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Community Highlights: Meet Kathy Aparo-Griffin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathy Aparo-Griffin.

Hi Kathy, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started out at the age of 14 my first job was Mc Donalds opening at 5 am. After high school, I decided I was going to UF. So when I turned 18, I packed my 1980 Chevy Camero (that I purchased for $2800) at $1 per hour babysitting for three kids and I went to Gainesville. I showed up at UF, telling them I wanted to go to school there… I had a $500 credit card which it cost me $200 to get there. I had $300 left and the deposit for the DORM was $500. I gave them $300 with the promise in two weeks. I would have the rest. I them got three jobs: Worked at GC 101 radio station as a DJ from 12am to 6am, then went to class 8am to 1pm worked at Mall at a clothing store 3 pm to 7 pm, then Publix from 730 pm to 11 pm and I did that till I got financial aid and saved up enough funds to pay for my dorm. My parents are both from Italy and I’m a dual citizen. I graduated from UF with a BS in Telecommunication in 1992.

After graduation, I moved back to Ormond Beach and my husband Bill (William) went to Embry Riddle and got his degree. Then from 1992 to 2006, I was an Orlando Radio DJ doing Mid-days 10 am to 3 pm, afternoon drive 3pm to 7pm at various radio stations: Cool 105.9, Magic 107.7, Power 105.9 Orlandos Jammin Oldies just to name a few. VERY FUN job but soon consolidation began to happen so the “FUN” of being a radio personality began to fade. Because I was soon doing “middays” for 3-4 radio stations just “recording” my voice and the “fun” was no longer there… Plus radio very iffy you can have a job one day and the next day the radio station FLIPS formats and you report to work and your find out your let go. That is what happened at my last gig, which was my FAVORITE the MOST fun I ever had, the BEST job I ever had: Worked with Joe Nasty, Burke Allen, some of my favorite radio people. So with that said at the same time, I had my first child Billy and with him being a baby, I started “the voice track diva” which was a service I offered to radio stations all over the country. I would “layout” my tracks and MP3 them and I was “live” in over 100 radio stations across the county and even in Brazil. I was also on American Airlines when your in-flight and also on FORD Motor Company in Times Square NY.

After a couple of years of doing that my husband, son and I decided to “move” to Boston where I worked at Magic and Cool but I tried to list my home with over eight different realtors and NO LUCK selling. So I flew back home to “sell” my house. I took a banana box a sharpie and wrote “FOR SALE” put the box (my makeshift sign) in the front yard with an asking price of $59,900 AND WITHIN one week, I had multiple buyers ALL OVER asking price. Well, I had checked out a book from the public library on how to sell your home I was on Page 18 I had two buyers in my home bidding against each other. In a panic, not knowing what to do next I ran to the bedroom got the book and looked up what to do once the buyer wants to make an offer: Pure panic kicked in… WRITE UP AND OFFER… how do I do that? Thinking quick, I pulled the offer from when I purchased the home and used white-out and filled in the blanks the best I could. (scared to death) The buyer at that point asked if I was a realtor and commented, you should be because your really good at this.

Well, at that moment, I decided to get my license so that next time I would know what I was doing. Closed the deal stayed in the home while we built our new house (rent-free) pretty good deal for us! I then went to get my real estate license and, without a doubt, DID NOT WANT TO WORK FOR COORPORATE, I had many years for which I was traumatized I wanted to work for the smallest NON-corporate Real Estate broker I could find. The first brokerage I worked for was so small it was out of a shed in my brokers back yard and I was the ONLY agent. I remember she didn’t have an office… So my first partial year August to Dec 2001, I remember selling enough to make 80k. During that year the broker bought an office and I still hear her saying your next closing we are getting windows, next closing AC, next closing furniture, etc. My second full year was a huge success and I was a TOP Producer getting MANY MANY awards selling some months 3-4 million per month. I always told my broker I would NEVER leave her to go somewhere else (the Italian loyalty) unless it was to open my own thing… and that time came in 2004.

