Kelly Carlson Real Estate Advisor, Engel & Völkers Chicago

What was your most interesting job before going into real estate?
I was a project management consultant for a boutique firm that helped institutional and nonprofit clients execute their design and construction projects. I was on the team for the renovation and expansion of the Arkansas Arts Center, and I helped Shirley Ryan AbilityLab build two outpatient clinics and expand their HQ in Streeterville.

Where did you grow up?
Clarendon Hills, Ill.

Growing up, what did you want to be?
A dolphin trainer … lol.

What do you do to relax when you’re stressed?
Yoga. I obtained my 200-hour certification back in 2019 as a way to deepen my practice. It has truly changed the way I think and act.

If you could meet any well-known figure (living or not), who would it be and why?
Anne Frank. I would love to learn from someone who had so much hope and optimism despite such difficult circumstances. I was obsessed with her diary when I was younger.

What is Chicago’s best-kept secret?
The quiet streets of River North, west of Orleans. A few years ago, my husband and I moved into our condo, which is steps from Montgomery Ward Park. Prior to our search, we had no idea that part of the city existed! It is full of trees, a hilly park (where people host picnics and birthday parties on the weekends), and you can watch the architecture boat tours sail by.

What do you love most about the industry?
That every day is different. A Monday morning can be as good as a Friday afternoon.

How do you distinguish yourself from the crowd of agents?
My previous career and my thoughtfulness. I worked for a Big Four consulting firm, then a boutique consulting firm, prior to switching into real estate. Although it can surprise people when I share that I’m a real estate broker, I truly believe those roles allowed me to develop technical and client service skills that differentiate me from other agents. I treat my clients with the same professionalism and level of care that I did working for large corporate and nonprofit clients.

Being thoughtful and in sync with your clients is also really important. In residential sales, you are helping people go through the major life decision of buying a new home or saying goodbye to an old one. There are a lot of emotions that come with that, and I try to put myself in their shoes every step of the way to help guide what is truly the best outcome for them.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
Delivering difficult news to a client or another agent. As an advisor, I feel that it is my role to hold space for my clients in those high-stress and emotional times in the process. But it never gets easier!

What’s your best advice for generating new leads?
Work so hard to give your clients a top-notch experience. Getting a referral from a past client is the most qualified lead you will get.

What has been your greatest accomplishment?
Having the courage to leave my steady job in 2020. It felt like a huge risk at the time, and I still have days where I think back to myself, “How did I manage to do that?” But I have zero regrets and am grateful for all of the adventure that have come along with starting a new career. I was honored to be awarded Engel & Völkers Chicago’s 2021 Rookie of the Year back in April.

What are you binge-watching/reading/listening to lately?
Binge-watching: “The Flight Attendant.” Reading: “A Court of Thorns and Roses.” Listening: “On Purpose with Jay Shetty.”

What’s your favorite meal in Chicago?
A summer dinner at Erie Cafe on the patio that overlooks the river — any type of pasta with a glass of dry white wine. Followed by a trip to Jeni’s.

Architecturally speaking, what is your favorite building in Chicago?
The Great Hall at Union Station. (It’s where my wedding photos were taken!)

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you on the job?
Weirdest … more like coolest. I met the producer of “The Incredibles” at an open house I was hosting!

What’s one thing people are surprised to learn about you?
I studied civil engineering in college at the University of Illinois.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
St. Pete Beach, Fla. Although I have been lucky to travel abroad many times, St. Pete Beach has a special place in my heart. It’s where I vacationed as a kid, and my family still travels down there a few times a year.

In 10 words or less, what is your advice for someone new to the industry?
Be kind to yourself and lean on others for advice.

What’s your favorite real estate iPhone/Android app?
Not an app, but I’m constantly plugged into the mobile version of MRED!

Who are your favorite people to follow on social media?
Architectural Digest, Apartment Therapy, Jay Shetty, Cameron Rogers, Rachel Mansfield (so many good recipes!) and Make My Mocktails.

Read More Related to This Post

Join the conversation

New Subscribe

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.