture of cat Streeter, who is eight foot bronze, at the corner of McClurg and grand in front of the yolk restaurant. So we have that and they do beautiful landscaping around cap. And so it’s cap in his dog spot. I’ve got a little statue of CAP Streeter, right here, who is my, my backup all the time. And but it’s kind of made us the historians of Streeterville as well, which is, which is great, because I love talking about history, and cap Streeter, which he was such a colorful character, and to think he lived right here. And just the whole development of how this neighborhood became what it is. It is kind of, I call it an irrational passion that I have. Because it’s I don’t understand why I’m so attracted to it, but I love the history of the neighborhood. And so with that, we are actually working right now on a documentary on the development of South Streeterville. It’s really we hope to have it done this year. But we hired a professional video company who interviewed all the developers that have been part of how this South Streeterville area became what it is today from Dirk Lowen, who is Mies van der Rohe is Grant son, who did the water cannon that shoots over the river. Oh, Charlie Gardner, who was head of Chicago dock and canal to Alderman Hopkins who was a great activist with me in Streeterville through the many years and now an alderman, we’ve got about 12 Different people we’ve interviewed. So now we’re putting all that together to tell the story of how Streeterville became what it is today. So that’s good. That’s really fun to work on and the history museum is going to be the repository and we’ll keep it. And it’s much more of a kind of urban planning film than really like some marketing film. But I’ve, you know, it all started because I had a buyer who said, How come this area is only getting developed now, and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, we have got to tell the story of how it was the busiest shipping port in the whole world. And now to see what it’s become today. So I think, you know, that was kind of my impetus to be like, let’s get this done. And let’s do it from the mouths of the guys who actually did the development instead of somebody else, just telling the story. So that was, we’re excited about getting it, getting it done and letting people see it. So kind of fun.
D.J. Paris 20:46
Wow. Well, I you know, it’s funny, we, we think a lot about how to how to grow our business. And I always think, you know, you should pick, pick something that is that you’re super passionate about, that you have an interest in, and just dive headfirst into it with respect to community, like find something about your local community that you are passionate, whether it’s a charitable organization, or just being involved in the Chamber of Commerce or pot, local politics, or whatever, get involved. And not only will, there’s a good chance that you’ll become more present in the community, maybe even get more clients as a result, which is not the reason to do it, of course, but a nice benefit. But also, you’ll just have a tremendous sense of pride. And it’s as Gail, you were saying, it’s fun, I feel that I feel that way about a few organizations of my own. And, yeah, it’s it’s fun to to be able to affect change, like you’re in leadership positions within the neighborhood. So that must be really exciting to be able to dictate sort of, in some ways to have input on what happens.
Gail Spreen 21:49
Absolutely. And just to know that the neighborhood is has become what it is, and a lot because of your input. And our work through all these years from development issues that we’ve identified, you know, different, different aspects of it of a development proposal that we can, we can say this isn’t gonna work, because we know how the streets work here, too, from doing that, to doing street cleanups to park cleanups to you name it, we are working on things that you know, just all try to make the neighborhood a better neighborhood. So it’s fun. And that’s something that I’ve always encouraged other brokers to do, get involved in your community, and otherwise, get involved in something, you know, maybe it’s some organization, maybe its paws, because you have a dog, maybe it’s the diabetes, you know, association, I don’t know. But there’s a gazillion different ways that people can, that organizations that really are looking for people to be involved, but pick something you’re passionate about. And then like you say, get, you know, dive in, get involved and really, you know, really try to not so much get business out of it, that will come you know, but get involved and try to help them. And when you help them, it will someday it should, you know come back as a benefit to you. But that should not be the goal.
D.J. Paris 23:15
You’re right. And it’s funny. I think what a lot of people forget is that a lot of organizations, whether they’re charitable, or part of your you know, your local community government, they are looking for people to do work. There’s never a shortage of good ideas, but the people that actually execute those ideas are in short supply. So you know, if you’re not currently participating in your community, or in organizations where you can actually be a value, boy, that, you know, not only will you be helping that organization, but also you’re going to have a tremendous sense of community and pride, just doing that. And then ultimately, hopefully, you know, it makes you more present in the community and more people know about you. And of course, that can lead to more business. But even if it doesn’t lead any business, you’ll just have a tremendous sense of fulfillment, I think. But yeah, but there’s, there’s never there’s, we always say this because I’m on I work with a few different organizations, and we never have a problem coming up with ideas. It’s always who’s gonna actually execute these ideas. So if you’re somebody that likes to do work, and be able to, you know, get involved as I mean, all the organizations I’m a part of, we’d love to have anybody that’s willing to do that. So, but you’ve been a good shining example of somebody who has done that work time and time again, in many, many organizations.
