A midlife crisis doesn’t always mean a shiny new sports car.
When Jason Feldman, Chicago real estate broker, experienced what he called his “self-designed midlife crisis” he traded his brand marketing career for a shiny new real estate license instead.
Soon, he used his well-honed branding skills to create Chicago Pet Friendly Real Estate, designed to help pet owners find pet-friendly homes throughout Chicago.
“I want to have a direct impact on the lives of people,” said Jason. “Having grown up in Lincoln Park, I have a very intimate knowledge of the city. It also helped that my mother was an architect so I was influenced by her ability to see the potential a property could have.”
We chatted with Jason about how he began anew and how he managed to carve out a niche for himself in a busy market.
@properties: What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Jason: NPR/WBEZ wakes me up and then I make a good breakfast. My wife travels a lot and our son is about to go off to college. This means many domestic duties fall on my willing and able shoulders, mostly revolving around food, which I am cool with because I love to cook and bake.
@properties: You have helped a lot of first-time buyers. What was your own first home like?
Jason: I purchased my first home for $275K in 1993 thanks to the advice and guidance of my mother. It was an 1880’s 3-unit frame home on Lill St. In 2009, we sold it to move downtown to a high-rise. We downsized significantly in order to have fewer responsibilities and more free time.
@properties: What is your favorite local restaurant? Why? What is one amazing dish you always order/recommend?
Jason: I have been a customer of Old Jerusalem Restaurant in Old Town for as long as I can remember. Simple humus is my g0-to and their fresh squeezed apple juice is my weakness.
@properties: What do you love most about your neighborhood?
Jason: I have lived in the New East Side since 2009. As much as I loved growing up in Lincoln Park, has the best location in terms of accessibility and variety of activities to take advantage of all Chicago’s best characteristics. I am one block from the lakefront, two blocks from the river and Maggie Daley Park, a few blocks from the madness of the Magnificent Mile and within walking distance of museums and excellent restaurants. Yet, I feel as though I can be isolated from it all in the New East Side.
@properties: How did you segue from marketing to real estate?
Jason: I have a bachelors degree in graphic design and spent around 18 years creating brand identities and marketing materials for private and non-profit institutions. I was able to use my creativity to both find my niche and execute the vision I had for it. In addition, my compulsive level of detailed awareness in design has helped me to find the hidden gems and hidden problems a property may have.
@properties: What has been your favorite thing about your newfound career?
Jason: I really enjoy interacting with good people. Anyone can “do the work,” but can they do it with deep caring for their clients interests? I also really enjoy helping home buyers who have a dog(s) find a home, or people wanting to buy a home where they are allowed to adopt a rescue and bring them to their new home. My favorite part of that is paying the adoption fees for their new four-legged family member. That’s my gift to them.
@properties: What is one thing you literally could not do your job without and why?
Jason: Technology is the logical answer as to what I could not do my job without. Whether it is my cellphone or my computer, the ability to have all data at my fingertips every second is crucial.
@properties: What is your proudest achievement to date? Professional or personal, or give us both!
Jason: Ironically some of my failed business ventures have led to my greatest achievements. These events were not financial or award winning.
Rather they were personal success stories, like overcoming the fear of speaking in front of groups of people, or challenging myself to see a reality TV show concept and pitch it.
Without the failures and willingness to try new…and I’m talking about scary fetal-position in corner of bed things… none of these would have happened and led me to where I am today.
I have never been one to follow the script, for better or worse.
@properties: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Jason: The one quote that I love to follow is Nike’s “Just do it.” It’s not advice from mom or dad, from a friend or work associate. I know it sounds cliche, but I do believe that if we don’t “do it” then we are missing out on opportunity. I believe that only fear stops us from doing it. So…get over it…and just do it.
@properties: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a new real estate agent?
Jason: Find your “authentic” passion(s) and make it your differentiation factor. My passions are helping pet owners find a home and philanthropy. I absolutely love pets, especially dogs, so I try to be a foster parent for a sick rescue whenever I am able.
To support the cause, I hold a yearly adoption event where I pay all the adoption fees if a client wants one in their new home.
So live your passion.
Like-minded clients will feel it, respect you for it, and ultimately pay you for it.
@properties: What do you read every single day?
Jason: I frequent my Facebook and Instagram feeds to catch up on my friends and family, who are very important to me. I get my news from NPR and my social media feeds. I find news to be challenging to my positive outlook on life, so I tend to avoid it more and more.
@properties: How do you stay involved in your community? Philanthropic ties, volunteering, etc.
Jason: For the last few years I tied charitable giving into my business model. I give back 10% of my commission check to a charity of my client’s choosing, every time. I am making a big difference, not a dent. This charitable program is the sprinkles on the icing on the cake for me. Their stories are personal to them and thus gives me the emotional reward I crave.
@properties: You have a full day free in your town with no obligations and cost is no object. What do you do?
Jason: The best day for me is going for long walks along the lakefront and river holding my wife’s hand. We stop at one of our favorite coffee shops and get a cappuccino and pastry. We purchase ingredients, make a nice dinner together, and enjoy a nice bottle of reserve Rioja or Malbec. Finally we watch, for the umpteenth time, a rerun of the Big Bang Theory. Finishing the day with humor is so important for me.