Joan Edelberg

Joan Edelberg • Building a 25 Year Luxury Real Estate Business

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For our premiere episode we’re featuring Joan Edelberg, a 25 year real estate veteran broker. She discusses how she got started, how she’s continued to build her business over the years, and even how she closed one of Chicago’s 20 largest residential transactions last year!


D.J. Paris 0:09
Hi, and welcome to keeping it real pod, the first podcast made by real estate agents for real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris, and I am going to be your host through the show. So what is this podcast all about? Well, I work at a real estate firm here in Chicago that has over 500 brokers and one of the most requested questions that we receive on the support and training team is our brokers in particular, newer brokers really want to learn from experienced veteran agents in the business about what’s been working for them, what challenges they faced, maybe what advice they would have, in particular, someone isn’t new broker, and also what’s just been really successful over their entire career. So what we started doing is interviewing some of our more veteran agents, asking them to share their success stories, and also how they have built their business and continue to do so. And then we realized, well, there’s really 40,000 realtors in the Chicagoland area. And why keep this just internally. So what I decided to do was open up this process to every broker in the industry as a way to give back for industry that’s been very generous to us. And we thought it’d be also a lot of fun. So what we’re doing is interviewing realtors, who are having success in some capacity and letting them tell their story and so that other brokers can participate and share and maybe learn and even maybe implement some of those strategies. It’s really that simple. So if you yourself are a broker and want to be interviewed or you want to nominate somebody, you can visit our website, which is keeping it real pod.com and fill out a form and let us know who we should be talking to. Also, if you have any brokers in your office that you think could benefit from this podcast, send them the link and we’ll make it real easy to find. We’re also going to be creating these episodes on YouTube as well. So if you’re not a podcast person, you can still watch the or listen to the audio via YouTube. Today on the show we are interviewing Joan Adelberg, also known as Joni a little bit about Joanie, she was broker has been a broker rather since 1993. She was Rookie of the Year in 1994. She has also been a president platinum club Prudential preferred properties agent, as well as Best Newcomer at at properties. A little bit about her history. She grew up in Northbrook, after school, studied at the Art Institute of Chicago moved to Boston and owned and ran a handcrafted jewelry store on Newbury Street and moved to Los Angeles and played tennis while raising her daughter. She’s a proud single mother to Johanna and grandmother to Amari and Savannah lives. Lived in southeast Evanston for 25 years in downtown Chicago the last 10. She also and aside from being a realtor also rehabs she’s an investor rehab starter homes on the south side of Chicago. She represents buyers and sellers, as well as doing land grant deals for future development. She’s also a guest star on the TV show currently airing called Bringing a baller. So those are some highlights of her her tagline is there’s no place like Joan. So really excited. And let’s talk to Joe. Well, I’m really excited to have Joan Adelberg on the very first episode of Keeping it real. She also goes by Joni, Chicago, Joni and the show, whatever. So we’re really excited. And you know, again, the idea here is to highlight brokers, realtors that are really what I believe to be exceptional in the field and find out what they’re doing and how they continue to build their business and also how they got started. So thank you, Joanie, for being on the show. Really appreciate your time. I know you’re busy share. So really, we would first want to know, how did you get started in real estate?

Joan Edelberg 3:55
For a number of years, I was in healthcare, and I was managing outpatient ambulatory care facilities, which is surgery centers, and on a national basis. And I woke up one day and my hotel room and I called my assistant, Amelia and I said, Amelia, where am I and what am I supposed to be doing today? I don’t know if I was having a breakdown or what are you from all the travel and being a single mother and everything. It was just a lot. And that day I decided I really needed to make a change. So I resigned my position. And I sat around my house for about a week figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I realized that every Sunday back when there were still newspapers, I would pull out the real estate section. I come from a real estate family. I’m actually the third generation of Realtors, my daughters the fourth generation of brokers in the Family. And I realized that real estate was really a passion. It was something that I just loved to look at in the paper every Sunday. And I thought, well, I can make a career out of this. And that’s

D.J. Paris 5:13
pretty much how I got started. And that was 20, almost 25 years ago,

