The Agents’ Little Black Book

by Chicago Agent

One of the unique things about the real estate industry is that one agent cannot do the job without help from others along the way. Agents work with dozens of different affiliates on a daily basis, from lenders to attorneys, and a variety of others in between. For this issue, we’re taking a look inside the “little black book” of a few of Chicagoland’s top Realtors to get an idea of who they can’t live without. Some of the affiliate names you may have heard before, while others might be brand new. Hang on to this guide for as long as necessary, because you never know when you might need a great landscaper in Westmont or a reliable insurance agent in Downers Grove, or another individual featured below.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
North Shore and Lake Forest

Stephanie Kearney, Lake Bluff and Felix Gonzalez, Chicago
Comments: Stephanie has an outstanding bedside manner and is knowledgeable. Felix is a great short sale specialist.

Susan Petrella, PHH Home Loans, Lake Forest and Bob Degan, Fifth Third Bank, Lake Forest
Comments: Susan is great because she is available 24/7.

Marcel’s Handyman Services, Chicago
Comments: Outstanding technicians that can do carpentry, electrical and plumbing

Title Company:
Burnett Title Corporation, Lake Forest/Northbrook

Bee Dazzled, Lake Forest

Don Bishop, Deerfield
Comments: Don’s a former CB agent who does both photography and address-specific Web sites. He’s my favorite because he seems to be available around the clock, 24/7.

IT Help:
Resolve Technology, Chicago and
Jae Lim, Chicago
Comments: Jae Lim is outstandingly concerned to resolve issues.

Motivational Trainer:
Lori Cox, NSBAR Trainer

EurDeco, Vernon Hills
Comments: Seems to always be available, great pricing, works long hours

Green Acres Landscaping, Vernon Hills
Comments: Does village of Lincolnshire lawn services and plantings

Signature Gardens (personal garden care), Deerfield
Comments: Cathy is a member of Botanic Gardens Staff and is available to maintain clients’ gardens.

Chubb & Sons, Downers Grove
Comments: Serves all of Chicagoland

Any other special person you can’t live without?
Pre-listing appraiser
Kurt Wessel
Comments: Experienced appraiser


Brush Hill Realtors

Amy Austin, Wintrust Mortgage, Downers Grove

Nathan Wendal, Downers Grove
Comments: I don’t think there’s anything that Nathan can’t do.

IT Help:
Jeff Norris, Montgomery

Motivational Trainer:
Tom Kelly, Darien

Mike, First Class Decorating, Burr Ridge

Karen, Coventry Gardeners, Westmont

Any other special person you can’t live without?
Hardware Store:
Holland Hardware, Hinsdale
Comments: Tucked away on an alley in the Village, this tiny store has been around for years. It’s a great place to get screens, etc., fixed to get a home ready for marketing. While showing a home to my clients, unbeknownst to us, their child had wandered and discovered a cherished ceramic bowl with a lid which was showcased in the kitchen and somehow managed to get the lid inside the bowl. There was no way we could get the lid out without breaking the bowl. I secretly took it to Bob at Holland’s and he magically managed to get the lid out. He saved the day!

Bill Barrett, Clarendon Hills
Comments: Some of the older homes in Hinsdale have the original locks on their doors. They are hard to open and many times you have to “jiggle” the key for minutes on end before you get the door to open. Bill is my “go-to” locksmith when I list one of these properties. He somehow manages to make keys to these old locks work like a charm.


Conlon: A Real Estate Company
Roscoe Village

Jennifer La Mell Goldstone, Chicago
Comments: Always responsive and keeps everyone involved in the transaction fully informed

Matt Tierney, Chicago
Comments: Knows which lenders can approve the loan and keep the deal together

Randy Shingledekker, Chicago
Comments: Randy can help with basic staging all the way through to interior designing. He understands his clients’ needs and works with their style, always opening their eyes to new options.

Ad designer:
Eric Cheeseman, Chicago
Comments: Meets deadlines and has real estate experience to create the right material for every listing and promotional campaign

Gretchen Wochner Conlon, Northbrook

V.H.T. Chicago
Comments: The best real estate photos and hosting available

Rob Sepulveda, Chicago
Comments: Rob brings properties and the surrounding streets to life with rich HD video. Buyers can revisit over and over and truly feel like they know the home inside out. A great resource for busy buyers that don’t have time to view every listing.

Motivational Trainer:
Brian Buffini
Comments: Shows you how to leverage your database with proven methods and systems. Great for new licensees and experienced agents looking to grow their business


Broker, ABR
REO Default Certified Professional
Naperville and West Suburbs

Edward Kusta Jr., Bolingbrook
Comments: His staff stays on top of everything and keeps me in the loop.

Terri Hanson, Old Second National Bank, Sugar Grove
Comments: Gets the job done!

