Housing slump hastened firm’s growth
Thaddeus Wong talks with Talia Pines at @Properties grand opening of their 9th location in downtown Highland Park on Tuesday, Aug. 28. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Specialty: Residential real estate brokerage
Location: 607 Central Ave., Highland Park
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.
Contact: www.atproperties.com; (847) 432-0700
Updated: October 18, 2012 5:10PM
HIGHLAND PARK — An economic downturn, particularly one that slows real estate sales to a crawl, might seem an odd time to be opening up new brokerage offices.
But the debut Aug. 28 of a new @properties presence in downtown Highland Park marked the firm’s fourth North Shore opening in as many years.
The office at 607 Central Ave. is the firm’s ninth location overall.
“When a lot of companies were downsizing, cutting staff and closing offices, that is when we started to grow into the North Shore,” said Thaddeus Wong, who co-founded the firm 12 years ago with Michael Golden. The company — which started in Chicago’s trendy neighborhoods like River North, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast and Bucktown — didn’t make its first move outside the city until four years ago.
“In the fall of 2009, we opened up Evanston, which was really at the bottom of the market,” said Wong. A Winnetka office was opened in the fall of 2010, followed by a Lake Forest location in 2011.
Wong noted that when sales were brisk, there wasn’t much reason to compete. But as more established firms cut back on promotion during the slump, @properties took a different tact.
“That was in complete contrast to what needed to be done during the downturn,” said Wong. “If anything, the listings at that point needed to be more robustly marketed.”
So with little name recognition yet in the northern suburbs, the newer company was able to attract agents. As agents jumped ship, sellers followed.
“We didn’t gain in market share because we were cheaper,” he said. “In reality, we had 40 agents come over because we provided a stronger infrastructure in advertising, marketing and promotion.”
Though the firm’s name might suggest an online venture, @properties makes extensive use of print advertising as well as syndicated real estate websites.
“We are not a virtual company, and we do not feel like this business is a virtual business,” said Golden.
The firm says it already ranks second in Highland Park sales by volume, with 18 percent of market share.