My wife and I and our good friend all went in together on a three-flat in Logan Square in 2007. Our friend, Suzi, found Seth through Craigslist, and I'm so glad she did. We were looking for the kind of building Seth specializes in, and we were not disappointed. Seth was very knowledgeable, easy to work with and didn't go for a hard sell or try to foist something on us we didn't want. That showed me that it was about more than the money for him: being a part of a neighborhood and not taking it over, and making a classic building work instead of gutting it. After we closed, Seth used a part of his commission to buy us a lawnmower and a huge grille, and he also donated a part of it to a charity of our choice. He's a great guy, laid back, honest and professional, with great contacts. You couldn't ask for a better realtor.
If you are expecting a real estate agent to pick you up and drive you around Chicago in a Mercedes, Seth is not your man. If you are expecting a realtor to show up wearing a Brooks Brothers suit, again, Seth would not be a good fit. Actually, there were many times when the Seller's agent thought I was the realtor, and Seth was the buyer. That said, if you want somebody genuine, who actually cares about what you want, and understands space, and can show you every pocket of Chicago, then I would recommend Seth without reservation--in fact, I have already recommended him to a few friends and colleagues that have started their own real estate searches and they couldn't be happier.
I spent over two years with three different realtors from major real estate "houses" looking for a very specific type of property. All of them showed me places that had nothing to do with what I wanted. They would drive me around the city in their fancy cars telling me why I didn't "really want to deal" with the type of property I was seeking and that they would show me the "hot spots"...and not one of them understood what I actually wanted. In the end, those agents abandoned me because they said I would never find what I was seeking.
Then I met Seth. He's not selling real estate...he's selling a lifestyle! Sometimes we traveled by bicycle, other times by foot, and yet other times, I picked him up...but he always showed me properties that met my criteria. In fact, he found me a property within weeks of our first meeting, but through a series of seller related issues, he ended up sticking with me for over a year, and four different contracts. I could send him an email at midnight about a property I saw online or while driving through a neighborhood and he would be up, ready to reply with great feedback and advice.
So, if you're ready to meet an agent that will always have your best interest at heart, make sure you have Seth Captain representing you.
Seth is unlike any realtor I've ever worked with, and I have worked with many before meeting Seth. He specializes in helping people find unusual, creative living/ live work situations. This is an area for which Seth is particularly well suited, given his unconventional personality,and creative problem solving abilities.. He helped us create a vision for a communal living situation and found us the perfect building. His integrity is impeccable.He knows the city of Chicago like the back of his hand, and he made the entire search and close process really fun and interesting.From now on, Seth is my realtor for life! I recommend him every chance I get.
I have worked with many real estate agents my past 13 years in Chicago, but I have never met an agent who works for their clients like Seth does. And I mean really works (not just showing properties and writing up an offer, anybody can do that). He knows the City of Chicago like no other agent and he really understands the needs of his clients and what they are looking for in a home. Seth is an analytical connoisseur of the urban fabric of Chicago and brings a fresh approach to real estate-- he's sharp as a tack, doesn't believe in "making the sale" like a car salesman, and has a keen sense of humour. He is always looking for a great deal for his clients, almost like he is the one buying the property, not the client. I highly recommend Seth for your real estate needs.
Jeff Madden, Sales Manager, Chicago Bancorp
As a fifty year old professional looking to leave leafy Naperville for the City, I may not be a typical Seth Captain client, but I count myself lucky to have had Seth as my broker. Seth brings a passion and a thorough knowledge of the City's historic neighborhoods to the table, in my case, Bridgeport. He has a good sense of the market and of property values for some of the most unique and different residential properties in the City (from multifamily homes to live work studios to one time taverns), which is essential in understanding what to bid or offer for these properties.
And he is patient. We went through several contracts and a Homepath offer before I finally found a home that me, the home inspector and my lender all liked.
Seth didn't just stop when the contract was signed. He provided me with great leads for the many contractors I will need to rehab my 1880s brick two flat, along with great advice on where to eat, shop and have fun in my new neighborhood.
Ultimately, I can say that Seth puts his heart into this job, and that is an almost unique quality for a real estate broker.
As first time buyers, we started our search with only a vague idea of what we wanted and little understanding of our options. We were totally intimidated by the process of buying real estate and assumed it would be tedious and stressful. We certainly did not expect our real estate agent to care about much more than "the Deal"....but Seth Captain is no ordinary agent and for that we are infinitely grateful.