Gail Spreen 24:35
Well, people do say I have a problem with not being able to say no,
D.J. Paris 24:40
yeah, that’s because they know that’s because they know your worker. They know if they get you on board, it’s gonna get done. So you’re very important. Yeah, let’s talk more more about real estate. So right now, of course, everything is changing or has changed, at least from our abilities to kind of come and go, although you were just did an inspection just moments before joining us. Have you seen any changes in the last month or so? Or is it business as usual? Right now?
Gail Spreen 25:13
Oh, there’s definitely changes because in the high rise buildings that I work in, we can’t get into them. There’s no showings allow. And so that has been a challenge. So we’ve done a lot of virtual tours, shirts. What is fascinating, just in the last month is we’ve got all your beautiful professional photography done, right? It’s all online. And people will be like, Hey, can you send me a virtual tour, and you’re like, well, it’s all on my, you know, you’ve got the best pictures. And they’re like, Oh, but I want to see a walkthrough. So it doesn’t matter if it’s not even a real professional one. But they want to see a walkthrough and they want to see it a video done. So I have spent quite a bit of time and it’s one of my team’s kind of mission right now is making sure we have video of all our listings. And, you know, doing them in shorter clips, so we can get them sent out. But having this video, I had one person, it was a little tiny studio, and they’re like, Oh, can you send me a video, I’m like, there’s three rooms. Kitchen in the bathroom. And I’ve got great photos of them. Oh, but we want to see a video. So I was like, wow, you know, we really need videos. So I actually went in, I did, you know four videos today that we’ll be using, I have the inspection I just finished. I actually from doing a video, I just sold a condo, to some people from California and I have that inspection yet this afternoon, FaceTime, by FaceTime them. And with this with this video, and they bought this condo, we were able to put together put a deal together. So I think some of the things that are really going to be changing in the way we do business is these videos. And you know, people really wanting that whether it is the most professional one, or they actually appreciate just having, you know, having enough for amateur one done. And you know, and enjoying that. But that’s interesting, as well as doing all the the zoom and all the meetings online, which is kind of fascinating that that we’ll see how that changes some of all the meetings that we normally would be attending, and how we kind of, you know, change that structure versus sitting next across the table from someone discussing issues versus having everyone on a on a screen together. So definitely changes.
D.J. Paris 27:47
Yeah, a lot a lot. You just said there. But you’re right. Yeah, things are changing. But this is still very much a I well, I guess we shouldn’t say face to face business, but because it could be screen to screen, but looking at someone and having them look back, whether it’s by saying hey, let me FaceTime you and walk you through the apartment because we don’t have, you know, a traditional virtual tour, but I can do that for you. Or you could just go in and take that video. And the cool part is that I think most people don’t expect professional quality videos because we’re all used to watching Youtube and and now tick tock and all of the other sites that promote streaming video that anybody can do just with a phone camera is their sort of use to just seeing people produce their own stuff. And so not that you if you can obviously having you know, these really cool virtual tours like Matterport and the different options there are always awesome. But at least something I know, I my girlfriend works at catalyst, which is a high rise in the west loop. And they’re doing of course they’ve same as as with a lot of the buildings, whether they’re apartment or condo, no one’s getting in my building, no one can come in even my cleaning lady, of course, nobody can come in. So other than residents. And so these virtual tours, as Gail saying is so important. And I suspect that a lot of our listeners, you know, might be thinking, well, what if I just take my phone and use it? It’s like, well, that’s better than nothing, and have something at least until maybe if you want a more professional crew to come out, you know, whenever they’re able to be allowed back into these buildings, who knows, but do something and you just sold a home it sounded like you didn’t exactly say this, but to the couple from California is that sight unseen just from the
Gail Spreen 29:30
it was just from doing a FaceTime. And then first I did the video sent that to them. And then they said let’s do a FaceTime. And what’s nice about doing the FaceTime with them is if you’re going to the kitchen they can be like Hey, show me like the dishwasher better the refrigerator better take me back to this area. So it it kind of there’s that interaction is nice and then there you’re being able to really focus on what they care about the most. So
D.J. Paris 30:00
Yeah, that’s really, really smart. So yeah, so for everyone listening, if you’re allowed to go into the property, and your clients aren’t, you know, you can do these, you know, via zoom FaceTime, there’s a million ways to do it. And then you’re able to, you know, almost do what the person would have done in person which has asked about various, you know, parts of the of the place. And yeah, really smart. That’s awesome. So that’s really encouraging for for everyone stuck at home, thinking, how can I how can I? Can I still close deals? The answer is yes. Or at the very least, I’ve always said, like, to all the brokers that our firm as well as like, now’s the time also, if you don’t have clients, to deepen those relationships, and to reach out and let all of your sphere of influence in your contact list, obviously, friends and family, but let everybody know you’re thinking about them and check in on them and see how they’re doing. Because probably a lot of us are sitting at home. Some of us have more to do than others. But it’s it’s a lonely world. So anything you can do to connect right now is probably a good idea. Right? Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about and Gail, you are so well known in Chicago, and a lot of brokers and realtors have come to you over the years asking for advice. We talked about getting hyperlocal getting involved in the community was in open houses. This was another thing we you mentioned, how important it is to do open houses. And do you recommend to newer brokers maybe who don’t have listings to talk to other realtors in their in their office and ask if they can help with
