Top Players in Chicago Real Estate: Dan Shanley

The American Realty Network Independent Contractor Says Persistence is the Key to Success

Dan Shanley is an independent contractor for Des Plaines-based American Realty Network, a real estate organization that services the greater Chicagoland area. As an independent contractor, Shanley has had to independently build his business from the ground up. He does all of his own marketing, finds his own clients and handles his own workload. While his managing broker is still available to offer advice, he essentially runs his own business. So how has Shanley found success in a competitive market like Chicago? ESTATENVY touched base to find out.

How did you get started in real estate?

I have two family members involved in real estate, so the idea of getting into the industry was implanted at a young age. After college, I started working for a large Chicago bank and ended up in the OREO (Other Real Estate Owned) department, where, as a Senior Analyst, my job is to manage and sell a portfolio of bank-owned properties. Having real estate in my blood must have landed me in my current role with the bank, and from there, I went ahead and got my broker’s license.

To what do you attribute your success?

Working for the bank has given me a lot of exposure to the real estate market in the Chicagoland area. The contacts I have made in the attorney and broker fields have grown immensely which will be very helpful in the future. However, the bulk of my success has come from friends and family. Their willingness to help me build clientele has and will continue to help tremendously down the road.

How do you make yourself stand out to potential clients?

You have to be personable. There are thousands of brokers to choose from, and a potential client is more likely to choose someone who is honest, knowledgeable and leaves a great first impression.

What is the key to closing deals in the real estate industry?

Deals can fall apart at any time during the process. The best brokers work hard from beginning to end and keep in touch with their client every step of the way. Putting in all of the work up front means nothing if you don’t follow through to the end.

What trends do you see in the market right now?

I am seeing a lot of residential apartments going up in the Chicago area right now. On the flip side, I also see a decline in commercial/retail properties being built and/or leased. Retail is becoming increasingly more competitive – just look at the impact it's having on retail giants like Toys R Us, Sam’s Club and Sears. These store closures leave millions of square feet of retail space vacant and require a lot of work to find a new tenant.

What excites you about the future of real estate?

Real estate is always changing. New developments, expanding markets and new technology make real estate an interesting field to work in.

Why is Chicago a good place to work in real estate?

Diversity and architecture make Chicago’s real estate climate unique. Chicago has so many different neighborhoods and each one has its own culture and vibe. The city also has a great blend of modern and classic architecture – just take a look at before and after photos of the skyline over the past few decades. The city is constantly under construction making it an ever-changing and exciting place to be.

What's the hottest neighborhood in Chicago, or the Chicago suburbs right now?

I hear a lot of buzz about the Bridgeport neighborhood on the Southwest side of Chicago. Condos and townhouses are constantly popping up in that area. The South Side, in general, is completely being reworked. Foreclosures in the area are creating big business opportunities for investors to rehab and rebuild neighborhoods. Living in Lakeview, I am also partial to the transformation taking place in Wrigleyville. The entire plaza is being revamped and will be an even more exciting area to live in once the project is completed.

What tip should buyers/sellers keep in mind when working with an agent that they might not already know?

Many laws have been enacted to keep the public safe when it comes to buying and selling real estate. All brokers take classes before getting their license and are responsible for continuing their education to ensure they are up to date on all new rules and regulations. Your broker is there for you and is hired to perform only in your best interest.

Who is your real estate idol?

Barbara Corcoran of course! What better role model exists than a self-made real estate millionaire who gets to be on Shark Tank?

Do you utilize social media to enhance your business? If so, how? 

So far, I have only used Facebook to spread the word about listed properties and to share client satisfaction. I hope to branch out with my own brokerage someday, so I will definitely be expanding my social media presence! I am also always available by email at

What advice would you give new agents?

Real Estate is in no way a nine to five job. Long hours and hard work are required to find success, but if you stick to it, you’ll get there. Do your research, work hard for your clients, get your name out there and you will do great.