'Partners with Panache' celebrate 20 years

Peteresen, Whitaker continue to make their mark on the local real estate market


A 20-year professional partnership is impressive in any field, much less the competitive, always-changing world of real estate.

But Wanda Peteresen and Kelly Whitaker have made it work, and this year, the current RE/MAX Unlimited agents are celebrating their 20-year anniversary as partners in the real estate market.

Peteresen and Whitaker first met after Peteresen moved to the Ponte Vedra area and their sons became friends while attending elementary school at PVPV- Rawlings. Both left other careers – Peteresen was a teacher and Whitaker worked in marketing – to pair up to become among the top agents in the Beaches and Ponte Vedra area, and they have the accolades and relationships to prove it. The partners are in the RE/MAX Hall of Fame and were awarded the company's Lifetime Achievement Award this year.

The pair started their real estate careers at The Plantation Club location back in 1998, and have been at RE/MAX Unlimited for more than 10 years.

Peteresen said when they started, it was rare to see real estate teams, but the two just clicked. Whitaker said their shared values also contribute to their success as a team.

With 20 years in the field, both women have seen a lot of ups and downs in the market, many changes in the Beaches and Ponte Vedra areas and have met a lot of interesting characters.

"You can write a book on the stories," Whitaker said.

Peteresen said they've also learned a lot along the way.

"You learn not to judge people by the cover, and to listen," she said. "It's about what they want, not what you think they should want."

Adapting to change in the market, and with customers' desires, is key to their success.

"That is kind of our theme, because we've really been able to be flexible and change with the times," Peteresen said.

One of the biggest changes they've seen in the market over the last 20 years is the rise of the master-planned communities, like Nocatee.

Peteresen said she expects the popularity of communities like Nocatee to continue to grow.

"That to [buyers] is the Florida lifestyle," she said. "Actually, over the last few years, I feel we see less people drawn to the beach. It's more about the other amenities for their families."

 Another unique aspect of working real estate in a beach market is the growing concern over hurricanes, especially given the recent impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Matthew.

Whitaker said some buyers won't even want to look at houses that suffered hurricane damage, particularly water damage.

But storms haven't put a damper on Whitaker and Peteresen's passion for what they do, and neither foresee leaving anytime soon.

"I don't know what else I could do that I would enjoy as much," Whitaker said. "This is enough variety where you're never bored."

The biggest benefit in their 20 years together has been the bonds they've built along the way.

"Our job is being in great relationships." Whitaker said. "What better way is there to make a living?"

The two maintain regular contact with their clients, and they say one of their primary goals isn't just to sell someone a home, but also to become a friend.

“We're just thankful for all our great customers who have helped us along the way, and let us serve them and be part of their life," Peteresen said.