Niche: Trailblazing

Illinois REALTOR® Magazine | October 2013

Online Exclusive: Trailblazing

Finding Your Piece of the Market

By Theresa Grimaldi Olsen

Hasani SteeleIllinois REALTOR® Hasani Steele did his research and looked at trends, market absorption, supply and demand and other factors when creating his niche on the South Side of Chicago.  Steele, CEO of Steel Consulting is a member of Janice Corley’s real estate brokerage, RE/MAX Premier Properties in Chicago.

“The South Side of Chicago is his playground,” Corley says.  “He knows everything that goes on there.”

Steele says the South Side of Chicago is not his niche, however.  His niche is trailblazing.  “I think out of the box,” he says.  “I’m an entrepreneurial innovator, a visionary with a license.”

Steele identified a market on the South Side, “a diamond in the rough,” Corley says.  No one wanted to build quality developments there.  No one wanted to pay the price. “He found the opportunity to go in the market,” Corley says.

Steele was involved in five projects that received 2012 Good Neighbor Awards from the Chicago Association of REALTORS®. They include condominium developments at 6510-12 S. Ingleside Ave. and 4351-55 S. Lake Park Ave. and single-family home renovations at 4471 S. Lake Park Ave., 6516 S. Ingleside Ave. and 4740 S. Langley Ave.

pile of pictures with niche photo on top

Steele, 35, did not have any connections to the South Side before he began work there.  He grew up in Glen Ellyn about 25 miles west of Chicago and lives on the North Side of Chicago with his wife and two children.

While researching potential markets in Chicago, Steele says he found that the stereotypical perception of the South Side of being a poor place for investment was not true.  “An investor can actually leverage less capital and earn a much high return on the South Side,” he says.

“The South Side has the highest concentration of mansions and the most valuable mansions in the city,” he says.  There are beautiful golf courses and harbors, large parks, the best universities, beautiful beaches and lakefront properties. “The infrastructure is a lot less congested than other areas and the opportunities are vast,” Steele says.   “I was amazed.”

Yet, the homes and the businesses on the South Side seemed to have fewer amenities than were available on the North Side, he says. Steele has been determined to create “quality” products on the South Side, homes that he would live in himself.

His experience with more than 450 home inspections and his engineering background strengthens his attention to detail, he says: “I offer more than the average REALTOR® in consulting from conception, architectural layout, finishes, presales and marketing.”

Trailblazing requires a team approach, Steele says.  Steele’s business plan  builds on his experience as a receiver on the Northwestern University football team from 1995 to 1999 when Northwestern won Big Ten Championships back-to-back and appeared the 1996 Rose Bowl and 1997 Citrus Bowl.

He’s used to being the underdog.  “Northwestern hadn’t been in a Rose Bowl in 47 years,” he says.

Steele’s team includes a staff of six, including an information-technology consultant, two marketing people, two administrative assistants and a publicist.  He says about 60 percent of his business is concentrated in the South Side neighborhoods. The other 40 percent is on the North Side. Three-quarters of his business includes residential properties, and one-quarter is commercial.

Theresa Grimaldi Olsen is a free-lance writer based in Springfield. She can be reached at tgrimaldiolsen@gmail.com.

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