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Overall Mortgage Applications Down, With Refi Share on Weeks-Long Decline

Mortgage applications decreased 6.3% for the week ending Oct. 15, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

Key takeaways:

– The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 6.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous week
– Unadjusted, the index decreased 6% compared with the previous week
– The Refinance Index decreased 7% from the previous week—22% lower YoY
– The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 5% from the previous week
– The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 5% compared with the previous week

The takeaway:

Refi applications continue to dip as mortgage rates increase, with the share down 63.3% of total applications.

“Refinance applications declined for the fourth week as rates increased, bringing the refinance index to its lowest level since July 2021. The 30-year fixed rate has increased 20 basis points over the past month and reached 3.23% last week—the highest since April 2021. The 15-year fixed rate increased to 2.54%, which is the highest since July,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of Economic and Industry Forecasting, in a statement. “Purchase activity declined and was 12% lower than a year ago, within the annual comparison range that it has been over the past six weeks. Insufficient housing supply and elevated home-price growth continue to limit options for would-be buyers.”

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How to Create a Customized Tech Approach that Supports Your Agents

Shawna Alt grew up in the real estate business, having watched her mother run her own company. Even though she didn’t initially have the desire, she found herself following in her mother’s successful footsteps.

After graduating from the College of Charleston with a degree in psychology, Alt returned to Madison, Wisconsin, to determine what her next steps would be.

She met with one of her mom’s friends and colleagues, Jim Imhoff, who was CEO of First Realty at the time, and he suggested that she give real estate a try.

Today, Alt serves as president of First Weber, Inc., a company where she’s been part of the leadership team going on 17 years.

About three years ago, Alt sat down with the team to do what she describes as a “typical planning session.” One of the things discussed? Whether or not the buyer, the seller or the agent was their actual client.

“When we took a step back and looked at what we all did every day, it was very clear to us that the agent was our client,” Alt says. “From that point on, we focused on what we were doing every day to help our agents build their business.”

That led to three primary questions: “What do we do?” “How do we do it?” and “Why do we do it?”

“Every type of policy we have—and every tool we utilize—comes back to fulfilling those questions,” Alt says. “We focus a lot on being a resource for our agents, getting feedback and identifying what it is that’s specific and unique to each agent. We then customize the tools we offer based upon the needs they have.”

While some agents are focused on achieving a specific volume or closed unit goal, others are more concerned with achieving the elusive work/life balance. Then there are those who are more mobile oriented as opposed to those who prefer to continue working with paper files.

“We reach out to them on a regular basis so that we can provide them with the tools that best meet their needs,” says Alt, which ultimately laid the foundation for their utilization of Main Street, a suite of front office tools under Constellation1—the platform that drives everything.

“This is where we work with Constellation1,” explains Alt. “It does everything—all of our contact management, our marketing, all of our document and transaction management. We’re able to customize everything from print pieces to electronic marketing pieces as well as the way in which the transaction management piece functions with the agent and interacts with the First Weber app.”

The firm also has its own print shop, where graphic designers create the marketing and direct mail pieces utilized by the firm. All of this comes from the content database that Constellation1 offers, and is one of the primary reasons behind the firm’s success.

“One of the biggest benefits that Constellation1 brings to the table is their willingness to customize their products to meet our needs,” Alt says. “Their approach to meeting our needs melds perfectly with our approach to meet the needs of our agents.”

As of August 2021, there were approximately 1,100 agents at First Weber.

“What makes a good agent is someone who has a growth mindset and is dedicated to helping others,” concludes Alt. “We bring the necessary training and tools to support the business of our agents. They bring the motivation and desire to serve their clients.”

For more information, please visit constellation1.com.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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Foreclosures See Hard Spike As Federal Protections End

As expected, the end of federal protections in September has coincided with a significant uptick in foreclosures, as default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions spiked 34% in Q3 of this year according to a new report from ATTOM Data Solutions®, potentially foreshadowing a difficult winter for homeowners still struggling through the pandemic. 

