Magazine: Grand Junction firm among top land brokerages

Craig Ginter

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A Grand Junction firm ranks among the top land brokerages in the United States in the latest listing compiled for a national magazine for land owners.

United County-RealQuest Realty is included among the 2012 America’s Best Brokerages, the third annual listing of leading real estate firms specializing in land compiled by the editors of the Land Report. The list appears in the spring 2013 edition of the magazine.

“It’s pretty neat that we were in the running, let alone make it,” said Craig Ginter, co-owner and managing broker.

Ginter attributed the listing, along with the ongoing success of the 8-year-old firm, to a combination of factors. A diverse operation that includes everything from agricultural and recreational properties to mineral and water rights helps. So does a reach that extends far beyond Grand Junction and Mesa County, he said.

Intensive online and print marketing offered by the United Country Real Estate network of which the RealQuest Realty is a part constitutes a key factor as well, Ginter added.

RealQuest Realty made the Land Report listing not only on the basis of sales last year, but also the way the firm specializes in the sales of recreational properties and mineral and water rights, Ginter said.

Even as the overall real estate market has cycled from boom to bust to recovery, demand for what Ginter terms “lifestyle” properties has remained comparatively strong. Those properties include country homes with acreage, hunting and fishing parcels, log cabins and ranches.

“It’s been very steady,” he said. “That really has made a difference for us.”

In large part because of the national marketing conducted by United Country, more than 50 percent of the firm’s business comes from buyers and sellers outside of Mesa County. Another 5 percent to 10 percent of buyers and sellers come from outside of Colorado, Ginter said.

Headquartered in Kansas City, United Country operates a network of conventional and auction real estate  professionals in  the United States, supporting a total of nearly 550 offices in the U.S. as well as Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama. Most franchise offices are located in smaller towns and rural areas, Ginter said.

Cumulatively, United Country Real Estate ranks among the top national firms included in the Land Report list with 2012 sales exceeding $3 billion. According to the magazine, more than 18 percent of brokers working in the network reported growth in transaction volume of more than 100 percent in 2012.

RealQuest Realty was the top franchise nationally for United Country in 2007 and has ranked among the top 10 percent of franchises every year since its first full year in operation in 2006, Ginter said.

The combination of national marketing and local expertise has been a big reason why, he said.

United Country regularly advertises in a total of more than 165 newspapers and magazines. In addition, the company’s network of 3,500 websites reach a total of more than 3 million visitors a month.

That level of marketing results in unsolicited leads from around the country and even around the world, Ginter said, citing as one recent example the phone calls that came in following an ad that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. “It really makes the phone ring.”

Those leads in turn result in transactions in some far-flung locales, including the sale of a mine in Tasmania, said Dave Woodward, a broker associate and auctioneer at RealQuest Realty.  “We’re outside the area quite a bit.”

Mike Krieg, another broker associate at RealQuest Realty who consistently ranks among the top performers for United Country, said the network provides tools that make it possible for a real estate brokerage in Grand Junction to handle transactions around the world.

“Real estate used to be in your backyard, but it’s not anymore,” Krieg said. “Technology has blown this business up.”

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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