Gail Spreen 31:33
open houses? Oh, absolutely. I think that’s a, it’s a great opportunity for people to be able to get in front of residents, whether they’re actually sellers or buyers, the residents that are coming and going through the building, I always wear a nametag which I have one eye because I always wear one. Because we’re in elevators all the time. You know, people know me, but sometimes, you know, it just is that some people are more visual. And they remember you by the, by your name that way other people are more aural. So I think, you know, there’s just all different ways to make sure that you’re always in front of them. And you’re beating both people. So I would highly recommend that to young agents to be to be out there. You know, there was a lady back when I started all my community work. And she was like, super well known for the Magnificent Mile Association. And she was like the queen of Oak Street and Michigan Avenue retail leasing. Everybody totally respected her. And her name is Jackie Hayes. And I said what Jackie is to retail on Michigan Avenue and Oak Street, I want to be to Streeterville. And Jackie said, You’ve got to be out there all the time, you’ve got to be at everything you’ve you know, you’ve got to be the face of it. And so I always took her advice. I’m, you know, to this day, I’m still out there all the time. You know, at meetings, I’m you know, obviously involved in everything, and still doing the open houses, but you have to you have to be there. And so I just recommend to people don’t sit home when we can get out and get busy again. Get out there and have you know, no, your know your business. No study, like you had said, DJ, study your buildings know what your product is that you’re trying to sell or to rent, you’ve got to be able to say, you know, if someone tells me, Oh, I live at 600 Lakeshore drive, and I’m in this unit, I know exactly what their view is. I know their floorplan. And if they’re looking for a property that is similar to that, but maybe larger, but they want the same view, I can go I can tell them exactly what buildings will have it because I know all the floor plans and in the neighborhood. Or if I say, gee, if some buyer comes to and says I’ve been looking at different properties, and I’ll ask him, What have you been looking at? And what did you like about it or not like? And if they tell me what units they’ve seen, I know exactly what they’ve seen. And I can I can sell off of that. Because now I know what they’ve what they’ve looked at. I know what other properties are that, you know, that are in the area. And I know what were like, where, what properties and what units would that best fit them. So it really by taking this time to study your market, study your product is just key. I think there’s so many things that can be done right now people should not be bored. There’s so much to do. So they should really take advantage of this time. It’s actually a very special time to be able to do that. And to be able to see your family a little bit more but also, you know, really learn your market.
D.J. Paris 34:49
Yeah, we I know at our business, all of we’re in management or there’s nine of us here and we all said okay, we’re going to since we have a little bit extra time than we normally wouldn’t have had it along with a lot of people, of course, we said we’re all going to learn, you know, go through a certification. So I’m doing a marketing thing and other people doing other things. And so, which was really smart for my boss to, to recommend that. And so yes, now is the time to, to beef up those skills or, or to just say, you know, I’ve been talking about getting involved for years, now’s the time to do some research to figure out what organizations I may want to support and lend my talents to. So I and yes, let’s study the market, let’s let’s become an expert, because experts are very valuable. And, you know, over time, maybe right now you’re doing transactions all over your area, because you’re new, and you’re trying to just keep, you know, keep growing, but always have that true north. So Gail’s true north is very obvious, because it’s her whole life is Streeterville, which is an awesome, you know, thing for her and she loves it and is, is that’s just works perfectly. So you you want to be that person to whatever local area you are in. But you have to know, as Gail said, you have to know the inventory. You have to be valuable in that way. So now’s the time to figure to figure that out. And, and the good news is it’s it’s not not you have to study hours and hours a night, if you just study for one hour a day, you’ll find within a couple of months, you just you’re going to know a lot more, and you’re going to know the inventory. And then when someone asks, Hey, I’m moving to, you know, XYZ area, I’m gonna say okay, well, here’s what’s available. And that just separates you from the vast majority of brokers. Yeah, so I wanted to get I wanted to ask you, since you’ve been in business for so long, you’ve seen so many agents succeed, obviously, you’ve seen others that haven’t succeeded. What do you think separates it, we’ve talked a lot about what you’ve done to become successful. But are there any other suggestions you have, as far as well, this really seems to work, we talked about open houses becoming an expert getting involved. Are there any other suggestions you can think of for for agents who are, you know, want to learn how to just, you know, grow their business?
