At first glance, soybeans and real estate may not seem to have that much in common. But in the hands of someone truly gifted at moving both of those commodities, it turns out they have quite a few similarities. At least that has been the experience of one of the North Shore’s top realtors, Mary Baubonis of @properties in Winnetka.
Growing up as the third in her family of ten, and the eldest daughter, Baubonis said she always knew that after college she would follow in her father’s and older brothers’ footsteps and work at the Board of Trade.
“My dad traded commodities there, I grew up with it. He absolutely loved it. He’s still trading; he’s 87,” Baubonis says.
Baubonis moved into an apartment in Printers Row and began working at the Board. One day, her brother stepped in and told her he thought she would find more fulfillment in real estate. “Why don’t you just try it out part-time and see how you like it,” he suggested.
She got her license and before she knew it, many of her friends from work were asking her to help find them places to live in the same area. “I was moonlighting but soon I was selling condos like crazy, putting deals together left and right. I realized that this felt natural for me and decided to do it full time,” Baubonis explains.
Several years later, Mary reconnected with a high school friend, Charlie Baubonis, who also happened to be a trader; he was moving back to Chicago from Tokyo and needed a realtor. After she found him a home in Old Town, she and Charlie began dating and eventually married and started a family. Once she was expecting their second child, they made the jump to the North Shore.
“Because of my experience selling in the city, I made a quick transition to selling on the North Shore. The North Shore is a very easy product to sell. I had all my young friends that were like me, starting families and moving out here. It was a natural transition for me and my business.” Last year, Baubonis was ranked number 12 on the whole North Shore and was recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business as a Notable Residential real estate broker.
Baubonis has two adult daughters, who are both in nursing school. She is very aware that being an empty nester is frequently a time when people may pause and reassess what they’re doing with their careers. But Baubonis has found the perfect fit. “Honestly, even if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would still be at my office, doing what I love to do—selling houses. It’s very challenging and rewarding. The days never end because whether you have someone’s house on the market or you’re looking for a house for someone, you can never shut down, you always have to be on your A-game. You’re always working.”
While for some, the always working aspect of real estate may be a negative, it is clear that Baubonis thrives on just that. In addition, she says that she loves “the personal touch and the people contact so much. People are trusting you with probably their single most valuable asset, their home. It’s a huge responsibility. When they give me their listing, they’re expecting me to produce. Even during a pandemic or other challenging times, I need to figure out how to help them navigate. When people trust in me, I need to deliver. And I take that very seriously.”
Baubonis’ highest sales year? $43 million. At that level, she realizes it would be impossible for one person to do it all. Over the years she has worked with several assistants who handle administration, staging, home organizing, etc. “I probably spend more money on assistant help than most agents, but all assistants are such valuable contributors in creating a smooth transaction for my clients.
“The most gratifying part of the whole process is seeing my clients and hearing how satisfied they are with the job I have done for them,” she says. “Best of all, I love hearing stories from clients about how happy their families are in their new homes, and that they are creating great memories there. It’s truly a privilege and an honor to sell these beautiful North Shore houses.”
Mary Baubonis is with @properties, 30 Green Bay Road in Winnetka, 847-477-4209, atproperties.com/agents/marybaubonis.