Martin Gisler, Naperville
Comments: Can do anything! He’s honest, dependable and meticulous about his work.

Title Company:
First American Title, Naperville

Ryan Groharing, Naperville
Comments: Does awesome work at reasonable prices

Les Glowacz, Buyer’s Home Protection
Comments: He’s great with all buyers, but especially first-time homebuyers. He is very knowledgeable and willing to take the time to teach them everything they need to know about maintaining a home.


Baird & Warner
St. Charles

John Hoscheit, St. Charles
Comments: Always gets the job done, even when it seems impossible!

Dan Cowart, Baird & Warner Financial, St. Charles
Comments: Can perform “near” miracles, if allowed!

Jeff Walsma, House Wizard, Geneva
Comments: Can do just about everything and is not expensive. Very easygoing and goes above and beyond to make it work. he also deals with inspection issues.

Baird & Warner Title, Main office Chicago
Comments: Comes to all branch offices to close. Does a great job and agent does not have to travel to close!

Rachael Ormond, VHT, Aurora
Comments: Does magic with the camera. Makes home look more fabulous. Takes time and care in shooting. Also does portraits, color, black and white. She is a wonderful artist!

T.R.B Painting and Decorating, Batavia
Comments: Quality work with good prices. Nice to work with!

Green Side Up, South Elgin
Comments: Does all jobs, big and small: lawnscaping, lawn cutting, snow removal and trimming weedings. You name it, they do it!

Bobbi Boston, Country Insurance, St. Charles
Comments: Reliable, helpful, knowledgable and quick to help

Kevin Schulenberg, St. Charles
Tammi Marcozzi, Geneva
Comments: Invaluable assets, as I can call to ask questions regarding values when listing or buying. Fabulous people with all the answers. Not always the ones I want to hear, but correct, nevertheless!


Relocation Specialist
Prudential Rubloff

Thomas Meyer, Lake Bluff/Libertyville
Comments: Always available and easy to talk to

Linda Popp, Libertyville
Comments: Always available, very good at helping with problem loans, works quickly and money is always available at closing on time!

Craig Durghan, Lake County
Comments: Good with clients, very reliable

Judy Joyce, all Lake County and North Shore

Bill Hume, State Farm, Gurnee
Comments: Great rates and always available

Cuper Landscaping, Gurnee and surrounding areas

Scott Engstrom, all Lake County, North Shore and Chicago
Comments: Very nice, excellent in what he does, always available to fit me in his schedule.


North Shore

Andrew Werth, Evanston
Comments: So helpful in all circumstances. I know if Andrew is involved the road to closing and the closing will be smooth.

Guaranteed Rate and The Harris Bank
Guaranteed Rate has super brokers everywhere, The Harris Bank has many branches also, but I am most familiar with the Winnetka branch.
Comments: Guranteed Rate has come through with quick closes when needed. The Harris Bank Winnetka just performed superbly with a mortgage and construction loan. Not easy in today’s market.

Nick Ovington, Chicago, but works North Shore
Comments: Nick can do almost anything — painting, carpentry, light electrical and he always calls back right away.

Doris and Anne Ayres, the ReDesigners
Chicago, but they also work all of the North Shore
Comments: The best taste ever and really hard workers. Also very much fun!

John Stensberg, Wilshore Electric, Wilmette
Comments: John Stensberg and his team are the best around. Very responsive and reliable.

Nicole Serradimigni, VHT and freelance photographer, Rhonda Holcomb, Chicago and North Shore
Comments: Nicole takes beautiful shots of my listings. Rhonda takes beautful shots of me and everybody else and their kids and pets!

IT Help:
Karen Sanders, IT consulting, Chicago and North Shore
Comments: Karen knows everything and comes when you call.

Lek Velahesik, Chicago and North Shore
Comments: Precision work and someone you don’t mind having in your house for an extended period of time

The Chalet, Wilmette
Comments: I am talking design here and the best plants, not grass cutting

Jeff Woodman (Woodman, Cison & Assoc.), Chicago and North Shore
Comments: Does home, auto, renters and commercial insurance

Any other special person you can’t live without?
Chamber of Commerce
The Wilmette Chamber of Commerce, Nada Becker, executive director and Karen Dorman, membership director downtown Wilmette
Comments: The chamber provides great networking events and a wealth of knowledge about my village.


Real Estate Consultant
The Shenfeld Group, LLC.
Koenig & Strey Real Living
Lincoln Park

Mark Anderson, O’Hallaran Kosiff Geitner & Cook, LLC, Northbrook, but services the whole Chicagoland area
Comments: Mark is the most professional real estate attorney that I have ever worked with. He is extremely knowledgeable, responsive and very detail oriented, keeping both the client and agent informed.

