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Long-Time Locals Join Forces
By Christina Reed
Three long-time residents recently joined forces to form Riffel Real Estate, with sales agents Heidi Presson, Sue Jamieson and Debbie Riffel working with real estate broker, Stan Riffel. The ladies have had several successful ventures as independent sales workers who provide their services to Riffel Real Estate.
It helps that the ladies are long-standing friends, and have children participating in a host of activities all over the Town of Mammoth Lakes. Presson has twins, Trent and Drew, and 9-year-old, Cole, to keep her, and husband, Robbie Presson, very busy. Heidi's sister, Sue, has teens, Jenna, Daryl and Matt who attend high school in Mammoth. Debbie and Stan have three children, Spencer, Madeline and Natalie, and the family can be found ski racing on Mammoth Mountain on most weekends.
The three ladies have remained close throughout their many years here, and their friendship was one of the aspects that encouraged them to work together in the realty industry. The new colleagues have extensive business and social connections in their communities, and the women enjoy their active roles at school, and home. The kids are really the cement that binds the friends to the community, however.
They are well-versed in the recreational opportunities as well, and between the four, they cross-country ski, snowboard, ski, run, hike, water ski, camp, and bike in the area. If they don't participate in the sport, they will likely know someone well enough, to steer the person in the right direction.
Sue and Heidi grew up at the legendary Tamarack Lodge, and as children spent their idyllic days fishing and playing around the Lakes Basin. Their parents, Bud and Beth Stoudenmire bought the historic resort in 1969, and Sue says her childhood memories are part of what keeps her in the mountains. "There's not a day that goes by that I'm not happy to be here," she notes.
Sue has painted in and on many homes in the area, and her business Just Faux Fun, and the business contacts are what led to her intrigue about the real estate industry. She hadn't intended on becoming a sales agent, however she liked working with people and what could happen when a project went well for everyone. Sue is also mechanically inclined, and likes to find out what makes things work. She has ties with the building and construction business, and she is interested in how houses are built and how they can be rebuilt.
Heidi has been a dental hygienist in town for years, at Mammoth Family Dentistry, and she has her pilots license. She has a different perspective on the local landscape, one from 10,000 feet up, although she says she pays more attention to her flying than the scenery. She's goal-oriented, loves the family, and is often seen with twins in tow.
Debbie wanted to continue her professional career in real estate, and last year began assisting with Stan's business. Even with advanced telecommunications, and the convenience of the Internet, seeking her real estate license (for the second time), took hours of formal training. The state generally requires between 30 and 90 hours of classroom instruction for the general sales license. State licenses commonly must be renewed every one to two years, usually without having to take an examination.
However, both Debbie, Heidi and Sue ventured to San Francisco, children-less, to take the state licensing exam. It helps that all of the women have enthusiasm for their work, and the maturity and tact to stay focused. It's even better that they have good memories for faces, names and business particulars.
"They work hard, and they know the area," Stan said about the newly assembled team. He felt the level of commitment and understanding about local listings were big attributes in the close-knit agents. "Their history here has been as hard workers, and growing a clientele will come easily for them. They've had many community ties for decades," Riffel added.
The Nature of the Work
Although getting a job as a real estate agent or broker may be somewhat easy, new agents face competition in gaining listings, and in closing enough sales.
Real estate sales agents need to have a thorough working knowledge of the real estate in their area, and they need to know the neighborhoods that best suit their clients' desires. They also must possess a state license, have a clear understanding of tax laws, local zoning codes, and where to obtain the best financing. These same agents can also help as negotiators between buyers and sellers, and this requires knowing the budget limitations of both parties.
There are a large number of variables that come into play when negotiating real estate transactions, and real estate agents arrange for title searches, meetings between buyers and sellers, and are on scene when the owners take possession of their new home.
Real estate agents must also have properties to show and sell, and they must keep abreast of other types of real estate listings as well, such as commercial, agricultural, industrial or specialized businesses.
Agents typically arrange for the clients to see the properties, and that requires a prior meeting with the sellers, or other agents representing the property. Then, there are a myriad of meetings with prospective buyers, and arranging for buyers to visit available properties.
The real estate agent or broker must make all of the special terms of the sales known, draw up a contract, and help facilitate meetings between the buyer and seller, before the deal can be closed. They are also mandated to arrange for the agreed-upon inspections that must take place before the owner can move into the home.
Agents and brokers work beyond the 40-hour week, and usually spend their evenings and weekends showing homes. They are always on call for the client, and they don't spend much time at their desks.
The Town of Mammoth Lakes, at press time, had an estimated 150 real estate agents, and or brokers, and to the young family or potential second-home owner, the ability to retrieve current data about the real estate market, and work with an agent or broker is crucial to success. Stan has concentrated his efforts on the rapidly growing communities, and as one of the few licensed appraisers in the area, he has a reputation for being straight-forward and down-to-Earth.
He is currently a real estate broker with Re/Max in Mammoth Lakes, and recently worked on the Town's mixed-use affordable housing appraisal process (he is one of only a couple of qualified appraisers in the region for this type of real estate transaction). Real estate trends in the state indicate some employment growth in sales, due to the increasing housing needs of a growing local population. -MT