Agent Spotlight: Milena Birov
Milena Birov’s story is the epitome of the American Dream. Since moving to America with her husband Leo, the two have built a successful North Shore home building company, Heritage Luxury Builders, from the ground up.
Following a career in the electrical engineering field, Leo encouraged Milena to apply for her real estate license and the pair quickly became an unstoppable team. Learn about Milena’s biggest achievements, defining moments and why she loves life in Winnetka, all in this week’s agent spotlight.
At Work with Milena Birov
How did you land in a real estate career?
My husband and I started our own North Shore development company called Heritage Luxury Builders in 1989. Leo was a realtor already, so I joined him and applied for a real estate license.
What were you doing prior to real estate?
Real Estate is my second career. I am an electrical engineer by education and was designing controls and writing programs for automatic machines. In addition to being in charge of a group of electrical engineers, I worked with machine builders, mechanical engineers, and electricians on creating fully automatic machines. This job helped me learn how to best communicate with other people and get things done in a timely manner.
What is your favorite part of working in this industry?
My favorite part is the challenge of recognizing the needs of prospective buyers, and understanding their personalities and tastes to find what they are looking for. Also, the rewarding feeling of completing the sale and making these people happy.
What is one thing that you literally could not do your job without?
My computer. It is my way of communicating with clients and colleagues. I spend a big part of my day in front of the screen.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to a new real estate agent?
Be open and honest with your colleagues and clients.
What are three things you always bring with you to a showing?
Listing sheet, brochure of the house and a list of special features specific to this house (interior or exterior features, location in town, etc). It always helps to point out the benefits of buying this particular house and let the prospective buyers keep the list so they can review it later.
Who in the industry has made the most impact on your professional journey?
I started my career in Real Estate with Koenig and Strey in Winnetka, before @properties opened their first office here. My first managing broker, Wendy Shea provided support and helped me to establish myself as a realtor.
If I weren’t a real estate agent, I would be…
Lately, I’ve started to enjoy painting, maybe I could be an artist.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes and don’t blame others for them.
What are 3 words clients would use to describe you?
Honest, straightforward, strong personality.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
I am very proud of our company, Heritage Builders! My husband and I came to this country with nothing in our pockets. We were able to find our place in society and achieve great success. I feel like we are living the American Dream.
At Home with Milena Birov
Describe your own first home.
Our first home was also the first home we built in Winnetka before we started Heritage Luxury Builders. We liked it so much that we decided to start the company.
What is the first big-ticket item you bought when you moved into your current home?
I decorated the kitchen. Our breakfast area is facing the lake so we have our meals there. I also bought a couch for the kitchen keeping room, which has a nice fireplace.
How do you start each day?
A light breakfast, exercise with my trainer twice a week and a power walk along Sheridan Road. I also enjoy playing tennis in the morning.
What do you love most about living in Winnetka?
I’ve lived in Winnetka for over 30 years and absolutely love my neighborhood. When we first came to Chicago, Elder Lane Park was our weekend destination. We often went there with friends on warm summer days to enjoy the lake and have a picnic. I love the huge trees, parks, lakes, style of the architecture and the people.
If you won the lottery, which property would you buy?
I would buy a house on the lake.
What was one of your most defining moments?
The moment when I realized that I made the right decision immigrating to America. The moment when I felt that America is my home.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The power of overcoming some fears, to be confident enough to take on the tasks which seem impossible, to achieve the toughest goals.
At Play with Milena Birov
What is your favorite local restaurant? What is one amazing dish you always order/recommend?
Abigail’s in Highland Park- it never disappoints. I usually order kale salad and branzino. Mino’s is my second favorite.
What do you read every single day?
My emails. I check them at least a couple times a day. I also read the news to stay informed of what is going on in the world, and I usually have a book to read at the end of the day before bed.
You have a full day free in your town with no obligations and cost is no object. What do you do?
I would take a walk around beautiful streets of Winnetka — this is the best way to start the day. I’d treat myself to a massage at the Massage Therapy Center of Winnetka, have my hair, nails, and makeup done at the Bliss Salon, go shopping to local boutiques and then go to dinner at Mino’s.