This interview series (initiated in March 1999) focuses on the people in Santa Fe’s real-estate industry. Jody Lusk is an associate broker at Barker Realty/Christie’s.
She has a friendly dog, a lagotto Romagnolo (an Italian truffle-hunter), that helps attract clients, people who initially just want to find out Gigi’s breed and pet her.
I get one or two listings a year from her. She goes to all my closings. She greets everyone and takes all the tension out of the room.
Signs are also business-getters for you.
I was just called by potential clients here from Minnesota who saw my sign at a listing over on Galisteo Street. It’s an old house and this will be the third time I’ve sold it. They stopped at the office and asked if they could meet with me. They’re not ready to buy for a few months, but they want to get started.
How long have you been in the business?
All in Santa Fe?
Yes. I started at Barker with David [Barker]. Then I was with Coldwell Banker for 10 years and then at French & French Fine Properties and now I’m back with Barker, and I wouldn’t be anyplace else.
I’m third-generation here. My grandmother was Georgia Lusk. She was a congresswoman in the 1930s with Truman and she was also state superintendent of schools here in New Mexico. My granddad on my mom’s side was Burton Brown, who had a saddle shop in Tesuque. Burton Brown’s Saddle Shop was filled with local art, including paintings by George Phippen and razor-blade carvings by Andy Anderson. I have a lot of history here.
I live in Tesuque, on my grandfather’s property that he bought in 1940. I built a house in 2000.
Where you born?
In San Diego, but I was adopted at two or three days old into a good family from Santa Fe. We moved a lot, but Santa Fe was our home base. My dad was a cattleman. He died in 1972. We were living in Plainview, Texas. He was voted cattleman of the year and the article came out right after he died. My grandfather died at about the same time and the mom wanted to move back here. I’ve known the Barkers, the Kellys, the Zinns, and several Native families here all my life.
And you went to high school in Santa Fe?
Yes, and I was on the gymnastics team, with David Barker and Damon Zinn, in fact. I challenged my junior year, completed it through independent studies and went to Brazil for my senior year. I lived with the Munich Olympic gymnastics competitors. I got to compete in Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo, all over the place with these people; it was fabulous.
I went to college in environmental sciences at Sierra Nevada College at Lake Tahoe. Then for my senior year, I went to Jokkmokk, Sweden, up above the Arctic Circle. It’s in what used to be called Lapland, so we did a lot of camping and hikes on the nomadic routes for the reindeer hunting.
Wow. And how did you get to real estate?
I taught Montessori kindergarten for ten years and I believe Montessori was some of my best training for real estate. Montessori teaching is always concrete before it’s abstract, so there’s always the why: people always have a good understanding of how thoughts develop because they’re concrete. After working with kindergartners, I have a ton of patience and it’s helped me a lot in working through the process with buyers and sellers.
For me it’s always about working for the clients, putting them first. I like one-on-one, personal service. I put my heart and soul into it. You can laugh and have fun, but kindness and compassion are most important.
Have you worked more with buyers, or sellers, or are you an opportunist?
That’s probably the best way to put it. Whoever needs the help at the time. And buyers can turn in to be sellers and sellers turn in to be buyers. One client can be four or five transactions within a month or two. A had a couple buy a house in April, then her parents bought a house sight-unseen, and tomorrow I’m meeting with his parents because there’s a new baby and the parents want to move here.
Have you worked with any developments?
Yes. I did sales for Darragh Nagle developing Colinas Verdes.
Do you think of Santa Fe as a resort town?
It is. It is a luxury market, but it’s home to a lot of people, too. We have a whole working society here, a lot of people that need homes and can’t afford that luxury market. There’s a lot of money in town, but we can’t have our town without the locals.
Have you seen people moving here from big cities because of the coronavirus?
I have experienced a large influx from the cities. But I just told somebody this morning to take a deep breath and back off. People tend to get caught up in a sense of urgency, but our prices are so high. We’re in a COVID bubble right now. I can’t do this sometimes in good conscience.
And there’s urgency also because there’s so little inventory. A good home comes on the market and there are multiple offers quickly.
That’s right. You need to step back and evaluate. If you’re buying this today and you’re looking at growing your investment, I don’t know that I can sell it for more in three years. You have to be really careful. It might be a much better situation in three months or six months.
So you’re actually dissuading people from buying sometimes?
I am. I went for a walk with my friend Leslie the other day and she said she’s been recommending me. She said, “I remember. You told me, ‘That is not the best property for you. I need to show you a few more.’” She said, “No Realtor has ever told me not to buy something. But you led me the right way.”
It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. You’re putting the pieces in and they have to fit, and if they don’t fit, don’t force it. Something will come along.
Are you married?
I’m not, right now.
Do you have kids?
I do. My youngest is Travis, who is 27 and he’s in Colorado Springs working with solar energy. Tyler is in Lawton, Oklahoma, and he just took command of the Army base there. They both went to high school in Canada. They were ice hockey players in Penticton, British Columbia, and they went to Okanagan Hockey School.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
A lot of things. I was a ski instructor and coached a racing team for a long time, so I love skiing. I love fly-fishing. I love golf. Anything active.