Meet Lauren Traficanto, top Realtor in Chicago Il with Compass. She began her real estate career at the age of 21 while the economy was still recovering from its downfall of the 2008 crash. “I started my business doing a lot of rentals and working extra hard to gain the trust of my peers and clients during a time that was difficult for so many. Over the years, my business has been 90% repeat clientele and referrals from those clients. I feel like in a business with such high turnover and so many realtors to choose from, it’s an honor to be working with the same clients multiple times and see their lives and family dynamics change over the years.” She states about her success in the field.
Her focus point is Chicago as well as all its wonderful neighborhoods. Wearing multiple hats in the field has allowed her to service buyers and sellers from first time home purchases to single family residences and multi family units. She also specialize in getting homes ready to hit the market and handle everything from repairs, cleanings, and staging to getting it sold for top dollar. Having been in the industry for well over a decade she has gained an abundance of knowledge and continues to expand.
Tell our readers about the path that led you into real estate?
I studied at Roosevelt University, which is located in Chicago. It’s a liberal arts college, and I graduated with a bachelor’s in integrated marketing communications. I never really used my degree because it is so broad but it gave me a marketing edge in my business. I started in real estate, as an assistant, while I was still in college, back in 2009, and I still had a year and a half left of school. That year was a stressful time because of the recession so I didn’t make any money. At that time, I wasn’t really expecting anything out of it and just kept building year after year.
What made you have such an early start in real estate?
I really wanted to get my license. I had studied that summer and wanted to get it out of the way because I knew that’s the field I wanted to go into. I wasn’t planning to start immediately after excuse I was still in school. As luck may have it, as I was celebrating out with some friends, when a woman asked me why I was celebrating, when I told her that I passed the realtor exam, she offered me a job. She was a top producing realtor, with whom I stayed for almost ten years. She had me doing everything for her. And I was lucky to have learned the ins and outs of all the business.
I always had a vision to do real estate full time, but like I said 2009 where hard times and I barely made it. With the financial downfall, there were no sales really happening. If you were lucky to get one, you had to fight tooth and nails to close because the banks weren’t giving loans. Every deal would last for about six months six months and I needed money in between. I focused a lot on rentals because people still needed a place to live. Rentals were definitely on the lower end of the totem pole, but I was able to make money to like stay afloat, and without that, I probably wouldn’t have made it in real estate. I was doing approximately 90% rentals in those days compared to 10% for selling.
I actually thought of quitting so many times, but I’m glad I never did.
What made you persevere through the hard times and in such uncertain financial times?
Let’s Strat with the fact that I was really emotional when I was 21. It was my first job and I took things way to personal that looking back now are just normal industry ways. At that time, everybody that I graduated with were living in their parents basements and I was at least able to keep afloat, because I was not going to go back and live with my parents. I think the biggest thing for me was I was ever cut out to be in an industry where I had a boss.
Having gone through that resiliency that brought you to the success you’re at today, what would be the biggest advice that you would give yourself looking back?
I would say to be yourself because you can’t make everyone happy. Authenticity is really underrated and it was something I struggled with in the beginning because I took things personally when I should have just moved on quicker to something that fits me better.
Another thing that is happening in the industry and the importance of being authentic. I’ve really noticed with the television shows like selling sunset and Million Dollar Listing that these shows are making my life harder. They make it look easy to be a realtor, and it’s not. They’re also selling sex appeal and it puts pressure on other woman to keep up with trying to look like that when in reality, when you’re in sales it does matter. Yeah. A lot of new agents on social media and the pictures they post, it’s making a mockery of the industry. So all in all, stay true to yourself.
What was one of the biggest challenges you had to face?
I would have to say switching brokerage firms and navigating the changes. After spending 10 years with Berkshire Hathaway, which was my home and it was really hard to leave. But after careful consideration, I proceeded on to another company, where I learned a lot how others operate in the industry.
When compass approached me, it was the perfect timing and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. When you switch companies in real estate, it can be a really shady business where they cut off your email immediately, and they monitor it. So if anyone past clients email you on that email, it’s going to somebody in the old office that says, oh, maybe Lauren’s not in real estate anymore. You have to keep in touch with your clients. The years that I switched firms, I made less money because of shady things like that. But not he other hand, like I said, I really learned a lot and had to reinvent how I was doing things. My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s that year and I was also dealing with a bad breakup so things were at the peak of bad and everything came pouring all at once.
Another thing I have difficulty with is selling the younger generation who don’t trust you. I never understood them. How am I suppose to help them if they don’t believe that I am there to help them.
