As a former lieutenant firefighter paramedic-turned-real estate extraordinaire, Deanna Armel has dedicated her entire career to changing lives and helping others. She has been ranked among the Top 10 Real Estate Agents of Central Florida and is consistently listed as one of the Top 100 Real Estate Agents in the area. Deanna has also been featured on Fox National News with Bob Massi and has graced the covers of both Orlando Real Producers Magazine and Orlando Style Magazine. The recipient of a Professionalism Award by top real estate agent peers and an award finalist for Orlando Real Producers, Deanna personally closes more than $35 million in real estate sales annually. In 2021 alone, she sold $77 million.
In 2008, Deanna founded Armel Real Estate Inc., a mom-and-pop boutique brokerage firm located in Lake Nona, Orlando, one of the fastest-growing, most innovative areas in the country. Driven by the motto “We Care. It’s That Simple,” Deanna and her team are committed to building and maintaining long-term relationships through compassion, professionalism, and superior service. From families to professionals to notable athletes—among them, legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz; NFL football player Jared Gaither, PGA and LPGA golfers Gary Woodland, Ross Fisher, Ben An, K.H. Lee, and Yani Tseng, and pro tennis player Cici Bellis—the firm has assisted hundreds of clients with over $300 million in transactions. Armel Real Estate specializes in luxury residential real properties, golf course sales, operating business sales, commercial sales, and land sales for development.
Deanna recently spoke with The Top 100 Magazine to share more about her passion for service, Armel Real Estate, and the three words that serve as her North Star: passion, compassion, and service.
Let’s start with Lake Nona. Why has it become such a sought-after location for luxury home buyers?
Lake Nona is an up-and-coming area of 17 square miles in the heart of Orlando. It’s a wonderful location for executives and families—especially with Lake Nona Medical City, golf courses, and a 650-acre health and life sciences park that includes the VA hospital, Nemours Children’s Hospital, and the University of Florida Research Center. It’s located within five minutes of Orlando’s International Airport, and it’s bringing lots of jobs and medical professionals to the area. Phase one is Lake Nona Towne Center—4 million square feet of premium retail shopping, dining, entertainment, and hotels. Phase two is the second town center—100 acres of restaurants, the 17-story Lake Nona Wave Hotel, and Lake Nona Resort, which features a 15-acre crystal lagoon. Disney is relocating its corporate headquarters there, as is the U.S. Tennis Association—with 98 fully lit courts and two championship courts.
As a former firefighter, you were clearly committed to helping people. What led you to choose real estate to do the same, and how do you draw from that experience to serve your clients?
I thrive on solving problems, so I loved the fire service because each day brought new challenges. Real estate is the same. You never know what each day or transaction will bring. As a firefighter, I also loved saving lives, and now I’m changing lives by helping people buy and sell real estate. I draw from my experience as a firefighter paramedic by realizing that life is too short to settle. That’s why I encourage buyers and sellers to decide exactly what they want and need, plan and prepare, and then go for it. I also encourage them not to be overly emotional about a house. There will always be another one, and they will always end up where they’re supposed to be.
What makes your firm different from others?
We’re a small, boutique operation where the focus is personal for every individual. We don’t have the corporate mentality of striving for quantity of sales. Our focus is on quality, showing compassion, and caring for our clients. The relationships we build are for life—not just for the transaction. As the broker, I work closely with both our clients and my agents. I’m here for them on every level and always respond when they call, text, or email. Many of my agents are firefighters whom I worked with years ago, so we’re a family. As a retired firefighter, I also have tremendous knowledge of building construction, and by shedding light on a home’s condition prior to a formal inspection, I help buyers save time and money.
You also specialize in golf course sales. Tell us about your work in this area.
After I retired from the fire service due to a back injury, I obtained my real estate license and called my long-time family friend, Hilda Allen, who was, and still is, the nation’s leading golf course broker. In 2008, she allowed me to work with her, and that same year, my first real estate sale was a golf course. Also, my husband and I own two golf courses—one in Boca Raton and the other in Kissimmee—so we stay aware of everything happening in the market.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I live, breathe, eat, and sleep real estate. I live to help people. I love a challenge and appreciate that every day and every deal is different. My greatest satisfaction in real estate is the “thank you,” the card, or the hug. When I get the deal done and help my clients move on to their next chapters in life, I’m fulfilled.
The words “passion, compassion, and service” define the heart of who you are. Can you share a little bit about this, Deanna?
I’m beyond passionate about what I do and love every minute. I have compassion for every person, and I’m sensitive to every story. I serve others. It’s what I love doing. Every client receives the same level of service, period. I want to make a difference in the world and in people’s lives. I’ve gone from saving lives to changing lives.
Deanna holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and communications from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL, and an associate degree in both fire and emergency medical services.
Broker and Owner
Armel Real Estate Inc.
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