Gail Spreen 37:11
Well, I would say even back when I was starting, I was sitting there doing postcards, to, you know, to my building, or to neighboring buildings, and I just did it manually, and got it, got them out, wrote notes to people, you know, really stayed connected with people that way. And so, I think you have to kind of know, your target market as well. So in Streeterville, if some of the people in certain buildings may be a little bit older than younger, than they still appreciate direct mail, and they will still read it, were, then in some other neighborhoods or some other buildings, they might be a different, you know, like age group, and they might be much more on the social media, and, you know, just a little bit, your messaging would be just a little bit different. So kind of, you know, definitely be constantly reaching out and doing your marketing, don’t just wait for everything to come to you, but do push out information as well. So, you know, working on, you know, doing postcards, but and doing your messaging, whether it is social media, for however you can get into the building Statway it might be in their newsletters, you know, if you’re offering to pay somebody to be in their newsletter for marketing, that those associations would love it, you know, and then you’re right in front of your home, the whole building, whether it’s online, or it’s in a you know, hardcopy that they’re getting to all their residents. So there’s a number of different ways you can you know, that you can take advantage of that, that angle as well.
D.J. Paris 38:58
Yeah, I think that’s really good advice. I met a realtor once who lived in a, I forget where somewhere I was a listener of our show, I think it was in Kentucky, somewhere in rural Kentucky. And he was telling me that what he does, it’s actually not so rural where he is, but he works just in neighbor everything to me seem it seems rural, because we live you and I live in some of the busiest areas of the world. But, but you know, more of a suburban area of somewhere in Kentucky anyway, what he would do when he sold a home is he would write a personal note to every neighbor within a certain number of blocks, or however, he figured, however much he was able to do this, but he would say hey, just to let you know, I’m so and so. And I just recently help you know your neighbor, sell their home, if you’re ever interested. And he said that that was the smartest thing he ever did. And he does it to this day. He writes, you know, he said sometimes he has to write 50 of them and it takes a while to do it takes a couple of days. But he goes every time I Do that at least two or three people call me, which is a remarkable return on investment. But it’s basically what you were just saying as well as is whatever your marketing strategy is, you have to, you know, send those messages out on a consistent basis. And, and yeah. Yeah, let’s, I also want to talk about Gail. And I want to know, a little bit more about, you know, what you do for your clients, because we not, we don’t just have to list our listeners are not just realtors, but sometimes our buyers, sellers, investors, I know you’ve done a lot with developers, in addition to buyers and sellers and renters as well. You talk a little bit about what what you do for your clients?
Gail Spreen 40:42
Well, we try to be as much full service as we possibly can. So we will, I mean, whether it’s getting the place cleaned, whether it’s bringing in a designer to help lay out the furniture, that we’re trying to, you know, put it on the market, you know, put it on the market and really have everything laid out. So it will show the best two by two, it really just anything needed, we want to be the resource that they will come to. So I mean, I am constantly asked for the most unusual things people will I mean, I’ll have them texting me, where do I get Thai food? And then I’ll like send it back? Or do I did this? Where do I get that, so you really become this resource for anything st Earl from them. But on the client side, we are really trying to make everything as seamless as possible for them. So that we’re bringing in the stagers, we’re bringing in the cleaners, we bring in the photographers, we have the brochures, when it gets to the point that you’re getting a deal done, make it so easy for them give them great direction all the way through. A lot of my clients, you know, are very sophisticated people. However, they haven’t done that many real estate transactions, to never assume anything that they understand all these steps to it, you know, to the whole transaction. So really working with them on every little step along the way, to actually this. I mean, one of my clients right now, just the fact that I was an appraiser and I’m able to help this appraiser keep our deal together. You know, he’s just so thankful, when I sent him my explanation of what I sent to the appraiser, my seller came back and is just like, so thankful that I’m able to help the, the, you know, the appraiser for this deal, get the deal done. So there’s a lot of different different ways that I’m able to help. And it goes right down to doing the final walkthrough, making sure that the place is clean when you’re bringing the buyer in as they’re going to pay a half a million dollars for a condo, and now the condos vacant and doesn’t have all the beautiful furniture anymore. I want that buyer happy so that they walk in and at least even if it’s vacant, it’s clean and fresh. And you know, and they’re happy going to, you know, as they go off to the closing. So every little step along the way to make the best experience possible is what my goal is right, you know, all the way through.
