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Meet Lawrence Dunning of Dunning Real Estate Group in Downtown Chicago

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lawrence Dunning.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started my career working in Finance for a trading company out of London. They had several offices, so I had a few years working in Amsterdam, Chicago and then New York, before settling at the Chicago office. After making them a lot of money and not being compensated fairly, one of my older colleagues and I decided to leave and start our own trading company, where the risks we took, and the money we made, would benefit us directly, as opposed to us working for someone else. It was the best decision that I ever made and I spent the rest of my twenties running our small, but successful, a trading company. After about five years together, we began to argue about our trading and management styles and in the end, we decided to part ways. It was an unexpected surprise that every single employee decided to follow my lead, as opposed to him, but after running the company solo, without a partner to share the highly stressful responsibilities with, I began to feel overwhelmed with the stress and pressure and soon my enthusiasm lessened and I decided to step away from the trading world to seek some personal challenges and pursue some goals I was passionate about in combat athletics.

During this time, I became close to a good friend of mine, Mo Dadkhah, who had transitioned from legal work into real estate, and who helped me invest in a commercial building on the north side of Chicago. In the meanwhile, I continued to pursue my athletic endeavors while managing my real estate investment on the side. After letting my athletic endeavors run their course, turning 35, and realizing that my finances were in poor shape, I decided that it was time to return to the business world and prioritize monetary success once again. I had always assumed that I would return to the trading floor, but the whole trading industry had changed and the prior business model that we had used was largely non-existent and the big banks and high-frequency trading model had largely made pit traders into relics of the past. I didn’t want to join the thousands of “ex-traders” with no other work experience and decided it was time to reinvent myself. During that time, my good friend, Mo had just opened up his own real estate company, Main Street, and I joined him and transitioned fully into real estate. As well as getting my real estate license and managing my own properties, which were growing every year, we also partnered up with several developers on rehab and new construction projects, that proved to be a great blend of real estate with my previous finance experience. I truly enjoy helping investors make strong passive income with smart, and relatively safe investment returns.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I think the hardest struggles I experienced was having to go through a career change and having to reinvent myself in my mid-thirties. Most of us are used to working hard after college, when we are first starting out in our careers. It took years of hard work to build my first trading company, with the ensuing energy and enthusiasm of my twenties. They say, once you have been a success at something, it is easier to duplicate it, and to an extent this is true. You are aware of the sacrifices and work necessary to build a successful business and can put forth this same effort again. But the real challenge is the mental struggle and feeling that you are going backwards. I was used, in trading, to making a great amount of money for my efforts, to now, first starting out in a new industry, to working tirelessly for small amounts of money. It was a stark reminder that our energy in our mid-thirties, is not the same as it is in our twenties. It was a very humbling experience, but looking back, I think that dealing with major life reinventions are always good experiences and we should never get too set and comfortable in our ways. After all, when we are not moving forward, we are not evolving and growing, two necessary things for every business, and also for living a rich life as well. Naturally, every child is very curious about the world, and sometimes, as adults, we get stuck in old patterns and habits and lose this curiosity. Curiosity and exploration make any life a life worth living.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Dunning Real Estate is a full-service brokerage, and I think what sets us apart is our customer service. Not only will we help a buyer find the perfect place, but we will also assist in every facet of the transaction, from coordinating with attorneys, appraisers, inspectors, lenders and even handymen when needed. Our listings get the same full service and are marketed to the fullest extent possible, priced accurately and personally shown to every buyer. Investors get the benefit of my experience as a property portfolio holder, with tailor-made pro-formas for every potential purchase, as well as access to our relationships with developers’ off-market buildings, with above-average returns, in some of the most desirable areas of the city. Finding great income producing properties for investors is as much an art as its a skill; choosing the right buildings, stabilizing them with tenants, or rehabbing older buildings in transitionary neighborhoods, the possibilities are numerous, and opportunities to create immediate equity, possible, with some patience, a good game plan and the correct, accurate proforma numbers. Likewise, there are many potentially disastrous investments, which we try to steer our investors from, such as older buildings with inflated returns, which often end up as financial sinkholes of repairs, stress, and frustrations, with little real returns.

What were you like growing up?
I was a pretty introverted and shy kid growing up, normally with my head in a book or skateboarding in the street with the neighbors’ kids. It was a real challenge overcoming that natural introversion and succeeding in the trading pit, in which you have to be loud, aggressive and assertive, but like anything that stretches us, we learn that we can transform ourselves into anything that we need to, in order to succeed in our chosen endeavors. Being in any positions of discomfort, is by definition, a sign of growth and we should actively seek out this discomfort, whenever possible.

Contact Info:

  • Phone: 312-286-0427
  • Email: lawrence@mainstreetreg.com

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