By Christina Pappas
Growing up in a Miami real estate family, I always envisioned working with my father and grandfather. But before I jumped into the industry, I wanted to give my other interest a try: hotels. After graduating from Cornell University, I moved to Los Angeles to launch a career in the hospitality field.
I landed a job at a top L.A. luxury hotel—Viceroy Hotels and Resorts—where I moved up the ranks and was excited about my career. I was planning my next steps and looking back on how far I had come when my phone rang. Everything changed.
My grandfather died.
Grandpa’s unexpected death altered me. Ted Pappas—one of Miami’s most successful real estate brokers and the 1975 Miami Board of REALTORS® president—was more than a role model. He was one of my best friends; someone I could talk to about anything. My grandfather’s death in 2011 made me realize all the family time I missed while living on the opposite coast.
I quit my L.A. job and moved back to Miami. Three months after grandpa’s death, I was working at the family business like I always thought I would. My father, Michael Pappas, is the CEO of The Keyes Company, Florida’s largest independently-owned firm with more than 50 offices and 3,500 agents.
My negotiating skills and hospitality background eased my transition to real estate, but I did struggle with the pressure of trying to follow in my father and grandfather’s footsteps. My attention to detail and passion for the industry helped me triumph. In 2012, I was named Keyes Rookie of the Year for highest sales volume. I rose the ranks and today I’m managing Keyes’ Brickell area office—one of our firm’s highest-producing offices. I oversee 41 agents, and my goal is to continue to grow the Brickell office and inspire Keyes’ “Next Gen” group of under-40 associates.
I’ve been fortunate to have the same growth as a leader of the MIAMI REALTORS® (MIAMI), the nation’s largest local REALTOR® association with 45,000 members. I started volunteering with MIAMI as a member of its Young Professional Network. I was elected as 2015 MIAMI YPN chair, creating new events and seminars to help young members. In 2017, at the age of 31, I became the second-youngest in MIAMI’s 97-year history to serve as residential president.
Christina Pappas at her 2017 inaugural as president of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS®
During my year of service, I didn’t feel I had to prove any skeptics wrong who might have questioned how a young female can handle a presidential role. I knew that as long as I served with an open heart, open mind, and pushed our association in the right direction, I would gain support from my colleagues. REALTORS® support each other like family as long as you put our members first.
I have experienced the breadth and resilience of this REALTOR® family power while serving as MIAMI’s 2017 residential president. I saw our members in action before, during, and after Hurricane Irma. I watched how they mobilized quickly to help friends, families, communities and complete strangers after the hurricane made landfall in the lower Florida Keys on Sept. 10, 2017.
The MIAMI Association as well as The Keyes Company and many other South Florida brokerages held donation events to collect items for victims impacted by Hurricane Irma. The MIAMI Association connected with other REALTOR® groups to secure a plane to fly the items to Monroe County in the Florida Keys the day after the donation event. REALTORS® are the heart of the community. No other profession has such a close link to the community. We are truly leaders.
Next year, I will stay on as a Miami leader serving on MIAMI’s 2018 Residential Board. I’m also thrilled to continue volunteering with Florida REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). I am honored to serve as the 2018 NAR Large Firm and Industry Relations liaison. I believe I bring a valuable insight as a conduit between large firms and the NAR Leadership Team, to help my committees see beyond what I know.
We at Keyes encourage our brokers and agents to volunteer because it provides leadership training and builds networks. Here are some ways volunteer work can help your business:
Being able to understand a board room full of experienced real estate professionals and communicate what other board members are trying to say is a strong skill-set. It is remarkable to be able to coalesce our ideas in the MIAMI boardroom into an action or a program that helps thousands of REALTORS®. You bring that leadership training back to your office to help your office, team, and fellow associates. I’ve also benefited from the spokesperson training class that comes with serving the Florida REALTORS®.
At the Forefront of the Industry
Serving on a local board gets you the most up-to-date information on the real estate industry so you can bring the changes back to your office first. As a MIAMI leader, we are at the forefront of our industry. When you serve at the association level, you understand how you can impact your business and agents.
You are also building a trust level with some of the region’s top brokers. Real estate is a very small world, even when you serve on the national level. Building that trust and camaraderie with fellow brokers and agents through my volunteer work has helped grow our company’s network.
Building Your Network
I tell agents all the time: No one knows where their next deal is coming from. You don’t have a crystal ball. You need to be everywhere. A lot of people talk about using technology, but I never overlook association events or board meetings as a possible referral networking event.
I now know people who live all over the country. For me, it’s not just a referral; it’s a client and a person. I want to give that person the best real estate professionals in my network. So, I want to understand how different brokers and agents run their business. Whenever I meet someone with a winning business model during my volunteer work, I look at if they could be a good referral match for me. I find out if they’re a trustworthy businessperson. It’s about looking at all the angles.
Managing Work and Volunteer Time
People ask me all the time how I manage all of my volunteer obligations with my work. My answer? A calendar—a really good calendar with a skilled administrative assistant.
You can’t manage time. Managing time means telling time to stop. It’s about managing your calendar on a daily basis. It’s about prioritizing what takes precedence. What did I commit to? My grandfather used to say that it takes 25 years to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it. If you commit to something and don’t follow through, ultimately that’s not serving anyone well.
I estimate I spend about 16 hours a month volunteering at local, state, and national boards. As a MIAMI leader, I attend four quarterly three-hour meetings for each board. I also attend many conferences, such as when I represented MIAMI at MIPIM, the world’s leading property event in France this year. I’ve also participated in state, local, and national conventions.
When I come back from an NAR meeting, I share what I learned with our vice president of operations and our leadership team to discuss how it can improve our agents’ business. There are so many takeaways, from NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s presentations to NAR’s lobbying efforts on legal issues to new technology developing in our industry.
I believe the brokers and associates who volunteer find great value. With the New Year approaching, I would challenge those of you who have not volunteered to find something you’re are passionate about and get involved. And always remember: You have to give to receive.
A third-generation Miami real estate professional, Christina Pappas is the second-youngest board president in the 97-year history of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS®. Pappas oversees 41 agents as the district sales manager for The Keyes Company’s Brickell area office, a top-producing office in downtown Miami. Pappas, who led MIAMI’s Young Professionals Network in 2015, will serve as the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Large Firm and Industry Relations liaison. Learn more at www.keyes.com.