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Blazing a New Trail in a Family Synonymous with Miami Real Estate

by | May 15, 2017



By Chris Umpierre

MIAMI Staff

 

MIAMI — Most 10-year-olds would play with Barbies or hide and seek if left alone in their grandfather’s large Miami real estate office.

Not Christina Pappas.

On those Saturdays when she visited the family business, Christina would sprint to her grandfather’s black leather chair. The 10-year-old would lean back and pretend she was “the best real estate executive in America,” as Florida Trend magazine called Theodore J. Pappas in 1979.

“I would tell my siblings we were going to sell a house,” Christina recalled. “We’d write a contract and we’d sell a house right there. We’d walk over to the HR office and show them the home. I don’t know if that was normal for most kids.”

When real estate runs in your blood, it’s more than normal.

Two decades after writing pretend contracts, the third-generation Realtor is writing real ones as one of the top executives for Florida’s largest, independently owned real estate firm (The Keyes Company). Pappas has not only followed in her grandfather’s (Ted Pappas served as the 1975 MIAMI board president) and father’s footsteps (Mike Pappas is CEO of Keyes), she’s blazed new ones.

In January 2017, the then 31-year-old Pappas became the second-youngest board president in the 97-year history of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS (MIAMI). Only Eduardo San Ramón (age 25) in 1990 was younger, but San Ramón led a membership of 4,200 members. Christina Pappas is the MIAMI Residential President of more than 46,000 members in four counties.

“Being a young president is very humbling,” Pappas said. “I strive to learn from the great people who have been in my shoes and take it to the next generation. I think it’s a great testament for younger Realtors to consider to serve the MIAMI association. Hey, look, it doesn’t take decades and decades and decades of experience; it takes a heart of service.”

Real Estate is in the Pappas DNA

Christina learned how to negotiate and sell homes from two of Miami’s best Realtors. Mike Pappas leads the Keyes Company, one of Miami’s oldest real estate brokerages. Keyes recently merged with Palm Beach-based Illustrated Properties to create Florida’s largest independent firm.

Ted Pappas, who starred at Duke University on the boxing and track teams, joined The Keyes Company as a branch sales manager in 1962. Seven years later, at age 43, he was named president of the South’s largest real estate organization.

“Christina has the same passion that her grandfather did and I have for the business,” Mike Pappas said. “One of our mantras is you have to drive business. You have to be a leader of leaders. We see the board as a growth process for our management team to learn from other great leaders.”

Ted Pappas led the MIAMI association during a difficult time for Miami real estate. In 1975, both Florida and the nation was in a major recession.

“Florida real estate in trouble? Baloney!” Ted Pappas said in 1975, according to The Greatest Sale on Earth. “All indications point to a healthy and prosperous future. We must personally and individually take an aggressive approach toward encouraging and bolstering Florida’s prosperity.”

The quote shows just how rousing a speaker Ted Pappas was. He was also light-hearted as evidenced by his handling of one of the most interesting and comical moments in board history.

In November 1975, MIAMI played host to an elephant. Irene, however, broke away from her trainer and crashed through a plate-glass window at the MIAMI board’s office.

Ted Pappas found a way to laugh about it, and create more publicity for the board. He awarded the elephant a scroll declaring her an honorary member of the board because… well, she clearly wanted to get into real estate.


 

Joining the Family Business

Christina always pictured herself working with her grandfather and father, but she wanted to give her other love a try first. After graduating from Cornell University, Christina ventured to Los Angeles to launch a hospitality career.

She was hired at Viceroy Hotels and Resorts and quickly moved up the ranks. She often called her father and grandfather for advice.

She loved talking with her grandfather. Grandpa always told it like it was. “He never sugar coated anything,” Christina said.

In the back of her mind, she pictured working with him.

That dream ended July 2011 when Ted Pappas, 86, unexpectedly passed away.

His death changed her. It made her realize how important time with family was. Devastated and not wanting to waste any more time, Christina quit her Los Angeles job and moved back to Miami. Three months after Ted Pappas’ death, Christina was working for Keyes.

Her negotiating skills and hospitality background made the transition easy. She was named 2012 Keyes Rookie of the Year for highest sales volume. Christina leads and inspires millennial Realtors and played an integral role in The Keyes’ young professionals and millennial initiative.

Earlier this year, she was named manager of The Keyes Company’s Brickell office. She oversees 41 agents, who are also active in Shenandoah, Coconut Grove, the Roads and Greater Downtown Miami. Her progression in real estate has proved to her she made the right decision.

“The hospitality industry doesn’t have a lot of different day-to-day challenges and opportunities to impact somebody’s life like real estate does,” Christina said. “In hotels, I may send flowers to somebody’s room. They may remember it. They may not.

“In real estate, you’re making an impact on people’s lives that’s lasting.”

Christina paused. She thought of the hundreds of clients she has helped.

“Every one of my customers holds a different part of my heart,” said Christina, gathering her thoughts. “You feel for them. You know how they are trying to make it work with their finances. You understand what they’re going through. You don’t get closer to anybody in any industry than the time you’re helping clients find a home.”

 

Continuing the Pappas Legacy

The last name of Pappas is synonymous with Miami real estate. Christina and her five siblings grew up listening to people say how great their grandfather and father are in real estate. There is some pressure that comes with that.

Christina says she puts pressure on herself to be just as good as her father and grandfather. Mike Pappas understands because he felt the same pressure. He knows Christina will have lifelong success in real estate because of her attention to detail and passion for the community.

Mike tells the story of his children asking their mother if they brought the family’s diaper bag before an outing many years ago. One sibling asked Mom if she had the diaper bag. Christina, then 8, got more specific: “Is there anything in the diaper bag?”

“She has always been very organized even as a young girl,” Mike Pappas said.


Christina has also had a strong passion for the community. She helps the Junior League of Miami and Our Pride Academy. She has served as MIAMI YPN chairman and as one of 13 district vice presidents to serve in the leadership of Florida Realtors®, the state’s largest professional association.

The late Ted Pappas, who also accomplished many things at a young age in real estate, must be smiling down from heaven.

“I don’t know what he would say to me now,” Christina said, taking some time to ponder the question. “My grandfather would be proud, but he’d also make sure to tell me that I didn’t get here on my own. It’s about the people who have supported me. It’s about the members and what have I done for the profession. For me, it’s always about how we can make a difference for the members.”

 

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PAPPAS BIO

Name: Christina Pappas

Board position: 2017 MIAMI Association of REALTORS® Residential President

Employment: Manager of The Keyes Company’s Brickell office

Achievement: 2012 The Keyes Company Rookie of the Year; 2013 Women’s Council of Realtors Rising Star

Did you know? Christina is the second oldest of five siblings. Her three sisters are working in different educational careers while her brother is in investment banking. The siblings range in age from 25-33.

 

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Getting to Know Our MIAMI Leaders is a project by Chris Umpierre highlighting the 2017 presidents and chairmen of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS®. The leaders are: Chairman of the Board Christopher Zoller, Residential President Christina Pappas, Commercial President José María Serrano, Broward President Ellen R. Mitchel, Young Professionals Network Chairman Alberto Carrillo and JTHS-MIAMI President Lynne Rifkin.

 

Read all the profiles at www.miamire.com/MiamiLeaders

 

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