When John Johnston retired from a long career in business development, sales and marketing, he and his wife spent several years looking for the perfect place to relocate. Taos was their top choice.
“We were looking for a place with several features, including high mountains, small town environment and a relaxed Southwestern lifestyle. Taos won out because it was the closest set of mountains to Dallas, where our daughter and grandsons live,” he says. Now, he and his wife enjoy hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and riding their fat tire bikes.
After he was here a year, Johnston decided to become a Realtor. He received his New Mexico real estate license and joined Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Taos, which has access to one of the largest residential real estate networks in the world.
Johnston brings his time in Taos, along with his business background to help buyers find the right home. He remembers his experience purchasing a home from out-of-state and is able to help streamline the process for these buyers. He also enjoys working with local families to find theright home.
“One of my favorite home sales was for a modest property purchased by a local Taoseño veteran and his wife. They had raised their family locally, without ever owning their own home. We were able to locate a home, and purchase it using a VA-guaranteed loan. As we neared closing, the appraisal came in much lower than the agreed price, and they got the home for much less than they planned. It left them with the funds to significantly improve the home and truly make it theirs immediately,” says Johnston. As an honorably discharged US Marine Corps veteran, Johnston understands the resources available and can work with buyers to find a VA loan provider.
Making real estate fun and low pressure
Helping people buy and sell their homes has been an enjoyable second career for Johnston. He makes sure he provides a zero-pressure environment for buyers. He asks them to consider how they feel about a particular home: both the strong points and the negatives, so that he can help them assess the downsides and decide if they will be deal breakers.
Most people know right away if they like a house, but then there are the important details to work out, such as finding a price that works for both the buyer and seller and arranging financing. With out-of-town buyers, he asks them about their location preferences and price range, helping them develop a clear vision of the house they want. He then previews the homes available for them in advance and sends photos of the houses, along with his recommendations.
He asks questions such as: Do you want to live in mountains, near the base of the mountains, or in open country with 360 degree view? When the buyers come to town, Johnston plans out an efficient route that will allow them to see four or five properties in the way that makes the most sense. “In the space of my career, my wife and I moved seven or eight times and bought and sold the same number of houses. My approach is to look at everything, pick the best and get rid of the rest,” he says.
Weather is always a consideration when selling a home during the winter months, points out Johnston. He notices that the number of buyers is reduced from the summer, but those who are here in the winter are more serious buyers. They often come ready to make an offer.
People looking to relocate to Taos or purchase a second home want to experience the Southwest lifestyle with its food, history, culture, arts, outdoor recreation and architecture. “They are looking for accents such as large vigas, high ceilings, quiet evenings, and a wide open feeling both inside and outside their home,” says Johnston. “Taos offers an open star-filled night sky and clear 360 degree views of high mountains and the wide valley. In Taos, right out your front door, is a wide range of recreational activity, regardless of the season.”
Activity in the Taos real estate market has increased significantly over the last year. Johnston points out that the market is very tight for homes below $400,000 and that few homes are being built right now. “All of these factors are causing existing home prices to increase. It’s a great time to sell in Taos even though we are heading into the winter,” he explains.
Johnston says, “Taos is a diverse community of people that genuinely want to help a newcomer settle. When my wife and I came here, there was no shortage of people who volunteered advice and directions. I recommend Taos to anyone who is tired of the daily stress and impersonal lifestyle of a large city. We only have so many days on this earth. Why waste them sitting in city traffic when you can live, play or retire in the Land of Enchantment?”
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