BY SUE ERWIN – Island Realtor Christina Sexton was born and raised in Englewood, and she is enjoying watching her real estate career blossom in Boca Grande.
She recently joined Michael Saunders & Company’s Gasparilla Island real estate office.
With more than five years of experience as a Realtor, she brings a lifetime of local knowledge and real estate experience to her clients.
“I work both on and off the island. I have clients in Englewood, Venice and Cape Haze – but I like to stay in this area,” she said.
Prior to becoming a Realtor in 2011, Christina worked alongside her husband, Justin, in running their construction business, which specializes in luxury remodels throughout Boca Grande, Palm Island and Manasota Key.
Christina said that having a strong construction background has helped her quite a bit in her career as a Realtor. She said many buyers look on the Internet before contacting a Realtor, so she does a lot of previewing of properties. Her construction knowledge helps her weed out some of the properties that her potential clients may not be interested in, and that saves time. Understanding the process of building or remodeling a home from the ground up gives her unique insights that benefit her customers.
“My husband is a contractor, and we have owned our construction company for about ten years. I ran the business for years when the economy was not doing so well. And since I love talking about homes and I love new construction, I thought I would study and work on getting my real estate license. I started out in a small boutique, and I just hit the ground running and loved it,” she said.
Christina joined Michael Saunders just over a year ago and loves everything about the company.
“They offer great support, and they have absolutely everything I was looking for in a brokerage. They have a strong marketing background and they are very up to date on new technology. And with things changing so much over the past several years … the way people prefer to search for homes is online and so much of what they do is internet-based. They stay on top of the newer kinds of technology that is available and constantly coming out. So it’s been fantastic in that sense,” she said.
Christina said the most challenging aspect of her work recently has been the inventory.
“Right now, we have interested buyers who are eager and looking to purchase, and it gets frustrating because what they are looking for isn’t always available, especially this time of the year when the inventory gets low.”
Christina added that inventory on the island has been very low for the past couple of years as far as selection, and that leaves room for a new thought process in the field.
“We have to think about creative ways to work with investors, like possibly remodeling and seeing what we can do with the inventory that is on the market now. That’s probably the biggest struggle, the inventory,” she said.
Christina said her clients are mostly buyers, but she does have some sellers as well.
“I am trying to switch my gears, but I have always been primarily a buyer’s agent. And I love it. I love being able to show people all sorts of different types of houses and getting opinions from people as they look at the variety of décor that is available. That’s kind of the joy of being a Realtor: Not only do you get to look at homes that you might enjoy, but you also learn more about all kinds of homes and condos and the many different amenities that exist,” she said. “It’s fun.”
Christina said that working in the field for the past five years has been a blessing. She said the most enjoyable part of her job is meeting new people.
“There have been a lot of new friendships gained as new people come to this area,” she said.
Over the last couple of years, Christina has seen a change in the age groups when it comes to people interested in owning property here. It appears that there is more of a multi-generational need at the present time.
“I am watching people who have recently retired and are coming down here in their mid-to-late 50s, and they have more specific needs: homes that will accommodate their kids and their grandkids and also accommodate their elderly parents.”
Christina also serves on the board of the New Paradigm Foundation in Englewood, which is a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to provide affordable housing to families that are at risk of becoming homeless in the near future. They provide mentors and counselors to help people transition into a life of self-sufficiency.
Christina and Justin have two daughters who are attending Lemon Bay High School, one daughter in middle school and one daughter in elementary school.
Their oldest daughter, Kasi, is a junior and is an avid softball player. She plays on a nationwide traveling softball team based out of Tampa. Kasi recently received a scholarship to Jacksonville University, a small, private school accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
“They started recruiting her when she was in eighth grade,” Christina said. “The school is in a nice, quiet town – it actually reminds me a lot of what this area is like.”
All four girls are involved with some sort of athletic team, including basketball, swimming and volleyball.
When she is not working, Christina loves spending time with her family.
“My kids are really my hobbies. We did the Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament this year, and in fact my daughter, Emma, won the girls division.”
Christina said she enjoyed fishing the Boca Grande Chamber’s Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament, and Justin has been a fishing charter captain in Boca Grande for several years.
“He kept busy doing a lot of commercial and charter fishing when the real estate market was in trouble, but these past two years, he hasn’t really been able to fish much because he is so busy with work. We are also remodeling our home right now,” she said.
The family also enjoys paddleboarding together at the beach and making the most out of enjoying outdoor activities together.
“It’s just so beautiful to get out there and see all the wildlife – the manatees get so close – it’s amazing. And it’s also a great workout. It’s paradise here.”