What was your first job in the realty industry? I began my career at Coldwell Banker in 2014, after resigning from the financial industry as a top 1 percent banker. I was awarded “Rookie of the Year” for the entire North Shore region during my first year in real estate.
Where did you grow up? The majority of my upbringing was abroad in the progressive city of Lahore in South Asia. I moved to Chicago in 2007 to attend college, and have since pursued the American Dream!
What do you do to relax when you’re stressed? Real estate can be a very stressful industry, and while we are always on the go, sometimes a nice, long drive to nowhere in particular helps me keep my sanity. Just turn on your favorite song, take the scenic route, and clear your head during the limited time you have before your next phone call comes chiming in!
Growing up, what did you want to be? An architect. I’ve always had a curiosity for exploring new countries, and it’s the architecture that has most drawn me in. I especially enjoy seeing the new and the old, the historic and the contemporary; as another passion of mine, I love capturing the uniqueness of each structure.
If you could have lunch with a well-known figure (living or not), who would it be and why? Nothing or no one says “entrepreneur” better than Ray Kroc.
Where is your favorite place to hang out? Most people might say “my office,” because I’m there so often! Chicago has so much to offer — live music, amazing food, and great people – so wherever there’s an energetic crowd and atmosphere, you’ll find me there.
What do you love most about the industry? The art of negotiation and deal making. In the words of Chester Karrass, “In business, as in life, you don’t get what you deserve – you get what you negotiate.”
How do you distinguish yourself from the crowd of agents? My trademark, the pocket square. I always have one on. I have a collection of more than 200.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job? Work/life balance. As we know, the industry is a 24/7 commitment, especially with it turning into a global market – there is no time off and with varying time zones and international clientele, there is no wrong time to have a client call. While it’s difficult, it’s important to separate the two.
Where do you go to network and meet new clients? I’m very social and think that any interaction can lead to a great networking opportunity. I attend events at the local Chamber of Commerce often, referral exchange groups and I am currently in the process of creating our own YPN for the North Shore market.
What has been your greatest accomplishment? My greatest accomplished has been to fulfill my longstanding ambition to become an entrepreneur. I’ve leveraged my real estate knowledge and skills to build a $35 million book of business while opening and establishing my own real estate brokerage within the third year of my career. “If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.” –Ray Kroc.
What was the last good movie you saw or book you read? “The Revenant” and “The Inevitable” by Kevin Kelly.
What is your favorite restaurant? Bavette’s – it’s good for any occasion, from dining with friends and family to clients.
Architecturally speaking, what is your favorite building in Chicago? The Frederick Robie House. It’s uniquely American and reminiscent of the two Frank Lloyd Wright listings I currently have under contract.
What kind of car do you drive? A Cadillac CTS Coupe – traditional luxury with modern elegance!
Smartphone or paper? Smartphone, of course! Although I always have a running journal on me, I prefer the convenience of having everything at the tip of my fingers – my documents, my contacts, important correspondence in addition to the ability to call and text my clients!
What is your favorite city after Chicago? Cartagena, Colombia. I instantly fell in love with its people, lush plazas, street art, vendors and history. The city is contained in two small, impeccably photogenic neighborhoods: the old walled city and the rising barrio Getsemanī.
In 10 words or less, what is your advice for someone new to the industry? “Write a solid business plan and set big goals” or just “Call Rafay Qamar!”
What’s your favorite real estate iPhone/Android app? Zillow’s Mortgage app
Who are your favorite people to follow on Twitter? @TedCoine, @RichardBranson, @robdelaney @RyanSerhant and of course @ChicagoAgentMag