In the following interview, Henry Sakowski, broker/owner, CENTURY 21 Action! In Chicago, Ill., discusses the advantages of the brand, his career, the local market and technology.
Region Served: Chicago, Hardwood Heights, Norridge
Years in Real Estate: 30-plus
Number of Offices: 1
Number of Agents: 175
Favorite Part of Your Job: Collaborating with my agents and the clients and customers they serve, and treating our team like family.
What attracted you to the real estate industry?
It was kind of a coincidence because I didn’t even know what real estate in the U.S. was when I came to this country. I came here as a refugee, so I didn’t speak the language, and it was difficult to communicate. I enrolled in classes without knowing they were for real estate after I was told I could get some books for free. I took the classes with the help of dictionaries, but I passed the exam and became an agent.
Why make the move from independent to CENTURY 21 Action!?
I was lacking a few things as an independent, and, in my search, I found that the CENTURY 21® System had all the things I was looking for, especially flexibility and technology. It has energy, and that’s what I needed for my agents.
Tell us why you became a Certified Distressed Property Expert.
When the market collapsed, we had to do something to make a living and help our customers. Very few in the industry knew how to help distressed property owners. We built a niche helping clients sell these properties when the market was flat and buyers were difficult to find. I started to organize all the agents from the area, not just my office, and we talked about the challenges and how to deal with them. I can proudly say that I was the first to do this at the time. The agents began to educate themselves and started to believe that they could still survive during a very difficult time.
What is the biggest challenge in the Illinois market right now?
Locations dealing with multiple-offer situations. Buyers want the property they’re dreaming of, but many lose out. It’s our role to help them learn why and move them forward in the process. In fact, buyers are more educated today due to easy access to various databases and the internet. We have to invest in technology and learn how to translate the information they’re getting online. They think they know everything about the market, so we have to ask ourselves: How are we helping our clients get a better understanding of what’s going on?
How are you using technology to overcome this obstacle?
Previously, we used the tools provided by associations and the MLS, but fewer and fewer tools were available to us as an independent brokerage. The technology provided by the CENTURY 21 System helps us have a growing online presence, secure leads, interact better with homebuyers and sellers, and provide extraordinary experiences.
For more information, please visit www.century21.com.