Urban Realtor Vickie Liu calls New Eastside home for 40 years

In 1977, Vickie Liu immigrated from Keelung, Taiwan to Chicago’s New Eastside. On the drive from the O’Hare Airport into the city, she saw snow for the first time in her life.

It was, to her surprise, black from exhaust and pollution. When she arrived at Harbor Point Tower to join her husband, a student at UIC, she discovered a neighborhood that was little more than an empty plot of land. She stayed for 40 years.

“I love Chicago,” she says. “There was deserted train track, two buildings, nothing. So I live here forever and then we see the changes. It’s all very good.”

IMG_1922web2Ms. Liu has plenty of reasons to love the city. In the four decades since her arrival, she and her husband have raised two successful daughters — one who graduated with a law degree from Harvard, another with an MBA from Kellogg — and they have also helped each other through three fulfilling careers.

At the time she moved here, Ms. Liu was a senior manager in marketing analytics with China Airlines. After her husband completed his studies at UIC, he attended dental school at Howard University and then opened a practice in Bucktown. When the landlord who owned the building where he held his practice hinted that she might be selling the property, Ms. Liu took action. Unbeknownst to her, it would eventually mark the start of a stellar career in real estate.

“It was a rental,” she explains. “Not very stable. So we went to buy 2152 N. Damen Ave. It was a three flat down the street.”

Since she lacked the funds for the complete down payment, she formed a partnership with a friend who lived next door at 400 E. Randolph. “He is an attorney,” she says. “We each put in $10,000. We just worked out a successful investment.”

Ms. Liu retired from China Airlines in 2002, but continued to “do some investment with friends” for a few years.

“I find it interesting,” she explains. In 2005, she earned her real estate license and started selling full time with New Eastside’s Urban Reality, where she has been ever since.

Last month, Chicago Magazine named Ms. Liu to their list of five-star realtors for the fifth time in the past six years. The award is determined by customer votes, a fact that gives Ms. Liu “a good feeling.”

“They have a good appreciation, so they treat me well,” she says. “They refer friends. That’s how I expanded my business.”

In an average year, Ms. Liu completes hundreds of transactions. Many of them involve properties in New Eastside, an area that she finds easy to sell.

“I say this is a hidden gem,” she explains.” “I’ve lived here forty years and I will tell you why. And then I tell them the story… You know, the Magellan… this great investing, developing.”

Although she believes that the River Walk and the Wanda Vista Tower may make the “hidden gem” a little more obvious, Ms. Liu finds nothing wrong with the neighborhood’s increasing popularity. After all, she got into the business by buying in Bucktown long before what she calls “the Bucktown boom.”

“Long story short,” she says. “I got it for 120k. I sold it for, like, 400k.”

Contact Vickie Liu at Vickie@urbanre.com or (312) 946-9999. Search for local homes or read more about Vickie at www.urbanrealestate.com.

—Daniel Patton, Staff Writer

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