Rob Thomson began his real estate training listening from the back of his mother's car. Today, his company, Waterfront Properties, as well as his other endeavors, stretch from Stuart to Delray—not to mention his philanthropic resume that runs miles long.
What was your introduction to real estate? ROB THOMSON: My mom was a realtor. As a kid, I sat in the passenger seat of her car, and she was always stopping to talk to somebody. I remember thinking, "I can say a lot of this stuff. I can recite it for her if she gets laryngitis. I've heard it so many times." I didn't realize at the time that I was getting the education of a lifetime. She still works with us. She's 86 and teaching me every day.
What is unique about real estate in Palm Beach? RT: I think it's a pretty safe bet that not too many people wake up and say, "Ugh, I can't wait to retire and go to Idaho or Wisconsin." People will say, "I want to retire and go to sunny South Florida, where there is no state income tax." Moving to Florida is an instant raise.
What's your favorite part about living down here? RT: The natural beauty of our area. It's like God's favorite part of the canvas, where he put the prettiest colors.
Best tip for somebody buying in the Palm Beach market? RT: Buy now, or you're going to pay more later.
How have the buyers changed since you started? RT: We have more full-time people and longer part-time people than we've ever had. The off-season is a whole lot less off-season now.
Why did you found Waterfront Way Foundation? RT: When we started the Waterfront Way Foundation, we wanted to be able to donate a percentage of our businesses to help people in need, and that didn't necessarily fit in anybody's wheel. We're the vehicle.
Tell us about some of your other charity endeavors. RT: I'm the vice president of the board of directors of Big Dog Ranch Rescue. I'm also chairing the Jupiter Police Department and fallen officers' families. I lost a son two years ago. I got involved to donate a drug dog to name after my son.