From the outset, Seth put us at ease, answered our many questions and encouraged us to search for a multi-unit property befitting our lifestyle and long-term priorities. He connected us with an excellent lender and later an outstanding inspector. In fact, at practically every step in the process, Seth was by our side, offering insight and creative solutions to whatever hiccups inevitably arose.
Seth has a profound knowledge of Chicago, its neighborhoods and its architecture. We were so impressed with the way he helped us see the strengths and challenges associated with each property we toured.....and found ourselves a bit disappointed when we found an ideal property on our first time out. We were hoping to spend more time biking around the neighborhoods with Seth!
Seth's disarming personality and laid back demeanor belie the fact that he's sharp as a tack and fiercely committed to getting a great deal for his clients. His guidance and masterful negotiations with an obstinate seller brought down our purchase price considerably. And long after we closed and moved in our home, Seth regularly checked on us to make sure the transition to ownership (and landlording) went smoothly.
We simply can't say enough about the value Seth brought to our home search and we look forward to working with him for many years to come. Call him! You won't be disappointed.
Anna & Scott
I am not the kind of person who wants to work with someone focused on the bottom line, nor am I the kind of person who wanted to trust one of the largest decisions of my life to a bluetooth wearing suit. Mr. Captain not only does not look like your stereotypical Realtor, his approach to the work breaks the conventional barriers set by his rigid, clandestine profession.
Working with Seth to find and buy my house was a truly rewarding process. After a conversation or two, we honed in on viewing properties that were exactly what I was looking for. He didn't waste my time trying to up-sell me or get into places that I have no interest in.
Looking for a property in Chicago can be tricky because the neighborhood plays a huge role in the decision. Seth is very tuned into neighborhoods and really knows how to show you the real picture. Each time we looked at property, we rode our bikes to each property, giving me the chance to learn about the neighborhood in a way that I wouldn't have been able to by driving in and out.
The best part about Seth and Captain Realty is how thorough he is. When we would walk through a new building, Seth would get on his hands and knees in dirty basements to check out the foundation, crawl through windows to check out the roof, and show you the ugly side of each building. He is more focused on making sure you get a quality house that you like than getting his sale.
Seth is really a great guy. He has a reliable team of people who help him including a great inspector and attorney in case you don't have your own. Seth chooses his clients just as much as they choose him.
Hunt for your house with Seth. He is a great guy and a breath of fresh air in a business that badly needs it!!!
First, I'd like to echo the sentiments of Dakota P's review of the mechanics of working Seth, I'd like to touch on some of the more eclectic surprises you're bound to find, since I think those are also worthy of mention as well.
I found him through a Craigslist ad he placed after suffering through countless frustration with other agents just looking to make a sale. You go with friends or associates for familiarity, you go with Seth for expertise. He focuses mostly on 'vintage' buildings of the multi-unit variety in Chicago's neighborhoods.
Not only will he help locate a property that fits your criteria, he'll also work to 'challenge your stereotypes' as he likes to say. As someone who grew up and spent their whole life in the Chicagoland area (with generations going back) I personally found it quite surprising that a (relatively) recent transplant such as Seth knows not just a lot about buildings, but the history and charm of this great city. Even more than someone who has called this place home for their whole life. You may find, as I did, to have your heart set on living in one place, but once you've ridden around the neighborhood by bicycle (a truly great way to know an neighborhood) that you'll find that your preconceived opinions of neighborhoods couldn't be further from the truth.
From hidden neighborhoods, to hidden gems in neighborhoods, Seth has this city down. From the streets to use to get around (and avoid traffic, or enjoy the view) to places to eat or drink every one of them has been a home run. I even look like an expert in front of friends who have lived here much longer than I. Seth is truly an urban explorer and knows this city incredibly well.
I'd like to personally thank Seth for his infinite patience in his dealings with me, from finding prospective places, back and forth negotiations that were dead-ends, to our foray into the beloved short sale process in its all too murky infancy. All told, the total process was over a year.
If you're looking for a place (or possibly another / different) Realtor to help you find a place give Seth a call. He doesn't work for a large corporation, so he's rather selective in the clients he takes. As in, he's not going to waste your time, or his. If you're looking for a condo in the loop, he's not going to try to be that guy. If you're looking for a charming place in a real neighborhood of the city, he can help.
Sit down, have a chat, maybe a cup of tea with the guy and see what you think. You may be pleasantly surprised as I was, and find yourself with a new agent as well as friend.
