Dear Cribline readers,
Meet Rita Reynolds! Rita has been a licensed realtor for over 30 years, and she is one of the select ‘Cribline Approved Vendors’ for the Washington area.
The Cribline sat down with Rita for an interview on her background, how she got into real estate, and what Cribline followers should be thinking about when buying a home in Washington.
Rita was working as a flight attendant for Pan Am when she decided to enter real estate. After 20 years with the airline she left to sell homes full time. And does she have some stories… See the interview below:
The Cribline: A flight attendant to real estate? How did that happen?
Rita: It started 34 years ago, while still working for Pan Am. I started looking to buy a home, and I wanted to know how it all worked. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had an office with a small firm called CBS Realty on Capitol Hill.
As I began my search, I stumbled upon a house on Capitol Hill. That’s when I met my husband. There were no lock boxes back then so often the next door neighbor had the keys to properties for sale. I knocked on the door and he answered. We began talking and discovered that he was also interested in real estate. He was a contractor. We shared a lot of ideas and a similar passion for DC. I wound up purchasing a Federal-style Victorian in Bloomingdale that needed a lot of work and my husband did the restoration. We have now been together over 30 years.
The Cribline: Can you tell us more about what Washington was like back then?
Rita: The renaissance you see today had begun back then and people could see the potential. It’s hard to beat… the tree lined streets, the Victorian and Wardman row houses, the broad avenues, the city’s layout and the history! There were people who wanted to bring this city back to life after the riots in the late 60′s, and I wanted to be a part of it!
There’s also a quality to Washington! Even though DC is a city, it’s neighborly and a community. You don’t find that a lot. You see dog walkers, street fairs, block parties and the list goes on. And, today, you have all that plus organic supermarkets, boutique shops, cool restaurants, coffee houses, etc… it’s got all the things people want and they don’t have to go far from home to get it.
The Cribline: So tell us about being a flight attendant and a realtor?
Rita: I was almost 30 years old, and I would regularly fly an 8 to 10 hour international flight. I would return to DC early in the morning, change my clothes, and hold an open house later that afternoon.
There was a lot of energy in the city and it inspired me! It still does! My focus back then was on condos. And before I knew it, I had bought my own house, had clients and was thriving.
I was married not long after that, and before too long I had two children. It was a roller coaster! But I loved it! I had found my passion!
The Cribline: Tell us about your experience with Pan Am.
Rita: I began my career with Pan Am in the airline’s training program in Miami. It lasted 6 weeks. We were grouped 4 girls per room and learned all of the ins and outs of flying, service, preparing for emergencies and managing a wide variety of situations that could occur in the air with passengers. It was like a boot camp, but a lot of fun!
In the early 70′s when I started, people boarded the plane dressed like they were going to church…. women wore hats, gloves, high heels, and men wore suits and ties. It’s not the flip flops, jeans and sweat pants as you sometimes see today. The airline industry and experience has really changed.
The Cribline: Tell us something exciting that happened when working for Pam Am.
Rita: It was all around an exciting time! Flying exposed me to another passion of mine–music. I met everybody who was an entertainer. I once sat up all night with a bunch of my colleagues in Australia with Santana. I became friends with Eddie Grant on a flight to Rio (famous 80′s musician well known for his song “Electric Avenue”). I took my son with me on one visit to Eddie’s house in Barbados, and who opened the door? Mick Jagger. I would later see Mick regularly on flights.
I always loved music and used to give talent shows in my parent’s garage at 5 years old. My father was an entertainer. While my mom wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, I wanted to entertain. Flying exposed me to that world in a big way.
There are many stories. We went everywhere. My husband, daughter, son…. China, Brazil, Europe… It was amazing! Sometimes I would fly to LA just to get my hair done by Smokey Robinson’s sister, and then we would go to his concert. I once flew to NY to go to Patti Labelle’s birthday party. There was a point when my husband would ask, “who’s calling you at 2 in the morning?”
But Mother Theresa was by far the most exciting person of everyone I met. She was sitting in first class coming from Delhi. She didn’t eat so after the dinner service I checked in with her and we began talking. She was very soft spoken and I almost had to lean on her shoulder to hear her. I will always remember her smile. She signed a postcard for my son. It was an amazing experience!
Rita in China
Rita and husband on the Great Wall of China
Moscow in the 70′s
The Cribline: Are there similarities in the changes you’ve seen in the airline industry that have occurred in real estate?
Rita: Like the airline industry, the real estate industry has changed! From a time before faxes, email and the Internet to texting and a lot of interaction online. But the personal relationships and face to face interactions are still important. That is a key to my approach to working with prospective home buyers. And like the airline industry, you meet all kinds of people, and learn so much from them.
The Cribline: What’s your prognosis for DC and real estate?
Rita: I don’t see the market going anywhere but up! It’s going to continue to stay strong, because city living has what people want. The future is bright!
Think about it! We have some of the best restaurants in the world, the best transportation system in the world, and not only people from all over the world, but some of the smartest people!!!! They say that per capita, there are more graduate degrees here than anywhere in the country.
The Cribline: What do you tell people today when exploring buying a home and investing in DC?
Rita: There is something for everyone. If you’re looking for the multi-million dollar classic DC row house, it’s here! If you’re starting out and have a modest budget, you can find places to invest here, too. It’s an investment in the city, but it’s also an investment for individuals, families and their financial futures.
The Cribline: Prices have risen significantly in just the past year. What do you tell those with more modest means? And what do you see as up-and-coming neighborhoods where people should lay down roots?
Rita: I would keep my eyes on Brookland, LeDroit Park, Bloomingdale, Eckington and Mt. Vernon Square.
Just look at Brookland. There’s a major development underway that is going to transform that entire area. Right now, it’s very affordable. (Check out this article from The Washington Post about the project.) It’s going to be big! I’ve known the developer for a long time. He was the owner of my husband’s and my favorite restaurant, Man in the Green Hat on 3rd and Mass Ave NE (now the White Tiger). Thirty-four years ago, it was one of the best places in town. The developer also owned Colonel Brooks at 12th and Monroe by Catholic University in Brookland.
I’ve always loved Brookland. And I think it’s great for young couples who are planning on a family and anyone else. You get a little more of a yard, but not overwhelming, which is ideal for people with high pressure jobs who don’t want to spend a lot of time mowing their lawn.
And the three metros are one of the best features: Ft. Totten, Rhode Island and Brookland.
The Cribline: What is the biggest change you’ve seen over the past 30 plus years?
Rita: Traffic! It’s gotten really bad! Where once people could get large homes on big lots, now there’s a price to pay… traffic and time spent commuting.
People are tired of traffic. They don’t want to spend their time in cars or on buses or trains for extended periods of time. As hard as Washingtonians work, their personal time is very valuable, and city living gives them more opportunity to utilize their free time.
The Cribline: Our final question… What’s your favorite restaurant?
Rita: Colonial Brooks! It’s a historic neighborhood spot that was once owned by a Colonel (my husband knows all of the history). And, the people who go there have been going there for years. It’s a place everyone can feel at home, and it brings together such a diverse group of people… folks from Catholic University, Gallaudet and all walks of life. It’s the place you can go and always run into someone you know.
Rita D. Reynolds
10460 Campus Way S
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
Phone: (240) 765-1300
Email: email@example.comLicensed in MD and DC
Certified Distressed Property Expert