Tales From an Alaskan Realtor – Life is Messy

The first lesson a person learns upon choosing the state of Alaska as his or her state of residence is: Alaska is unique, a one-of-a-kind state. No other state compares to the 49th state, the Last Frontier.

I jaunt from Willow to Sutton and all over Palmer and Wasilla, showing houses to clients. As we travel from one property to the next, each home shares traces of stories that form a common theme: life is glorious, life is unpredictable, life is uncertain, and sometimes—life is messy.

At first glance, most houses appear to be nothing more than a house. Some houses are jaw- dropping beautiful, others require the ability of the beholder to see past “what is” to “what can be.” I will admit, I sometimes lack the ability to see past the mess and the smell to simply look at the structure and know that the structure “has good bones.”

Within the four walls and scattered all around some of the properties lie tell-tale signs of people’s lives. Cubbies crafted with children’s names to hold shoes and mittens. Lines progressing up the wall with children’s names and ages charting the progress of each child’s growth. Tire swings, flower gardens and empty horse stables. By all appearances one would guess that a home that started as a forever home sometimes ends in chaos and clutter.

Alaska is not unique to life’s uncertainties. However, Alaska IS unique with many families who “try on Alaska” to see if it fits only to find the isolation of being far away from their extended families in the Lower 48 when tragedy, death or family emergencies arise, unbearable. Life is messy and houses do not lie in the telling of their people’s stories.

There are also stories of joy and triumph as children graduate and parents downsize, or young growing families find their dream homes where their children can access hunting and fishing from their own back yards.

I find the time I spend with each client priceless as I listen to their stories and become somewhat of a matchmaker between each client’s stories and their future homes. In my own experience, I am finding Alaskan’s to be some of the most down to earth people I have ever met.

Things are not always what they appear to be. After years of talking with and working with people, I am constantly learning that it is in the unexpected moments that I am given glimpses of the gold nuggets hidden within each individual. Those moments happen when I shut up and really listen to what a person has to say.

Somewhere between the honeymooner’s glee of new wedding bliss and the widower’s grief of moving on alone through life, one will find  incredible homes and incredible people as unique as the beautiful state of Alaska.

The next time you look at an abandoned property or a half-finished dream house on a piece of land with breathtaking views, remember that life is messy. The next time you meet a person who may not look or talk like you, take a moment to stop and listen.

Alaska is chocked full of brave military men and women, entrepreneurs, dreamers, pioneers and renegades. Although Alaska may feel isolating to some, our incredible need for each other is what helps us through the messy times and what binds together hearts and homes.

Sheila Cote