The Top Players in Chicago Real Estate: Debra Dobbs

The ‘House Whisperer’ discusses her professional journey and Chicago’s fascinating real estate market.

Chicago realtor Debra Dobbs brings over 34 years of professional experience to her role at @Properties. Her passion for helping people find and secure their dream homes has led to the coining of her nickname, “The House Whisperer.” Chicago has clearly taken notice of her hard work and indisputable talent, as Dobbs has received many accolades over the course of her career.

ESTATENVY connected with Dobbs to get the scoop on her professional background, advice for new realtors and which Chicago neighborhoods to watch in 2018.

How did you get started in real estate?

In 1984 I sold Baci Gelateria–Chicago’s first gelato shop–and began working on a loft conversion project in the West Loop neighborhood. No computers, no cell phones, the West Loop was the wild west. I learned about construction, design, and developed a passion for Chicago and its amazing neighborhoods.

What trends do you see in the market right now?

Location is a driving force. I also see pushback to automation and an awakening to the truth behind ‘a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing’. I think buyers and sellers are learning that informed knowledge is power, and looking to their agent for insider expertise.

Why is Chicago a good place to work in real estate?  

Chicago offers a vast array of neighborhoods, property types and price points. This city is an exciting place for anyone in the real estate world. The employment opportunities in Chicago are strong and housing is affordable. Then there is also the sheer beauty of Chicago as a place to live. I see exciting times ahead and the possibilities for growth are unlimited.

What's the hottest neighborhood in Chicago, or the Chicago suburbs right now?

I’m a city girl so it’s best to stick with what I know. I do not think there is one ‘hot’ neighborhood given we have 77 core neighborhoods in Chicago and over 200 sub-neighborhoods. Feet to the fire, I think the west border of Lincoln Park is a value proposition given the certain development of the Finkl Steel property and surrounding land to be developed. Dunning, located on the northwest side of Chicago, is another hot ‘hood.

What tip should buyers/sellers keep in mind when working with an agent that they might not already know?

Knowledge and expertise matter but integrity matters more. An agent can learn a neighborhood or how to write an offer but do they have your best interests at heart. Is the deal today worth more than a lifetime relationship? Work with someone that you trust is going to be your fierce advocate.

Who is your real estate idol?

Michael Pickering, the real estate developer for whom I worked back in the early 1980’s. Smart, savvy, quirky and passionate about Chicago and developing neighborhoods. I recall Michael grabbing our small team working in the ‘outpost’ that was the West Loop and driving to west Humboldt Park, or Lawndale or South Deering for what he called a neighborhood adventure, and lunch was always involved. He instilled in me a curiosity to explore every corner of the city, a sense of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ and a passion to learn what ‘home’ means at a personal level.

Do you utilize social media to enhance your business? If so, how?

I do use social media but in a manner that allows people to learn about me on a personal level versus an outlet to talk about what I list or sell.

Connect with Debra on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

What advice would you give new agents?

Find a mentor. Ask questions. Work hard. Become known as an agent that other agents trust and want to work with.