Agent Spotlight: Marissa Hopkins

A passion for home design and decor, a green thumb that can grow up to 300-pounds of heirloom tomatoes in her own backyard and experience as an on-camera spokesperson for national and international media.

You might think we’re describing Martha Stewart, but Marissa Hopkins, a Highland Park real estate broker and mother of two, can do all of the above…and help you find your next home, too.

With 12 years of real estate experience under her belt, including the sale of the ubiquitous “Home Alone Home” in Winnetka,  Marissa is consistently focused on giving her clients and colleagues 200% — and staying healthy and active while doing it.  

At Home with Marissa Hopkins

@properties: How do you start each day?
Marissa: Each day, I leave my house at 5:30 a.m. to go to the Midtown Athletic Club in Bannockburn to exercise, then have coffee with my workout buddies.

@properties: Describe your own first home.
Marissa: My first home was in Evanston. It was a modern, 3-bedroom, 2-bath split level brick home with vertical redwood siding and big picture windows.

Later, I would fall in love with — and now live in — vintage-style architecture, but eventually I plan to come full-circle and go modern again.

@properties: What is the first big-ticket item you bought when you moved into your current home and why?
Marissa: Rugs. I love beautiful, handmade, wool rugs. I own many from all over the world.

One of the people I used to work with said: “before you buy furniture or do any other decorating, invest in excellent quality area rugs.”

At Play with Marissa Hopkins

@properties: What do you love most about your neighborhood?
Marissa: The proximity to Lake Michigan, with its hiking and bike trails as well as the Fort Sheridan Metra Station — I’m two blocks from both.

I’m also lucky to have extremely kind neighbors who are quick to give generously to people in need.

@properties: Where is your favorite place to eat in Highland Park?
Marissa: I rarely eat out because I enjoy cooking. I follow an unusual albeit healthy diet and in the summer, I grow many of the ingredients we use for our family dinners.

Nothing compares to a home grown Tigerella or Black Krim heirloom tomato — one year we grew 300 pounds of them in 20 pots.

We plant as early as end of February for the spring garden, and are still harvesting hardy greens and Brussels sprouts well into the winter months.

@properties: What do you read every single day?
Marissa: The Chicago Tribune.

@properties: How do you stay involved in your community?
Marissa: I host at least one or two charity drives every year for local residents.

I serve as a poll watcher and have done so for over 16 years, and I have served on the Highland Park Housing Commission.

I anticipate getting back involved in politics within the next month — but I’ll be in the back room, not running for office!

@properties: You have a full day free in your town with no obligations and cost is no object. What would you do?
Marissa: I’d go for a long sunrise hike or bike ride along the North Shore, or to the Botanic Gardens with my young adult son and daughter.

We’d have lunch at Walker Brothers where I’d have an egg white omelet.

Then we’d come home, swim and have a barbecue.

We’d wrap up the evening with a fire in the outdoor fire pit, and the kids would perform for us.

My son would play guitar and my daughter Kailey would sing. Pure joy.

@properties: What is your proudest achievement to date?
Marissa: Staying healthy and athletic. It enables me to travel the world, be active and feel good everyday.

At Work with Marissa Hopkins

@properties: How did you decide that real estate was the right career for you?
Marissa: I was a corporate strategist for 20 years and wanted to be more available to my children, who were then approaching their teens.

I dialed back my corporate work and obtained a real estate license to have access to the information I thought I needed to invest in real estate.

The rest is history!

I went into real estate full-time in 2006.

@properties: How did your role as a corporate strategist prepare you for real estate?
Marissa: My specialty was helping durable product companies grow through new product development and brand building.

I was a consultant and worked for companies like Black & Decker, Corning, Dow, Chicago Cutlery and many others.

I became an expert salesperson and marketer of high-end services and products –all of which translates into what I do now.

@properties: What is your favorite part of the job?
Marissa: I love to look at houses for new design inspiration and decorating ideas, but at the end of the day it’s all about finding the perfect home for my clients.

@properties: What is one thing you literally could not do your job without and why?
Marissa: Systems to ensure that a transaction is handled correctly and completely.

There are many details in this business that are critical to the successful completion of a sale.

@properties: Tell us the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on the job.
Marissa: I was the listing agent for the celebrity house that many know as the “Home Alone Home.”

From the day the listing launched at 6:00 a.m., I was interviewed by every TV station imaginable, from The Today Show to Fox News.

I saw none of it and felt like I was in a bubble because I was literally in back-to-back interviews until after 10:00 p.m. that night.

It was exciting and exhausting.

There was coverage all over the world — including a live radio interview with the BBC (British Broadcasting).

Besides actually selling the house, my second favorite part was hearing from people I used to know –who lived as far away as Australia and Japan.

@properties: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Marissa: “Less is more.” This applies to so many things in real estate (and life). From decluttering a home and gently staging it, to talking less and listening more.

@properties: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a new real estate agent?
Marissa: Don’t jeopardize a relationship when a friend or family member doesn’t engage or even consider you to sell or buy a home. There are plenty of people to serve. Focus your energy on giving your clients 200% and becoming an outstanding broker.

Broker associate Steve Adatto and Marissa Hopkins

Written by @properties
At @properties, our goal is to provide you with expert, caring, and candid advice throughout one of the most important transactions you will ever make.