Working with Seth was a really enjoyable and valuable experience. Seth shows a genuine respect and caring for his clients and their values. Throughout the entire process, Seth really listened to us, and helped us figure out exactly what we wanted in a house and neighborhood. The process took many months, and the entire time Seth was patient, and did not pressure us into any decisions. He even made it fun, as we walked and biked around the neighborhood. Seth is great at talking to people from all walks of life, and made the many house viewings fun instead of stressful.
When we found the house we wanted, Seth helped us think through the decision and made sure it was really the house for us. Seth was a fantastic negotiator and helped us get the purchase price lowered considerably.
Seth also recommended several other trustworthy and dependable people we ended up working with, including our attorney and lender, who all helped the buying process go smoothly. After buying the house, Seth’s expertise on houses and remodeling was valuable in deciding what to do, and he was again able to recommend some reputable professionals to help with the renovation process.
Seth Captain was genuinely excited for us and helpful every step of the way, and it was a pleasure to have him in our corner. He will be the only realtor for us from now on!
Matt & Julie
Seth is a great buyer's agent: forthright, responsive, and knowledgeable. He's interested in making the right match between you and a property, not in making a quick sale. Is Seth about a quick buck? No, what he wants to do is plug you into a house you love, a neighborhood, and a community. He's not going to help you flip that ugly condo. He's not going to try to sell you that fake "loft" in the west loop. He's going to find you a hidden gem in a real neighborhood. Then he's going to help you buy it.
When Seth gets off his bicycle, takes off his helmet, and you look into his eyes, what will you see? You'll see that he goes about his business with old-school values, with honesty, integrity, and respect for his clients.
Seth will tell you himself that he's not the right real estate agent for everybody. But maybe you're not like everybody else. Maybe you're looking for the right real estate agent for you. Maybe it's Seth.
Ted & Donna
My experience working with Seth was wonderful. He helped my wife and I find an amazing loft where we still reside. Beyond just an expert in tracking the market, Seth was really proactive in getting to know us and recommend the proper places to look at. He is extremely friendly and energetic while also being a consummate professional in his field. He is good for creative professionals looking for live/work and similar spaces. I have recommended him to other colleagues who also have had great experiences working with him. Beyond that, Seth is a worldly individual and is very interesting to be around (and not in a distracting way). Offers a lot of personalized insight and support for those going for their first home/space. Work with Seth and you will not be disappointed, he really thinks outside the box productively and is a hard worker. Stellar job, I'm glad we found him and connected.
I am 24 years old. Buying my first home at such a young age was incredibly nerve-racking to say the least... I needed more than a real estate agent, I needed someone who would get to know me and what I wanted in my first house and someone I could trust. With Captain Realty, I got that and so much more!
I first met Seth on a cool summer evening at a foreclosed condo in Bucktown. Seth immediately started to calm my erratic feelings about making the leap into owning property. Seth asked probing questions to figure out what exactly attracted me to this condo... and I figured out that the truth was not much... I wanted space, a yard, a safe vibe outside, and a garage. Next thing I know, literally about two hours later, Seth had already found seven listings online that he wanted me to glance over! All of them were about 5 minutes away from the condo we had just saw. These properties were much more my style!
Seth took the time to get to know me as a person, what I was comfortable with, (and how much influence my girlfriend had on the place) and began to start finding me properties in which I could start seeing myself spending the next several years and starting a family. Our bike rides through the neighborhoods and real estate discussions really helped me get comfortable with buying a house, an investment, when so many of my friends were simply writing a check each month to a landlord.
Seth was with me each step of the process- from my opening questions, to the hunt, the inspection... all the way up to my first beverage as a homeowner!
The best part about the whole process was meeting someone who does his job simply because he loves real estate and loves being a part of such a huge event in his clients life! It is tough to find that in any professional today. Seth realizes that buying a house is not just a whimsical process in which he gets a paycheck- no, not at all. He realizes that buying a house is a commitment and an adventure. At the end of the day, he cares that you are happy with your new keys. And it was a blessing to make a new friend along the way.
Don't settle for the flashy real estate companies popping up all over the north side. Take a bike ride with Captain Realty to find your future home reality.
Seth helped me and my brother find a great multi family rental income property in Bridgeport, Chicago. Very professional in his business but at the same time able to provide personal touch to his clients. Great guy. If I have anything to do with real estate in Chicago, Seth Captain is my man....
