Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Saluting: Koenig & Strey's Art Collazo

Ninth in a series of profiles saluting Condo Superstars, agents who ranked in the Top 10 for selling the most Chicago condos in 2007.

Youngest of 10 Excels at Selling Rehabbed Condos

Name: Art Collazo. Brokerage: Koenig & Strey GMAC. Age: 40. Years as Agent: 15. Transaction Rank: 5 (199 sides). Dollar Rank: 6 ($58 million). Resale Volume: $16 million. Condos (of all business): 96%. Source of Statistics: Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), Chicago condos closed in 2007.

Ranking No. 5 on our Top 10 list of Condo Superstars is Art Collazo, an agent with Koenig & Strey GMAC Real Estate. Art also heads Collazo Group, a brokerage team of 11 agents and four non-agent staffers that he formed in 2002.

He also founded CG Development, which, in the past six years, has developed 40 of his own buildings, the largest of which has 88 units. CG accounts for 25% of his business and is currently building projects for four other developers.

In 2007 on the MLS, Art ranked No. 5 in condo transactions, with 199, and No. 6 in transaction volume, with $58 million. Of his sales, 96% were condos. Those transactions include sales by his team, for which he takes credit on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). He personally generates most of the new-construction business; his team handles most of the resale portion of his business.

As the statistics show, Art is primarily a listing agent specializing in serving as the exclusive marketing agent for new construction. Primarily, he works with developers to convert apartment complexes to condos. In dollar volume: 72% ($42 million) of his sales was new construction; 28% ($16 million) was resale. Of those sales, 81% ($53 million) was as listing agent, 9% ($5 million) was as buyer's agent.

Art notes that as much as 40% of his transactions isn't reflected in the MLS and that the numbers recorded by his brokerage, Koenig & Strey, show that his team's dollar volume in 2007 exceeded $100 million. (Other agents who specialize in new construction, also have significant transactions not reported on the MLS.)

Why aren't all transactions reflected in the MLS? According to Art, many transactions are inaccurately reported by the buyer's agent and others are never entered into the MLS because some developers don't want to record all of their sales on the MLS. Why? Because many buyers (family & friends, for example) buy at a significant discounts and developers don't want those prices to become part of the MLS records. (Actual sales prices are recorded by the County, but are more difficult to access.)

He focuses on what he calls up-and-coming neighborhoods: Bucktown, Wicker Park and Lakeview.

In a recent interview in his sprawling, loft-style office in a non-descript building at 1753 N. Damen, Art shared his story:

He was born in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, a few miles from his current office. His father was a maintenance worker for Appleton Electronics; his mother stayed home and raised the 10 kids, of which Art is the youngest.

Following graduation from Shurz High School, Art worked at various odd jobs for five years, then studied business at Northeastern University, while dabbling in real estate as a landlord.

After getting his license, Art worked at Coldwell Banker and The Habitat Company, before joining Koenig & Strey's Lincoln Park office in 1999. Since creating his own team in 2001, he has generated sales between $80 million and $100 million in sales annually.

When asked how he plans to improve his No. 5 ranking in 2008, Art responds that he is more interested in living a balanced life. He mentions the importance of spending quality time with wife and their three children, ages 6, 3 and 6 months. With pride, he notes that he takes the kids to school each day and has dinner with them each night.

To do so, he limits work to about 45 hours a week, half of what many of his competitors put in, and takes most weekends off. Comparing his team to the New York Yankees, he says: "I don't expect us to win the World Series every year, but I do want us to be the in the playoffs consistently."

Art believes the future of Chicago condos is "green." As noted in our previous post, he has teamed with George Sullivan of Eco Smart Building to build condos that meet the federal government's Energy Star requirements. As part of their effort, they recently launched, which lists truly "green" condos by various developers.

To demonstrate his commitment to green, Art sold his gas-guzzling, air-polluting Land Rover and bought a diesel-engine car that is more eco-friendly.

His advice to agents wanting to become Superstars: "Treat everyone equally. By that I mean, give the buyer of a hundred-thousand-dollar condo the same attention and service you give to buyer of a more expensive condo. Why? Because, if you treat him right, the buyer of the less-expensive condo will refer you to his boss, who will buy a million-dollar condo."

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