Realtor Pennie Herrera Wardlow has deep roots in Taos. She was born in the family home where she lives now. Those who came before her constructed the home with hand-made adobe bricks and wood harvested from the nearby mountains that were used for vigas and latillas.
“This land always belonged to our family. My great-great grandfather was Carlos Prando. He came from Italy as Carlos Prandi; the spelling of his name was changed due to Spanish influence. The Italianos trail is named for him,” says Wardlow. She adds that the Valdez area was first called San Antonio. But there was also another place in New Mexico with the same name. When the mail got misdirected, people would say send it to Valdez, the post master who was Wardlow’s ancestor. Soon the area became known as Valdez, although the church is still called San Antonio.
With her long experience here and knowledge about the community, Wardlow brings a special set of skills to help her buyers and sellers. She has remodeled many old adobes and can help imagine the possibilities for remaking an old adobe house into a home for a new family. “I have 25 years of knowledge and experience working with contractors. I’ve learned how to have a bigger view of the potential when remodeling a home. For example, I can help people figure out how to reconfigure a home with small rooms to feel more open and spacious,” says Wardlow.
RESPECT AND PATIENCE
In addition to Wardlow’s knowledge, she brings a desire to treat each client with respect to her transactions. Her clients say that Wardlow is a great communicator and always treats them like they are buying a million-dollar home, even if they are looking at a $10,000 piece of land or a modest house. “One satisfying aspect of my work is that many of the buy-ers and sellers I work with become friends,” she says. Most of her business comes through referrals from people who are happy with the experience they had working with Wardlow.
She is committed to listening carefully to the needs and desires of her clients and also feels comfortable asking if she might show them homes or land in an area she thinks they will like. She has the patience to go with clients to see many houses in different parts of town and help them figure out where they feel most comfortable.
“I’ve purchased numerous properties over the years and Pennie Wardlow is by far my favorite agent,” says Michael Cobb. “She’s personable, kind, ethical, understanding and knows Taos so well. Pennie is helpful and attentive with every stage of the process.”
As buyers look at houses, they are conscious of the features that ensure the home will be sustainable over time. “People are very interested in solar power to help with rising utility bills,” observes Wardlow. “If they are building a new home, they want to orient the house to take advantage of passive and active solar possibilities.” Other concerns like adequate insulation to make the home less costly to heat are also mentioned.
Buyers are interested in features like water catchment systems to help grow vegetable gardens, flowers and trees in the sage-covered landscape. Wardlow points out that newcomers see the advantages of long-standing traditions like growing your own food and having thick adobe walls, just like the original families of the Taos Valley did.
According to Wardlow, April and May are the busiest times for listings. “Sellers are getting their houses ready to go – it is a pretty exciting time,” says Wardlow. “Then the buyers come primarily between June and October.”
In helping sellers to prepare their homes for sale, Wardlow first points out all the good qualities of the home. If people are open to input, she will show them other listings that have sold and will explain some of the steps in making the house visually appealing, so that it shows in the best possible light. “A key concept is to present the house so that a buyer can see themselves and their things there,” says Wardlow. “That might mean putting away some furniture, personal photos or even artwork that could distract the potential buyer from seeing the house itself.” As Wardlow says, in this case - less is more.
A PASSION FOR THE RIGHTS AND WELL-BEING OF ANIMALS AND CHILDREN
In addition to her real estate career, Wardlow is well-known in the community for her work with animals and children. She is on the board at the Taos Integrated School of the Arts (TISA) and brings animals to school so that students can learn about pet care and take that knowledge home to share with their families.
When Wardlow became interested in animal welfare, she attended a training at Best Friends, an animal advocacy group, in Seattle. There she become convinced that the most important thing she could do to reduce animal overpopulation was to provide low-cost spay and neuter services and to educate youth.
She founded Four Corners Animal League as a nonprofit in October 2000 and has been active on behalf of animals ever since. She’s just been invited by the New Mexico Veterinary Board to serve on New Mexico Shelter Committee, which is putting together standards for all shelters and working on more spay-neuter programs.
On a daily basis, Wardlow is participating in efforts to make the lives of animals better. Recently, she was arranging for a transfer of 15 puppies to Colorado Puppy Rescue. She gets frequent calls from people asking questions like, “I found a dog that no one is claiming and Stray Hearts is full. What should I do?” In that case, Wardlow helped work out a plan to board the dog at Taos Vet for a few days to allow more time to figure out a more long-term solution. “All of the veterinarians are so helpful. Any time we need emergency care for an animal, they are there for us,” she says.
Wardlow helps to check on reports of animal abuse and recently advised the Sheriff’s Department, which was relocating llamas, ducks and chickens that had been neglected. In her experience, she has seen that the Sheriff’s Animal Control officer is a great asset to the community.
Working in cooperation with Stray Hearts and other organizations, Wardlow helps find medical services or dog/cat food for animals in need. She continues to coordi-nate the low-cost spay neuter program for Taos County. She explains, “If a dog has become a stray and has been at the shelter, Stray Hearts requires that they be spayed or neutered before they are returned to their homes. If a family can’t afford the procedure, Four Corners Animal League will see that the pet is spayed or neutered, so can be picked it up and returned home.”
In the past, she volunteered to help kids at the Residential Treatment Center in Taos. The program provided care for kids, usually between the ages of five and 13 who had been removed from their homes due to abuse. “The kids were from all over New Mexico. Actress Julia Roberts asked to become involved and we took the kids shopping for toys. The kids were happy to have attention and interest,” recalls Wardlow.
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