With a background in education and a passion for helping and connecting with people, Keller Williams realtor, Caitlin Jones, is one of the best realtors in the Tampa Bay region. Caitlin’s involvement with the LGBTQ+ community and her experience working with LGBTQ+ college students provides Caitlin with the tools needed to support LGBTQ+ people when buying or selling their home. OUTCOAST sat down with Caitlin to learn about her upbringing, educational background, and drivers to success.
Where did you grow up? Tell us a little about your upbringing.
I grew up in Western Pennsylvania in a small town outside of Pittsburgh. My parents have actually been together over 47 years (married 40), and my mom is 100% Italian, so that was a big part of my upbringing. I was very active in sports and everything musical, so I had a childhood full of many activities and great memories.
Favorite childhood memory?
The memories that stand out the most to me involve performing. I was Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast my senior year of High School and I had a blast watching the audience get so involved in our performances. Everything related to creating something musical and having others enjoy it truly stands out in my most cherished memories.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to college at Clarion University of PA where I studied English and Spanish. I then went directly to graduate school at Indiana University of PA (IUP) where I got a Master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education. I always knew I wanted to help people and working with college students was an amazing opportunity.
Why did you enter the world of real estate?
Real estate was presented to me as a career opportunity that would allow me to embrace my natural strengths to help people in powerful ways. I had always watched real estate and home TV shows, so when I explored the realities of the job and what I could accomplish through caring about people, communicating well, and diligently serving my clients, it made total sense to take the jump into real estate.
What were you doing before real estate?
I moved to Tampa to serve as the first Coordinator of LGBT Programs and Services at USF. I had an amazing experience supporting the entire LGBTQ+ community at USF and then took a job at the Univeristy of Tampa where I helped students explore options for majors. I also advised the LGBT student organization and helped with campus diversity initiates at UT.
What is your favorite part about your job?
I love learning about people’s stories! I am a very relational person, so I always have the goal of learning about people to allow me to benefit their lives through real estate. Buying and selling houses is very emotional, so I pride myself on connecting to my clients in a way that ensures they feel supported every step of the way until the celebration at closing!
Aside from OUTCOAST, what is your favorite tool for finding new clients?
LGBTQ+ events are my absolute favorite! Meeting people in person, sharing a few laughs, and connecting face to face is something I value. I’ve found that by being present in my community, I can provide a level of service that is deserved but not always expected.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Have integrity and do what you say you will. I believe in showing up authentically and consistently being a person others can trust to help them. Far too many people don’t follow through. I strive to make an impact by being active in what I commit to do.
You’ve mentioned your interest in supporting LGBT and specifically transgender people? What has spurred that interest?
I identify as a queer, non-binary person (which for me is under the Trans umbrella.) Through my work within the LGBTQ+ community in multiple states in a variety of capacities, I’ve learned how big of a divide exists between the different indentities within our community. I am passionate about helping all LGBTQ+ people, and I know that the Trans community needs visibility and access to proactive support. If I apply this directly to real estate, it means that Trans people who work with me know that their name and pronouns will be respected, know they don’t have to worry about explaining who they are to someone who might not accept them, and know that even if their documents don’t match their identity, the transaction will still flow smoothly in a way that affirms exactly who they are.
Why is working with LGBT clients so important to you?
I love helping my community!! Sexual orientation is not covered by federal non-discrimination laws related to real estate, so I want all LGBTQ+ people to know they can be fully open with me when making one of the largest financial purchases of their life. When I bought a house with my partner, I feared how the lender, Title company, etc. would treat us, so now as a Realtor, I proactively ensure my clients of all identities can feel comfortable that those fears do not need to exist for them.
Describe your dream home!
Ooo, great question!
My dream home would be a gorgeous home on 5 acres with an amazing wrap around porch with rocking chairs so we can relax and watch our kids play in the evenings. It would have 5 bedrooms (we want 4 kids), a fabulous kitchen with a farmhouse sink, and an open living space that makes it great for entertaining. I also want a large screened porch for our cats and a fancy pool in the backyard for summer cookouts. I don’t need anything too fancy, just a beautiful house for the family we aspire to have with room for a few horses and other animals.
Why should clients work with you versus another realtor?
Clients who work with me get the service they deserve on a timeline that works for them. I’m a full-time, full-service Realtor, so I meet and talk with people when it works for them. I use my background in Education to shape how I guide the transaction. I’m flexible, funny, and down to earth so I take away some of the nervousness by paying attention to what my clients need. Overall, I ensure my clients have all of the information they need every step of the way without feeling overwhelmed (it’s my job to handle the tough stuff). Honestly, clients should work with me because I work for them. I’ll sell houses anywhere in the Tampa Bay, and if they need real estate support somewhere else, I do all of the work to ensure they get connected with a stellar Realtor who will provide the same level of service I would so they never have a terrible Realtor story ever again.
To learn more about Caitlin, or to inquire about her services, click here.