This interview series focuses on the people in Santa Fe’s real-estate industry. Ginger Clarke is an associate broker with Barker Realty.
Hi, Ginger. Where did you grow up?
What did your parents and grandparents do?
It was a family farm. My grandparents came from Germany and England, and I have French and Dutch great-grandparents. My dad was a farmer. It was a lovely childhood. My grandpa taught me about gardening and animals. My dad’s best friend was the local auctioneer at the sale barn, so when he had leftover animals he’d bring them over and if he caught me before my dad, I got to keep what was in the truck: goats, geese, lambs.
That’s what the rural life can bring to you. As kids, you’re able to entertain yourself. You can’t just walk a block and catch up with a friend, so you develop many interests.
And you grew up having chores.
But we didn’t call them chores. It was just that we had responsibilities, like watering the animals. My dad had 5,000 lambs that he raised.
Growing up with responsibilities serves you well in this business, representing sellers and buyers.
It does. You develop a love, a passion for the animals, just like you do for the customers. As I’ve matured in this business, I’m calmer and able to see the joy and fears and uncertainty that people have. I’ve had quite a few out-of-town buyers in the last two years and there’s a certain fear. I try to tell them it’s not a fear from moving from Baltimore; it’s the adventure of moving toward your next chapter.
I keep hearing something like, “I’m a single woman in my 60s and I live in fear every day of my life and I’ve heard that Santa Fe is one of the safest places you can be.” People who have visited over the years are familiar with it, but it’s different for manothers. So many people have an auntie from the ‘70s who is giving them advice and it’s no longer valid.
What trends are you seeing in your buyers?
I get a lot of requests from people who want to move here and build. The big thing I’m hearing from customers this year is that they want a ramada, a portál, an outdoor covered area. People want to be able to nest in the home, entertain, and cook outdoors.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve had people call and say they want beams and vigas and adobe and I always try and open up their horizons a little because what they design on sometimes is ultra-modern, crisp contemporary like what architect Gabe Browne does. I lived part of my adult life in Minneapolis and I was always intrigued by the contemporary architecture.
What kind of house did you grow up in?
A Swedish farmhouse. Wood, no insulation, with a stone foundation. There was no heat upstairs. We had a fuel burner in the kitchen and we’d bring our clothes down the night before and dress in the kitchen. We had a big barn. There were lots of barns, lots of machine sheds.
All the barns were red, right?
Yes, and there’s a reason for that. Back then paint had lead and it was hidden beaufitully by the red pigments, and it lasted. If you wanted a white barn, you’d be painting it every two years.
I had a goat that drank some lead paint and dad said she would die. But it didn’t phase her. The way we used to worm my goats was feed them cheap cigars. They loved them. Goats are tough.
Could you taste the tobacco in the milk?
For two milkings, then it’s gone.
We’re sure running far afield here! How many listings do you have right now?
I have none. They’ve all sold. I’m working with about eight buyers.
Is the market nuts with this very low inventory?
In a good way. To be ahead of the game a little bit, it’s always nice to send an email out to your fellow brokers and say, “Do you have anything in Eldorado? I need a 3-2 with a 2-car garage.” Some things are selling before they even make the MLS.
Right. Word of mouth, and that benefits the seller because the seller doesn’t have to have people traipsing through. It still gets handled as a Sold, but it benefits everyone because the seller gets to keep private and the buyer gets first dibs.
Not a lot of homes get sold this way, but it is a way to really know your buyers and to do the scouting to see if there’s anything that fits out there. I went to a listing in Arroyo Hondo yesterday with customers, and it was priced what I feel was pretty low and she had over 10 showings that day. When we got there, she already had several offers.
How did those 10 people find out about it?
Word of mouth.
Are you doing advertising, even in this seller’s market?
I think it’s important. And I do love newspapers and design magazines. I love the paper; I love to go back and tear it out and put it on my bulletin board. I’m old-school, and my advertising is probably old-school. I send out handwritten notes and postcards. I like email, I survive on email, but I’ll go through a customer’s house and see a postcard I sent them. It feels personal.
Are you married?
I am, to Lawrence Branstetter. He’s retired. He was a pilot, flying international cargo on 747s.
Yes. Farm equipment, machine parts, racehorses, black rhinos.
Flying rhinos in slings. There was war going on and the government of that country in Afrifca wanted them protected. He also flew chicks, 10,000 chicks at a time to Japan.
How long have you been working in real estate?
All at Barker Realty?
No, I started as Darlene Streit’s assistant at Santa Fe Realty Partners. Darlene is fabulous at what she does. She taught me so much.
I remember in our profile talk a few years ago Darlene emphasized the importance of communication, of communicating quickly with clients.
That’s a big thing she taught me, and she taught me negotiation, to bring people in to see both sides of what’s happening. To never be adversarial, to never get your ego in the way. You have to wear many hats, and that’s the joy of this business, the hats you have to wear.
Real estate is like a constant career, right? If the client has a question, you need to answer it, whenever it is. Don’t you feel like you’re buzzed all the time? Is it exciting or exhausting?
I love it. I live for it. My dad went into real estate in California. He worked 24/7 and I said to myself that I’d never, ever do that. And here I am.