Joan Edelberg 5:17
that was almost 25 years ago, I sent my daughter away to camp and I did the accelerated program through the Chicago Association of Realtors, I don’t remember if it’s five days, 10 days, whatever it was, I sat on my chaise lounge, eight o’clock in the morning, I’d have breakfast at 738 o’clock, I was on my chaise lounge and study till noon, I’d have a half hour for lunch, I’d get back on my chairs, lounge study till five, quick dinner and then run to my evening class. I don’t remember if it was a week, or 10 days, or whatever it was, and I just crammed it all in my head. And I did it all based on when the test but then you had to have a day for the test, you couldn’t just go any day of the week for the state test. And I backed it all up, went took the exam. And that was the end of it. I was a broker.

D.J. Paris 6:03
So and you know, as well as I do so many people enter this industry and then leave the industry for because most likely they’re not going they’re not earning the income they want or generating the business they want. But you’ve been doing it for over two decades, two and a half decades. Why do you think you succeeded? What do you what would you attribute that to?

Joan Edelberg 6:23
Well, real estate is an interesting thing. There’s so many components to it that, you know, it’s not just residential. So I’ve been successful in actually making deals happen, as opposed to, you know, being a real estate broker in the residential field, which, you know, you market you do postcards, you work your sphere of influence. I’ve actually knocked on doors, lots of doors, and not just for residential right now, I’m working on a big commercial piece that I literally knocked on the door, and I said, Hi, would you like to sell this piece of real estate? And they said, No, I really hadn’t thought about it. But yeah, I actually would like to sell the real estate and then I got on the other phone and started calling people that it would be appropriate for. And hopefully that deal will come together next week. So you know, knocking on doors

D.J. Paris 7:18
helps. And again, the idea of knocking on a commercial a door for commercial purposes is I’ve never heard anyone I’m sure people do it. It’s certainly uncommon, or at least from what I what I know. And really, that’s that’s tremendously, tremendously smart idea. So you just walk in and go straight for the owner. And

Joan Edelberg 7:38
that’s it. Hi, I’m here to sue the owner. Oh, where are you? Sam? Joan Adelberg. What do you here for? Well, I’d like to discuss that with the owner if they have just two minutes. And you know, as long as you’ve got on a suit, and you look like you’re there for a purpose, oftentimes you get into see the owner,

D.J. Paris 7:57
when I think he told me for this, this deal that I’m assuming it’s the same one that’s closing, hopefully closing soon as you walked into what maybe five places, and that was, that was his? It’s not like you walked into 100 places to get one it was five, right,

Joan Edelberg 8:09
right. I yeah, I walked into maybe five or six places. And, you know, for I would say the five or six places I walked into there were two that were sellers. And the other three, you know, had gold, of course, you know, and we’re about four times what the market would bear at this time. So they weren’t sellers. But that’s okay, I got to meet, you know, six new people. And it’s always good to meet new people.

D.J. Paris 8:38
And I know you also have really worked. You’re from the North Shore. And you tend to at least for the residential side, that tends to be a focus of yours as well. The higher end homes, the more luxury properties up there. How do you find those properties? And what do you do that’s maybe different, as far as how to market and sell them or convince the sellers to list with you, then maybe what other brokers are

Joan Edelberg 9:04
trying? Well, again, I have I have relationships that I’ve built over the years, there’s a developer, a very prolific developer up on the North Shore, and from time to time, if he’s out of product, or if he has a buyer that is looking for something special, he’ll call me and say, Do you have anything and I’ll say, No, I don’t have anything. Or maybe I do have something and I will go knock on doors. I made some of my largest deals, literally knocking on doors. So one time I literally drove around the North Shore, the developer called me and said, hey, you know, if somebody’s looking to do a tear down and build, you know, their dream home, and in Glencoe, specifically, and I literally drove around Glencoe and I looked at all of the homes that were on the lake and I determined which ones could possibly be tear downs and I hand wrote all 12 op notes and of the handwritten 12 notes that I delivered to the front doors of all of these places for people called me. And of the four, I was able to make one deal. So it was, you know, it was an interesting thing. And I, again met very interesting people on the lakefront and Glencoe and I was able to put a young family in a home from somebody who had lived there, that was their only home for the last 40 years. And it was a terrific, there was a terrific exchange, and everybody got to move on to where they wanted to be.

