By Sheryl Young

Are people still having the good fortune of selling and buying houses? Yes, especially when they have a company like Prudential Tropical Realty on their side. And, within Prudential Tropical’s 19 locations, including one right here in the New Tampa/Wesley Chapel area, there’s a great full-service real estate solutions provider located right here to serve local residents.

The vivacious team at the local location in the Publix-anchored Shoppes of New Tampa plaza on Bruce B. Downs Blvd. (BBD), just south of S.R. 56, is eager to share their knowledge, expertise and love of homes with hopeful home seekers as well as home sellers. We spoke with vice president of sales and marketing Rob Hilliker and several of his more than 50 real estate agents from this office — Ronnie Preusch, Debbie Marvin, Beverly Carollo and Christina Barone — are proud to be a part of the Prudential Tropical team.

“With the right strategies, this may be both a seller’s and buyer’s market,” Hilliker says. “Things are looking up. And, we are here to provide the full array of services that surround the major decision of buying or selling a home.”

Ronnie adds that whether it’s a better market for buyers or sellers may depend on the location, not today’s economy. “High-end homes still represent a buyer’s market,” she explains, while Debbie says that a seller may still find it more necessary to adapt their price to the market at the lower end.

“I’ve worked for other Realtors, but whatever the case, Prudential Tropical offers more marketing tools and resources to get things done right,” Debbie states.

Beverly agrees. “Prudential offers more services to sellers, buyers and corporations that are looking for relocation living space for their employees. Plus, we have mortgage services, rental properties…we have access to showcase everything.”

They all agreed that there are several things that set Prudential Tropical apart from other real estate offices. For one thing, a special perk for both agents and customers at Prudential Tropical is that each agent is given his or her own website. This way, customers can find out more about who they’re working with, and have easy access to individual contact information.

“We also live, work and breathe the real estate business,” Ronnie says with enthusiasm. “We go above and beyond. We’ll help buyers or sellers with picking out paint and décor, home emergencies like busted pipes, picking people up from airports to see houses when they have limited time, making beds before showings, you name it. We consider our jobs to be 24/7.”


Prudential Tropical Takes “24/7” Literally

Speaking of around-the-clock service, Prudential Tropical has a program called CITY 24/7. If a prospective buyer passes a house and likes what they see, they call a certain number, get a prompt to enter the home’s address and hear a recording of the home’s features. There’s even an option that allows you to be connected directly to the agent.

Going around the table, we found that some of these Realtors® actually work from 6 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. to take care of their clients. And, some make it a family affair.

Debbie and Christina’s husbands also both work in the business, and they consider themselves “Team Marvin” and “Team Barone,” respectively.

Christina is pleased at how quickly help comes to them as agents, so they can in turn help their customers in a timely and efficient manner. “Our Managing Broker, Dennis Derbes, is always there for us,” Christina says.

“There’s no way anyone can do this job part time,” Beverly adds. Our heads must always be in the game. We need to know every legal aspect of contracts and updates on the houses. We have to love what we do, and we have to love working with each other to get all the pieces together.”

The agents pointed out that they also take time to meet the property appraisers. Sometimes an appraiser isn’t familiar with an area, and won’t do the house justice with the appraisal because they go off averages on paper. Prudential Tropical agents know their neighborhoods, and can point things out which might be important to the proper appraisal of a home.

Between just these agents, they have about 60 years of experience. Hilliker defines their office as the “Nordstrom’s of Real Estate,” and the group estimates that 95 percent of their business comes from referrals through previous customers. So, their service has to be outstanding.

For newer agents, Prudential Tropical has something they call Rock University, which they were able to independently develop because these 19 offices are a privately owned franchise. “The newly hired agents are not just thrown on the floor,” Hilliker explains. “We have a training program even after they pass the state test.”


Repeat Customer Affirms Excellent Service

Repeat customer Bob Abajian confirms that Prudential Tropical’s service is top-notch. He and his wife Deborah have done business with the office several times, specifically with Debbie Marvin and her husband, who also just happens to be named Robert!

“We met Bob & Debbie [Marvin] while selling a house in 2001,” says Abajian. “We hit it off and ended up also buying through them. Then, I got into the business of fixing up houses and re-selling them and continued to work with the Marvins.”

Abajian adds that the Marvins really saw everything through with showings, handling various other Realtors, doing all the paperwork.

“They’ve done an excellent job of marketing and selling the houses we’ve renovated,” he says. “Through their efforts and guidance on pricing, it all has worked out so well. They even help me decide where to use stainless appliances and with other design aspects. Compared to other agents I’ve used, their follow-through is outstanding.”

In conclusion, Hilliker says, “It’s a great time once again to buy and sell homes. It’s wonderful to hear the noise of construction in the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel areas again, but our office really hasn’t had a hard time.”

Maybe it’s all that training, dedication and 24/7 service that keeps these Prudential Tropical Realty agents at the top of their game.

Expectant buyers and sellers can visit this Prudential Tropical Realty office at 1830 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. (just south of S.R. 56 and less than a mile north of the Pasco County line) in the Shoppes at New Tampa of Wesley Chapel Plaza., or call 907-8200. You also may visit

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