Frazzled but focused: A day in the life of a real estate agent

Baird & Warner's Stephanie LoVerde contends with rising mortgage interest rates, low inventory, and a lot of traffic

“In the last year, in 2022, there has just been extra layers of emotion. I guess that is the way to say it. It is just a lot of emotional management.”

Stephanie LoVerde is speaking on the front steps of a home in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood that she is about to put on the market. LoVerde is a real estate agent for Baird & Warner, which is a Chicago-based brokerage founded in 1855. She has been an agent at either Baird & Warner or Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty since 2013.

LoVerde is an accomplished agent. Some of her previous sales volume is displayed on LinkedIn: $24.4 million sales in 2020, $21.7 million in sales in 2019. LoVerde did around 80 deals in 2021, she said, good for $40 million in sales volume. The average agent, according to a National Association of Realtors member survey, completes 10 sales per year.  

She is part of the 6% agents nationally with a graduate degree, according to a NAR member survey, receiving a master’s in counseling in 2013.

But LoVerde is no Ryan Serhant or Mauricio Umansky, agents to wealthy clients appearing on reality TV. LoVerde and her clients are affected by the national housing inventory crisis, even as Chicago has not quite suffered the housing shortages and skyrocketing prices of other metropolises.

In fact, the veteran agent felt vexed and stressed by rising mortgage interest rates, and a possible economic downturn.

“I have just been frazzled,” she admitted over text last week. “Rates are causing panic.”

RealTrends spent a day with LoVerde in the middle of June just as the market was turning. The day was a veritable travelogue of Chicagoland, particularly for LoVerde, a resident of Park Ridge in the northwest suburbs.


Lincolnwood is a straight shot on Lincolnwood Avenue from Chicago’s Lincoln Square (not everything in Chicago is named after Abraham Lincoln, just most things) that traverses through pretty town houses, auto body shops, cut rate hotels and a gaudy miniature golf course.

It was late morning and LoVerde was inside cleaning the 91-year-old, 2,815-square-foot home on the pleasant and exceedingly quiet street Sauganash Avenue.

“An elderly man who lives there, he lost his wife, and now there’s just too much house,” LoVerde said.

As the father moved down to Florida, the father’s daughter got involved and is working with LoVerde.

As LoVerde cleans and attempts to explain how she came to list this house, her phone buzzes with a question from a counterpart agent on a home about to close.

“I hate the stress,” she said, while displaying a dense document with written and e-signed information on her tiny phone screen. “I mean, obviously, no one, likes the stress but, yeah, I hate to schedule last minute-stuff.”

“And then people are always like, ‘oh, this is time sensitive.’ It’s like, well, what isn’t? Right?”

LoVerde is now putting out an assortment of potted plants that she carries in her Jeep from home to listed home. She is getting the place ready not yet for potential buyers, but a professional photographer.

The photographer, Jim, was scheduled through a pay-per-service app run by Baird & Warner that looks and operates similar to Task Rabbit. Agents are connected to photographers, cleaners, furniture movers, and whatever other assistance they need.

LoVerde spoke effusively of Baird & Warner, and Stephen Baird, the brokerage’s president since 1991.

“He is a really smart dude. And his big thing is, like, ‘I want my agents to also have a life.’”

At the start of the pandemic, LoVerde returned to Baird & Warner – the perpetual no. 2 in Chicago brokerage (@properties is #1) after a stint as vice president of sales at a regional Sotheby’s.

“Agents are so transient,” she said – the average agent spends five years a time at their firm, per NAR. “But I don’t want to be a jumper.”

As Jim snaps photographs, LoVerde – a nervous person, by her own admission – deals with a million moving parts. Where does the home’s backyard end and the neighbor’s backyard begin? (“I think the land line is that tree over to the side?” LoVerde asked.)

There is an elevator from the mid-20th century in the house. Is it safe? Should pictures be taken of that?

What is the local high school, here? Can she say this house is in the somewhat more affluent Sauganash neighborhood? LoVerde converses while picking up animal feathers floating down to the ground from a taxidermy animal.

