For These Families, Real Estate Is a Part of Their Legacy

By Kelly Leighton | July 9, 2020 | 4 min. read

Editor’s note: The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and we’ll be highlighting some history of the organization.

Real estate runs in the family for these Pennsylvania leaders and these legacy families have played an important role in PAR’s 100-year history.

For most, going to open houses, playing with MLS books and picking up for sale signs were just a part of their family’s daily life. So, going into the business themselves? It was a no-brainer.

“Real estate was never a thought, it was just something I wanted to do. It’s been nearly 46 years and I’ve never thought twice about it,” said PAR Past President Jim Helsel, whose grandfather and father were both in the industry. All three served as national, state and local Realtor® leaders.

“It may seem cliché, but I love working with people. I’m so passionate about this field, some may say too passionate, but I want our industry to be the best it can be.”

As for District 1 Vice President Heather Petrone-Shook, along with her brother, Joseph, and mother, Kathy, they are still are a part of the real estate team started by her late father in 1975.

“Growing up, helping out in the office, it was just something we did,” said Petrone-Shook. While she wasn’t sure she would follow in the family business, once her brother got his license, she decided to as well.

“I was competitive, and I wanted to make money too,” she recalled. Now in the business for 24 years, Petrone-Shook, her mother and brother all agree it’s the people they do business with that makes it worth it.

“We just love working with people,” she said.

For PAR President-elect Chris Raad, he remembers being asked in kindergarten what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“A Realtor®,” he said.

“I didn’t even know what it meant, but it wasn’t a question for me. I got my license in 1999 and haven’t looked back,” said Raad, who followed his grandfather, father and brother in the industry.

Raad said he remember carrying quarters so that when he got a page on his beeper, he could go call people from a pay phone.

“Today, the work-life balance with technology is hard, it feels like you’re always working,” said Raad. “But I love being a part of people’s lives from when they buy their first house, then their next house when they get married and then their next house when they have kids, it’s great. These people become family.”

For Christina Cardone, she had not planned to be a Realtor®, like her father Dominic, a PAR past president. “I was planning to go to graduate school for comparative literature. I went to work for my dad in the year between completing undergraduate and graduate school, but it turned into a full-time job in real estate. I ended up doing an awful lot of teaching to Realtors® and clients, so it came around full circle.”

“When I thought I was just dabbling in it, it was a very exciting and easy time to make money,” she added. “It was 2003 when I started, so it was very attractive and kind of addictive, especially the prospect of making my own schedule and having a lot of flexibility for a lot of travel. I learned really quickly I liked it an awful lot.”

Dominic found himself in real estate after answering an ad in the New York Times for a real estate agent in Philadelphia in 1982. He had originally worked in banking, but was looking for a new career to be closer to his wife’s family. His wife, Betsy, is also a Realtor®.

“For the past 20 years, I have said, with technology, people will need us less and less for the match. Now, they don’t need us for the match anymore. We must stress our value with education and protecting our clients. Every day, real estate becomes more complicated. The more complicated real estate becomes, the more valuable we become as a real estate agent. We have to protect the buyers and educate them on all the complications,” said Dominic. “It’s still all about communication and relationships, and in that sense, I don’t see real estate changing over the next 10 years.”

Christina added that it’s going to be an “exciting future” for the industry.

”We’re going to feel like a lot of things are changing quickly. One of the tremendous benefits of being in this as a family is that I can see it farther back than just my own experience as a Realtor®, as having my memories growing up and seeing my parents in the industry and seeing how little it really has changed. It gives me a broader perspective. It helps weather some of these big changes,” she added.

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