Real estate expert Sheila Rugege Dantzler says ownership is leverage

Sheila Dantzler

sheila dantzler top producer graphic

Tell us a bit about yourself. What attracted you to the real estate profession?
I’ve been selling real estate in Chicago for nine years. I’ve been featured as a real estate expert on HGTV, in USA Today, and many other media outlets. What attracted me to real estate is that it allows me to thrive as an entrepreneur while building meaningful and long-lasting relationships with my clients.

What is your philosophy on owning real estate?
I just read an article that sums up my philosophy on owning real estate. It’s all about leveraging! “Real estate is one of the few investment vehicles where using the bank’s money couldn’t be easier. The ability to make a down payment, leverage your capital, and thus increase your overall return on investment is incredible.”

When did you first develop an interest in property and real estate?
I bought my first condo in my late 20s. It was new construction and I signed the contract a year before it was ready. The process of construction was fascinating to the point that I worked weekends in the sales center, just because I enjoyed the business so much. I realized how deeply people’s lives are impacted through the purchase and sale of property. It was meaningful and intoxicating at the same time. I wanted to be a part of it. A year after I closed on my condo, I was laid off from my technology sales job. Soon after, I got my real estate license.

Describe your real estate professional experience. What have been some of your most significant moments of being a real estate professional?
I’ve worked with hundreds of buyers and sellers and sold millions. I’ve worked with developers of both residential and commercial projects. From first-time buyers to luxury buyers purchasing million-dollar homes, to landlords and tenants, multi-unit buildings to vacant land, I’ve done it all. I’ve been in the market when it was really good and when it was really, really bad … and I’m still here. Many of my clients have become my very good friends. Being a positive conduit to buyers and sellers transitioning to the next phase of their life is a blessing. This is my ministry.

Why is the Kochs’ $25 million gift UNCF important to black colleges?
From my understanding, the UNCF turns down 9 out of every 10 applicants for scholarships to attend historically black colleges and universities. I suspect a large majority of the applicants come from low-income households and many are the first in their families that would attend college. The UNCF does not have the necessary resources to meet the demand and send more deserving kids to college. Though I don’t support the politics of the Koch brothers, their gift of $25 million will assist in securing a college education for many future scholars. Most of those scholars will become productive, tax-paying members of society who will commit themselves to bettering the communities they are from.

Name four HBCU graduates who are great examples of what the Koch Foundation is hoping to produce with its donation?
Entrepreneur and hollywood movie director, Spike Lee – Morehouse College

Entrepreneur and music mogul, Sean “Diddy” Combs – Howard University

Entrepreneur/innovator (holds 80 patents, invented the Super Soaker water gun, and NASA engineer) Lonnie Johnson – Tuskegee University

Media mogul and billionaire, Oprah Winfrey – Tennessee State University

Why are entrepreneurs important to the black communities economy?
I think entrepreneurs are important in any community. I recently read that it is the entrepreneurial energy, creativity and motivation that trigger the production and sale of new products and services. Entrepreneurs foster innovation and introduce new technologies to the market place. Most importantly, entrepreneurs inspire others to take risks, dream big, and work relentlessly towards their goals. Your success is no one’s responsibility but your own.

Name three benefits black entrepreneurs create for their community.

Entrepreneurs create businesses that hire people.

Entrepreneurs pay taxes.

Entrepreneurs create demand for products and services which in turn create jobs and other businesses.

Entrepreneurs inspire others to take risks and dream big.

Describe your experience working in an urban environment.
Chicago is the third largest city in America with an estimated three million people within the city boundaries and another 10 million in the surrounding suburbs. It is a very urban environment and very diverse in culture, race, religion, and socioeconomic status. The great benefit of selling real estate in a city this big is that you get to experience many different neighborhoods. Some have million dollar homes, great schools, beautiful parks and fantastic restaurants. Many others don’t, and unfortunately, it’s minority communities that suffer the most with lack of resources and lower property values. However, my job as a real estate professional is to treat everyone fairly with first class service regardless of where they live.

Where did you go to college? How well has your college/university prepared you for the real estate profession?
I’m a proud graduate of Grambling State University, where our motto is “Everybody is Somebody.” My degree is in computer science. I remember interning and starting my first job with graduates from Ivy League schools. I honestly never felt that I or my education was inferior. Grambling has instilled a great sense of confidence that has helped me succeed in business.

How do you incorporate technology into your real estate practice? What qualities make for an effective real estate professional?
Ninety-eight percent of people start their search on-line, so a successful real estate professional has to have a thoughtful technology strategy in attracting new clients, marketing properties, and maintaining a positive brand. An effective real estate professional is knowledgeable, honest and responsive to their clients and in embracing new technologies.

What advice would you offer a student interested in real estate just beginning his or her career?
I would advise a student interested in real estate to align themselves with a brokerage that has a track record of success and that has productive realtors who run a business, not fulfill a hobby. Then I would advise getting a good mentor to learn the business from. Real Estate is not a textbook type business; one learns and thrives in this business through day to day activities, trial and error, and deal by deal experience.

Who would you like to emulate? Who were your role models?
My role models aren’t in real estate. My mother is one of my greatest role models, as she set the example of having a successful balance of work and family. I’m a wife and mother and it’s not easy managing a household and running a business. But it is possible when you prioritize, set boundaries, and work smart. Of course, Oprah Winfrey is a role model as she has profoundly changed American culture for the better.

How long do you plan to stay current in your field?
For many years to come! Professional development is a priority and I commit to getting one new designation a year. I’ve become involved in my local association (Chicago Association of Realtors) by becoming a member of the Professional Standards Committee and the Women’s Association of Realtors. This is an exhilarating business that changes lives and communities. There is nothing else I would rather be doing right now.

Contact Dantzler at:

Related Realty

350 W. Hubbard, Suite 100

Chicago, Il. 60654

312-399-9056 direct

866-400-1609 fax

[email protected]

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