Weinberg Choi Residential
Keller Williams ONEChicago
Years in business: 14
Size: 3 offices, 450 agents
Regions Served: Downtown Chicago
2020 Sales Volume: $84 million
2020 Transaction Volume: 151 units
A local Chicagoan, Tommy Choi’s first job out of college was in IT healthcare sales, where he made hundreds of cold calls a day. While he did well financially, he was miserable—and that’s what led him to a real estate career.
Born out of the desire to do something different and get “face to face” with people, Choi turned to real estate. Drawing inspiration from his immigrant grandfather who taught him that one had to work hard to own their home, Choi saw real estate as a way to both honor his heritage and help others achieve this important life goal.
An RISMedia 2021 Newsmaker, Choi is owner and co-founder of the Weinberg Choi Residential team and owner of the Keller Williams ONEChicago network.
How has your market been impacted by the pandemic?
Tommy Choi: I primarily work in the downtown Chicago market and the more densely populated high-rise neighborhoods, like River North, the Gold Coast, Streeterville and the South Loop. COVID has affected them significantly in the sense that at one point last summer, there was about 17 months of supply. Granted, some of that is new construction, but even without that, you had a year of inventory. During the height of COVID, amenities like swimming pools and gyms inside buildings were mostly closed. Those neighborhoods are the heart of the city’s culture—dining, shopping and nightlife—and none of that was open. A lot of those people wanted a change of scenery.
Have there been any positive effects in the market?
TC: Yes—on the flip side, COVID positively impacted the detached, single-family luxury market in Chicago. People wanted more space inside as well as more outdoor space, so that market really thrived.
How has all this affected your strategy for 2021 and beyond?
TC: Nothing has really changed. Even last year with shelter-in-place orders in effect, we were still a highly relationship-based business. We are continuing to provide more value for our clients. That means educating them on what the market looks like. We are in constant communication with our clients and are very transparent on what the market looks like and how it affects what they want to do.
What makes someone a good team member?
TC: Whether they are new to the industry or come with experience, team members need to be willing to learn and adapt. Even when we see success, we’re constantly asking ourselves why we do things the way we do. We look for better ways to do things to better ourselves.
How important is technology to your success?
TC: We look at tech as a way to help us be more efficient and more effective. We still have to pick up the hammer and know where that nail is and know where to strike. At the end of the day, tech is important to help you do what you do, but I never look at it as something to replace what I do.
Please share a great piece of advice someone has given you.
TC: One of my mentors owned the oldest T-shirt printing business on Chicago’s North Side, and one thing he told me was to put your blinders on and focus on your path. Don’t worry about who’s driving by you or who has passed you…just focus on your journey and where you’re going. That’s a great piece of advice for this industry.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.