We also had our Daughter Isabella in 2002 and at that point, I began to think of doing my own thing. But I was “pushed ” by another good friend in 2003 while selling him property PHILLIP dear friend of mine he asked me to ride with him. He pulled up to this run-down building all boarded up, homeless sleeping on the steps, tents in the parking lot, no floors, no windows and no AC. I still remember we pulled to the front and he looked at me and said I have this under contact and your gonna buy it. I’m going to assign the contract to you… I was confused and scared and said, “what am I going to do with this building? He said your going to open your own office… I thought he was crazy… I didn’t have the money, the place was a disaster and I didn’t even have my brokerage license. So I trusted him as he was “older” and “wiser” I went home told my husband we have to buy this run-down building. He thought I was crazy too… again. I didn’t have my brokers license. So we bought the building and while I studied to get the license to open. I remember I had two checks to open from my last two sales at my old brokers total of $6200 and I remember the 1st day my checks were gone. I got a phone system and an open paper sign.

I worked really hard got my 1st closing and used that money to put windows, 2nd closing flooring, 3rd closing signage, 4th closing AC, 5th closing used furniture etc. EVERY closing I had for the next year was to get the place going… My husband worked full time to pay the bills I worked full-time 60+ hours a week to get the office going. Life was NOT easy. But we did it… Also, since 2004 have purchased investment property one per year and have a nice retirement package of regular income. In 2006 my husband joined Aparo Griffin Properties working full time. I’m still the broker very hands-on every day. But all the hard work was worth it. My husband helps at the office but he is the full-time property manager for our investment properties. Here we are almost 20 years later… I have two offices, 47 realtors and five assistants and a total of 9 people on the payroll. All I can say is if you work hard, stay focused and ALWAYS DO THE RIGHT THING you will do well in life. No one said it was easy BUT STAY positive and remember EVERYDAY ABOVE GROUND IS A GOOD DAY! That is my story and I’m sticking to it!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Biggest was NO money. No gas $300 to start my life. Ramen noodles, crackers and peanut butter for weeks at a time no sheets for my bed no money for diapers pulling couch cushions to get a chance to get diapers. Rent was $335 per month and my pay was $3.35 per hour. My mother would send an envelope from Ormond Beach to Gainesville with her tip money from cutting hair. I would be so excited to “open” the envelope which was delivered by my finance at the time (now my husband since 1990). The envelope would have $3 or on a good week $5 that was my food money for the week. I remember I have $5 and the green beans were ten cans for a dollar so I would buy 10 cans of green beans, 10 cans of corn, etc that was my food for the week which I shoved in a banana box and put under the bed. I DID NOT have a refrigerator. I would wake up, an open can of greens beans, drink water, go to class and eat some bread or donuts that I brought home from working the night before at Publix. So it was a can of something and bread from the night before (day-old bread) and for lunch, it was a repeat of the above but maybe a can of carrots and a donut, etc… I remember when we got married and my husband and I had our first car a TOYOTA TERCELL. It was a black interior and NO AC but we were happy.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
We are humble people we came from struggles and we understand what it’s like to struggle. We are the only affordable housing partner for VOLUSIA COUNTY FLORIDA we do ALL OF THE DOWN payment programs for 1st-time buyers. We are real people. Our place isn’t fancy but our customers love us. We have an A+ rating on the BBB also, we are the proud recipient of the Angies list super service award since 2013 which is given to the TOP 5% in the county. In addition each year we get the Hometown News Readers Choice award which is a MAIL-IN one ballet per household. We win that award based on the readers mailing in real ballots. We are BEST REAL ESTATE company for Deland, Debary, Orange City, Deltona and Deleon Springs. We take the award for all of WEST VOLUSIA. We are open seven days a week and each agent is Taught one on one by me, the broker. I have had close to 10 agents leave but to do their own brokerage and they have all been successful. I have taught well. We have since 2004 every year in December do a “customer appreciation party” We have live entertainment, actually my mom and dad, we have it at a local venue, great food, wine and we give away a tons of stuff. We have never missed a party and our customers will start calling in November to make sure they get their invite we invite ALL OUR BUYERS and SELLERS. We also recently just got a contract with Volusia County for three years as their brokerage firm we are very proud of our accomplishments.

What are your plans for the future?
Just enjoying life. Hope to Travel more after Corona Virus is not a threat. We love to travel since we started our own Brokerage Firm we have made it a goal to take one BIG trip per year. Our kids have been so Lucky to have traveled in some of the best places in the world, a partial list below Alaska Ireland Turkey Greece Jamacia Costa Rica Italy, Sicily Iceland Looking forward to slowing down. TRAVEL MORE SEE THE WORLD… but still doing what I love REAL ESTATE.

Contact Info:

Zillow Orlando Kathy Apard-Griffin

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