A Mother and Son Real Estate Team

by Ryan Miller

By Barrett Baker

Kathleen Hazelwood’s email signature depicts just how strongly she feels about working with her family members. It says, “The Hazelwoods, Three Generations of Real Estate Professionals.” It’s a testament to the time she spent working as a real estate team with her mother, as well as a sense of pride for how she feels about working as a team now with her son, Alex.

Kathleen’s mother, Eileen Scarpa, first got into real estate in the ’70s right before her husband passed away. According to Kathleen, she was raising three children on her own, and real estate was “the only job out there at the time where a woman could make as much money as a man.”

Her mom’s example was one of the reasons Kathleen got into real estate. She obtained her real estate license in 1981, thinking she could work on a part-time basis while starting a family. However, trying to raise three children while working as an agent proved to be difficult, and Kathleen made family her priority. “I reactivated my license in 1990 when the children were older and my mom asked me to help her,” Kathleen says. “We formed our partnership in 1992 and went to work with Abbitt Realty. One of the things she told me, which I will never forget is, ‘Kathleen, I had the most fun and made the most money working with you.’ My mom passed away in 2009, and that’s something I keep with me all the time. And right now, I can honestly say, as a mother myself, I’m having the most fun working with my son.”

As for her son, Alex, joining the family business, Kathleen and her husband originally thought he might follow in his dad’s footsteps. “My husband has a jewelry business, and we always thought Alex was going to head in that direction. But one day after graduating from college, he just looked at me and said, ‘You know what, mom? I really think I would like to come work with you,’ And I said, ‘Well, go get your real estate license.’ And he did.”

One might think that when working with family there will be some ups and downs. But Kathleen has never seen a negative side to working with her mom or her son. “I’ve seen some real estate teams before that were not related,” she says. “My mom was even in a couple of them that didn’t work out, but when you work with family, you’re working together. It’s really kind of funny because for years people would say to me, ‘How can you work with your mother?’ and I would say, ‘How could I not work with my mother? I love her. I adore her. She’s very smart, and we have a great time working together.’”

Kathleen believes she is having as much fun working with her son as her mother had working with her. She tries to lead by example, as her mom did, when it comes to a strong work ethic and always treating people fairly. “It’s easy for me to want to help because I’m a mother,” she says. “I want to help people find a home and raise a family because it’s about family. It’s about my children, my grandchildren, other people’s families, other people’s children. And homes deserve good families living in them. Alex and I enjoy working at Abbitt Realty because it is a family-oriented company and everyone helps each other.”

After traveling the world as part of a military family, Kathleen is happy to have her roots deeply planted in Coastal Virginia now and hopes that her children will also remain close by. “All three of my children live around here—two of them are in Newport News, and one is in Williamsburg,” she says. “They’re not allowed to leave,” she adds with a laugh. “My dad was from Boston and my mom was from New York, and they wanted to raise their family out of the cities. So I was transplanted here, but this is my home. I’ve always felt very comfortable living here.”

As for a fourth generation of Hazelwoods eventually joining the legacy, it’s not out of the question. But for now, Kathleen is just enjoying the team she’s on. “I was talking to my son about retirement not long ago, and he just looked at me and said, ‘You know mom, I don’t think real estate agents ever really retire.’ So we’ll see what the future brings.”

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