Seth Captain has a real passion for his work and he is extremely good at it. He uses his abundant creativity, his intimate knowledge of the city, his outgoing personality and his fine-tuned sense of value to help people, myself included, find a great home. Seth truly revolutionized my long search for a place. He turned it into a fun/funny adventure and helped me buy a place that I am really happy to call home. I wish that every professional that I've worked with over the years - real estate agents, attorneys, contractors, bankers - was as stellar as Seth is.
Seth is a god send. When I started looking for a house, I had only a vague idea about what I wanted, where I should look, and what I could afford. Seth has an encyclopedic knowledge of the neighborhoods in Chicago, and of the bars, restaurants, and grocery stores throughout the city (important if you are going to pick a neighborhood to live in). Further, he knows the buildings themselves; after a few times out with him even I was able to take two looks at a house an deem it in good shape or bad. The smartest thing I did when I went house hunting was to work with Seth.
Work with Seth, you won't be disappointed. Yes, he does not look like your average real estate agent, but that is a good thing! Seth will work hard for you as he did for us and we are very happy with our house. We even invite him to the cookouts!
“Don’t hire Seth. That’s right, if you are just looking for a real estate agent
who wears fancy clothes and drives a fancy car or who will put his interests over yours or who will show you properties that don’t hit your criteria, then don’t hire Seth. That’s right, because Seth is not this type of realtor.
However, if you want a real estate agent who knows the city like the back of his hand, who will really listen to your needs and do his absolute best to find the perfect fit for you and who also happens to be down to earth, with a great sense of humor and total integrity, then Seth is your guy.
I first met Seth in 2006 when two friends and I were looking for a cool 3 flat on the Northside of Chicago and a mutual friend (and one of Seth’s clients) recommended Seth to us. During our first meeting at a local cafe, Seth put us immediately at ease by simply being who he is: down-to-earth and inquisitive. Through his questions, the three of us were able to articulate what we were looking for in a building and what we weren’t.
From there, Seth went to work lining up properties for us to look at. And within a couple of weeks, we had seen a number of properties, all of which were spot on in terms of meeting our criteria. When one of our properties fell through (because of a bad inspection report), Seth lined up a couple of more in the weeks that follow. Though the process took some months, in the end, we found the perfect building for us.
In Seth I have found my Chicago real estate agent for life. Not only do I go to him for any real estate needs, but I also hang out with him whenever I need a great conversation and stories of adventure from around the world .
Bottom-line, I think of Seth as a real estate matchmaker. Someone who will take time to really listen to your needs and then set out to show you options that might meet them. And just like dating, you may have to look at a number of choices to find the perfect fit for you, but in the end, you will find the right fit and you will have Seth to thank.”
It's disheartening to peruse the housing for sale ads on Craigslist. Samey looking pages with samey looking graphics and realtors with samey, half-hearted smiles. How do you select a realtor who is really going to be looking out for your best interest and help you make the largest financial decision of your life? I had a feeling I had found that person after I read one of Seth's ads. The perks of the place were laid out in a straight forward fashion, he didn't try to disguise drawbacks with realtor language (quaint, intimate, charming) and most importantly he said right off the bat that the place might be better suited to some people than others (handy vs non, partial rental property minded folk). It was a totally honest assessment of the property and in my dealings with Seth I've never found him to be any less than this.
He will always be forth coming with pros and cons, tell you what can be worked with and what to avoid, and is always looking out for you above all else. He even asked me to let him know when my assessment was so he could be there to potentially learn new things from the assessor. I could go on and on about this guy.... his willingness to answer every question I had.. his help finding contractors that he vouched for... and every bit of wisdom to help bring me a little peace of mind throughout the daunting homebuying process. I love my house and my 'hood and I largely have Seth to thank for it.
Seth was able to sell our home in Evanston when the housing market was at it's lowest level in 10+ years. None of the other homeowners in our area, who used other realtors, were able to sell their homes, and took them off the market. Seth accomplished this through a lot of hard work, his expertise of the market, creatively finding the right buyer, and not using the bad economic situation slow down his herculean efforts. I'll gladly work again with Seth!
I began my home search like many; I asked peers for recommendations. I went through the credit check and met with a realtor that three of my co-workers worked with. They all gave positive remarks. I found her shrill, irritating, and worst of all, she never listened to a single damned word I spoke. She showed me listings that only included properties with the hallmarks I had clearly identified as deal breakers: garden units or new super cheapy cinder block construction. She always seemed bewildered that I did not want to visit any of the places she chose for me. I began to look independently for listings. Another really bad sign as far as I was concerned: as soon as I began my own searches it became clear to me that she had not shown me a single place that I had not found on my own.
