Former political consultant staking out successful career in real estate
It was bad customer service that led Angela McMillin into a promising new career as a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago.
She had that unpleasant experience during the volatile campaign season before the 2016 general election, she told North Cook News during telephone and email interviews.
At the time, following 22 years in the insurance industry, most recently as Cook County Pension Fund director of benefits, McMillin had found herself in a new field, managing political campaign operations statewide.
"In looking to expand our offices, I encountered a very unresponsive broker at the management company," McMillin recalled. "This was extraordinarily frustrating."
She shared that frustration with a precinct captain, also a broker, who "emphatically encouraged me to expand my business model," she said.
By the summer of 2016 she had her real estate license.
"To date in 2017, I have closed on $7 million in property, 20 properties and two rentals," she said.
She also recently received Coldwell Banker-McMullen Office's Rookie of the Year award.
"While I no longer have time for the political consulting work, I am still actively involved in my insurance work," McMillin said.
Getting there was no cake walk, she said.
"New to the business in July of 2016, I was also very busy with 11 active campaigns going into the general election," she said. "I spent the little time I had in those few months learning the business and aligning myself with business professionals in the real estate business I wished to emulate."
McMillin also worked open houses when she could. All the hard work paid off the day after the general election when she received her "first call for business." That's when the real work began.
"I prepared and researched and came up with a strategy for the first 45 days to present to my potential client," McMillin recalled. "I explained how we could use data to prospect for buyers, creatively applying how we could identify buyers in the same way as I identified potential voters. The concept was solid and he signed."
The property was under contract in under a month and her closing took place in January.
As 2017 progressed, McMillin said she soon observed that potential buyers and sellers wanted a broker who really knew their area, just as she knows Chicago's Edison Park community.
"Sometimes what they want to know (is) information about the community they are moving into," she said. "They ask me things like where to find a good butcher."
McMillin says she could answer those questions because she knows the community, having been a member and chairwoman on the Edison Park Local School Council, as well as a PTA member and on the pastoral council at St. Juliana's Parish.
"It is important that clients have a strong relationship with the real estate broker," she said. "It is one of the largest investments a person can make and should not be taken lightly."
It's also crucial, when listing a property, to advise a client about how best to prep their house, which is just as important as setting expectations, McMillin said.
"Not just on the financial implications but on the entire process, soup to nuts," she said. "When assisting a buyer, they need a resource they can trust to guide them through everything from previewing potential homes, through the inspection and attorney review right up through closing. All clients need an advocate in their corner who is knowledgeable and responsive."
McMillin is fond of saying that what she does is not just a transaction, it's a relationship.
"If clients are taken care of and walk away feeling a positive experience, they will repeat and refer business back, and that is necessary to grow a sustainable business model," she said.