Chelsea Ialeggio on What Made Her Leave Traditional Real Estate and Aalto’s Innovative Solutions

Aalto Insights Team
Apr 27, 2023

Chelsea E. Ialeggio serves as Aalto’s VP of CX and the Broker of Record. Before she joined the mission to democratize real estate, she was a traditional real estate industry titan. 

As the featured guest on “Real Estate Titans,” Greg Fowler’s podcast, Chelsea shared her career journey from day trading to becoming one of the top real estate agents in the Bay Area, the two pieces of advice her mother (also an industry veteran) gave her, and how Aalto is building a product and experience that has not existed before.

If you don’t have time to listen to the podcast episode, we’ll sum it all up here.

Meet Chelsea E. Ialeggio

Born in Newport Beach, Chelsea is a proud California native and the daughter of a powerhouse realtor. After earning a Bachelor’s in Communications from UC Davis, Chelsea gained invaluable experience while working for a small investment bank and covering fiber optics during the internet boom. Her career took her to London, where she covered major accounts and became a Managing Director at just 29 years old. 

It was then that Chelsea’s life took a dramatic shift. 

The dot-com bubble burst and decimated the market, and shortly after, her mother was diagnosed with two different forms of cancer and told that she had six months to live. Chelsea moved back from London to San Francisco to care for her mother as she fought and won her cancer battle.

With her mother now cancer-free and back to working as a real estate agent, Chelsea knew she’d need some help. So, she got her real estate license originally to temporarily support her mother. 

Chelsea’s Career as a Real Estate Agent

Chelsea went “full-boar” into real estate once she realized that she was actually drawn to the industry and she was determined to build her career on her own. 

“It was pretty daunting,” Chelsea said. “I had a lot of training and supervision in my previous role. I didn’t have that much when I got into real estate. I got my license, and then it was like, ‘Here you go. Here’s a couple contract training classes.’ But how do you actually build a business? I quickly realized that I had this insane passion for helping people on their homebuying journey. I realize now that it was osmosis through my mother.”

Chelsea’s mother gave her two vital pieces of advice: 

  1. Don’t ever count your friends and family as business
  2. Treat everyone in the real estate business with respect

She took this advice to heart and empathetically connected with her clients. 

“I always tried to detach myself from the outcome and always focused on the process,” Chelsea said. “[Sometimes] that involved talking someone out of a home that wasn’t a fit for their portfolio, which I knew would cause problems down the road.”

Chelsea built her business organically by holding open houses every weekend and meeting as many people as possible. She continued to thrive in real estate for the next 18 years, becoming one of the most well-respected and iconic realtors in Marin County. 

Sensing a Shift in the Industry

Although she loved being an agent, Chelsea is a manager at heart. In 2018, she became the General Manager of Vanguard Properties, overseeing more than 50 sales associates and helping increase their transaction volume from $250 million to $650 million.

There, she began seeing technology shifts not unlike those she was seeing before the dot-com bubble burst. 

“I started to see some things within the industry, like seeing what my agents were going through on a daily basis, and I really started to sense this change,” Chelsea said. “Real estate hasn’t changed for a long time in many ways. It was really palpable for me to have lived through it at that time frame in the ‘90s.”

Funny enough, she actually met Nick Narodny, the Founder and CEO of Aalto, during her first week as the GM at Vanguard Properties. 

“We saw eye-to-eye on the issues that made the process daunting by design and how technology advanced in so many ways, but it wasn’t quite there yet for the consumer,” Chelsea explained. 

As she worked with Nick and helped beta test Aalto at her office, she became more and more drawn to the idea and the product.

“This change was pulling me more than what I was doing at the time, which was really hard for me because I really do love my agents, and I’m a loyal person,” Chelsea said. “But I knew that at this stage in my life, it was probably like the last chance I’d have to have a big career change, and I was ready.”

So, in September 2020, Chelsea took the job at Aalto and hasn’t looked back. 

What Is Aalto, and Who Is It For?

Aalto is a self-service real estate platform that’s focused on buyers and sellers. The startup’s  mission is to shift the balance of power in residential real estate away from industry insiders and toward consumers. 

The traditional real estate industry is fragmented and intentionally intimidating. While today’s technology is helping real estate agents, it doesn’t meet the needs of the consumer: the homebuyers and sellers. 

“We’re creating a marketplace that didn’t exist before,” Chelsea explained. “[We’re] breaking down this barrier of buyers and sellers actually being able to have this transparency they haven’t had.”

As a homeowner on Aalto, you can create a profile and sign your home up in just minutes with no commitment required. Then, you can start tracking the market for your home, interact with buyers, get specific feedback, and see other great market insights. And you’ll save up to 80% in commission fees that would otherwise be paid to the listing agent, which saves sellers an average of $40k.

If you go the traditional real estate route and put your home on a listing site, you’re often excluded from knowing everything that goes on in the transaction. You might know how the market is doing in general, but you don’t gain insight into your home specifically. You don’t know what your market direction may be or if and when you should sell. Meanwhile, your address, sales price, and number of days on the market are out there for the whole world to see. 

When you decide to sell on Aalto, you have specific, valuable information to draw from so you can sell your home with confidence. 

Aalto is also excellent for buyers. Inventory in the San Francisco Bay Area was virtually nonexistent six months ago, and it’s still relatively low today. Aalto unlocks new inventory for buyers to explore. If they find a home they like, they can connect with the seller and start a dialogue, all without a traditional real estate agent. Aalto’s market experts are there to help every step of the way, and buyers will get up to 1.5% cash back on any home, which can be used to help with closing costs or to strengthen their offer.

“We’re growing up with a new generation of people, and look at the world in a different way and do everyday transactions differently,” Chelsea said. 

These days, people are doing research online and then reaching out when they need help. You can do your taxes with TurboTax, buy and sell shares online, and turn to YouTube for DIY tips. However, you also know you can go to professionals when you need help. On Aalto, members have access to licensed advisors who are on hand to help homeowners with any questions.

Is Aalto Available in Your Area?

Aalto is in the Bay Area for now and serves San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin counties. They also have “significant wait lists” outside the Bay Area. 

“Our founder is a very well-rounded, experienced CEO who has lived through a lot of turmoil in markets,” Chelsea said. “Our approach to growth is very methodical and well-thought-out.”

Are you ready to take control of your real estate journey? Get started by creating your Aalto profile today.

Aalto, Inc is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California, License #02062727 and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. This article has been prepared solely for information purposes only. The information herein is based on information generally available to the public and/or from sources believed to be reliable. No representation or warranty can be given with respect to the accuracy of the information. Aalto disclaims any and all liability relating to this article.

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