D.J. Paris 43:25
Yeah, and you clearly do that. I wanted to just circle back to one thing that I think has become more popular in recent years, which is staging. I suspect this has to do a lot with us being able to see via social media, Instagram, in particular, how everything looks perfect and shiny. And I think people are now expecting that. How often are you working with when you have a listing with stagers? Is it majority of the time is it only occasionally? I’m just curious how, how frequent that that is for you.
Gail Spreen 43:58
I would say it’s not a majority of the time because a lot of times they have a lot of beautiful furniture in there already so they will wait to move their furniture until we get it so however, depending on what their furniture is, I might make recommendations for certain pieces like we need to remove about half the pieces, you know and then and then maybe have a stager come and add a few pieces that will you know enhance the flow enhance the luck of the of the whole place. So I would say it’s not all the time but every opportunity I can I I’m trying to bring a stager in because I think the value of them is is enormous. And I don’t think sellers sometimes can really appreciate how valuable those stages are. But when you go online on the MLS and you’re looking at photos where they might have virtually staged it and then they show the empty room. There’s no come Harrison to those two rooms with furniture in it versus a vacant. And it’s, you know, it’s it’s definitely worth the money that they, you know that they have to spend. And so I highly recommend that.
D.J. Paris 45:15
Yeah, thanks for that. Also, you know, for anyone who is listening, who is thinking about, you know, working with a Chicago real estate expert, in particular in the downtown area. Gail, what’s the what’s the best way that one of our listeners who might be looking for a new realtor should reach out to you?
Gail Spreen 45:36
Well, my email is Gail Gil at Streeterville properties.com. So that is one of the easiest ways to get me or my phone number, which is my cell that I give out really to everybody and, and posted anywhere. 3129 to 57668 is also a great way to get me.
D.J. Paris 45:58
Well, I think we’ve really set it all today, we talked a lot about the importance of getting involved getting local, getting knowledge about your your area as well and how that has served you in particular for and how you have served it for well over Gosh, 2020 plus years, it’s incredible. And of course, you have status in Chicago is one of one of the top brokers here in the entire Chicagoland area. So I think so much of the value you gave was just telling people this is this is how I built my business. So we really appreciate your time. And I know you’re super busy as well, even through, you know, this The Stay At Home era. But on behalf of the listeners, we want to thank Gail for her time and sharing all this great wisdom. And on behalf of Gail and myself to the listeners we also say things want to remind everyone that if everyone could just tell one friend about our show, think of another real estate professional that could benefit from hearing from Gail or any of the other guests we’ve had just shoot them over to our website, which is keeping it real pod.com Or any podcast app, just search for keeping it real, you’ll you’ll find us right away, that would really help our show grow. Also, please follow us on Facebook firstname.lastname@example.org forward slash keeping it real pod not only to be able to watch the behind the scenes recordings of these videos, or either of these episodes, you get to see the videos. But also we post every single day an article that we find online that was written specifically to help Realtors grow their business. So we try to provide a tremendous amount of value there as well. So follow us again on Facebook and tell a friend anyway, Gail, thank you again. You were wonderful guests. Were so excited to continue to see Streeterville prosper under your leadership. And thanks for being a part of the show.
Gail Spreen 47:51
Oh, thank you. And if you wouldn’t mind, I have one last plug. I’m chair of the lights festival for the Michigan Avenue Lights Festival parade. And that happens the Saturday before Thanksgiving every year. So I was chair last year. I’m chair again this year. So if anybody wants to get involved, you can be a balloon handler of parade Marshal. I would love to have you so just let me know. We’d love to have you join us. I know it’s not till fall till November. However we start early.
D.J. Paris 48:22
Well, and I will also yes, so everyone, I will put a link to that in the Episode Notes as well. And also my favorite church. I only have I’m not really that into churches, but I my favorite church is in Streeterville which is fourth Presbyterian, which of course is everybody’s favorite church because of how cool and perfectly situated and beautiful it is. But I they do some cool things over the holiday as well. I imagine they’re probably part of part of the lights, I’m guessing right?
Gail Spreen 48:49
Absolutely. Yeah. Thank you again, DJ. It was great to be on
D.J. Paris 48:54
Thanksgiving. All right. We’ll see everyone on our next episode. Okay, take care.