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Thursday April 17th 2014

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Mark Lee, Cherry Fitch and Gary Michael


Mark Lee, Cherry Fitch and Gary Michael
Realtors, Levin-Rinke Resort Realty

The housing market has been in a slump the last few years. Apparently, no one told Mark Lee’s team over at Levin-Rinke Resort Realty. And they have run away with top-seller accolades for the past five years.

Lee’s team consists of himself, Cherry Fitch and Gary Michaels. They know how to sell a house.

“It’s kind of basic,” explained Michaels. “You just take care of your customers.”

After years away, Lee returned in 2000 to practice realty in his hometown. He had grown up in East Hill and on Pensacola Beach. He is now the managing broker for Levin-Rinke.

Fitch began working with Lee in 2006. It was a second career after 35 years in the Gulf Breeze school system. She had been a teacher, a guidance counselor, an assistant principal and, finally, a principal. In her final year working in education, she was named as Principal of the Year.

“The two of them are like best friends, brother and sister,” Michaels said of Lee and Fitch. “They just compliment each other. Sometimes they’re like twins.”

Michaels joined Fitch and Lee in 2007 after retiring from the health care industry. He worked in numerous elderly-care facilities throughout the state.

“I think I left a record of 5-Star facilities,” Michaels said.

Michaels said that both his and Fitch’s former occupations were geared toward caring for others. He said that both had similar values when it came to contributing to one’s community.

“It gets tiresome, but it’s so rewarding,” he explained.

Those values were right in line with the culture Lee was fostering. While working with a top-selling team is nice, Michaels points to the culture as the reason he’s with the team.

“The culture aligned very much with what our beliefs are,” he said, explaining that all three team members are active participants and contributors to their community.

Lee recently received the Distinguished Service Award for 2013 for his service with the Favor House. He is also the incoming board chair for the Pensacola Symphony.

Fitch currently serves on the Santa Rosa Education Foundation. She also sits on the Gulf Breeze City Council.

Michaels currently serves as the board chair for the Children’s Home Society of Northwest Florida.

“There’s a lot of families that find themselves on the verge of crisis,” Michaels said, “but we get in there.”

While the Lee team values its extra-curricular community involvement, the area real estate market values its professional contribution. Having performed well in a down market, the crew appears set to continue that trend now that the market has shown signs of an upswing.

“Our last quarter last year, we tripled our business,” Michaels said.

The realtor excitedly explained that he’s seen signs of an improving housing market across the board—from high-end, high-dollar properties to first-time-homebuyer-fixer-uppers.

“There’s somethings we’ve seen up, like, 18 percent,” Michaels said. “It’s just like, ‘Oh my God!’”