Renegade State of Mind

As I take a look out my office window snow has crept almost halfway down the mountains already.  Winter is imminent.  I couldn’t be happier.

I used to live for summer and endure winter.  Not anymore. There’s something very beautiful about fall as we prepare both our homes and our minds for winter. 2014-09-07 16.13.07

Alaska winters can be associated with the word “slow” in the real estate world.  I think it might be the renegade in me that refuses to accept that philosophy.

My sister and I love winter hikes for the same reason.  We figure anyone can hike when the weather’s ideal; but not just anyone can hike in the cold of winter before the sun rises, wearing a head lamp to light the path.  Some might call it insane; we call it adventurous. 2013-12-04 08.41.53

Or maybe I refuse to believe that real estate will slow down when the weather turns to cold because I just finished writing an offer for an amazing lady who should be moving into her new home right before the holiday’s hit.

Let me encourage you, even as snow continues to cover the mountains, to stay the course in your house-hunting/house-selling adventures.  Fight the urge to stay indoors until spring. We all have a renegade side within us or we would not have chosen to live in the most beautiful state of them all–Alaska.

Call me (315.1086) or send me an email (sheila@valleymarket.com).  Even if I’m on the side of a mountain trying to reach the top before sunrise,  I am always within reach!

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The Truth About Adventures

I realized something a couple days ago whilst my body was lying head first down the steep side of a cliff with my mountain bike toppled under me–adventures can be very NOT fun!IMG_1637

I found myself questioning my desire to live an adventurous existence.  After all, the verb definition of adventure is to “engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.”

Lying bruised and in pain on the cliff side of a rocky, muddy mountain huffing and puffing felt more like a woman lacking common sense as opposed to a woman engaging in a hazardous and exciting activity.

Now that I have both feet on level ground I am able to realize the truth about adventures.  An adventure take us outside the confines of “safe” and “certain”  pushing us mentally, physically and emotionally to places we did not know were possible.  And in the moment; we want to resist the hazards surrounding us because, well, adventures can be painfully difficult.

Adventures require action even mid-adventure when it feels you have nothing left to give.IMG_1633

The truth about adventures is that they are only amazing after the adventure has ended and you have somehow survived.  It is in that moment that you realize you are capable of so much more than you ever imagined.  Even if the adventure takes place on the side of a mountain with no one around to witness the moment you felt alive like never before–the truth is it really doesn’t matter.  You will know.  And for reasons that make no sense even to you, your mind will begin planning your next great adventure.

If buying or selling a home sounds like a frightful venture to you–I would love to help you turn a venture into an adventure. Let’s explore some unknown territory together and try to have a little fun along the way!

Sheila

sheila@valleymarket.com

 

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Amazing Iditarod Chic

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Last August I met and worked with  Mary Helwig (along with her team of sled dogs!) in the purchase of a home in Willow, Alaska.  Mary’s passion for raising and racing sled dogs was her motivation for moving to Willow; known for its access to great sled dog trails.

A few months ago tragedy struck many residents of Willow, including Mary, when the 7000 + acre Sockeye fires destroyed 55 homes along with 44 properties which sustained major damage to outbuildings.

In a moment, the blink of an eye–Mary lost her home–she lost everything.  Thankfully, Mary’s dogs were not home at the time of the fire.

maryhuggingdog Mary is currently in the process of rebuilding her home.  Her positive attitude, fortitude and resilience remain intact.

It’s difficult to fathom starting over from nothing; everything down to a toothbrush taken by the fire’s fervor. Mary’s friends, family and community have stepped up to help in this time of transition.

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We at Valley Market Real Estate thought it would be helpful to send gift cards (Cabela’s, Target, Fred Meyer’s, Lowes, etc) to assist with some of the necessary items in life that we often take for granted on a day-to-day basis.

To join us in our endeavor to give back to Mary Helwig, the amazing Iditarod Chic with an unfettered zeal for life, please send your gift cards to:

Valley Market Real Estate, 12901 W Arctic Ave, Palmer AK 99645.  If you have questions please call or email me (315-1086 or sheila@valleymarket.com)

We love dog mushers. We love Alaska. We love real estate.

Serving our clients well from “Start” to “Finish.”

Sheilamary-iditarodstart

 

Gold Star Teacher

If you currently live in Alaska or are making plans to relocate to Alaska, there is something you need to know: Alaska has some outstanding schools…and spectacular teachers.

Let me introduce you to two such people, Steve and Alicia.

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Steve is a math teacher in Houston, Alaska. Alicia substitute teaches at different schools in the district.  Just as you might suspect, whatever was needed from either myself, the lender or the title company throughout the home buying process–Steve went out of his way to ensure he didn’t have anything turned in late.

It’s always a treat to work with clients who jump in with both feet (or ten toes, and two feet if you think like a math teacher!).

Steve enjoys teaching in the smaller community of Houston because of the family atmosphere the school embraces.  If you ever get the opportunity to talk to him you will instantly feel the deep sense of purpose and pride when he talks about why he loves being a teacher.  I find it refreshing to meet a person so passionate for his chosen profession.