The extent of any looming crisis remains unclear, as industry experts have hoped lenders will work with distressed homeowners to prevent the more drastic consequences of financial hardships.  

But without governmental protections, it appears that many banks are willing to at least start the process. New foreclosure filings in September 2021 were more than double compared to September 2020, as lenders hurried to begin the process as soon as protections ended, according to the report. 

“So far the government and the mortgage industry have worked together to do an extraordinary job of preventing millions of unnecessary foreclosures using the foreclosure moratorium and mortgage forbearance program,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at ATTOM subsidiary RealtyTrac, in a statement. “But there are hundreds of thousands of borrowers scheduled to exit forbearance in the next two months, and it’s possible that we might see a higher percentage of those borrowers default on their loans.” 

By the Numbers 

In news that could be construed as positive, foreclosures overall are far below levels seen in recent years and are very unlikely to breach those benchmarks by year’s end, even with significant increases according to the report. 

“Despite the increased level of foreclosure activity in September, we’re still far below historically normal numbers,” said Sharga. “September foreclosure actions were almost 70%lower than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in September of 2019, and Q3 foreclosure activity was 60%lower than the same quarter that year.” 

That is almost certainly because of forbearance and the federal foreclosure moratorium, rather than a reflection on the broader economic outlook for borrowers. And the situation for many could still be dire. 

Bank repossessions also jumped 22% in Q3, according to the report; and last month saw an 8% increase in completed foreclosures over the previous month, indicating that many borrowers are not able to defer payments or exit foreclosure in other ways.  

Overall, a total of 45,517 properties had foreclosure filings in Q3 2021. 


The rate of foreclosures in Q3 of 2021 did not appear to correlate geographically with any particularly strong pattern. In order, Nevada, Illinois, Delaware, New Jersey and Florida were the top states, all seeing more than one out of every 2,000 properties in the foreclosure process. As far as metros, Atlantic City, New Jersey (one in every 709 housing units with a foreclosure filing); Peoria, Illinois (one in every 754); Bakersfield, California (one in every 923); Cleveland, Ohio (one in every 936); and Las Vegas, Nevada (one in every 1,167) were the hardest hit. 

Least affected states were decidedly more rural and included South Dakota, West Virginia, Oregon, Montana and North Dakota. All had foreclosure rates less than one out of every 15,000 properties.  

As far as completed foreclosures, Illinois and Florida (with 965 and 564 properties repossessed, respectively) were joined by Pennsylvania (480 properties); Michigan (401) and New York (370). Overall, 2,682 housing units nationwide completed foreclosures in September, up 33% from a year ago. 

Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com.

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REALTORS® Joining Together Through the Regional Rally for RRF

NAR PULSE—REALTORS® take pride in stepping in and stepping up wherever there’s a need. It’s what you do, it’s who you R. We need you, your region and all regions to channel your inner R and join together for RRF’s Regional Rally. We’re challenging all regions to step up and participate in the rally to aid any community in the wake of a disaster! Check out your region’s progress here.

Register for October’s Virtual Green Home Tour
Virtual Green Home Tour Series continues on 10/21 at 3 pm ET from Northern Virginia! Join us for a tour of Tall Oaks, a high-performance infill project in Reston, Virginia, of modern townhomes and flats certified to the National Green Building Standard® (NGBS). Encourage your agents to register to learn how to market certified green homes to prospective buyers.

NEW! Introducing the Recently Launched L.E.A.D. Courses
Encourage your agents to LEARN key leadership skills. ELEVATE their position. ACCELERATE their career. DELIVER results. The new L.E.A.D. courses offer REALTORS® a valuable framework to build their leadership competency and develop full potential as a leader. Available now!

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New Home Purchase Applications Down in September as Loan Size Rises

Mortgage applications for new home purchases decreased 16.2% YoY. Compared to August 2021, applications decreased by 4%., according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Builder Application Survey (BAS) data for September 2021. This change does not include any adjustment for typical seasonal patterns.

