Selling lifestyle: Real estate firm expands operation

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Omar Richardson is broker and owner of United Country Real Colorado Properties based in Grand Junction. The firm is expanding operations from one office to five offices serving a total of six counties in western Colorado. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

United Country Real Colorado Properties handles a variety of listings — everything from farms and ranches to luxury homes and hunting acreages.

But in many cases, the Grand Junction-based firm is involved in something else, says broker and owner Omar Richardson.

“We sell lifestyle,” Richardson says. “We live the lifestyle and sell the lifestyle.”

Whether clients are looking for a ranch, a home or perhaps a commercial property on which to operate a business, the firm can help them find what they want, Richardson says. “We help people do what they want to do.”

What people increasingly want to do, he says, is move away from large cities to live and work in rural areas that offer the kind of quality of life found in western Colorado with its scenic landscapes and outdoor recreation.

The firm combines what Richardson says is local expertise with the national exposure of  United Country Real Estate and a network of nearly 500 offices and a total of 4,000 real estate professionals.

United Country also offers property websites, digital and social media advertising, an internal real estate advertising agency and a database of more than 1 million buyers, he says.

United Country offers expertise in search engine optimization that keeps listed properties on the first page of Google searches, Richardson says.

By one estimate, more than 90 percent of real estate searches begin on the internet.

The combination of local and national efforts has made United Country Real Colorado Properties one of the
best-selling offices in the United Country franchise not only in Colorado, but also nationwide.

And that operation expanded from what was a single office in Grand Junction to additional locations in Craig and Rifle and, soon, offices in Delta and Montrose. A total of 32 agents work with the firm, and Richardson said he hopes to recruit more.

A real estate market slowed by higher interest rates on mortgages affords a good opportunity to capture market share, he says. That geographic market includes Grand Junction and what’s the largest city between Denver and Salt Lake City as well as six Western Slope counties.

Richardson and his son, Nate, serve as partners in the firm they purchased a decade ago from Dave Woodward and Craig Ginter. Woodward still works with the firm.

Omar Richardson comes from a family of real estate agents that worked in the Salida and Canon City areas. “We just grew up talking real estate,” he says.

After earning two degrees from what’s now Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Omar Richardson initially worked for a business office systems firm in Grand Junction and Durango. But he later earned his real estate license and taught real estate courses.

He operated a real estate firm in Durango and later operated another firm in Florida before returning to Colorado and acquiring a United Country franchise for the Salida area.Richardson and his wife relocated again to Grand Junction.

After purchasing the United Country office in Grand Junction, Richardson subsequently took over offices in Craig and Rifle. In January, franchises in Delta and Montrose were acquired. New locations for those offices soon will open.

Richardson says he expects the firm to face some challenges in expanding operations. But he’s also optimistic.

While higher interest rates on mortgages have slowed real estate sales, rates remain below the historic average. Moreover, a transfer of wealth between generations likely will bolster sales, he says.

In the meantime, inquiries about one type of property often results in additional inquiries about other types of of properties, Richardson says. Someone who purchases agricultural property or a home might also want a commercial property for a business they want to relocate or start.

That will enable United Country Real Colorado Properties to close deals on not only farms, ranches and homes, but also more commercial transactions, he says.

The motivation to live and work in western Colorado remains unchanged and strong, Richardson says. “We’re selling lifestyle.”

United Country Real Colorado Properties operates an office in Grand Junction at 428 Main St. For additional information, call (970) 256-9700 or visit www.realcoloradoproperties.com.