Christina Halvatzis was born into a real estate family and at 27 is making her mark on the booming industry in Queens.
As a salesperson at Amorelli Realty in Astoria, Christina Halvatzis works with her father, Paul Halvatzis, to aid people in finding a home and to help developers purchase and sell property. The Queens College graduate majored in psychology and thought about going into the medical field. But the pull of the family business was too strong.
“She started coming to work when she was 3,” Paul Halvatzis said. “We have a conference table where I changed her diaper here.”
The company was started by Paul Halvatzis’ mother Anita in 1978. The first location was on Steinway and Ditmars Boulevard and in 1981, Amorelli Realty moved to its current location at 36-01 30th Ave. The father and daughter work on all sales together and have closed some large sales including the Steinway Mansion in Astoria and the Ferrigno House in Flushing, a historic property that belonged to the founders of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association.
According to the family, the job is not 9 to 5 and requires sales agents to be in constant contact with clients, even on weekends. Many times, the family’s job includes giving life advice.
“With Christina having a degree in psychology, we in many respects become like psychologists because people tell you all their problems,” Paul Halvatzis said. “Like when you go to your hairdresser or barber. They tell us all of their problems, too. You get a house and you get spiritual advice or human relations advice, relationship advice, baby advice. We’re real people people.”
Christina Halvatzis said the most important tool she uses when working with a client is her honesty.
“I listen,” she said. “I don’t ever become over aggressive. I try to listen to what people are really looking for and I really try to be honest. That’s the most important thing. People appreciate your honesty. If you tell somebody this is good for them but it might not be good for them, they realize that eventually and they say you’re misleading them.”
Both Christina and her father have seen a shift in Astoria’s character and the prices for homes as well. New bars, restaurants and cafes have attracted more people into the neighborhood and its transformed from a “mom and pop type town” to a “fairly sophisticated city,” according to Paul Halvatzis.
Prices for homes have also seen a large uptick. Just 10 or 15 years ago, a two-family house cost about $500,000, he said. Now, many of these homes cost more than $1 million. But Paul Halvatzis believes that the prices have to stabilize to continue to attract people to buy and sell.
Christina Halvatzis said she has soaked in her father’s advice and working with her family makes some of the tough days at work better.
“Working with my dad, getting to see him every day is what makes it bearable on those bad days where a deal falls apart or you’re working on something and all of a sudden it’s not happening anymore,” Christina Halvatzis said. “But at least I have him here and the rest of the family.”
Paul Halvatzis also looks to his daughter for a pep talk when he’s feeling uninspired.
“As a father and daughter team we work together to inspire each other so some days if I’m feeling lazy, Christina is there to say, ‘Let’s go, we got to go give out flyers, we have to make calls.'” Paul Halvatzis said. “It’s funny, she throws back at me [what I’ve told to her].”
According to Paul Halvatzis, the real estate industry has changed significantly since his mother first started working as a salesperson.
“My mom was one of the pioneers,” he said. “They used to tell her, ‘Where’s your husband? You should be cooking.’ It was that stereotype thing. Christina can hold her own with anybody.”
One day, Christina Halvatzis hopes to take over.
“She’s all set [to take over],” Paul Halvatzis said.