Mother, son a real estate partnership that works
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org May 10, 2013 10:08PM
The mother-and-son real estate broker team of Beverly Eckert and Brent Eckert is shown in their Orland Park office Wednesday (May 8, 2013). | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 13, 2013 6:09PM
Brent Eckert had a stable job with an engineering company, but looking at himself in the mirror as he shaved each morning, he knew his heart wasn’t in it.
His work had him traveling to chemical plants and oil refineries.
“It was very lucrative (work) but very dangerous,” Eckert said. “Plus, you were on the road 10 months out of the year.”
He obtained a real estate license in 2007, but it was mainly a sideline, helping friends who were in the market, he said. He knew he wanted to work as a real estate broker full time.
Eckert got his wish, just not how he expected.
One day in October 2009, he got a call from his mom, Beverly, a real estate broker, and the news she delivered wasn’t good. She had been diagnosed with bladder cancer that required surgery, followed by a months-long recovery period.
“She basically said, ‘You have to quit your job and take over’ the business,” Eckert said.
She needed someone to tend to her clients, many of whom were family members and close friends.
“When you’re in real estate, what can you do?” Beverly Eckert said. “You have to pass your clients off. Who more perfect to hand your business over to than your son?”
What was to have been a temporary arrangement blossomed into a full-fledged partnership between mother and son, handling listings and sales full time from the Keller Williams Realty office in Orland Park.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” Brent Eckert, 31, said.
They’re also learning from each other, with mom imparting to her oldest son her years of experience and he getting her up to date on technology, such as using text messaging to reach clients. Both live in Oak Lawn, although Brent plans to move to Orland Park early next year.
“As much as I tried to teach him (about the business), it’s somewhat of a role reversal where he’s teaching me,” Beverly, 62, said.
Beverly Eckert had a background in accounting, working with small businesses. Helping her aunt sell her house, she became friends with the real estate agent handling the listing, who encouraged Eckert to get her license, which she did in 2000 at age 50.
She got into the business when it was still go-go crazy, and she didn’t have to beat the bushes looking for clients.
“I was right there when everything was popping,” she said.
Eckert said her main desire to sell real estate full time was to be able to help cover the cost of college for Brent and his two younger brothers.
Brent studied sports management and marketing in college, and at one point was in line for a job with the White Sox, but that didn’t pan out.
Beverly said she was able to weather the recession and its real estate downturn, although her income was cut in half.
The market collapse and the cancer diagnosis were a double-whammy for her. Her surgery was on Dec. 1, 2009, the day before Brent’s 28th birthday.
“They rebuild a bladder with your intestines,” she said. “That’s why the recovery is so long.”
She was out of commission for six months, literally teaching Brent the finer points of real estate from her bedside.
Beyond the mother-son relationship, that her son is so passionate about real estate and is approaching it differently, looking at it as a career, makes Beverly happy.
“As a mother, what makes your heart soar is to take a child and share your business with them and watch them take flight,” she said.
Both mother and son have strong opinions, and there are times they butt heads.
“You challenge each other, but it’s only to make each other better,” Beverly said.
Able to survive the housing crisis while watching many brokers drop out, the Eckerts said they’re seeing a rebound.
“I haven’t been this busy in a couple of years,” Beverly said, adding that she recently worked 10 straight days.
But compared with the rough years that she and Brent endured, she’s not complaining.
“It’s exhausting, but it’s a wonderful thing. It’s good to see things coming back (with the economy),” Beverly said. “Not just for me personally but for the country.”