Depending on who you ask, it's either an enticement or a threat.
Over the weekend, Twitter user @sizzlefruit shared a sign from realtor Brad Zibung promising an unusual closing gift for a condo near Diversey & Clybourn: a case of everyone's favorite/least favorite local spirit, Malört. Or as their tweet put it, "the most Chicago thing I’ve seen in a long ass time."
Zibung, the founder of Chicago Residential Partners at Compass Real Estate, says the genesis of the idea was pretty simple: they wanted to have fun and make their listings stand out. Of the three homes where Zibung and his team have used the Malört signs, one has an accepted offer and one closed. On the way to the first buyer's final walkthrough, Zibung went to the liquor store to buy six bottles of Malört to deliver on what the sign had promised. Zibung laid the bottles on the island, and it turns out the buyer hadn't seen the rider on the sign, so he was a bit confused as to what the gift was doing there.
"I wonder how many of [the bottles] have been consumed," Zibung says.
Zibung says the Malört sign rider is not the only Chicago-centric one the team has considered. The signs have to be succinct, pithy, tongue-in-cheek and Chicago-related, all in about 10 words. Among the other sign riders Zibung and his team have considered include a free Mitch Trubisky jersey with purchase of the home (too soon?), while others have referenced Chicago cultural signposts like Old Style, Abe Froman, the Empire Carpet Guy and, of course, late-night tamales. "I'm also open to suggestions if people ever want to try their hand at this," he says. "They have to be short but have to have an impact."
But for Zibung, making these local references is more than just a way to get a laugh and a retweet from his fellow Chicagoans. As a realtor, he says it's important to convey to his clients that he knows and understands the city and the neighborhood where they're about to purchase a home.
"You want people who know their way around and what it means to live in Chicago," Zibung says. "You don't want to have to explain to your real estate agent the ins and outs of the city."
Zibung has lived in Chicago for 23 years, and when working with a client who's moving to Chicago, he wants to be an ambassador for the city. In addition to the Malört, he finds ways to showcase local favorites—he's gifted products from small businesses like SoapJunkii and candle company Hyde Nor Hare, and will tailor gifts and recommendations based on where the client is moving, like a J.P. Graziano gift card for new West Loop residents.
"I love the city and it's really important to me that that authenticity shines through," he says. "I wouldn't be a good real estate agent anywhere else."