MIAMI Association of REALTORS




Christina Pappas: How Volunteer Work Benefits Our Business

by | Nov 30, 2017

Growing up in a Miami Realtor family, I always envisioned working with my father and grandfather. But before I jumped into real estate, I wanted to give my other interest a try: hotels. After graduating from Cornell University, I moved to Los Angeles to launch a hospitality career.

A top L.A. luxury hotel — Viceroy Hotels and Resorts — hired me. I was moving up the hospitality ranks and 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 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.

Launching a Real Estate Career

I was named 2012 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. 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 Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI), the nation’s largest local Realtor group with 45,000 members. Keyes encourages its brokers and agents to volunteer because volunteering provides leadership training and builds networks.

Serving as MIAMI residential president

During my year of service, I didn’t feel I had to work extra hard to disprove any skeptics who question how someone so young and 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 feel support from my colleagues. Realtors support each other like family as long as you put our members first.

I experienced the breadth of this Realtor family power during my year as MIAMI residential president. I learned how resilient Realtors are. During 2017, I saw our Realtor family in action before, during and after a natural disaster. I watched how Realtors mobilized quickly to help friends, families, communities and complete strangers after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the lower Florida Keys on Sept. 10.

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 the day after the donation event to Monroe County in the Florida Keys. Realtors are the heart of the community. No other profession has such a close link to the community. Realtors are leaders in the community.

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.

How volunteer work can help your business:

Leadership Training

Being able to understand a board room full of experienced Realtors 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 idea or a program that helps thousands of Realtors.

You bring that leadership training back to your office to help your agents and 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 brokers in my volunteer work has helped build 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.

We know people live all over the country and you need to build your network. For me, it’s not just a referral. I want to give the referral to the best people in my network.

Whenever I meet someone with a winning business model during my volunteer work, I want to understand how different people run their business. Could that be a match for me? Are they trustworthy? It’s always about looking at all the angles.


Managing Work and Volunteer Time

People ask me all the time how do 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 my calendar on a daily basis. It’s about prioritizing what takes precedence. What did I commit to?

My grandfather used to say: 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 anybody 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 a NAR meeting, I share what I learned with our VP 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 PowerPoint presentations to NAR’s lobbying efforts on legal issues to new technology developing in our industry.

I believe the brokers and associates who have volunteered find great value. I would challenge those who have not to find something they are passionate about and get involved. 

You have to understand your goals when you start volunteering. How can I help my profession by serving? And always remember: you have to give to receive.


As told to Chris Umpierre

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