Finally, I would say that managing expectations was also a difficulty of mine. Residential real estate is incredibly emotional for a lot of people and everyone is at a different stage of in their life. Whether they’re buying a first home, selling a home due to a divorce, or selling it brings with it a big emotional aspect. You have to learn to deal with their emotions and your’s too. On top of dealing with that, my job is to get you the most money or save you the most money. But at the same time, I feel like I’m a therapist sometimes.
With the way Covid changed the market, where do you advise people to invest their money?
In the past five to seven years, I’ve seen people leave the downtown area of Chicago. I’ve asked my clients why they didn’t want to live downtown, where you can be at walking distance to almost everything you can need, and mostly the answers I’m getting is that the HOA fees are really high. We’re talking like 1500 to $2,000 a month, that is a lot of money. And that’s money you never see again, you’re paying for a doorman gym, you probably don’t use maybe a pool, who knows.
That being said, I started to see them migrate up the blue line towards like, Wicker Park and Bucktown Logan Square. Now those areas are super hot and really priced out, where something goes on the market, it’s gone within 24 hours. So now what I’m seeing with the pandemic is a lot of people have taken on a responsibility, especially at my age, the responsibility for a parent, maybe a sibling, a grandparent, somebody that you know, they can’t afford to put in a nursing home, and considering how expensive our medical system is. So what I’ve seen is people come to me asking, you know, can I get a two flat or three flat is something that you can live on one floor and you bring out the other two units.
If you are building in the trendy neighbourhoods, you know, those aren’t really affordable to a lot of people. Um, you know, we’re talking at least a million dollars for those, and then a lot of them need work on top of that. So what I’ve been finding is people have been more open to areas like Mondale East Garfield Park.
Where do you see your brand in the next 5 to 10 years?
I plan to stay in Chicago, I think it’s the best city in the world. I love it here. And I plan to just continue to grow my business. But I plan to stay like even if I have a family, I want to stay in the city. There’s a lot of people my age that are starting to make that transition to the suburbs, and I just like it’s just not for me. Furthermore, I’m starting to buy investment properties and probably thinking of getting into the management side of the real estate industry.
I’m on a team now and they supply me with admins and a lot of help, which has been tremendous and making me more successful, especially with the move to Compass. It just takes a lot of my plate. I have thought of opening my own team, but when I think about that and having to hire people and a turnover rate, it kind of stresses me out. So as of right now, probably just a boutique style would be possible.
Tell us what motivates you to keep reaching for the stars?
So I have clients from all walks of life. I think what inspires inspires me most about my job is when I can put somebody into their first home and they say things like, I’m the first one in my family to ever own a house, or when I see people that worked hard to come up with the downpayment. I talked to him a few years later, and they have equity in their home. And it’s just like real estate, besides the stock market is another way to grow wealth. And it’s an easy way because you have to live somewhere. So making the right investment does matter. But I think that’s probably one of the best things because 90% of my clients are repeat. So I watch them at different stages of life. And it’s really helpful. And it’s it that does inspire me because it’s like, you know, everyone says, like, Oh, I do my job for a certain reason. But in reality, we do our job because we have to live, we have to make money, but at least I could feel good about some of the things like putting people in places for their first home and, you know, growing their wealth.
You are big on philanthropy and giving back. Can you tell us about the current projects you’re working on with the Greater Chicago Food Depository?
I love living and working in Chicago and truly feel lucky to be living in World class city. Having an opportunity to give back to the community is a big deal to me. Residing in a major city creates several volunteer opportunities. I have chosen to work weekly with The Greater Chicago Food Depository. They need daily volunteers to pack up the food they receive in order to get it to people in need. GCFD has been servicing less fortunate families in Chicago for a little over 40 years and in 2019 alone, served 62.4 million meals. They depend solely on volunteers to get the food packaged and labeled for delivery. It’s a small contribution on my part but has a large impact on the community and GCFD’s strive to a make sure people down on their luck don’t go hungry.
How do you maintain balance in your life?
So as far as balance, I love to travel. I felt like in my 20s, I worked so hard and didn’t get to do like normal things 20 year olds do, So I started traveling in 2015 by myself. So I’ve been to like 40 countries since then, alone and it’s changed my life for the better. I also found self care. When you work seven days a week, you have to schedule stuffing or else you get sidetracked. So I schedule playing tennis three times a week, and it’s kind of a joke with my clients that know me, they’ll say, oh, if I don’t answer a text right away, it’s because I’m playing tennis. It’s all about making more time for yourself.
Photo credit to Andrew Suk.
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