Taught by the best in the industry, Karen Peterson began her realty career 32 years ago, working alongside developers in up-and-coming Chicago neighborhoods who focused on transforming small to mid-sized storage or factory buildings into loft condominiums.
At the time, there was a plethora of opportunities. “The end product allowed me to assist the developer and client on all facets of the project, including layout design, style and finish choices,” says Peterson, a luxury broker with @properties, a Chicago Association of Realtors Top Producer and multi-year recipient of Coldwell Banker’s prestigious President’s Elite award.
Ultimately, the knowledge she gained of construction and the building process has benefited the range of clients she works with, from those buying their first home to homeowners looking to sell their current home and purchase a new space to renovate and make their own.
“I love what I do,” she says. “My skill is my knowledge and the ability to share it with my clients is gratifying, and in turn, makes me happy.” Her client base has always been word of mouth, referrals from clients going back to 1986, when she first started in the industry. “I educate and inform clients of all the upsides and potential pitfalls of each potential purchase,” she says. “They know they can trust me and I will not steer them wrong.”
Recently, Peterson took on a large home that needed to updated in order to make it attractive to a larger clientele base. The seller had already relocated out of state and the home was vacant. “I oversaw and facilitated the transformation of the entire home including fixtures, paint, flooring, countertops and a totally new master bath,” she says. “All of the systems, including the HVAC, radiant heat and fire protection needed to be fully operable and tested.” After the work was completed, she used her expertise to decorate and furnish the house to make it a home. “It wasn’t my largest sale, but it was the most gratifying,” she says. Peterson also owned a resale furniture consignment store in Lincoln Park, appropriately named Stuff, which was hugely successful and a tremendous resource for her clients whether selling or buying properties.
To give back, she supports women’s shelters, as well as equine and other no-kill animal organizations. In her free time, she spends time with her beloved horse, Hamish.