It’s Sunday noon and Krista Murphy’s getting ready for an open house. As a real estate broker, Murphy’s already posted her sandwich board-style signs near the house she’s showing. But there’s something else she carries with her in her car to open houses. Her guitar.
Yes, that’s right. Murphy, 36, is Bainbridge Island’s own singing Realtor.
“It’s always up to the seller whether they want me to play,” she said. “But I love doing it.”
Her music and her real estate work combine two things that she loves. After earning an associate degree in fine arts, she began creating pottery.
“But that didn’t really pay the bills,” she said.
So, at 28, she studied and got her real estate license. Since then, she’s sold more than 60 homes.
“I wanted a career where I could be my own boss,” she said. “I couldn’t afford to go back to school and I didn’t want to begin at the bottom in the corporate world and work my way up. So I thought about real estate.”
Murphy recalled going to open houses with her mother when she was a child growing up in California.
“She wasn’t a Realtor,” Murphy said, of her mother. “She just liked looking at houses. So we’d go to open houses most weekends and see all kinds of homes.”
Having been married young, Murphy soon found herself divorced and having to support herself. Her real estate work was taking off, but she needed a steady paycheck. She became a barista at the Pegasus Cafe on Bainbridge. It was there that she heard others playing music and it piqued her interest.
“I’ve always been musical,” she said. “I sang in the church choir when I was young. And I had wanted to learn to play guitar, but never had.”
She met Larry Dewey, a well-known musician on the island, who began teaching her guitar.
“He’s so encouraging,” she said. “He’s such a good teacher.”
Once she felt comfortable with her guitar, she began performing at “jam” nights at Pegasus.
“I had wanted to sing at those,” she said. “But I never could find anyone to accompany me. Once I got up to speed with the guitar, I could accompany myself.”
Her music is a combination of folk and country. She is working on writing her own music, but right now plays songs made popular by Patti Griffin, Norah Jones and Sara Evans. She can also play Art Garfunkel and Bob Dylan songs.
“I’ve written poetry for many years and I hope to be able to put that to music,” she said. “It’s something that I know I can do.”
Since singing at Pegasus, Murphy has also sung at open mic nights at Bainbridge Island Brewing.
“Playing in public is so gratifying for me,” she said.
“I know I am touching people when they hear me. That means so much.”
Sometimes her older sister, Amber, will accompany her on percussion — bongos or piano.
Her music has helped her to reduce the stress in her life.
“Being in real estate is very stressful,” she said. “Right after I got my license was when the market crashed. And it’s a very competitive field.”
She lives in a small cabin on the water near Sandy Hook and that is where she goes to practice her music. At any one time she may have as many as a dozen clients that she’s helping buy or sell homes.
“My home is a real sanctuary,” she said. “It’s where I can work best.”
To her credit, she’s accomplished a lot in real estate at a young age. But, she said, because she looks even younger than she is, sometimes people in the real estate market don’t take her seriously.
“My real niche is the baby-boomer market,” she said.
And that’s where she got the idea to sing and play at open houses.
“Most of the music I play are songs that they know,” Murphy said. “They can relate to the music and enjoy it.”
Recently, she was at a neighborhood party when she was asked to play. She didn’t have her guitar, so the host offered up his expensive acoustic Gibson for her to play.
“They really liked me,” she said. “That gave me the confidence to push myself even more.”
Since then, she’s offering her music as an added benefit to anyone who wants to list a house with her, or for those who happen by any of her open houses.
“I just really love to sing,” she said. “And I love to share my music with others.”
To contact Murphy about real estate or music, call her at 360-917-6270. She is a broker with Bainbridge Homes and is currently studying to become a managing broker.