Key details:

MBA predicts new single-family home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 843,000 units in September 2021, based on data from the BAS. The new home sales estimate is derived using mortgage application information from the BAS, as well as assumptions regarding market coverage and other factors.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for September shows a decrease of 3.5% from the August pace of 874,000 units. Unadjusted, MBA predicts there were 66,000 new home sales in September 2021—down 7% from 71,000 new home sales in August.

By product type:

– Conventional loans composed 75.1% of loan applications
– FHA loans composed 13.9%
– RHS/USDA loans composed 0.5%
– VA loans composed 10.5%

The average loan size of new homes increased from $406,922 in August to $408,522 in September.

The takeaway:

“New home sales purchase activity was weaker in September, and the average loan size rose to another record high, as homebuilders continue to grapple with rising building materials costs and labor shortages. The survey-high average loan size of $408,522 is evidence of higher sales prices from these higher costs, as well as the shift in new construction to larger, more expensive homes,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of Economic and Industry Forecasting, in a statement. “The estimated pace of new home sales decreased 3.5% last month after a strong August reading, but the two-month sales pace is at its strongest since January 2021.”

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Curbio Named Second-Fastest Growing Company in D.C. Area

Curbio recently announced that it has been ranked No. 2 on the 2021 list of Fastest Growing Companies by the Washington Business Journal.

“Our team is thankful to be recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the greater Washington, D.C., area,” said Rick Rudman, chairman, president and CEO of Curbio, in a statement. “Here at Curbio, we have set out to modernize home improvement for the real estate transaction by streamlining a process that has historically been slow and unreliable. This incredible recognition by the Washington Business Journal shows that what we are doing is working. I would like to thank our employees, investors, brokerage partners and clients for supporting us and making our growth possible.”

In compiling this list, the Washington Business Journal calculated each businesses average percent change in revenue from 2018-2020, with Curbio boasting an increase of 193.22%. This recognition is a testament to Curbio’s success in innovating, streamlining and modernizing home improvement for the real estate transaction.

Find the full list of Washington Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies here.

For more information, please visit Curbio.com.

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RE/MAX’s Wemlo Launches Loan Brokering System

Wemlo,SM recently announced the upcoming launch of a new technology that aims to transform the mortgage brokerage industry.

The wemlo Loan Brokering System℠ (LBS℠) was developed to empower mortgage loan brokers with purpose-built loan software that understands the specifics of their business, compliance priorities and workflows. According to the company, mortgage brokerages will no longer have to settle for using only a portion of big, expensive loan origination systems that were developed decades ago for the retail channel.

“Unlike other mortgage loan origination systems and software on the market, the wemlo Loan Brokering System is the first solution built specifically for the broker channel based on a close partnership between high-producing mortgage brokers and enterprise-focused mortgage technologists,” said wemlo president Ward Morrison in a statement.

“We originally began developing this technology for loan processors when we could not find existing solutions that met their specific needs in the broker channel,” said Dustin Morton, vice president of product and strategy for wemlo, in a statement. “When we launched processing solutions and began to see results showing that intentional, broker-first software could make our processors more efficient and effective, the next step was to bring this powerful tool to loan brokers industrywide whose businesses are also typically forgotten by legacy mortgage software providers.”

Wemlo’s LBS was created specifically to enable mortgage loan originators (MLOs) to close more loans each month while providing the seamless digital mortgage experience expected by today’s homebuyers. The system interface includes virtually all the functions MLOs need, according to the company, while leaving out extraneous functions that just get in the way. Features include enhanced Automated Underwriting System (AUS) feedback, which provides suggestions for resolving common loan structuring challenges; a borrower portal that allows borrowers to track the status of their loan in real-time; and in-platform communication options that foster on-time closings by keeping the broker, loan processor, title company, real estate agents and borrowers all in close contact.

A guiding design principle for the software was to eliminate all manual and duplicative data entry, said the company.

“A fascinating challenge for our development team was to reduce our users’ time spent in the system. For us, success comes when MLOs are logged out of the LBS and able to cultivate referral relationships for their next loan,” said Morton. The system is focused on making the loan and application process more efficient for both loan originators and hopeful homebuyers. After the 1003 loan application is finalized, the LBS sends broker disclosures and prepares loan data for submission to the wholesale lender—all in one click. For the next steps, MLOs can either leverage the power of the wemlo processing platform for themselves or they can send the loan to wemlo’s third-party loan processing team.