Mary Markis, Perl Mortgage, Chicago and Michael Giganti of Home Services Lending, Chicago
Comments: Mary is very accessible and has gotten the job done when others can’t. Mary once even found a mortgage for the buyers of one of my listings after they were turned down by two PMI companies and had a full commitment in three days. Michael knows the mortgage industry inside and out.

Handyman / General Contractor:
Greg Golabek, Golabek Inventive Construction, INC
Chicago and surrounding suburbs
Comments: I have recommended and used Greg myself for simple repairs to complete bathroom remodels, single-family conversions and additions. Greg is very detailed oriented and his work really shows it.

Title Company:
Fort Dearborn Title, Servicing all of Illinois
Comments: When I am closing with Fort Dearborn Title I know that it will go smoothly and be free of any delays on the title company’s part.

Maria Tubay, Home Harmony, Chicago

Michael Sobel, Lamb, Little & Company, Chicago
Comments: Michael knows the insurance industry better than anyone I know. He is always looking out for his clients’ best interest and is always available to answer questions.

Motivational Trainer:
Brian Buffini, Buffini & Company, San Diego, California
Comments: Motivational speaker and coaching services

Fitzpatrick Painting & Decorating, Chicago
Comments: Best interior and exterior painters I have ever worked with – hands down

Any other special person you can’t live without?
Restoration Services
Scott Majeski, PuroClean Property Restoration Service, Chicago and surrounding Suburbs
Comments: PuroClean are the “paramedics of property damage”. They clean up and restore properties damaged from water, fire, mold and biohazards. They have helped me even with properties not damaged by doing demolition services and removing clutter from homes.


Orland Park

Gary Mazian, Orland Park
Comments: Reachable, great staff, solves problems and very responsive

Rich Wyrick, First Mortgage, Joliet
Comments: Specializes in reverse mortgage and originate loans

Title Company:
Therese, First Suburban, Orland Park
Comments: Knows what she is doing, good disposition, answers questions, keeps you in the loop

Margie Gregoria, Orland Park
Comments: Fair pricing, good work

IT Help:
Mark or Dave, B Practical IT Solutions, Mokena
Comments: Prices are reasonable, and they are prompt and know what they are doing

Johnny Zenkel, New Lenox
Comments: Clean, reasonable and skilled

Pat Murphy, Sate Farm, Mokena
Comments: Responsive, always there when you need him, never makes an issue out of small stuff

Any other special person you can’t live without?
Chimney Sweep
Rite-a-way, Orland Park
Comments: Prompt and good at diagnosing and fixing problems with chimney


Prudential First Realty
Crystal Lake

Innovative House Dressing, Northwest Suburbs
Comments: These ladies have become a big part of my listing presentations. I now include a free consultation with this gifted group in order to allow all of my future sellers the chance to take part in a service that was once reserved for only the “high-end” listings in the area. Staging has become not only a luxury, but a necessity in this extremely demanding market that is currently offering a record number of homes in our local inventory. You better be buttoned up and be ready to show!

Steve English, Crystal Lake
Comments: Steve English has been a licensed practicing attorney in the State of Illinois since 1987. His practice is primarily concentrated in commercial and residential real estate closings. During this time, he has been involved in over 9,000 real estate closings. He has been on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Association since 1999, and is a former, two-term member of the Illinois State Bar Association General Assembly. He is also a member of the McHenry County Bar Association and is the former head of its real estate section. He is a subscriber to the Illinois Bar Association Real Property Section and receives monthly updates, through the ISBA and IRELA, as to current changes in the real estate laws.

Home Inspector:
Michael Meyer, Michael Allen & Associates, Inc., Located in Cary, but handles Lake and McHenry Counties.
Comments: Michael A. Meyer is an ASHI Inspector who has met the rigorous requirements to be a provider of The ASHI Experience, a professional home inspection that combines the highest technical skills with superior customer service. Michael is an expert that does a professional job without “freaking out” potential buyers and will spend the time to thoroughly explain all of his findings.

IT Help:
Steve Garrity, Clik IT, Crystal Lake
Comments: Clik IT is an onsite computer services and products company that prides itself in enabling you to utilize your existing computer technology or help implement new technology.

Don Devine, State Farm Insurance, Crystal Lake
Comments: Don Devine has been a local State Farm Insurance agent located in Crystal Lake for over 16 years. He prides himself on the personal touch that has clearly defined Don as a leader in the complex insurance industry.

Title Company:
Fred Roediger, Heritage Title Company, Crystal Lake
Comments: A locally owned full-service title company that is also very active in the community with numerous fund-raising initiatives throughout the County. Fred and his staff are always ready and willing to answer any title questions, whether it is related to a current file or some sound advice when their expertise can be shared. Heritage Title is also becoming a leader in handling short sales throughout McHenry County.

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