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Joe Castillo
Managing Broker/Owner
RE/MAX Mi Casa and RE/MAX In the Village
Chicago, Ill.

Region served: South Chicago and Oak Park/River Forest area
Years in real estate: 24
Number of offices: 2
Number of agents: 80
Key to getting the right listing price: Do your homework and ask the seller specific questions about their home so that you have proper comparables when you visit.
Best tip for dealing with difficult clients: Communication is key to gaining a client’s trust. A difficult client is one that does not trust you.
No. 1 piece of time management advice: Time-block your day/week with items necessary for you to succeed at work and at home.
Best tip for running a successful meeting: Come with an agenda and notes from previous meetings to review or discuss.

What attracted you to RE/MAX?
RE/MAX is the most recognized real estate brand in my market. Clients view RE/MAX agents as the most professional and successful agents in the business, and this was a perception we wanted to reinforce in our markets.

Please describe some of the biggest advantages that have come with your RE/MAX affiliation. 
As a result of our affiliation, our number of transactions per agent has grown. When it comes to listings specifically, our agents are getting more opportunities to get in front of sellers because consumers recognize the RE/MAX brand. Another major benefit is the support we receive from RE/MAX headquarters. Our RE/MAX consultants are always available—whether it’s an impromptu request or a regularly scheduled consultation. Their availability and the added value they bring to my business has been refreshing and rewarding.

How are you and your team navigating the challenges posed by the coronavirus? 
Our office and agents have adapted to the “new normal” by following necessary safety protocols to keep clients safe while helping them fulfill their dreams of homeownership. We’ve actually seen demand surge during COVID. It was challenging to change the norms associated with real estate sales, but keeping people safe is the only way to gain clients’ trust during these unprecedented times. As an office, we have taken advantage of the Zoom Pro account RE/MAX provided to managing brokers in order to stay safe and in contact with agents. It has helped us keep some normalcy with trainings, meetings and even some fun social events.

A lot of urban areas are experiencing virus-related relocations to more suburban and rural areas. Is that affecting your company? 
Without a doubt. We are seeing new buyers focused on owning their own home after their experience with sheltering in place. Many were renters who kept pushing off homeownership, but after being stuck in apartments, many felt a need to have their own space—and, more specifically, a yard to enjoy. The same can be said of buyers leaving downtown Chicago who are selling off condos for bigger spaces and yards in the surrounding suburbs. These new and unanticipated buyers have helped drive the single-family market to new heights in the Chicagoland market.

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John Voket is a contributing editor to RISMedia.