“There’s no other origination technology that comes with a processing team built-in. We expect the power of the LBS to mean more loans per month for MLOs, and when business booms, wemlo loan processors are only a click away from supporting that bursting pipeline,” said Chelsea Balak, wemlo vice president of Operations, in a statement.

Wemlo is part of RE/MAX Holdings. For more information, please visit www.remax.com.

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colonial Homes San Miguel Celebrates Milestone With Record Listing

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colonial Homes San Miguel recently celebrated its one-year anniversary with a record-breaking home priced at U.S. $4.7 million. The company is co-owned by Greg Gunter and Alma Cecilia Ramirez.

San Miguel de Allende, designated as Condé Nast Traveler’s No. 1 City in the World three separate times, proves increasingly popular with high-net-worth individuals at or nearing retirement. However, sales-volume growth has been at both ends of the spectrum, from starter homes under the U.S. $400,000 mark to sales generally from U.S. $750,000 to U.S. $1.5 million. Their U.S. $4.7M listing is the city’s second highest asking price, according to the company.

“Celebrating our one-year anniversary this year is a truly meaningful milestone,” said Greg Gunter, owner of the first Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices franchise for the brand in Mexico, in a statement. “We are extremely proud and grateful for all our clients who have trusted us from the beginning to help with one of the biggest life decisions. The fact that our client bestowed their trust in us for such a record-breaking estate is enormous testament to our reputation.”

Cecilia Ramirez also commented on the company’s anniversary: “We have a gifted team of individuals who strive to deliver the best results, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work that has been produced over the past year.”

For more information, please visit: www.bhhscolonialhomessanmiguel.com

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Mountain Peaks and Tumbleweeds: Real Estate in Frontierland, USA

Editor’s note: Even in an industry where jobs are determined by the disparate geography and composition of their individual communities, there are realms that transcend the real estate firmament, where markets, environments or policy make the experience of buying and selling homes something else entirely. People who embark on careers in these spaces take on a different set of challenges than the vast majority of those in the industry.

In RISMedia’s “Real Estate On The Edge” series, we take a look at some of these people and the spaces they work in, highlighting some of the most interesting places and environments to practice real estate.

In the far southwest corner of Texas lies Zapata County. Nestled against the U.S./Mexico border, the county—around 1,000 square miles of rocky desert, with a population of around 15,000—is not home to any incorporated municipalities or border crossings. About a third of the population lives in the relatively bustling county seat of Zapata, which offers all the small-town comfort that a few chain restaurants, mom-and-pop bakeries, laundromats and a newly built public playground can provide. A scrubby nine-hole golf course at the edge of town holds regular tournaments and fundraisers, and the local high school football field can accommodate more than half the town’s population for football and other sporting events. The nearest city of any measurable size is Laredo, about an hour’s drive to the north through mostly empty desert, and the nearest metro, San Antonio, lies almost four hours away by car.

Liz Mendoza is the broker/owner of Cornerstone Real Estate. She has lived in Zapata her entire life. Most of her family works in education, she says, but since 1996, her passion has been real estate—something that started as a college job but evolved into much more than that as she took over the county’s only real estate brokerage.

“I’m the little one from this little, small city but I’m a contender,” she promises.

Most homes in Zapata County go for around $100,000, though you can get a fixer-upper for half that. Like Mendoza, many of her clients have deep roots in the small desert community, going back multiple generations. People will inherit land or a home and may want to sell, while others save enough money to upgrade after living in one of the many prefabricated structures or trailers that essentially serve as starter homes.

About 15% of Zapata residents work in the oil industry, chasing jobs that have steadily moved out of the area according to Mendoza. In 1954, a dam meant to mitigate flooding issues in the Rio Grande completely destroyed the original settlement, with many property owners forced to flee on short notice, abandoning family homesteads. But many of them chose to remain in the area despite its remote location and challenges.

