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A day in the life with Sarasota's top Realtor

Roger Pettingell, Sarasota's best-selling Realtor for the 14th year, shares keys to his success in real estate and his efforts to humanize his work life.

Roger Pettingell visits one of his listings.
Roger Pettingell visits one of his listings.
Photo by Petra Rivera
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As Realtor Roger Pettingell walks through his clients' homes, he looks in every crevice. He asks what's going on in the attic, looks to see what the bottom of the pool is like and opens every closet. 

To Pettingell, there's a special enjoyment in selling houses. He compared his passion for real estate to the classic tale of Cinderella: He's the fairy godparent that takes the underappreciated and turns it into something remarkable.

In 2023, Pettingell notched his 14th year as the top individual real estate agent in Sarasota County by sales volume, according to the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

Pettingell has already been hard at work in 2024, ending this month with about $100,670,000 in closed sales and pending sales year to date.

He also broke the record for closing the highest recorded condominium sale on Longboat Key, which he did in 2023 with an $11 million unit. After a busy day of listings, he celebrated that sale with dinner with his clients.

But let’s take a step back. What's the key to Pettingell’s success? The answer is his day-to-day habits. The Longboat Observer spent a day with Pettingell to see how he weaves together his drive for the Sarasota real estate market with his strong family ties. 

Early bird gets the worm

Even though he said he isn’t a morning person, Pettingell is up and at 'em at 6 a.m. He meets his trainer for a morning workout and then heads back to his house to pick up his dog Finn on his way into the office. 

Roger Pettingell with his dog Finn.
Photo by Petra Rivera

“He will be following me around all morning until he knows he’s coming with me,” said Pettingell. “It’s nice to have him with me in the office. It humanizes the work space and gives it a family atmosphere.” 

On his commute to work, Pettingell is on the phone with his team to check in with everyone and review the schedule for the day. He wouldn’t call himself a micromanager, but he likes to see things executed correctly and to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Day-to-day changes

Everyday is different for Pettingell. One day, he will be going to different listings to give them an evaluation. Other days, he is meeting clients and giving them his advice on their renovations. 

Pettingell prefers to spend as much time in the office because everything is in one place there, and it's easier to connect with his team in person. He said he has a great team that uses their unique skills together to get things done efficiently.

No matter where he is, he will most likely be answering the many phone calls, emails and text messages he gets throughout the day. Pettingell said he could never be one of those people who has a backlog of unread messages, so he usually tackles them as soon as he sees them.

Just like his dog Finn adds a familial touch to his work, Pettingell asks his sons, Jake and Max, to help with his work whenever they can. Jake did an internship with Roger during the summer and often comes to help him film videos and take photos of listings.

On Wednesday mornings, he films “Real Talk” at 9 a.m. In these videos, he will promote different listings and give tips relating to real estate and the area. 

Marketing is the key

Originally from Manhattan, both of Pettingell’s parents worked in marketing. His plan was to go to medical school to become a pediatrician, but his genetic marketing skills were always present. Pettingell said that he was his college’s class president by being the social butterfly that he is and prioritizing the importance of personal relationships.

After not getting into medical school like he planned, Pettingell followed his mother down to Florida to do marketing for the Arvida Corporation. He said he realized that salespeople have more fun and make more money so he wanted to join the party.

“I have definitely been a Longboat guy for a long time,” said Pettingell. “Marketing then was different. I made about $12,000 and lived in a tiny apartment by the beach. But that time is instrumental for my career. I learned a lot and made amazing relationships which I have stayed in touch with. I came in with new ideas and those years made me the Realtor I am today.” 

Roger Pettingell looking at the updates with a client's renovation.
Photo by Petra Rivera

Thirty years later, those lessons stuck. Pushing marketing on all fronts is the key to Pettingell’s success. Along with this, he said that listening is the biggest part of his job and helps his clients feel more open to his process. 

“I'm not the only successful Realtor in town,” said Pettingell. “I think that we all kind of gravitate to those people and clients that we work the best with. But we are good because we are experts in this area and we grow with it when it's constantly changing and keep our connections through that change.”

Family man

Pettingell will usually end his work day between 5 and 5:30 p.m. He said the only time in his day that his phone is quiet is between 6 to 7 p.m. During this free hour and most of his free time, he steps into the role of father, husband and friend. Usually, the season will call for celebration dinners and community events. 

“I do pay attention to work after hours but to a certain extent,” said Pettingell. “I don't think that somebody needs an emergency condominium on Longboat at 8 p.m. But I don't have a problem with texting back, ‘We've got your message. We'll give you a call in the morning.’ I've never gone on a trip or a vacation where I haven't sold something. But I absolutely believe in work-life balance.”

Pettingell also uses his free time to support nonprofits. Since he had once planned to be a pediatrician, he likes to dedicate his time to helping organizations that help children such as the Children Protection Center. He also supports Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. and is on the board for the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

“I'm not saving the world, but I feel like I am helping people through their life,” said Pettingell. “It’s an important purchase to buy or sell your house. It's a big part of people’s lives. And everybody wants to be good at what they do. I love working. I can't imagine not working and not doing what I’m doing.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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