Joliet’s real estate market has witnessed the rise of a true industry leader, Carmen Carter, the energetic CEO and the heartbeat of the respectable Carter Realty Group. With over two decades of experience in the field, Carmen has not only established herself but also elevated Carter Realty Group to new heights, earning the respect of the community along the way. With a dynamic team of 22 talented individuals comprised primarily of women, Carmen continues to lead the charge for black women and all women in general in the real estate industry.
For the married mother of 3 boys, Carmen’s journey to success was an adventure in itself. After dedicating four years to active duty in the United States Air Force, she found herself at a crossroads. Uncertain about her next move, she knew one thing for sure—she was ready to take control of her destiny.
“Nothing was going to stop me from taking control of my destiny. I’m unequivocally the master of my fate, and it is crucial for me to be free and my authentic self without any limitations,” Carmen proclaims confidently. “That’s precisely why I am extremely selective when it comes to hiring people. It’s all about the right vibe. Everyone on my team exudes cohesion and gives positive energy. There’s no pettiness. So, before welcoming a new member, I have them meet with my team because if they can gel with the women, they might be a good fit. My team means everything to me, and I don’t want to disrupt our chemistry.”
“I simply believe in treating people good. True success is achieved when you genuinely help others. It’s not always about money or recognition” –Carmen Carter
After bidding farewell to military life and transitioning into the civilian world, Carmen found herself working at Charlotte and Russe, a popular clothing store. It was there that she encountered a young Black woman who caught her attention. This woman visited the store regularly, purchasing an array of fashionable items. Intrigued by her seemingly limitless spending power, Carmen couldn’t help but approach her.
“The young Black lady would come into the store every week,” Carmen recalls excitedly. “And every time she came into Charlotte and Russe, she would buy something. It really amazed me because I had never seen anything like it before. I thought she must be rich. So, one day, I asked her what she did for a living.”
The answer she received changed Carmen’s life forever. With a smile, the woman revealed that she worked in real estate. Inspired by this encounter, Carmen wasted no time. She dialed her brother’s number and exclaimed, “Real estate is it!” After undertaking the necessary classes and becoming a licensed agent, Carmen found initial success working for REMAX. However, as a black woman in a male-dominated industry, she soon realized that her true potential was being stifled.
“I wanted to tap into the bank-owned property market (foreclosure homes) because that’s where the real money was at the time,” Carmen explains. “But when I approached my broker about it, he flat out said no. It was like stepping into a good ol’ boys club. I didn’t need his endorsement; I just needed an opportunity to prove myself. But he refused to help, so I made up my mind to leave. And that’s exactly what I did.”
Determined not to fold under pressure and continue to create her own path, Carmen found herself working for a small boutique real estate firm in the city of Chicago that focused on foreclosed properties. It was there that she delved deeper into the understanding of becoming a successful real estate agent. “The owner welcomed me with open arms and imparted all the knowledge I needed as it pertains to bank-owned properties,” Carmen recalls fondly, a sense of gratitude filling her voice.
However, destiny had something greater in store for her. One evening, Carmen’s husband expressed his unwavering belief in her abilities and encouraged her to venture out independently.
After spending nearly, a decade honing her skills and knowledge while working for other firms, the time had come for Carmen to create her own real estate empire. Thus, the birth of Carter Realty Group.
“It’s an immense amount of work,” Carmen shares, her voice tinged with determination as she reflects on building and sustaining Carter Realty Group. “There were countless things I had to learn on my own. And as Carter Realty Group continues to thrive, there will always be more for me to discover. I read a lot of books, a lot of books! Then with my team, I must ensure they remain engaged and empowered to earn for themselves.”
Reflecting on her entrepreneurial spirit, Carmen fondly recalls her lineage of business owners.
“Entrepreneurship runs in my blood,” she declares proudly. “My grandparents owned the Ebony Terrence Lounge, and my parents owned a barber and beauty shop called Scissors and Feet First: Shoes and Boutique. Selling has been a part of me since childhood—I even had my own magazine called the Oriental Trading Club in grade school, which I would take door to door. It’s a family legacy that has shaped who I am today.”
As the CEO of Carter Realty Group for the past 13 years, Carmen brings forth a unique blend of expertise, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to her clients. Whether she’s assisting in finding the perfect dream home or securing a lucrative deal, Carmen’s personal touch and wealth of knowledge ensure that her clients receive top-notch service at every step. According to Carmen Carter, in 2022, Carter Realty Group successfully closed over 175 transactions, with a cumulative value exceeding 40 million dollars, with 98% originating from referrals.
On June 17, 2023, Carmen will be honored with the prestigious Business of the Year award by the African American Black Business Association of Will County. This remarkable accomplishment firmly establishes her Black-owned business among the upper echelons of the real estate industry.
“When I first learned of this incredible honor, I was left speechless,” Carmen exclaims, her voice brimming with joy and excitement. “They approached me and said, ‘Carmen, who else could we have chosen?’ It’s an overwhelming feeling, almost surreal. However, this achievement isn’t solely mine to celebrate; it’s a testament to my entire team. I couldn’t have accomplished any of this on my own. I needed their support every step of the way. I tell them that I don’t want the responsibility for their success or failures, but I’ll provide them with every tool in my arsenal, leaving it up to them to utilize it.”
Carmen attributes her remarkable success and longevity in the real estate industry to her commitment to treating others the way she desires to be treated.
“I simply believe in treating people good,” she states emphatically. “True success is achieved when you genuinely help others. It’s not always about money or recognition. Sometimes, it’s about assisting individuals in acquiring what they truly need in life. I find great joy in helping people. I love helping people purchase their dream home. But one of my greatest pleasures as a business owner is helping my team earn $100,000 or more for their households. That’s my annual goal. I tell people if we take care of ourselves and the people you can touch. Then the people you touch will be able to take care of themselves and the people they can touch. If you do that, then it’ll start spreading and touching more people. If you don’t help someone become successful, there is no way you can become successful. One person can’t do it alone. I’m not here without the support of the community and my team. I’m thankful for every last one of them.”
For the past two years, Carmen, along with her agents, has hosted Food Truck Fridays every Friday during June from 4 pm to 8 pm. Food Truck Fridays offer various food from local vendors, with entertainment coming from a DJ and a live band. For Carmen, this is a way to give back to the community while also building relationships with new clients and strengthening relationships with previous clients.
“In previous years, Carter Realty Group has done something for our clients and the community. The last two years we did Food Truck Fridays. In prior years we did rooftop parties, I rented out a movie theater and I do this because they’ve given so much to me, and this is my way of giving back.”
With her infectious enthusiasm and boundless energy, Carmen Carter is not just a real estate veteran; she’s a visionary, an inspiration, and a respected industry leader. As she continues to revolutionize the local real estate scene, one can’t help but marvel at the indomitable spirit of this remarkable businesswoman.