Red Rock Real Estate market watch with featured realtors Mark and Mary Smith

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — When Mark and Mary Smith relocated to the small-town life of St. George after living in larger metropolitan areas like Phoenix, Los Angeles and Portland, Mary was a little skeptical at first.

Realtor Mary Smith, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Mark Smith, St. George News

But now, a decade later, the realtor for Red Rock Real Estate said she can’t imagine living anywhere else.

“It’s amazing here,” she said. “We’re growing. You can feel the difference.”

She told St. George News that the big city luxuries she and Mark gave up were a welcome trade for the wholesome, safe, comfortable town they received in return.

“We have all the national parks and the beautiful landscape — we have a vacation in our own backyard.”

Recently honored as the Best of Southern Utah silver-award winner for Best Real Estate Team in the “Home & Garden” category, the Smiths set a higher bar for themselves when dealing with their clients. The couple has been in real estate together for nine years and said their No. 1 goal is still building good relationships with everyone they meet. Mark said it can be a lot of work sometimes, but it’s really gratifying.

“Especially when our clients are going through a pretty stressful time in their lives. If we can walk out of that and they’re happy, and we have that strong relationship, it’s the best job to have,” he said. 

Real estate was a natural progression for the Smiths following their years working for high-tech and Fortune 500 companies. Their experience in customer relations, customer service and sales fit right into the new career. While Mark excels at marketing, Mary said she loves being face-to-face with her clients and learning about their hopes and dreams. 

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Realtor Mark Smith, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Mark Smith, St. George News

“It’s a balance,” she said of the couple’s working relationship.

Mark agreed, adding that although he likes to joke around and say “Let’s start competing,” he loves supporting his wife in her passion for her work.

“We have different roles,” he said, “and I think that helps us work well together.”

A phrase they often use is that they are “realtors for life,” and the pair genuinely cares about people and the connections they make. Mark said every client they’ve ever had – or will have – gets the same high level of service.

“That’s what drives us and motivates us. It’s heartfelt, and I think people can tell that.”

Mary said their clients are diverse, but for the most part they are like-minded people that want to add to the community, contribute and be positive. The couple sees a lot of retirees moving to the area that don’t have many friends or family to rely on, and the Smiths see it as their duty to be a resource for these people both before and after the sale. Because of this focus on the relationship, 90% of their clients are by referral.

“People trust us to do the right thing and take care of the people that are most important to them.”

However, Mary said sometimes it can be difficult to do everything a customer requires — it takes someone to be on top of the market and its future and to be able to develop customer relationships. That is where she says they shine. Because of their unique partnership, they have time to focus on being available for all the clients’ specific needs — anytime they need to reach out.

“We’ll do whatever we need for them,” she said. “They can see our tenacity and our willingness to dig in and get the job done. We are at their service. We answer our phones, respond to emails, follow up on things — we really become a trusted advisor, and it doesn’t end at the sale.”

“The market is continuing to move forward.”

When it comes to the St. George real estate market, Mary said she is excited to see that it’s still going strong.

“We had a little bit of a slowdown just for a couple of weeks, but it has picked right back up where it left off,” she said, noting she has seen many buyers in town and had many new showings on her listings. “Those are all positive signs that the market is continuing to move forward.”

Mary said home sales in St. George continue to be very active, even through the start of the holidays. Homes are averaging about 50 days on the market, which is down from this period last year. Sales increased from September to October this year by almost 3% and ended as the second highest October for closings after 2017.

Mark said the area is seeing many differences from the previous downcycle and upcycle.

“It seems to be a more diverse clientele coming in that are in balance with the business growth and everything else that’s been going on here,” he said.

Median home prices continue to increase – currently around $320,000, which is also an increase from this time last year. The Smiths said they are expecting to see prices continue to increase locally, as analysts are optimistic about equity increases with so many people relocating to the area.

“It’s exciting for us,” Mary said. “Lots of really amazing people are coming to St. George. I think it’s all positive.”

She said the investors and analysts they follow nationally provide them an interesting perspective on the future market, and there has been consensus that mortgage rates will remain low next year – likely somewhere between 3.7% and 3.9%. 

“This is great news for home buyers,” she said. “At the same time, home prices are expected to increase by 5.6% by next September, up from the just 3.5% jump we saw this year. Price growth is expected to continue through 2020 and perhaps beyond.”

New listings were down in 2019, Mary said, signaling that homeowners are staying in their homes longer. That, combined with lowering interest rates, is expected to continue to drive prices higher. In a nutshell, as the economy remains strong – or even levels – she said consumers can expect a strong real estate market through 2020.

“Keep in mind as with any economic predictions, they are speculation,” she said, “but the predictions shared by analysts are strong, so 2020 is looking like a good time to buy or sell a home.”

For more information about the Smiths’ latest listings, visit their website.

Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY, St. George News.

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