Being recognized for being the best at what you do is empowering, regardless of what the task might be. Pat Callan, managing broker-owner of Reality Executives Premiere in Wheaton, knows that feeling.
Last month, the veteran real estate agent was named Illinois Realtor of the Year by the Illinois Association of Realtors, an award presented annually to a member of the Illinois Association “who best exemplifies the professional qualities of a Realtor.” The award recognizes leadership in the association as well as service to civic, community and charitable causes.
Phil Chiles, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors, said the award has been given annually for more than 50 years and that it has nothing to do with earnings or number of sales.
“This is not a sales award but a leadership award,” Chiles said. “This award recognizes the best of our best. It’s about being an example for the rest of the Realtors out there — someone to look up to and a person to model yourself after and not just your business.”
Chiles said Callan was plucked from a group of more than 30 local associations who can select their top performer. The state committee then selects its Realtor of the Year from that pool. This year, Callan was chosen the winner from among 20 who were nominated.
“Pat has an astute financial mind, and he can look at a balance sheet and just cut to the chase regarding the issues,” he said. “He’s just brilliant.”
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Callan has been involved in the real estate industry for more than 40 years. A CPA as well as a residential and commercial agent, Callan was the Illinois Association of Realtor president in 2009. He has been named Realtor of the Year twice by his local association and served numerous times on the association’s audit and strategic planning committees and the Financial Task Force.
A resident of Glen Ellyn, Callan said he first became interested in real estate and finance as a result of growing up on a farm in Iowa, which the family still owns.
“Living on a farm gave me an affinity for the land, and when I got out of college, I did some public accounting, which was a good place to start,” Callan said. “My dad also let me feed and sell off pigs, and made me keep records as a kid so I’d learn about expenses and profits.”
Another breakthrough moment happened for Callan while he attended high school in a small parish where his graduating class had just seven people. Callan said it was really a college prep program and that one day — perhaps because he was bored, the parish priest who was also the superintendent of the school suggested he take a correspondence class in bookkeeping.
“I took the course as the priest thought I might have skill sets in it and liked it,” Callan said. “When it came time for college, accounting attracted me and between that and my experiences as a kid on the farm — it taught me something about being an entrepreneur.”
Callan’s career has included stops at what is now known as Ernst & Young, an international public accounting firm, followed by work from 1971-1974 will Del Webb in Oak Brook and also Virginia. From there, he worked with the Collins Development Corporation in Phoenix and then moved back in 1977 to work in their office in St. Charles. By 1993, he had launched his own Reality Executives Premiere firm where today more than 50 agents work under him.
Naperville is one of the key markets for his company.
“I’d say anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of our business comes from the Naperville market where we do largely residential sales, and I have agents living and working in Naperville,” he said. “There’s no question it is one of our leading communities we serve in DuPage County.”
About his award, Callan said, he is “honored by the accolade” as well as surprised by it.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be honored by your peers, though it’s not something to aspire to,” he said. “My work is to help the industry and the clients and agents, and I guess when you’ve been told you’ve done a wonderful job — I’m deeply honored by it.”