By Kelly Pollock, feature writer for The Buzz Cafe
Laura Maychruk became a real estate agent in 1993. And now, thirty years later, she is achieving a long-realized plan of opening her own brokerage, Maychruk Real Estate, located above Buzz Café at 905 S. Lombard Avenue in the Oak Park Arts District.
Shortly after graduating from college in Pennsylvania in 1991, Laura married her husband Andrew, loaded up a U-Haul, drove to Oak Park, and moved into an apartment. She started looking for a job and landed at the Chicago Tribune. Laura and Andrew eventually bought a house on Lombard Avenue and all was well until Andrew was laid off. “We were freaking out,” said Laura. “We had a $900 mortgage payment and didn’t know how we were going to pay it.”
Laura had grown up around family who were real estate developers which made her think that she could give it a try. “I don’t know what makes me think this stuff. I thought, ‘I know how to cook,’ and so I opened a restaurant,” laughed Laura. “I guess I’m just really confident in my abilities.”
In 1993, you could get a real estate license in a weekend. And so she did. Laura worked with Century 21 and sold real estate during evenings and weekends. “I sold a house a month the first year.” The next several years were busy ones. Laura and Andrew relocated for a time to Washington, D.C., and then they moved back to Oak Park and opened Buzz Café in 1998. Then, the first of the Maychruks’ four children were born. Real estate had to take a back seat to everything else going on in Laura’s life.
By 2005, she was ready to jump back in. Serendipitously, Laura met David Gullo of Gullo & Associates. “I told him that I still had to run Buzz and so the only way our working together would work was for him to move his office above the restaurant and he agreed to do that.” Their affiliation continued until last month when Laura opened her own brokerage, Maychruk Real Estate
When asked why she decided to go out on her own, Laura answered, “My business was growing exponentially. I was ready for something new, but I didn’t want to go to one of the big offices in town. Offices have rules and policies that I didn’t want to hassle with.”
More importantly, Laura said, “Real estate agents are in competition with each other whether they are in the same office or not. Information is extremely powerful. You might know one thing that nobody else knows and that could lead to a sale.” She didn’t want to risk what joining a local office could mean for her business.
While this move to her own brokerage is a big deal for Laura, for her clients nothing will really change. “My territory is hyperlocal. Just Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park. I’m an ambassador for this area and I love, love, love this area. I love teaching people about it and sharing my community with them.” Laura stays connected to her clients long after closing. “My clients get to benefit from my thirty years of experience. I know the history of the area and I know what’s going on now. Well after they’ve moved in, my clients text me and ask, ‘Who can I call for this or that?’”
As to the type of clients she is looking for, Laura has no preference for buyers or sellers. “I appreciate both and I like keeping my business even between them because when I’m working with sellers I want to be able to tell them what buyers are looking for. And vice versa, for my buyers it helps to know what sellers are experiencing right now.”
Laura’s life is chaotic, but she loves it. “I get up early, between 4am and 6am. I do emails and paperwork until about 8am when I go to Buzz where I’ve taken on the role of general manager. After the lunch rush, around 2pm, things slow down at the restaurant and I spend my afternoon and evenings meeting with clients and taking them to showings.” She tries to get to bed as early as possible before starting it all over again the next day.
For now, Laura doesn’t plan to bring any other agents into the brokerage. “My plan is just to do the same thing I always do—be the best real estate agent that I can be for my clients,” said Laura. “Show up everyday and work hard. That’s my life in a nutshell.”
Laura and Maychruk Real Estate can be reached at 708-205-7044 or by emailing [email protected].