“BECAUSE I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MY JOB, I OFTEN WISH I HAD BECOME A REAL ESTATE AGENT 20 YEARS AGO, BUT I WOULD NOT BE THE AGENT I AM NOW WITHOUT THE PREVIOUS DIVERSE EXPERIENCES IN THE COMMUNITY THAT ENRICH MY ROLE AS A REAL ESTATE AGENT TODAY.”
Sonja recently sat down with the team over at Western Home Journal and shared her journey about becoming a real estate agent in NW Montana.
YOU GREW UP HERE, BUT HAS THE FLATHEAD VALLEY ALWAYS BEEN HOME?
I grew up in Kalispell and left to earn degrees from MSU in Bozeman and BSU in Boise. It wasn’t a tough decision for me to move back to the Flathead Valley in 2004. My husband and I had lived in Bozeman, Boise, and Choteau, and we were ready to return to the Flathead Valley and raise our family. I can’t get enough of the Flathead Valley.
I knew returning to my roots meant being surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers, family, and great communities. I love spending time
in Glacier National Park. Sharing this love with my 12-year-old daughter is now even more joyful.
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU BECAME AN AGENT? WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO ENTER REAL ESTATE?
I have a master’s degree in art education, and I have taught, owned
a photography business, and owned and operated two successful restaurants.
Real estate is a perfect fit for me because I love helping people and I have a natural habit of connecting people with things they are looking for. I am fascinated by the real estate market, and I started buying and selling properties early. Truly, real estate is the ideal combination of my work and life experiences.
WHAT ARE TODAY’S BUYERS LOOKING FOR IN A FAMILY HOME?
Families are typically looking for move- in-ready properties. Bonus rooms, two- or more-car garages, and a location close to schools top their wish lists.
Second homebuyers seem to desire privacy and views. They look for newer construction and often a waterfront location or large acreage. There is also a healthy segment of buyers who are looking for vacation condos for personal retreats or as a business investment.
WHAT SELLS THE BUYERS ON FLATHEAD VALLEY OVER OTHER RESORT AREAS?
A spirit of adventure, the overall quality of life, and the ability to get away from it all and find a slower pace—all these qualities are desirable. There is no doubt that the nearby millions of acres of undisturbed wilderness and Glacier National Park add to the area’s distinctive appeal. We have all of that, plus phenomenal city-like opportunities such as theatre companies, art galleries, and fine dining.
It is also a great investment. There are plenty of choices for real estate investment for all lifestyles and price points.
Our communities have craft breweries and distilleries, and we have boutique shops and farmers markets. All of these characteristics keep entrepreneurs wanting to invest.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR ROLE AS AN AGENT IN A RESORT TOWN?
I see myself as a source of information, and a local guide. Because I am from the Flathead Valley, I know the area very well and can help clients understand the differences between the areas, as well as the current state of the market. Like my other preceding jobs, I am in the service industry and I want the buying and selling process to be exceptional. I want to help people make connections. It’s just how I am.
WHAT TRENDS DO YOU SEE TAKING SHAPE?
One trend in building is that we are seeing smaller building footprints. There are new subdivisions being offered with covenants allowing for smaller totals of square footage. Whitefish Hills Village is a good example of this new trend.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT CHALLENGES?
Our inventory is smaller, making for fewer homes
to choose from. Narrowing down properties and finding the perfect place is the ultimate scavenger hunt!