Real Estate Agent of the Month Nicholas J.Marino

Nicholas Marino

45 Years, Same Office

By Dave Kohl

In 1972, the most popular store in Morton Grove was the two-story E.J. Korvettes on the corner of Dempster and Waukegan Road; local car dealers were just introducing the Ford Falcon and the Chevy LUV; and consumers were not only unplugged, they’d most likely never seen a computer in person or dreamed of the Internet. In the real estate world, people would pile into the car and drive around in search of “For Sale” signs or wait for the weekend newspaper filled with new listings and open houses.

It was that same year that a brand new real estate office, Century 21 Marino, opened on the corner of Dempster and Menard. Today, Nicholas J. Marino celebrates 45 years of business at the same location. While much has changed around his office, according to Marino, his business hasn’t. “In the beginning, I was here by myself,” he says. “It was a simpler time and we sure used the telephone a lot more than we do today. But in the ways it counts, the business hasn’t changed; it’s just grown.”

Just as Morton Grove grew up around his office, so has Century 21 Marino grown to keep pace. Today, the office houses 37 agents, two of whom have worked with Marino for more than 40 years. As one of the largest brokerages in the area, it has become well known for professional service.

What’s the secret to his success?

“It’s all about the service angle,” he says. “I’ve been preaching it for all the years I’ve been in business. You have to give every client undivided service and attention. Real estate isn’t the kind of business where everyone gets the same thing. We have always strived to provide a high level of service.

“It’s about quality, not quantity” he adds.

In his more than 50 years of service, Marino estimates that he has sold dozens of homes for clients who come back to him when it’s time for something new. In fact, the children of the families have even turned to him when the time came to leave the nest and find their own place.

“We do our best to advise people about the market and about finances,” Marino says. “This is not a cookie cutter business model. I think our counsel is best reflected by the instances (or lack of instances) of foreclosure or distress facing our clients. We try to lookout for our buyers and sellers and truly look to the long term. A part of our job is being a problem solver and the voice of reason.”

Marino’s long relationship with Morton Grove is feathered with his fingerprints – from the popular China Chef Restaurant on Lincoln Avenue to the many return clients in the area and beyond.

And, while he appreciates the rich history – personal and otherwise – in the area, Marino is excited about the recent efforts to rebuild within Morton Grove.

“When people tear down homes to rebuild larger, more modern structures on the same property, it’s a great sign that the area is viable,” he says. “It’s wonderful to see owners as far back as the 1950s – along with new-to-the-area families – so willing to invest in this community.”

According to Marino, it’s a great sign of a strong economy when people see a million-dollar home being built down the street. The area is also being revitalized with some new townhouse and condo developments.

“We are also seeing nice growth on the commercial side,” Marino says. “Skokie is now among the leaders in commercial development for the Chicagoland area as well. Morton Grove is starting to see that renaissance as well.”

With his office only 16 miles from the Chicago Loop, Marino is well aware of the convenience for area residents.

“I’m seeing more and more families that don’t want to always have to travel further out,” he says. “Especially the young families that prefer to stay in the city. Properties that I used to sell for $20,000 in the city are now being torn down and sold for $500,000 and beyond.”

Just like the real estate market in and around Morton Grove, Nick Marino shows no signs of slowing down as he and Century 21 Marino begin their second 45 years.