According to long-time Tampa-area real estate agent Karen Tillman-Gosselin, whether a person is looking to sell or buy a home, it is most likely the most important and largest financial decision that they are making.
“Having a real estate agent who can listen to your wants and needs and help you find that one house you will make your home is crucial,” Karen says. “That agent needs to put you first, then properly coordinate all aspects — from negotiations and inspections to ensuring that the transaction becomes a reality.”
Karen knows what it takes to do that.
During her decades-long career in real estate, she has sold more than $150 million of real estate. She has been so successful, in fact, that she was named one of the top 25 agents in the Tampa Bay area in 2005 by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
Karen currently is one of the top 10 producers at Smith & Associates Real Estate, a boutique firm based in South Tampa that has been in business 45 years and is the largest independent real estate office in the Tampa Bay area, with 245 agents and $1.2 billion in transactions in 2016.
Karen joined Smith & Associates in 2012.
“It’s a big company, but not as well known in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel as it is in South Tampa,” she says.
Prior to joining Smith & Associates, Karen worked for many years for local offices of Florida Executive Realty, Keller Williams and Casa Fina Realty.
“I find Smith to be a good fit for me,” she says. “It just feels right. I like their reputation and that the company is really big on giving back to the community, in both time and money.”
Smith & Associates’ commitment to the community is especially important to Karen.
She is highly involved in many community organizations that are meaningful to her, including the Rotary Club of New Tampa, the Board of Directors of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce (as its current membership chair), and several other organizations, including some at the University of South Florida.
Although Smith & Associates is known as a luxury firm — and Karen does sell luxury homes and specialize in relocating executives to the Tampa Bay area — she also represents buyers and sellers at any price point, even first-time home buyers.
Karen’s husband, Renynold Gosselin, has worked with her “behind the scenes” since they both got their real estate licenses in 2000.
Renynold recently retired from a 30-year career with Verizon and is now Karen’s full-time partner in real estate.
While Renynold was born and raised in Tampa, Karen has also lived here nearly her entire life. She moved to the area as a child, when her father was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base.
“We know the Tampa Bay market so well from living here,” she says.
The couple bought a home in Tampa Palms more than 30 years ago, back when the closest grocery stores were either at S.R. 54 or in Temple Terrace, where their daughter attended school because there were no schools built in Tampa Palms yet.
“We’ve seen such growth in this area,” Karen says.
Setting The Stage Properly
Karen first got into real estate when she was working as an interior designer, often staging homes for sale for real estate agents. She uses that background in interior design to be sure her clients’ homes look their best.
“My experience as an interior designer means I can stage a house so it looks good and sells faster,” she says.
Karen and Renynold agree that one of the most important parts of selling a house is ensuring that it has great photographs online.
“First impressions are so important,” says Renynold, “and now, those first impressions are the pictures they see online.”
He adds, “So many people are moving into the area from up north, and buyers tell their agents which houses they want to see, based just on pictures.”
So, Karen and Renynold provide a 3D tour of each home they list. The tour is so comprehensive, it can even be viewed in virtual reality to feel like you’re actually walking through the home.
While they take a lot of photos themselves, they will hire a professional photographer — and will even do drone photography if it’s needed. And, with all of their years of success helping buyers and sellers, they know when it’s needed.
“We make sure we have the right price, the right pictures, and the right advertising,” Renynold says. “Each house is unique.”
Karen says she and Renynold are by their clients’ side throughout the entire process, paying attention to every detail.
“It can be very overwhelming to sell a house,” she says. “It’s not easy to put a house on the market, especially with kids and pets, and people often want to see it at the last minute, so we try to have a calming effect on all of that.”
Their expertise can make the entire process much easier on buyers and sellers.
“There are always new situations and you have to figure out what to do in that situation,” Karen says. “If something unexpected comes up, that’s why we’re there. We try to keep everything as simple and open as possible. An inexperienced agent doesn’t know what to do, but we know how to handle those problems.”
Dennis and Fran Loomis are currently working with the Gosselins to sell their home in West Meadows and buy a home in Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club, located just north of Wesley Chapel in San Antonio.
They are repeat clients who love working with Karen and Renynold, first selling their home in Tampa Palms in 2004, then moving to a new construction home in Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club (TBGCC), then selling that home and moving back to the New Tampa area, in West Meadows, in 2008.
“We’re probably the only people who moved into the same retirement community twice,” jokes Dennis.
He says he continues to work with Karen and Renynold because, “they do a fabulous job. We have a lot of trust in both of them.”
On a recent Monday, Dennis told us, “Our home in West Meadows went on the market on Friday, and we had five or six people look at it over the weekend, and we expect to have a contract today. Karen goes to all the showings, even when she’s not representing the buyer, and she also shows up at inspections.”
He says Karen also has been a constant advocate for him and his wife.
“In my experience, most real estate agents want to get the sale and get the commission, and aren’t really interested in what’s in the best interest of their client,” Dennis says.
Not so with Karen, he adds, citing how she helped him list his home at a higher price point than expected, and negotiate aggressively so the final price of the home remained high.
He says he also appreciates Karen’s attention to detail.
“During the construction of our first home in TBGCC, she went in and put tape on the wall everywhere the paint needed to be touched up,” explains Dennis. “Well, we walked in and saw 50 or 60 pieces of tape. The builder just repainted the whole thing.”
Dennis says the most important thing is that she treats everyone well.
“Karen represents larger transactions, but (even for smaller transactions) she spends time with you just like if you were selling an $800,000 home,” he says.
Karen says that’s a hallmark of her and Renynold’s business.
“We work with everyone, from CEOs to first-time buyers, and it doesn’t matter who the seller is, they all deserve to be treated the same,” she says, adding, “We love what we do, because it is all about making sure that the client’s needs are met.”
For more information, or to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation in your home with Karen Tillman-Gosselin, visit FineHomesOfTampa.com, call (813) 629-1502, or see the ad on page 2 of this issue.