D.J. Paris 10:38
And I found that interesting with that particular transaction, if I remember correctly, if it’s the one I’m thinking of which by the way ended up is that the one that ended up being one of the largest transactions, residentially that year? Or is that was that a different? Yes,

Joan Edelberg 10:49
that was actually one of the top 20 residential sales for that particular year, home sale prices in six counties. So don’t be afraid to knock on doors.

D.J. Paris 11:01
Well, and also what I thought was so interesting, when you were doing that transaction was that, you know, for a transaction of that size, it was sizable. It’s not enough to just put it on the MLS and hope and that’s somebody wealthy enough to be able to afford it comes along, you have to go as the listing agent and almost source the buyer as well.

Joan Edelberg 11:19
Well, it was it was it was interesting in that, actually, that particular transaction took almost five years to come to fruition. I had sold it three times prior, and the family decided it’s a very close knit family that they didn’t want to sell, the wife wasn’t ready to move, the husband wanted to move and the wife was not ready. And I called up and I asked actually, who was wicking his bluff, and he said, It’s funny that you call I was going to call you were ready to sell. And I said, Oh, no, you know, unless your wife calls me and tells me she’s ready to sell. I just I can’t, just can’t. And he said, No, no, I swear we’re ready to sell. And he called his wife and she said, Yes, we’re ready to sell. I said, really? Are you ready to sell? She said, Yes. So that was how that transaction happened. But the

D.J. Paris 12:10
finding buyers was you sell?

Joan Edelberg 12:13
Oh, I was we were, according to every broker on the North Shore, we were about a million and a half dollars overpriced. And I said, Well, that’s great. But I believe that you are undervaluing these things. Oftentimes, you know, brokers work just a small area, and they become very provincial, they don’t look at the big picture. And, you know, in real estate, it’s really important to look at the entire picture and not just, you know, Glencoe properties. So I, you know, I approached it from a different vantage point in that, you know, here was a sizable piece of table land, a stable bluff, because it had been checked and taken care of over the 40 years that they owned it. And I looked at it and I thought, you know, this is really a treasure, you have a big piece of table land, it’s on one of the largest fresh bodies of water in the world. And I believed it to be worth a lot of money. So I had a lot a lot of buyers come in with ridiculous offers. I literally walked one man out the front door, he was sitting, we were sitting in the living room, on their chairs, looking, you know, out at the lake in their pool. And, you know, it’s a really lovely view. And his, his broker and his wife were walking around the house. And he, you know, gave me this ridiculous offer. And I said, Oh, thank you so very much for the offer. And I gently walked over to him and kind of picked him up out of the chair by the elbow and walked him to the front door. And I said, Thank you so much for coming. But if that’s your budget, I really think you should look at things in your budget. But this house will not treat for that pro Price. Thank you so much for wasting my time. And I walked him out the door, close the door behind him and said to his broker, you’re showing us over? Yeah, so you know, I mean, people, they like to waste our time sometimes. And sometimes, you know, the best approach is just kind of tell them you’re wasting your time.

D.J. Paris 14:14
What would you say is the most rewarding part of what you do?

Joan Edelberg 14:18
I like meeting new people, you know, making transactions that makes sense for both parties. Right now I’m working on a trade. I’ve never in my 25 years done an exchange. This is a property for property exchange. Two pieces of commercial property up north that you know, a company has wanted to acquire my seller as an individual and we’re working on a trade right now. It’s kind of an interesting transaction. I think my buyers gonna have to pay some money. My buyer, they’re both buyers, but one of the buyers is going to have to pay a little money because of the up hits, he’s got a backlog, they’ve got frontage. So, but I think it’ll all work out in the end.

D.J. Paris 15:06
And what advice do you have for maybe someone newer to the business to for longevity? How do you stick around?

