CHICAGO – June 25, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Helping their community get its housing market back on solid ground wasn’t on the agenda when Chicago real estate brokers LaShawn Brown and Warren Davis first met in 2012, but it certainly is these days. The two RE/MAX brokers are ready to roll out their second annual South Side Expo, slated for July 11 at South Shore International High School, 1955 E. 79th St., and free to the public.
Their objective is to give existing homeowners and aspiring home buyers the knowledge and vision needed to reach their own goals while also helping revitalize the housing market across much of the South Side. The Expo offers attendees access to experts in a variety of disciplines from home financing to energy efficiency and from designers to contractors.
Now affiliated with RE/MAX Premier Properties, Brown and Davis met three years ago. Brown was showing a minister and his wife a house that Davis had listed for sale. It was a successful showing in more ways than one. Not only did Brown’s clients love the house, they signed a contract to purchase it.
Meanwhile, Davis and Brown began spending time together and found they had more in common than real estate. Before the year was over they were married, with the ceremony performed by the same minister who bought the house that served as their introduction.
“We told him at the closing table that we were planning to get married and wanted him to do the honors,” Brown recalled.
Their marriage soon expanded into a business partnership that has benefitted from their distinct yet complimentary backgrounds.
Brown has had a long romance with real estate and a talent for interior design, once working with former Chicago Bulls player Kendall Gill on a master-bath remodeling project featured on HGTV. She later spent several years teaching adult education and special education classes before returning to real estate full time in 2010. Along the way Brown became something of a community activist, first with the South Shore Community Action Council, and now with the South Shore Planning Coalition and as a leader of South Shore tours for the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Davis did sales for a major consulting firm before moving into mortgage lending. At Wintrust Bank he focused on rehab financing, which has served him well since earning his real estate license in 2011.
South Side Expo was born of some strategic eavesdropping when Brown overheard Davis giving advice on the phone to a homeowner whose property had an outstanding mortgage larger than its current market value. Davis explained how the homeowner might refinance the home to remodel it and end up with a property worth as much or more than the resulting loan amount.
“I realized there were many homeowners in our community who could benefit from that same advice,” said Brown, “so I urged Warren to do a workshop on that topic.” Not long afterwards, he did just that, holding the event at the Black United Fund of Illinois. From that point on, things just snowballed.
“We kept getting more and more phone calls asking for details about how to refinance and remodel a home or from people with other questions related to buying or remodeling,” said Brown. “We had to find a way to spend less time on those call because otherwise he’d have no time for anything else.” That’s when Brown and Davis came up with the idea for South Side Expo, and in just two months they turned it into a reality attracting 400 people to the inaugural event at the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center in West Pullman. This year’s Expo will be bigger and better but with the same basic goals.
“We want to empower people to know there are viable options for them to achieve their home ownership goals,” said Davis. “We want to create a pool of potential buyers who are pre-qualified to purchase a home, and we want to help homeowners who may be underwater on their mortgage right now find a way to tap the equity that a strategic remodeling can unlock.”
Brown and Davis admit that a large part of their inspiration came from the popular HGTV show “Love It or List It.”
“We realized that by using the HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage program offered by FannieMae, many underwater homeowners can recapture positive equity in their home by fixing it up. Then they can either love it and continue living there, or list it and move on,” Davis explained. “We’re convinced this strategy has the potential to revitalize the housing market across large portions of the South Side and other areas, too. It won’t happen over night, but we’re doing what we can to build the needed momentum.”
RE/MAX agents consistently rank among the most productive in the industry. In the United States, RE/MAX agents averaged 15.6 years of real estate experience and 16.0 transaction sides in 2014. RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989 and is continually growing. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of 2,200+ sales associates and 105 independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. Its mobile real estate app, available for download at www.illinoisproperty.com, provides comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region. The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, a global real estate organization with 100,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations.