Ranking Chicago’s top brokers of 2023

Compass’ Jeff Lowe was Chicago’s top broker for a second year in a row

Jeff Lowe (Photo-illustration by Paul Dilakian/The Real Deal)
Jeff Lowe (Photo-illustration by Paul Dilakian/The Real Deal)

Chicago’s top residential brokers stayed consistent in 2023, with the same agents and teams topping The Real Deal’s annual ranking as last year — even though their collective deal volume was significantly lower as interest rate hikes clamped the market.

Jeff Lowe and his group at Compass topped the list again with 182 deals and $225.9 million in deal volume, down from 291 deals and $381 million the year prior.

“I’ve been through this before, and what we’re doing differently is we’re rolling up our sleeves and are trying a lot harder,” Lowe said. “We’re doing a lot more open houses and things that are kind of old school like we had to do pre-pandemic.” 

The results highlight the dominance of Chicago’s top residential agents and teams, many of which retained or even expanded market share even as interest rates climbed and the market slowed, resulting in fewer deals and lower sales volume. The total volume of deals for the entire list was 18 percent lower than the previous year’s. In 2022, the top 20 agents and teams did over $2.7 billion in volume, but in 2023 that number was $2.2 billion.

”Sellers have to adjust to the new market conditions,” Lowe said. “The real estate market goes up and the real estate market goes down, and the way the world works, they have to be a little more realistic.”

The list counts both buy- and sell-side deals recorded on the Chicago-area Multiple Listing Service from July 2022 to July 2023. Only deals that were on the market are included, with no off-market transactions counting toward the ranking. In addition, the ranking includes only residential properties over $100,000.

Lowe was followed closely by Matt Laricy and his team at Americorp, who also took the second spot in 2022. Laricy notched $216.6 million in volume over 423 deals, down from $303.7 million and 571 deals the year before.

Staying successful in a down market requires zeroing in on the marketing and advertising that have worked well and expanding those items, Laricy said. For his team, that includes a weekly newsletter agents use to educate current and former clients on the state of the market. Laricy said that often attracts new clients whose friends and family forward the newsletter.

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“It’s just a lot of trying to cut the fat and kind of really understand what’s working fast and try to hone down on that, and then the things that were working we doubled down on,” Laricy said.

Rounding out the top five are Leigh Marcus’ team in third place and Emily Sachs Wong’s team in fourth place. The two teams, both affiliated with @properties Christie’s International Real Estate, flip-flopped from last year, when Wong was third and Marcus was fourth. In fifth place was the Ben Lalez team at Compass, jumping from ninth in last year’s rankings.

Grigory Pekarsky, whose Vesta Preferred shop is one of few independent teams on the list, saw his total deal volume drop slightly from $108 million in 2022 to less than $107 million this year, though his team rose from 11th to eighth. He shared the same sentiment as other agents facing a slowing market.

“It’s been an extremely challenging year,” Pekarsky said. “It just has been, because you’re essentially doing way more work for the same if not a little bit lesser results.”

Other newcomers to the top 10 include the Paige Dooley Team at Compass, which closed 71 deals for nearly $122 million in volume to place sixth, and the Bari & Elena Team with @properties Christie’s, which came in ninth with 149 deals for $101 million. The Busby Group and the Brad Lippitz Group, both with Compass, dropped out of the top 10, as did the Biazar Group with the independent boutique agency North Clybourn Group.

Marcus, notably, rose from fourth place in 2022 to third place in 2023 despite a challenging year for the broker, who was the subject of a TRD report on a phone recording in which he suggested terminating a staffer “before she gets pregnant again.” The staffer in question had previously had a child and taken unpaid leave, and in the months after the recording of the call surfaced, staff and agents departed. The team now offers paid maternity leave for staff.

Unsurprisingly, the top 20 list includes eight teams from Chicago-based @properties Christie’s International Real Estate — which again ranked as Cook County’s biggest brokerage by far this year — and five teams or agents from New York-based Compass, which came in second on TRD’s Chicago brokerage list.

Laricy said that despite the slowing market, he’s tried to adapt his team to recent adjustments in the market that are a stark difference from the real estate feeding frenzy he saw during the pandemic. 

“What we try to do is be more efficient with our time and try to play to all of our strengths, and control what we can control, right? I can’t change how much inventory is on the market, I can’t change what’s happening in the heart of the city,” Laricy said. “What I can change is how we react to our consumers and make sure they have a really good customer experience.”