I don’t have to explain the excitement of closing on his new home in Houston–the picture (left) at the close table pretty much sums it up (sorry, I’m can’t stop thinking like a mathematician). It looks like hard working teachers + persistence, resilience and determination = happy new homeowners!

tara housefront

Call me (907.315.1086) or shoot me an email (sheila@valleymarket.com) if there’s ever anything I can do to help you with your home buying or home selling needs.  If you add me to the equation, your real estate needs will come out with positive results (ok, I’m stopping now).

Sheila

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Military Families Rock

Working with real estate buyer’s  within the State of Alaska is great.  However, working with military families as they relocate to Alaska is one of my greatest joys!  Moving from ANY state to Alaska requires a strategic plan; I am amazed at the ease with which my military clients transition entire families to beautiful Alaska.

Several months ago I had the privilege of working with Dan (left) and his family  in the purchase of their Wasilla home as they relocated from the Lower 48.  About two days later, Dan’s wife, Sonia, was on a plane, deployed for six months.

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Dan and Sonia’s buddy AJ and his beautiful family contacted me about 6 weeks ago.  This week they signed the final documents (right) to their own Wasilla home…right next door to Dan and Sonia’s family.closetable

It’s a very humbling experience serving those whom have given and continue to give so much to and for our country.  Their strength, resolve, and ability to roll with changing circumstances are second to none.

Regardless the ups and downs that go with the process of purchasing properties long distance–I can’t remember hearing one complaint from either family.  They are cut from a fabric that embraces new experiences, and then holds on for the unexpected twists and turns in the road with a contagious optimism. Military families become families amongst themselves as their shared experiences bond the friendships forged along the way.

I usually discover at the close table–the finish line of a real estate purchase– that I am the one who has learned the most about what a real estate transaction is supposed to “look like.” What was once simply a house has now become a home for a family where new memories and friendships will be cherished.

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Give me a call (907.315.1086) or shoot me an email (sheila@valleymarket.com) if there is ever anything I can do to help you with your own real estate needs.

In the meantime…take time to thank our military men and women for all they have sacrificed for you.  You may walk away from the encounter with a new friend for life–

you never know.

Sheila

 

 

 

Unexpected Sight Seeing Adventures

As a realtor, I find myself unexpectedly exploring different parts of Alaska.  Mostly I explore in a no-cell zone area when my GPS is inoperable, and I am lost.

However, being a mom takes me on almost as many unforeseen Alaskan adventures as does being a realtor.

This week I found myself in the parking lot of the Sutton Library waiting for my daughter to be dropped off from an event happening further up the mountain at a property I was told my Ford Focus would be unable to conquer (I wanted to make a double-dog dare with my daughter’s 4-wheel-driving-friend that I could INDEED make the ascent, but decided to act like a mature mom sensing my daughter’s nervousness at me making a scene!).

Instead, I visited the small historical museum that I have driven past countless times.

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In 1900 coal deposits were noted in a couple areas in Sutton and Chickaloon.  The US navy funded development of the mines as a source of coal for the Naval ships in 1916; in 1922 the Navy declared the mines unnecessary and they were shut down and the facility dismantled.

This powder house was where all the explosives where stored–not to be confused with the place women go today to make sure their makeup is intact!

suttonpowderhouse

This Buckeye shovel was very innovative for its age and was made as a part of the World War II effort in Findlay Ohio.

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Even a small town like Sutton Alaska is chocked full of history if a person is willing to slow down for a moment to look and learn; or if a mom or dad is waiting for their child to re-appear from the mountains from a friends house.

As an Alaskan realtor, I love to explore new areas and to discover and uncover information that might be of interest to a prospective new resident.

If you are in the market for a new home and are looking for an experience that brings you closer to nature and further from crowds–I know I can help.

Shoot me an email or be on the look out for a white Ford Focus making some dust in an attempt to scale the side of a mountain en route to a property with a view.

Sheila

 

Alaska + Fishing = House Hunting?

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Summertime in Alaska, for many Alaskan’s, revolves around fishing.  Seems most conversations either start or end with something related to fishing; or in some instances entire conversations are ONLY about fish.  As I type this, my broker is smoking salmon in between listings and showings.  Not sure how he makes it all work together, but he is not a rookie in his ability to take care of his clients AND enjoy his escapes to the river. Everyone in the office benefits from his love and experience of the sport of fishing.

If you are a fisherman (or fisherwoman!), common sense tells me that you will need a large freezer to store your catch!

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What does a large freezer have to do with anything, you may be asking yourself?

A large freezer requires space–the kind of space you would find in a spacious garage or large kitchen.

Though I humbly admit I would not be anyone’s first choice when it comes to a fishing buddy or to finding a secret path to the perfect fishing hole; I DO know a couple of things when it comes to finding the perfect home for a family.

Get out there and enjoy Alaska.  Go catch your fish.

When your feet are back on dry land–give me a shout out and let me see what I can do to find the perfect home to store your bountiful catch.

Sheila

 

 

Home With A View

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If the view from your back deck could call your name, I think it may look like this.

There are quite a few properties on the market right now that offer million dollar views without requiring million dollar loans.

Take a break from the fast-paced life as you enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Alaska.

If you would like to see properties with a view…give me a call or shoot me an email (sheila@valleymarket.com).

Sheila

 

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