Joan Edelberg 15:13
Keep it interesting. You know, it’s real estate, you get to do lots of things in the whole state of Illinois unless you have a license somewhere else. So I would say, just keep it interesting. Don’t just do this unless you’re a routine person. And like the routine, I don’t like the routine so much. I like to keep it new and interesting. But you know, if you’re a routine person, keep to the routine, if you’re not in routine person, keep it interesting.

D.J. Paris 15:40
Yeah, I like to that you and I don’t know that you classify yourself this way militarily to your clients, although you probably do is I like the idea that you are a dealmaker, that you aren’t just a listing agent, that you aren’t just, you know, you’re somebody that can come in and solve problems.

Joan Edelberg 15:54
Right? And that, you know, that’s a challenge in this business, because you have to be able to get your idea through the other broker to the other side. And that sometimes is a challenge. I know, early in my career, I was, you know, I was a baby broker. And I was dealing with one of the Gron. Dom’s from the North Shore. And I had a wine importer who had a condo, like a duplex condo over, you know, off of Irving Park Road. And I sold in the middle of a snowstorm to my own buyers, actually. And they called me for three years, how did you get so much money for this place? I guess I got lucky. And anyway, these people wanted to buy something, they started out at 200,000. Then they were 345. And then they told me they were at 750. I pulled down my sunglasses. And I looked at the couple and I said come on, you started out at $200,000. Now we’re three quarters of a million. And you know, we’re going back to the early 90s. I said, Come on, do really well. We could have done that all along. We just wanted to see what it would be I go Alright, fine. I was previewing, because they had two young children. And so I was previewing properties. And I walked into a property and the wife happened to have been a furniture designer in Italy for a number of years. And so she showed me pictures when we first got together of these most unbelievable properties with you know, rustic floors, and high ceilings and great moldings, and on and on. And I thought $200,000 beer budget, champagne tastes, not unusual for buyers. And so anyway, we’re in the price range where she could get what you want. And then I walked into this house and I went, Oh, my gosh, I’m standing in their house, I used in the course we’re going back to, you know, kind of pre cell phones. So I use the house phone there. And I called them and I called the wife and I said, whatever you’re doing stop, come over here now. I said, I’m standing in your house. Well, sure enough, I was standing in their house and the people who live there were the third owner of this house. And it was very important to the sellers, to the husband, especially who didn’t want to move that the new buyer be somebody that would live in the house for 30 years is every owner prior to them had done and the grind down. I thought it was about money because we were legitimately $150,000 apart at the time. And I said, broker brandom This has nothing to do with money. I said your client has more money than they could spend it a lifetime or two or three for that matter. I said this is about the people buying the house. I said tell them my client is wine importer. They have young children, they’re gonna live here for 30 years. And she said, Oh, no, no, no. I said, Oh, yes, yes, yes, talk to the wife, because she wants to sell. So anyway, short, long story short, this was a fabulous transaction or inspector found that the tree trunk on the back of the house was almost gone through and was going to lose the back of the house. They were very appreciative. My clients sent a bottle of champagne from the year they bought the house. They introduced each other they had parties It was a beautiful transaction when all was said and done. So when you’re in real estate, sometimes it’s not about the dollars but about what is really going on in the transaction. And I guess the baby broker talk the GrandAm something that

D.J. Paris 19:40
well, you know, majority of the people that will be listening to this podcast are most likely brokers, however, not necessarily only brokers so if there were if there are buyers, sellers investors who did want to get in touch with you to help them with a transaction or to discuss their properties, how would they get in touch with you? Well, there’s

Joan Edelberg 19:59
no place like Joan, and you can reach me on my cell phone at 84745202258474520225

D.J. Paris 20:11
Thank you so much for your time. And again, it’s I always your passion is what comes through so much in the way that you present. I think that probably goes a long way with your clients. Obviously, you get excited about it too. So it’s pretty exciting. So thank you. I know you’re busy. And by the way, I want to say that she’s up Joan. Joan has already killed me because she is all dressed up. She’s always all dressed up. But she’s particularly dressed up she thought this would be a video so we’re gonna paint the nicest most flattering picture of you.

Joan Edelberg 20:40
On camera ready today, not just regular makeup. So thank you so much for your time. My pleasure. Okay, thanks.

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