Mendoza describes this attitude in her beloved community as not one of defiance, but persistence. People in Zapata are not staying in spite of the area’s tough history, but because of it, relishing the community and the lifestyle that their ancestors cultivated.

“They keep lands in their families for generations,” she says.

About 2,000 miles to the north, on the far side of the country, is another place that has historically drawn those who want to embrace a self-sustaining, rugged lifestyle far from the city rat-race. With a population of just over a million people spread out over 150,000 square miles of deeply forested, mountain terrain, Montana is one of the least densely populated states behind only Wyoming and Alaska.

Will Friedner is not a native Montanan, he admits. He founded his brokerage, Montana Life Realty, about 15 years ago with his wife after growing up in Minnesota.

“The most fulfilling thing is just showing people the state and watching them react,” he says. “It’s still one of the few places left in the lower 48 that is still so wild.”

Though it has little else in common superficially with the shale-scattered clay of South Texas, people who choose to live in rural Montana share something very important with the folks of Zapata: pride. Friedner says that people in his state are looking for a lifestyle that is deeply personal and unique, centered on the state’s ability to provide space, and a rugged communion with nature.

“I like to joke that you can watch your dog run away for three days, because there’s nothing there,” he says.

Further north—much further north, in fact—is a place that most people understand is a frontier. Connie Yoshimura is a broker at Alaska Realty in Anchorage, through Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. She took a road trip up through Canada 40 years ago, she says, and never looked back. Though there is truth to what outsiders imagine when they think of her state—long winters, wildlife, empty space and self-reliance—Alaska is also a place of great diversity, she says, with bustling cultural centers and people living all sorts of lifestyles.

“We’re actually a combination of a frontier state and a pretty sophisticated urban environment,” Yoshimura says.

Those who are seeking to move there, or move within the state, mostly know what they are doing, she says, and also have in common a tremendous appreciation of what Alaska can offer them and their families.

“I personally enjoy working with buyers and sellers and learning what brings them to this particular point in time,” she adds. “Some people come for great adventure.”

What these frontier agents all have in common, though, is a deeply personal reason for doing what they do, where they do it—a connection with the people, with the landscape or with the history of these communities. Whether they grew up there or are transplants themselves, each has remained out on the edge, spending decades getting to know all the unique challenges and extraordinary experiences of these places—which in the end, is what the job is all about.

What It’s Like

Housing is especially unique in Zapata, according to Mendoza, because no developer has ever built speculatively there—every house is either a prefab or a custom design commissioned (or constructed) by the property owner.

Because of this, and because she has been essentially the only real estate agent in the county for close to two decades, Mendoza says she has sold some’s homes three or four times.

“I know the history of it, and I can tell them that. Some may or may not believe it, but I’ll tell them, ‘Oh I remember when I sold it the first time, and this is what it looked like,’” she laughs. “Limited inventory, you know, so we trade the same house over and over.”

One of Mendoza’s properties outside the town of Zapata—a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch listed at $105,000—is described as “secluded…yet property is not isolated.” Among the listing photos is one of a rabbit crouched beside a cactus in the backyard (the property is great for hunting, the listing says).

Another listing consists of two prefab structures (one that was formerly used as a beauty shop) connected by a sheet-metal overhang that forms a patio, or carport depending on preference. The lot includes shaded animal pens as well as a lake view, according to the listing.

Mendoza says it took a while for the larger REALTOR® organization in Laredo—a relative metropolis with a population of about 100,000—to take her seriously, but she has since proved herself as a scrappy and passionate member of the community, being elected to the Board of Directors in Laredo last year.

“There’s other big-time brokers that trade properties left and right, and at first I was kind of being looked down ,” she says. “They’ve learned to respect me, and now they appreciate Zapata because I tell them the good .”

At the other extreme in Zapata is the relocation industry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents are consistently transferred in and out, and oil industry workers—who make up about 15% of Zapata County jobs according to census data—also arrive regularly, many from thousands of miles away and hailing from very different geographic and demographic areas.

