The Top Players in Chicago Real Estate: Phil Skowron

Building relationships and market expertise have helped Skowron thrive in Chicago's luxury market.

Chicago is known as a top market for real estate thanks to its beautiful architecture, its wide selection of neighborhoods and its surprising affordability when compared to other big markets. This is why brokers like Phil Skowron love working in real estate in Chicago.

Phil Skowron is a multi-award-winning luxury broker in the Chicago real estate market. His real estate group, The Skowron Group, has over $550 Million in sales since 2010 and has become the largest and most successful brokerage team within @properties' downtown Chicago office. Skowron specializes in the city’s top tier-luxury market and frequently works with high-profile clients including CEOs, entertainers and athletes.

ESTATENVY recently caught up with Skowron to gain some insight into his success in the Chicago real estate market.

What's the hottest neighborhood in Chicago (or the Chicago suburbs) right now?

There are many areas of Chicago that are considered “hot” right now. If I had to pinpoint one neighborhood, I would have to say the West Loop. It is a neighborhood that everyone always asks about and is an area that many real estate brokers are trying to establish a presence in.

How did you get started in real estate?

I entered the real estate industry from the hospitality business having worked for several large hotel groups. I started working with a boutique brokerage during the recession. It was not an easy start and there were plenty of very late nights. However, the difficult times I encountered when I started in the business have taught me to appreciate each and every client I have today no matter how big or small.

How do you make yourself stand out to potential clients?

I do my best to know the market intimately for my clients. While some brokers will focus on a large market within Chicago I instead have a more narrow market focus so I can provide my clients with the intimate knowledge they need to either market a property better or to take advantage of a deal before anyone else.

What trends do you see in the market right now?

Trends change often, but one trend that I have seen in the luxury market is the renovation of units in older high rise buildings. New construction has become expensive in many of Chicago’s most in-demand neighborhoods such as River North, Gold Coast, and Streeterville. We’re starting to see individual condo owners and flippers complete luxury renovations on units in buildings that were built decades ago. Many of these buildings are in prime locations with some of the best views the city has to offer, however, many of the units have not been updated in years. Many small developers and individual buyers have realized this and have started completing some very high-end renovations. 180 Pearson, The Water Tower, is one building in particular that has seen many units very nicely renovated in recent years.

Why is Chicago a good place to work in real estate?

I feel like Chicago is the best of both worlds. We are a large world-class city, yet when compared to other cities such as NYC, LA, London, or Paris we are still very affordable. While the Chicago real estate market is very competitive it still is a fun market to work in. There are options for different budgets in many different neighborhoods. This means I get to work with all types of clients and it keeps each day interesting.

What tip should buyers/sellers keep in mind when working with an agent that they might not already know?

Be honest and express yourselves with your agent. I have had some clients express themselves and then quickly apologize as if they did something wrong. Nothing can be further from the truth. The more a client explains to me their concerns, their likes, and their dislikes the better I can help them. I always say I am here to work WITH you and that each transaction is a TEAM effort between everyone involved. The more open a buyer or seller is with his or her agent the better the transaction will go.

Do you utilize social media to enhance your business? If so, how?

To be honest, most of my business comes from my sphere of influence, referrals, repeat clients and networking. However, most buyers find their homes online so I spend a lot of time and money with online marketing. I am very targeted and strategic with ad placement, and every property needs a different level of digital exposure, but staying ahead of this online trend is what keeps me in the top 1% of all Brokers in Chicago.

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What advice would you give new agents?

No client is too small. No transaction is too small. Treat each client as if they are your only client. Many new brokers want to only work in the luxury market, but none of us started there. We all started in the same place, with no clients. If new agents can not only treat each client as if they were a multi-million dollar client, but also continue to stay in touch with them after the transaction they will have more referrals than they will know what to do with.