In the words of founder Buzz Ruttenberg, asking himself a simple question – “what is the right thing to do?” – has led his company, residential developer Belgravia Group, to a legacy of success, quality construction and lasting customer satisfaction. And in the company’s latest venture, Ruttenberg believes it is the right thing to expand Belgravia’s services beyond the homes they build to the larger Chicago market.
In the next few months, Belgravia Realty Group, a new extension of Belgravia that sells properties outside its own developments, will open a branch office in Streeterville. Liz Brooks, vice president of sales and marketing of Belgravia, will also act as the managing broker of the new branch. The downtown choice in location and concerted interest of client referrals seemed to be right inline with Belgravia’s company motto.
“It is exciting and appropriate that we expand our general brokerage within the same neighborhood as two of our most successful developments,” Brooks says, referring to the new construction development 600 Lake Shore Drive and the 195-unit condominium at 530 Lake Shore Drive. “Over the years, many of our buyers have asked us to assist them with the sale of their Belgravia-built home and to provide guidance and expertise for all of their real estate needs here in the city. They have referred their colleagues, friends and family to Belgravia Realty Group, as well.”
Belgravia, which specializes in Chicago’s downtown neighborhoods, was founded in 1947. With just over 65 years in the business, the brokerage has weathered many booms and busts and housing cycles. In more recent times, Belgravia managed to maintain its footing by focusing on what buyers want and recognizing the nuances of local trends.
“Our recent developments, CA Condos on Adams in the West Loop and Montana Row in Lincoln Park, reflect our ability to identify niches and develop product that resonates with the market,” Brooks says. “Now more than ever, clients understand the importance of working with professional and knowledgeable brokers who are experienced and understand the dynamics of the market.”
Belgravia Realty Group has been in place for a number of years working with in-house developments, but the grand opening of the new branch is an official launch into working with clients in a broader capacity, Brooks says – assisting buyers, sellers and investors with properties throughout the city. In order to do so, the group plans to start with an initial team of 10 to 15 full-time resale agents operating out of the new Streeterville office, and the company is actively recruiting agents. With Ruttenberg’s question of “what is the right thing to do?” in mind, Belgravia Realty Group is looking for agents who are aligned with the company’s vision and value of customer satisfaction, and who know the market very well.
Brooks isn’t interested in becoming the biggest brokerage in town; her intentions lie more with quality over quantity. “Our goal is not to grow by recruiting the largest number of brokers,” she says. “We believe smaller is better. We are committed to establishing and maintaining solid relationships with our clients by providing them with a full range of expertise and service, insuring a seamless experience from start to finish.”
The company is being very selective in who they choose to represent the Belgravia brand. It is important to Brooks to assemble the right team, as they are building upon deep-seated roots with developers, brokerages and a client base that stretches throughout the city, and she expects the majority of new business to result from happy customers referring their acquaintances and circles of influence. That is why the vision for Belgravia Realty Group is not focused on growth, but on customer satisfaction. If you have that, Brooks says, “growth takes care of itself.”
Belgravia Realty Group’s recently launched website features a comprehensive property search, as well as information, photos and listings for Belgravia residences and partner developments. When asked about the advantages of having the two coinciding Belgravia branches, Brooks explains, “It’s a natural fit in that Belgravia Realty Group complements our development business and blends well with our affiliated companies. Belgravia Realty Group benefits from Belgravia’s reputation and brand recognition in the city of Chicago and a customer base that wants to work with us time and time again.”
As for Ruttenberg, he knows this move into general brokerage is the right thing to do. “It’s another opportunity to be of service to our clients, (which is) a natural transition for us,” Brooks says.