With the pictures taken, LoVerde will now the list the home on the Midwest Real Estate Data multiple listings service. But not until next Thursday, the day of the week she always lists homes.

“By Thursday,” LoVerde noted. “I am kind of thinking. What am I going to do this weekend? Are we going to go to brunch? So, it is when people start planning, and people could start planning to see a home.”


“The people we are meeting here,” LoVerde said in front of a three-story home on Central Avenue in the North Shore suburb of Wilmette. “They have already made two offers for homes, for $1.1 million and $1.2 million. They have a strong down payment. They are working with a lender. And they are losing to cash.”

“They are smart people, and it’s been tough,” LoVerde said.

As the day progresses, LoVerde, already disarming and to the point, discusses the fine line between caring for her clients and getting too involved.

“You have to genuinely care,” LoVerde said. “There are a lot of people who don’t and it’s super obvious.”

As LoVerde is talking, the seller’s agent from Berkshire Hathaway shows up.

The home in question is neither listed on the Midwest Real Estate MLS, per se, nor is it a “pocket listing,” which is unlawful by NAR guidelines. Instead, it was one of the Chicago area homes on the “Private listings network,” a nebulous number of homes that listing agent’s post on the MLS to other agents but have yet to meet MLS listing requirements. Like pictures.

“I asked for photos, and they didn’t have them. My clients have zero idea what they are looking at.”

LoVerde and the agent make small talk, until LoVerde’s clients, a couple in their mid-30s with the woman in the early stages of pregnancy, appear.

Both prospective buyers appear pensive. It is obvious from the start they are underwhelmed by the house and irritated by having to drive an hour from the Wicker Park neighborhood to view it.

Prices in Wilmette are high largely because of the local school district’s reputation. But this particular home seems a reach at over $1 million. The roof has leaks, and while the home advertised a fireplace, said fireplace has not been used since literally 1987, the listing agent acknowledged.

Dismayed, the husband does not even bother to climb the stairs and look at the 2nd floor. LoVerde and the wife huddle and discuss their disappointment.

After a polite but firm exit, LoVerde counsels the couple for 10 minutes.

LoVerde clearly feels bad. And now she has to drive in rush hour traffic to the city.

Logan Square

It is 5:00 p.m. on a sunny, humid Chicago day and LoVerde has yet to stop for food.

“It can be hard to stay healthy,” LoVerde said. “There is a lot of drive-throughs.”

Maintaining close friendships and even romantic relationships can also be difficult. Real estate is on the list of professions – entertainment, emergency medical care – that is not just a 9-to-5 job, but an obligation where one must be on call.

“This part, I love, just getting to know people,” LoVerde said. She doesn’t love being unable to turn off the nervousness.

After crawling down Western Avenue start-and-stop driving, LoVerde stands in front of a recently built condo complex in the Logan Square neighborhood, ground zero for post-Great Recession Chicago condo development.

LoVerde’s clients, a couple moving from Atlanta, meet her and the listing agent in front of the complex. The couple has signed the contract to buy a unit in the complex. This is the “walk-through” before the listing agent hands over the keys.

A quirk is that one of the two buyers has not viewed the condo. The husband-to-be (the couple is engaged to be married) is quiet. He facetiously announces the condo looks awful. Somewhat more seriously, he speaks with the listing agent about Atlanta golf courses and envisions a place to put the condo’s TV.

The couple seems ready to settle down. “We sold our house in Atlanta in March and have been staying in Airbnb’s since looking for a place,” the wife-to-be explained. They both work remotely for the same company and wanted to move to Chicago because of its public transportation.

For 30 minutes, the respective agents and couples mix small talk – more on Atlanta area golf, various tourist destinations, places to eat nearby – with 11th hour discussions about the security of the windows, what switch goes to which light, and whether a cleaner can come down before tomorrow.

Eventually, the walk through is complete. LoVerde is free to celebrate with the couple, check for more messages, prepare for tomorrow’s meetings, and drive 44 minutes back to Park Ridge.