You see their names and faces everywhere—on ‘SOLD’ signs in front yards, in the pages of Ladue News and maybe even around your neighborhood. But how much do you really know them? Here, some of the area’s top realtors share how they got into the business, advice for home buyers and sellers, and a tidbit or two about their favorite way to spend a weekend.

Ann Carter

Janet McAfee Real Estate

How did you begin working in real estate?

I got into it shortly after college, about 28 years ago. I immediately loved it and was lucky to find my profession.

What do you do outside of work?

I love to play golf, usually at Forest Park, but I haven’t had much time lately with the spring market being so busy. I also garden. I have a lot of roses and different perennials around the house. It’s a good way to get away from everything.

What are some of your favorite spots around St. Louis?

I love taking advantage of Forest Park, the museums, and The Muny, as well as the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. As far as restaurants, my favorite is I Fratellini.

What’s something many people don’t know about you?

I am part-owner of three businesses out in Jackson, Wyoming. They are kitchen and clothing boutiques run by my baby sister. We’ve been doing it for about 20 years now, and I visit as much as I can—it’s gorgeous out there.

What advice do you have for people trying to sell their home?

The market is so strong right now, take advantage and try to get your home on the market as soon as possible. With interest rates so low, it’s a perfect time to sell.

Stafford Manion

Gladys Manion Real Estate

What’s your favorite St. Louis neighborhood?

Clayton—it’s charming, well-preserved, and I like the fact that it has retail, business, residential and parks all wrapped into one little entity.

What are your favorite things to do in St. Louis?

I like to play golf and ride my bike around Forest Park, and I love seeing Broadway shows—my favorite is Jersey Boys. I enjoy going to the Fox Theatre and Powell Hall, and being inside of old St. Louis city buildings and realizing they were both, at one time, movie theaters.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I like to exercise and hunt, and love going to the beach. Once a year, I go on a big trip with my son, Ford. Last year, we went duck-hunting in Argentina; and right now, I’m planning a trip for us to go to Jerusalem and Egypt in October.

What’s a typical weekend for you like?

I go to church, either at the New Cathedral or the Church of Annunziata, and then go to the office. I try to play golf or work out, and then go to dinner. I’m a frequent diner at Michael’s Bar & Grill on Manchester; but for more upscale food, I like Brasserie by Niche. I also like Hodaks for their fried chicken.

What advice do you have for people trying to buy a home?

Take your time, and make an educated decision. Find an agent who’s a teacher and an educator, as opposed to a salesperson.

Allie Rossini

Laura McCarthy Real Estate

How did you begin working in real estate?

I’ve always had a passion for houses. My husband is in commercial real estate, my mom is an interior designer and my dad is a real-estate attorney. So it’s always been in the family.

What do you like to do outside of work?

My husband and I have three boys—Dylan, 9, Ryan, 8, and Cole, 6—so we do a lot of family time. We love going to the beach in Santa Bel Island, and spending time with family and friends. I like doing needlepoint, but my kids are my hobby.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in St. Louis?

We live in—and love—Clayton. We live in the house my grandfather built and that I grew up in. We bought it from my parents six years ago and just finished an entire first-floor renovation. So we’re the third and fourth generations living in the house now.

What’s a typical weekend like for you?

Lots of my kids’ baseball and soccer games. During the summer, we go to the pool a lot. Obviously, I have to work many weekends at open houses or showing houses, but we try to have family night on Friday nights; and my husband and I try to go out with friends on Saturday nights.

What advice do you have for people trying to buy a home?

I always encourage people to spend time driving neighborhoods and figuring out what they want—do they want walkability, or do they mind having half-hour drive downtown? I also encourage them to make a checklist of what they want in their home. That way they know their priorities.

Matt Litwack

Prudential Alliance Realtors

How did you begin working in real estate?

I worked in corporate America after college, and my life was a lot like the movie Office Space. I realized early that I didn’t want to have a boss. I returned to St. Louis and spent about five years in the restaurant business, learning the trade. I took a personality assessment test, and real estate was at the top of my list. I got my license, and realized that selling real estate is a lot like waiting tables. People look to you to provide them a great experience, and you have the ability to make it or break it for them.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I don’t get a lot of free time, so I love spending quiet time with my family. My wife, Jessica, and I have two kids: a feisty redheaded 3-year-old named Ruby, and a 9-month-old, Silas. In July, we’re going to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where my wife’s family vacations, for a beach vacation.

What are you favorite St. Louis spots?

I love the Starbucks at Delmar and North and South boulevards. I take my kids there in the morning on the weekends so my wife can sleep. It’s kind of like Cheers, where everyone knows my name. I also love Protzel’s Delicatessen—they have a sandwich named after me, The Big Litty!

What advice do you have for people trying to sell their homes?

Price is everything. Focus on your next move, and how to hedge your bet so you’re not stuck sitting on your property. Get your home ready so that when it hits the market, someone will feel like if they don’t write an offer, someone else is going to. You want to create that sense of urgency in a buyer’s mind.

Julie Drier

Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty

How did you begin working in real estate?

My father encouraged me to get into the business 25 years ago. He thought it would be a great career for me, because I was in sales and I liked helping people. He thought that if I got married and had children, it would be a flexible career to have with a family.

What’s your favorite St. Louis neighborhood?

I grew up in Clayton and live in Ladue, and have so many favorite neighborhoods. I love all the different architectural styles and older homes in Fair Oaks in Ladue, and I love all the trees. It’s just a beautiful place to live.

What’s a typical weekend like for you?

Because I usually have to work on Sundays doing open houses, I try to have family time on Saturdays or Sunday mornings. My husband, David, and I have three kids: Victoria, 23, Tommy, 21 and Alex, 15. We love having brunch at the Cheesecake Factory, where we can it outside and enjoy the weather.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I’m a big animal lover. I have a Havanese named Mitzie, and Buddy, a dog we rescued from Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I walk them every day and everyone sees me out and about. It allows me to unwind from my day and give my dogs some exercise. I also cook—I make a mean homemade tomato sauce.

What advice do you have for people looking to sell their home?

De-clutter your home and make all the necessary repairs before you put it on the market. And price it to sell.

Paul Mittelstadt

Coldwell Banker Gundaker

How did you begin working in real estate?

In the 1970s, I was working for a nonprofit religious organization called Ecumenical Housing Foundation. That got me fascinated with residential real estate, and I got into the business in 1983.

What’s your favorite St. Louis neighborhood?

The Central West End. My wife, Amy, and I live on Maryland Plaza, in one of the old mansions that was converted to condos. I decided about nine or 10 years ago to specialize strictly in the Central West End. The finest architects of their time were working here in the 1890s to the 1920s, building historic mansions and apartment buildings. Working with beautiful architecture is one facet, but the other part is the diversity of people that you don’t see in any other neighborhood in St. Louis. It’s just a lot of fun and a great walking area—Amy and I try to walk to most of our appointments.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I ride my bike and walk my dog, Darby, a beagle, in Forest Park. Amy and I also do a lot of biking on the Madison County Trails near Edwardsville, which is one of the best biking trails in the country. We also like going to wine country in Augusta or Ste. Genevieve. I’m also a season-ticket holder at the St. Louis Symphony.

What advice do you have for people trying to sell their homes?

It’s important to use a realtor who is familiar with the neighborhood and can talk about the demographics and infrastructure of the neighborhood. They need to have a specific knowledge of the area they’re selling.

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