Real estate was never part of the plan. Ivonne Payes, now co-owner of RE/MAX American Dream, intended to become a lawyer but changed her mind after working for a real estate attorney and falling in love with the industry. But that was not her only motivation.
“I saw how my parents struggled to buy their first property,” she says. “No one wanted to help them, because they didn’t have a lot of money. Their lack of education about the real estate industry and mortgage loans led them to financial burdens, which bankrupted the family.” As a result, she vowed to become the best Realtor in the market, stop injustice toward the Hispanic community and help clients make educated decisions.
Nicknamed the “Queen Bee of Lake County” by her peers, Payes is widely assumed to have grown up there. People are surprised when they find out she’s originally from Evanston. Payes moved to Lake County at age 17 and had difficulty transitioning from city to suburban life. “That change made me become the businesswoman I am today,” she says. “I studied hard to excel and finish regular high school and college courses at a young age, to start working sooner than everyone else.”
Payes specializes in first-time buyers and sellers, investing, and distressed properties. She has formed great friendships with clients and now has agents on her team who became Realtors because they were inspired by her work ethic.
At 33, Payes is the youngest president of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and is also a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors Northwest. For her team’s volume, she has received RE/MAX’s 2020 Chairman’s Club award, and for five consecutive years, NAHREP has ranked her team one of the top 50 Latino teams in America.
Family is most important to Payes. To thank her parents for always inspiring and supporting her, she gave them an early retirement, something she had always dreamed of doing.