Wallace is one real estate practitioner who knows how to stay connected to her community. In 2005 she was elected one of five commissioners on the Oak Lawn Park District Board, one of the youngest representatives ever elected to the post. She rides herd on the finance committee and its $12 million budget.
Hard start: Wallace learned real estate in the school of hard knocks. In her first six months, deals fell through, clients got mad, and she got discouraged. “I broke down in tears and told my dad how difficult real estate was turning out to be,” she says. “He told me to toughen up or quit.” Toughen up she did, reading up on how to handle rejections. A breakthrough came when a local builder asked her to sell the condos in his mixed-used property. In her first full year in real estate, she surpassed $6 million in sales. In 2006, a slower year, she still closed more than 40 transactions for $5 million in sales.
Expert counsel: Wallace holds a master’s degree in psychology, and before getting into real estate, she counseled patients. “I was amazed at how many families were coming in stressed-out because they were at risk of losing their home,” she says. She helped many get on a “debt diet” and continues to provide that kind of guidance to buyers. Wallace, whose marketing line is “Mary listens,” continues to devote one day a week to counseling. “It’s helped me create a stronger bond with my community,” she says.