There are several organizations in Central Texas that recognize the accomplishments of REALTORS. Starting in 2011, the Platinum Top 50 began handing out awards to Austin-area real estate agents for their outstanding achievements in categories like sales, industry participation and community engagement. Each year, Austin Board of REALTORS (ABoR) recognizes REALTOR of the Year, Salesperson of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and presents an award for commitment to community service. In 2019 ABoR added two new categories: Broker of the Year and Educator of the Year. Texas REALTORS presents a Distinguished Service Award to recipients for their service to the industry and community.  To qualify an award by the statewide association, on top of a candidate’s individual accomplishments, nominees must have a minimum of 25 years of professional real estate service, plus a history of accomplishments and involvement in local, state and national advocacy work.

We wanted to take this time to speak with three Austin-area REALTORS who have won some of these awards, who were certainly nominees and finalists for many of these commendations, but also those who have achieved success in the residential real estate industry simply for their love of the profession.

Chris Tinnell, Broker Associate at Compass

Chris Tinnell became a Platinum Top 50 winner two times over the course of his career — first in 2018 and again in 2020.

Tinnell started his career in 1998 working for a home builder and transitioned exclusively to residential real estate sales in 2011. These days, he’s a broker associate at Compass.

Tinnell says that he works seven days a week, from early morning to midnight, and loves every minute of it. But he doesn’t let a busy work schedule interfere with his civic duties. He’s a board member with Angels are Moving and Texas Humane Heroes, a volunteer reader at a local elementary school and he serves on several committees in his community, including the Behrens Ranch homeowners association.

One might think a guy who’s that busy probably has a support staff to step in and ease his hectic workload. But instead, Tinnell says he’s a one-man shop. “I tried working with assistants,” he said. “But I like doing everything myself.”

What has kept him on his toes the last few years are the discount REALTORS that have cropped up in Austin. Right now, they’re his biggest competition. But Tinnell has more than one unique value proposition to offer clients: his personal service and past construction experience. “Discount brokerages are after volume; but they’re not there for clients after the sale.” It’s this work ethic and dedication to the community that draws people to Tinnell and has earned him recognition by organizations like PT50 as well as RealtyLine.

But Tinnell has more than one unique value proposition to offer clients: his personal service and past construction experience. “Discount brokerages are after volume; but they’re not there for clients after the sale.”

Camille Ulmann, Associate at RE/MAX Austin Skyline

Camille Ulmann was an Austin high school teacher for 20 years before changing careers. She earned her real estate license in 1996, a time when Dell was expanding its campus in North Austin. It helped kickstart Ulmann’s real estate credentials and establish herself in areas like Round Rock, Cedar Park and Georgetown.

The transition from teaching teens to selling real estate was smoother than some might imagine. “When I started, I didn’t know anything about being a REALTOR,” she said. “But my experience as an educator taught me a lot about listening. It’s important to hear clients and understand them.” It was Ulmann’s ability to connect with people that made her a PT50 finalist, a RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement winner, Hall of Fame winner, two-time Chairman Club winner and an eight-time RE/MAX Platinum Club winner.

“When I started, I didn’t know anything about being a REALTOR,” she said. “But my experience as an educator taught me a lot about listening. It’s important to hear clients and understand them.”

When Ulmann reflects back on her career, she attributes her secret to success, in part, to a couple of workshops that she attended. Author Kimberlee Slavik hosted a discussion on a neuroscientific approach to sales and leadership. It was the impetus for how Ulmann hones in on her clients’ needs. By combining visualization and diagnostics — a technique the author calls Visnotics — Ulmann encourages clients to reveal what she calls “their red zone.” For example, says Ulmann, “when I’m talking to a client, the question isn’t, ‘Do you need four bedrooms?’ But rather, ‘Why do you need four bedrooms?’” The amount of information that flows from there helps Ulmann understand her clients, their families and their real estate needs.   

Ulmann says this technique actually means she’s doing less talking. When clients visualize and communicate what they need, it makes the path to their dream home easier for Ulmann to deliver.

David Pavliska, Broker at Pavliska Realty

You can say that real estate is in David Pavliska’s blood. As a kid, he worked side-by-side with his home builder father, Arthur Pavliska. He literally learned everything about the industry from the ground up, starting with his work on clean-up crews and paint crews. When he was old enough to go off on his own, Pavliska moved to sales and, unsurprisingly, says he enjoys selling houses much more.

Now the family business is about to hit another milestone. David’s daughter is planning to join Pavliska Realty. He couldn’t be more proud.

David has been a real estate agent and broker for 38 years. Here are just a few of his accomplishments: Pavliska has earned the highly coveted Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation, which the National Association of REALTORS calls, “The highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers and brokers.” He’s also past president of the Austin Area CRS chapter. He won ABoR’s salesperson of the year and received the Williamson County Association of REALTORS President’s Award.

When Pavliska is not helping clients, he’s engaged in community service. He volunteers with Celebration of Love and also coaches younger agents on navigating an ever-changing real estate industry. He still feels pride for one assistant and mentee he had several years ago. It was her first year in the business and she won Rookie of the Year.

Back in May, when the rest of the world was reeling from the effects of the pandemic (which, by the way, Austin’s real estate market has been remarkably impervious to), Pavliska made one of the biggest moves of his career. He left a large, nationwide brokerage and started his own company, Pavliska Realty LLC. “I’m still doing the same thing, but now I’m my own broker,” he says.

Pavliska’s business thrives primarily on referrals these days. He attributes his success to a strong work ethic, which he describes this way: “Service begins by listening to the client.” These days, Pavliska talks about the need to adapt and change. One of the ways he’s leading on this front is by embracing social media. Even with a mostly referral-based clientele, he doesn’t really need to promote himself on platforms like Facebook. Just don’t tell that to his nearly 3,000 followers.

He attributes his success to a strong work ethic, which he describes this way: “Service begins by listening to the client.” These days, Pavliska talks about the need to adapt and change.

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