Real Estate Leaders: Amanda McMillan Has A Fire Inside Her That Can’t Be Put Out

McMillan’s passion, skills and emphasis on team building has led her to become one of Chicago real estate’s top players.

Real estate advisor and CEO of Chicago Home Partner Amanda McMillan has a passion for helping people find the perfect backdrop for their lives. That drive has propelled her to the top one percent of Chicago realtors for both closed volume and closed number of transactions every year since 2006. We caught up with McMillan to find out what makes this real estate leader tick.

EE: How did you first get involved with the real estate industry?

AM: Well, I guess you could say there was never a time that I wasn’t involved in the real estate industry.

The truth is that I am a third generation real estate advisor. My grandfather was a high profile commercial broker that was instrumental in shaping the Chicago Skyline as we know it today. In addition to that, both of my parents were very well respected in their chosen fields within the industry. I often joke that my initial exposure to real estate came around the dinner table at a very young age!

EE: What do you love about the industry?

AM: I think if you ask any top agent how they feel about the industry, almost all will tell you it’s a love/hate relationship. When performed at a successful level, it’s a very demanding and very tough industry. There are not a lot of opportunities to disconnect—or even step away momentarily. And performing on such a high, intense level day after day and year after year can be exhausting at times.

That being said, those that do it at that level do it because they love something about it. For me, it truly ignites a fire inside me that simply cannot be put out. I have always said that a home is the backdrop of our lives—nothing more, nothing less. It’s constantly there, giving us a stage for our successes and failures to be brought to life. It is the place where we create our lives. And the reality is, I have been blessed with the skillset and strong desire to help my clients successfully navigate the overwhelming challenges within these homes and their real estate endeavors.

Every day, I get the chance to have a positive impact on my clients’ lives. And when I think about it that way, it’s easy to understand why my passion is so strong towards this industry.

EE: What do you wish you could change in real estate?

AM: When you perform at the top level in any industry year after year, I believe you are more aware of the shortcomings within the industry. At the same time, you put procedures and practices into place to overcome those roadblocks. The one thing that has continued to boggle my mind, and sometimes even get in the way of successful transactions, is what I call the “part-time” agent—someone that is not committed to the career with a full-time perspective, either due to timing constraints or sometimes even another, more prioritized, career.

This is an industry that commands a great deal of attention and knowledge of the market. If an agent is not fully committed to it, it can definitely have a negative impact on the transactions, and more importantly, the clients. No matter how many great systems we have in place, nothing takes the place of being in properties, pulling comps, doing CMAs and studying the market day in and day out. I am good at what I do partly because I am immersed in the industry at all times. I have often said it’s a disservice to represent a client if you don’t believe that you are their best opportunity for success.

EE: What's the biggest change you've seen in the industry since you started out?

AM: While my initial reaction to the question would be to say the technology, I believe that’s just a given in today’s world. The more deeply rooted change that I have seen in the industry is the amount of information that is available to the consumers. The reality is that a consumer can literally find all of the information that they need online to buy or sell a home. They can find properties, how-to videos on writing a contract, information on what to look for at a home inspection, marketing tips and more. It’s truly all out there.

With this being true, people often ask me if I fear that my industry is a dying breed. Absolutely not! For those that are not willing to change, then yes, it is. But that’s true for all businesses. The reality is the days of being information providers are gone—and they should be. The importance of what I bring to the equation is my knowledge, my ability to interpret all of the information and the skillsets to maximize my clients’ successful outcomes—essentially to be their consultant and their advisor. Of course, we wear many more hats than just that. But that is the underlying theme in all that we manage.

EE: What excites you about the future of the industry?

AM: There are truly so many exciting things happening within the world of real estate right now—it’s hard to choose just one. I think technology, in general, is fascinating—from streamlining business practices to creating “smarter” homes to improving our abilities to maintain successful relationships.

In the bigger picture, I am also very excited to see how Artificial Intelligence starts having a larger role in our industry. AI will no doubt have a large impact on the way we do business in the coming years. I believe the options are truly endless with this.

In the more short term future, I think that the importance of teams within the real estate community is making a larger and larger presence. The reality is that a real estate endeavor is such a multi-faceted process. I truly struggle to believe that there is any one individual out there that can give a client the best experience from start to stop. I think that the growth of the team concept will help take our client experiences to the next level and simply improve the way we do business—making it a better journey for the client and a more efficient one from a professional perspective. And the ability to do our jobs better is always something that creates excitement in me.