“We deal a lot with relocation,” she says. “Some people are used to having Walmart a block away. We don’t have that; it’s 45 minutes to the first Walmart. So we kind of explain that to people.”

While these kinds of situations—communicating the unique challenges of the area to outsiders—make up a good portion of Mendoza’s business in Zapata, out-of-staters have been Friedner’s bread and butter, at least for the last two years or so.

Montana metros were the third-fastest growing in the nation as far as price appreciation this past spring and summer, according to data collected by the National Association of REALTORS®, as many people fled coastal markets looking for space and affordability during the pandemic.

With all the transplants, it got to the point where late last summer Friedner filmed a video titled “Living in Montana: Things They Don’t Tell You,” which was meant to address issues most outsiders are not prepared for. That video went viral, garnering almost 2.5 million views as of press time.

“Ironically enough, the video that goes viral is the one that’s about why you shouldn’t move to Montana,” he deadpans.

He was inspired to make that video, he explains, after driving a couple from Los Angeles hours into the wilderness to see a home they had viewed online, and felt was a sure home-run.

“They just had no idea what they were getting into,” he says. “By the time we got to it, their eyes were huge and…obviously weren’t going to live out there once they saw it in person.”

Frieder says he now strongly recommends that any out-of-state buyers take a drive through the state before he sends them any specific listing, just so they can get an idea of just how vast and isolated it is—have a chance to spot a bear on the side of the road or experience a few hundred miles of cell-service blackout.

If they are still interested after that, he says they can start discussing specific properties or issues, like roads that are only ploughed if you plough them yourself, grizzly bears and wolves encroaching on properties (only an issue in certain parts of the state) and what “off-grid” really means as far as your daily, monthly and yearly investment of time and money.

“Some people are scared off a little bit, some people just think it sounds even better,” Friedner laughs.

This is in stark contrast to Alaska where Yoshimura says people almost always have a good idea of what to expect if they are planning on moving to the state.

“Everybody that’s here enjoys the great outdoors,” she says.

Claire James is Alaska Realty’s business development director working with Yoshimura at Berkshire Hathaway. She herself is an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast who regularly embarks on weeklong hikes through the Alaskan wilderness. But she says a lot of folks coming up the state end up in relatively standard living arrangements in the cities or suburbs.

“Often will say they’re looking for a cabin in the woods,” she says. “But in reality, we live in a major city. We do not live in igloos in Alaska. Once they’re here, they realize they want to live where the work and where the homes are, and maybe in the future they can purchase that second cabin.”

That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of unique aspects to the market. A lot of people who purchase lake homes need to know whether they are able to land or dock small airplanes there, according to Yoshimura, as air travel is extremely common in a state where roads simply do not reach every town or community. Wildlife is also endemic to all parts of the state—not just out in the boonies.

“I was out walking my dog last night and I was greeted by a huge bull moose,” James says.

People who have lived there a while are not necessarily surprised or in awe of these types of encounters—both black and brown bears, bald eagle and wolves—but instead approach the situation from a practical standpoint.

“A lot of times you just think, ‘Okay should I run?’” James laughs.

Another unique issue is for people who live in “fly-to” locations outside of the major cities and have to account for the fact that all goods and services have to arrive by plane. The trade-off is of course, access to some of the best fishing, hiking and incredible landscapes in the world.

“Those towns are just beautiful,” James says.

Generally, Yoshimura says people in Alaska are looking for two things: space and a view. Lake homes are very popular, and anything with mountain or water views will be in high demand. Lake access or really spectacular views can easily drive the price of a property up by six figures, she says.

These things are also highly sought after in Montana, according to Friedner, but the vast surge of interest from outsiders has also resulted in a lot of push-back from the folks who have lived there for generations. In the “Living In Montana” viral video, Friedner said that some locals have begun referring to Bozeman—the state’s fourth-largest metro with a population of just over 50,000—as “Boze Angeles” due to the influx of California migrants.

But though restaurants might be busier and roads might occasionally get clogged (relatively speaking) around resort areas, Frieder says Montana has plenty of room for newcomers.

