AgentReal estate teams

Top Team Leader Matt Laricy on the winner’s mentality

Laricy’s Chicago-based team closed 529 transaction sides in 2022

Matt Laricy was born into the real estate industry. But despite being a third-generation agent, Laricy faced plenty of struggles in the early days of his career. After hitting his stride in 2012, however, he decided to form his own team, Laricy, out of Americorp Ltf in downtown Chicago.

In 2022, Laricy and his team closed 529 transaction sides or $285.964 million in sales volume, good enough to be the No. 25 medium-sized team by volume in Illinois in the 2023 RealTrends + Tom Ferry The Thousand Rankings.

RealTrends recently sat down with Laricy to discuss the overcoming early career challenges and how building a team has impacted his business.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Brooklee Han: Can you tell me a bit about how you first got into the real estate industry?

Matt Laricy: My background was real estate itself — I am a third-generation real estate agent. My grandfather was in the business and then my father started my company in 1978. So, since I was like 2 years old, I always knew I was going to go into real estate. I did go to college and studied things that I thought would be helpful for my business. When I graduated, I already had my license, so I basically started practicing the day of my graduation.

When I was little, I used to go into my dad’s office and fill out the real estate books because back in the day the MLS was all in a book, but for some reason I just thought the business would be way easier than it was at first. After I got my license, my dad said I had to go work at a different firm and not our company and I found somewhere else to hang my license and I hated it there. I failed miserably for my first year — didn’t make any money and literally made no sales. My first three years I think I made $17,000 total. I was young 20s, so it was hard to get people to trust that I knew what I was doing.

When I was getting into it, I really just thought that it would be cool to stick with the family business, but in my third year I started having my doubts and thought about getting out of the business because that was when 2008 hit and I was a 22-year-old living in my parents’ house without a dollar to my name.

BH: In those early days when things were so challenging, what ultimately motivated you to persevere?

Laricy: First off, I am a winner and winners win. I just have that winning mentality. I feel that if somebody else can do it then so can I. I felt like I was meant to be great at whatever I did because I was willing to work for it — I didn’t just expect that I’d win because I am good, I’m a workhorse. I knew that if I kept at it, I would eventually become successful.

I used to have this old-style clipboard with the big metal clip at the top and I would door knock to try and get business and I’d come home with no sales and I’d throw my clipboard away and my mom would pick it up and put it on the table and would say, ‘When it hits, it hits. You have to keep going at it.’ So, I did have some support from my family. I knew it wasn’t going to build overnight, but when Lehman Brothers crashed and everybody told you never buy a home again, that is when I had a lot of doubts.

But the is what made me realize that I didn’t like selling homes on the South Side of Chicago, which is where my family’s firm was then. I knew my passion was in real estate, I love selling and I love the energy and the highs and the lows, but I didn’t like selling on the South Side — I didn’t like the product I had to sell. But I love downtown Chicago. I love the high rises and the energy and just everything about it. So, I took a leap of faith. I figured that if I was already broke, I had nothing to lose to I took the company downtown right after the crash at the end of 2008.

I came down here and just started hustling. I started teaching myself the neighborhoods and I’d walk into buildings with a paper map and ask if it was a rental or sales building and if it was a rental building I crossed it off because I didn’t want to make my name off rentals, but if it was a sale building I would give them a Starbucks gift card and ask them all the questions I could think of about the building. I would also hand out business cards at coffee shops and just like old school grassroots stuff, trying to make a name for myself. Little by little sales started to trickle in.

BH: Can you tell me a bit about how you went from getting your business off the ground as a solo agent to starting your own team?

Laricy: In 2010, things started to change for me. It kind of felt like everything clicked, like it was a machine that had a gear loose and then the gear just clicks in and things start moving. There was a moment that was kind of like an epiphany or a tipping point for me and I realized I had to hunch down and focus and once that happened, the business for me really just started taking off. I did $5 million of sales in 2009, then $10 million in 2010, then I hit $39 million in 2011 and that was when I realized that if I wanted to keep getting bigger, I was going to need some help. So at the end of 2012, beginning of 2013 I formed a team and that was when things really started getting crazy with sales coming up.

BH: How was your team changed since you first started it?

Laricy: The first person on my team was my girlfriend, who is now my wife. She became an assistant. She is a teacher, and she is so organized and she really laid out the systems that we still use today. All of our reviews say how great our systems are and that is all due to her. But I didn’t just start attracting agents to come work with me, most of it has all been through word of mouth. In 2013, I opened our first office and that was when things really started picking up and I brought on more agents. I also finally hired a full-time assistant and let my wife get back to her main focus of teaching. Ever since then though we have steadily grown. I don’t take on too many agents — I don’t try to have a huge team. I believe we can do more with less people. I just want the best of the best.

BH: How is your team structured?

Laricy: If you only allow agents to do certain types of transactions or only work with buyers they are going to get bored and they will end up leaving you. My agents wear all the hats. They help show buyers, they get their own clients, they show listings, they do rentals. But I get a lot of the business and pass it on to them — I own their schedule.

The only real separation is between my salespeople and my admin. I believe salespeople and admin people just operate differently. My admins specialize in specific areas. I have someone who just works with buyers and schedules all of their tours and then I have a listing coordinator and then back-end people, who make sure that the clients feel like they get a five star luxury experience.

BH: What are some of the challenges you have faced in building and growing your team over the past decade?

Laricy: When you are growing a team, it is figuring out what you don’t know and then adding the right parts. So, we had this whole marketing team and I fired all of them before the start of this year and I am still learning how to do things and who I have do things in house and what I should hire a freelancer for. So, you are going to make mistakes and they might cost you a lot of money. But the most important thing is finding the right person that works for you and for your team. When you make the right hire, it is great, but when you miss it might cost you a ton of money.

BH: How has starting a team impacted your business?

Laricy: If anything, it has allowed me to grow more because it has allowed me to use time that I wasn’t able to before. There is only so much time in the day, and I think as I have grown over the years I have felt more comfortable letting things go, but the better you get at finding the right talent the more business you gain. But the biggest change has been that comfort of being able to delegate and not feel as if everything has to be me, it is ‘we.’