Your Guide to Everything Real Estate

Are you in the market for a new home? These two real estate firms are ready to help you find the property you’ve always dreamed of.

The team at Baird & Warner handles every step of the buying and selling process, including financing, property management and title services. (Edward Sloka Photography/Baird & Warner photo)

Baird & Warner: Making Real Estate Sales Easier

Baird & Warner has been lending a helping hand to homebuyers and sellers in the Chicago area for 164 years, and it’s a tradition Don Prigge wants to see continue for generations to come.

“I think our longevity and our reputation of being fair and honest go hand-in-hand,” says Prigge, managing broker at Baird & Warner’s Crystal Lake office. “Longevity is something that has value for the public because they know we’ll be here tomorrow.”

Working out of 29 offices around the Chicago area, Baird & Warner’s team provides expert service through every step of the selling and buying process. In addition to managing sales, the firm can also handle financing options, relocation services, property management, rentals and title services.

“There really isn’t a service that we don’t provide, because we cover every aspect of the real estate business,” Prigge says. “We’re trying to create a one-stop shop for people, so they don’t have to search for other sources to complete their transaction.”

Last year was a busy time for area real estate agencies, including Baird & Warner, which reached $9.2 billion in sales on more than 33,000 transactions. The firm hired nearly 500 new and experienced broker associates around Chicago and was named a Top Workplace in real estate by the Chicago Tribune for the seventh straight year.

All of this activity means the real estate market continues to tilt in the seller’s favor. It’s not unusual for multiple offers to come in on a property.

“Sometimes, buyers are not getting the house they bid on,” Prigge says. “There are times when they have to see a number of homes, and they have to put in a number of bids on properties in order to get one.”

Add in a more restricted supply, and it’s a lot harder these days for a buyer to acquire “the perfect” property – but it’s not impossible. Market conditions in real estate are constantly changing, so agents have to stay on top of the latest trends – something Baird & Warner’s team is uniquely equipped to handle.

“We have marketers, tax assessors, appraisers and people from other fields come in and train our agents,” Prigge says. “In essence, we have to be teachers because our job is to teach sellers what it takes to sell in today’s market and teach the buyers how to buy in today’s market. In order to get a property through the buying and selling process, and to a successful closing, it takes successful, trained agents – and that’s what we have.”

The optimal result of every sale, says Prigge, is loyal customers who will spread the word-of-mouth.

“I want people to rave about the great service they received, and our job is to handle all of the details for them so they can go on with their life and go on with their job and not worry about the real estate end of things,” Prigge says. “I think we accomplish that on a daily basis.”

Since 1923, Gambino Realtors has helped people to buy and sell their homes in the greater Rockford area and beyond. (Gambino Realtors photo)

Gambino Realtors: Agents Drive this Real Estate Firm

The nearly 100 agents on staff at Gambino Realtors are the heartbeat of this real estate company.

“When a Gambino agent does an excellent job, word gets around the area,” says Jonathan Krause, president of Gambino Realtors, in Rockford. “The quality of services they perform each day has allowed our company to do well. Our success is tied to the success of those agents, and without them, there is no real estate company.”

Started in 1923, Gambino Realtors is currently one of the oldest and largest real estate firms based in the greater Rockford area. Its agents also work well outside of Winnebago County.

To make sure the firm’s agents remain at the top of their game, Krause tries to hand them all of the tools they need.

“I try to provide all of the support, branding and name recognition I can, so when an agent is out in the public and someone sees the Gambino name, they know instantly what it is, and what that agent does for a living,” he says. “Hopefully, our name has a good reputation, which also helps the agent to succeed. The agents are very skilled, and they’re able to take care of a problem before it becomes a bigger problem, so all you have to do is just pack and move.”

Buying or selling a home can be an overwhelming and sometimes stressful task, but getting customers through the experience with some enjoyment is a major pursuit for Gambino, which handles both residential and commercial real estate transactions.

“It takes about 30 to 45 days to purchase a house, and along the way, you might come across challenges with financing, challenges with home inspections and other details that need to be attended to,” Krause says. “We go the extra mile by making sure our customers don’t have to worry about those details.”

Over the years, the firm has separated itself from competitors by focusing on hiring quality talent and investing in customer service. Instead of taking a laundry list of square footage needs and other requests from homebuyers, Gambino agents take a deeper look into the client’s specific needs and wants. This strategy, Krause says, gives an agent more to work with.

“There are times when a buyer will tell us they only want a ranch-style house,” Krause says. “We’ll talk to them and ask for their vision, or why they’re only looking for a ranch. Through discussion and our expertise, we might be able to show them another style of home that they never even considered. Instead of getting the hard facts about a house, we try to figure out why someone is looking for a particular home.”

The company has also staked a competitive advantage on the fact that it’s locally owned and operated, unlike some competitors that are part of a national organization.

“Other companies may have affiliations with franchises that are owned by someone else in another part of the country,” Krause says. “Those funds leave the marketplace, and they leave our area.”

Krause encourages anyone looking to sustain business success or get an idea off the ground to keep things simple.

“If you perform whatever service or product that you have to the very best of your ability, and you market it to the target audience, you’ll be fine,” he says. “It’s worked for us because we have the best agents, and we market like no one else.”

Krause says he’s proud of the work Gambino has done over the years, and he expects the firm’s success to continue.

“People can definitely trust us when it comes to buying a house,” Krause says. “We wouldn’t be selling as many homes if we didn’t provide excellent service. We would’ve been out of business decades ago. We have the best Realtors in the business, with excellent results, and the testimonials they receive is evidence of that.”