“As much as the locals don’t want to hear that,” he says, “you can drive ten minutes out of town and you’re in the middle of nowhere. I don’t want to see Montana turn into Southern California, but it’s going to be long after I’m gone before it ever gets to that point.”

Why We’re Here

In Zapata, welcoming strangers has never been an issue, according to Mendoza—something that can be traced through the area’s history of ranchers and frontiersmen who stuck together through hard times. That includes decades of 19th century outlaws feuding across the almost stateless land, and political upheaval during the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande uprising in 1840, with the county named after slain revolutionary general Antonio Zapata.

But despite its lineage of conflict, Mexican and White Anglo-Europeans in Zapata have almost always gotten along, according to the Texas Historical Society, even as nearby regions saw significant ethnic and racial violence through much of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Mendoza says this spirit of peace and harmony persists today, with the majority-Hispanic population happy to mingle with relocated workers, seasonal vacationers at nearby Falcon Lake and any new neighbors regardless of race or origin.

“We’ve learned to mesh well with everyone,” she says. “People here are raised different—we’re raised to respect. Everybody here—in Spanish we say, tio and tia. So everywhere I go, people are my tio and tia, people I don’t even know. That’s the respect we have for people because we were brought up with that kind of morals.”

Living in a place where everyone refers to you as an uncle or aunt is part of what has kept Mendoza in Zapata, she says, and part of what makes her work more than a job—makes it a service to every person who wants to share the unique, enduring community she belongs to.

“These are people that I live with, these are people that I’m going to see at the store tomorrow,” she says. “I need to make sure that I did a good job for them because I’m going to bump into them every day, and I want to make sure they’re happy with the services that I could provide. So I take a lot of pride in that.”

In Montana, there is a very different kind of priority. Many people come to the state and stay there because they would rather not see their neighbors every day, according to Friedner.

“Everybody wants to go be a cowboy in Montana,” he said.

The peace and opportunity that comes from that amount of space has a growing appeal, he says, with a lot of out-of-state folks explicitly asking for homes that are “off the grid” or properties with no legal restrictions.

In his video, Friedner talked about housing covenants, which dictate the kind of activities or uses allowed on a particular lot. A lot of people come to him asking for properties that have no covenants, and because most of rural Montana land is also unzoned, they imagine they can do essentially whatever they want with that kind of property.

Though this is often attainable, Friedner warned that there are also drawbacks. A neighbor can park dozens of junk cars haphazardly in their front yard, open a store or start raising livestock next door and there is little recourse for a property owner who is bothered by these things.

Because of this need for space, sometimes even acres and acres of distance isn’t enough, Friedner says, as people value their self-reliance, history and privacy in a way that is hard to describe to outsiders. Likewise in Alaska, where James and Yoshimura say that there is an inherent respect earned simply by calling the state home.

“Alaskans are really proud to live here,” she says.

“There’s just no more beautiful place than Alaska,” Yoshimura affirms.

Diversity is more than environment and landscape, she adds. Indigenous people speak almost 150 different languages in local schools, and Anchorage and Juneau boast growing hispanic communities, she says. And though the 18% of the population that identifies as indigenous has faced violence and continues to battle discrimination, several young people have also been able to move into the cities, according to Yoshimura, to attend colleges or elevate employment opportunities.

Every individual and family—immigrant or native— bring tremendous and unique individual histories to the state, Yoshimura says, traceable across the vast Alaskan landscape and beyond.

And that is the real appeal to being in this part of the world, especially as a real estate agent, she adds. Every place where people live has written its own story, stories that are often as wild and ancient as the rolling tundras, sparkling fjords and soaring mountains that initially draw people to explore Alaska. It is this deeper landscape of community and history that someone like Yoshimura, someone like Friedner, someone like Mendoza gets to explore every day, and the reason why they all have spent decades as real estate agents in the communities that they know—and love—more than anyone.

Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com.

The post Mountain Peaks and Tumbleweeds: Real Estate in Frontierland, USA appeared first on RISMedia.

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