Seth listened. That was the single biggest difference. And he had insights about the market, about my insecurity, and about the parts that excited me. I had originally said that it made me nervous to begin ownership tied to the role of landlord. Seth talked me through the pluses and minuses. He introduced me to other people who were looking. He encouraged me to begin visiting places even if it felt like the property was wrong for some reason. Part of the process is learning the market, and you don’t learn by avoiding. Seth listened to me as I expressed interest in a co-op purchase. But he also talked me through some of the potential down sides.
Seth made the process fun. One of his first questions for me was regarding my comfort with motorcycles. He took me to nearly every property on his cycle. He was genuinely entertained by the looks we caught while riding this way through all sorts of neighborhoods. It was clear that many of the folks we were visiting assumed we were a couple, and more than a few of them were visibly uncomfortable with that observation. Seth worked to put them at ease, all the while laughing and joking comfortably with me, and even hamming up the physical closeness of the motorcycle rides as we made an exit.
All throughout the process, Seth continued to check in with me regarding my priorities. He helped me identify the value of a workspace connected to the living space—I am an artist so a studio or public exhibition space is a really valued amenity. In the beginning I thought the living space was barely within reach, but he found several places that could be converted into living spaces with some workspace that were in my price range. The desire for workspace ended up defining the search. Seth has an active imagination regarding structure and adjustment. We spent time in buildings looking at the obvious living quarters, but he would also project the possibility of an attic as a new studio or what the building would be like if a wall were moved or the surfaces changed. He also patiently took me into basements and talked me through the value of newer plumbing and electric indicators. He pointed out basement apartments that housed tenants but honestly indicated that some of the units were illegal. In other words, he made sure I saw things as they really were rather than hoping I wouldn’t notice major flaws.
Seth helped me find a great financial partner. I don’t know whether that is standard for a realtor, but it was nice that he found a loan person that I found relatable. We worked through the information, identified budgets and ended up finding the place. It was a storefront with a hideous living space behind and an entire floor of income producing living space. The building was solid but unattractive. It was in a great accessible neighborhood. There was a yard, garage, and has easily available access to transportation, grocery stores, and even restaurants. It seemed perfect. We worked together, made the bid, the bid was accepted and all systems were go. Until they weren't...
Seth kept working on solutions after being turned down (by Banks) again and again. He was willing to continue working though every adjustment made ended in him earning less money. We ended up finding a bank that would finance, but with some extraordinary caveats including the seller financing 20 percent of the deal on his own. Though I ended up with a loan a percentage and a half higher than the residential loan, there was no mortgage insurance required and the commercial financing included a modest re-hab budget. I was able to pay the higher down payment but with the re-hab money I was still able to immediately change the ugly building into the property I knew was possible.
One of the most dramatic turns in the story happened just before we got final approval for the financing. The apartment I lived in burned to the ground. As a true testament of Seth’s character, he was the first of all my friends to show up to help me and he insisted that I stay with him until I found other accommodations. He even spent a day helping me sift through the remains of the fire and move the belongings that survived. Seth ended up contacting the seller of my building who agreed to let me occupy the unit before the purchase was finalized. In a complexly ironic twist, the fact that I occupied the building helped me secure the final approval for financing.
I lost my job about a year ago. I have been overwhelmed by the stress of that, but I have been overwhelmingly grateful for the choices I made in my purchase. To date I have been able to keep up with my mortgage payments. This is due in no small part to consistent rental income. I may have had to tighten my belt, but with the rent dollars there is not an extraordinary difference between a rented one bedroom and what I pay each month. And I have the art space. The art space has been a life raft. There is no way I could support real professional activity if that space were not built into my life. I simply would not have the resources. But because it is here, I can demonstrate real accomplishment while I am searching for a new career.
If I had foreseen the difficult situations that I encountered, I would probably not own anything. But because of Seth’s patient involvement, and his willingness to teach me about different possibilities I end up in a building that is far more than a nice place to live. Further, there are new possibilities on the horizon left untapped or under developed in this place I have. I do credit this outcome with my own sense of vision, and an adventurous spirit, to be sure, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the many contributions Seth made to this outcome. He has vision when looking at a building. He listens. And he invests far more than what is expected from his role as a realtor. He knows communities, and he networks to listings that remain unseen or unexplored by most. And he cares about the net impact of his involvement in other people’s dealing. I cannot recommend him more highly.