After buying her first rental property three years out of high school, it didn't take long for Yvonne Gustin to realize that real estate was her thing.
"I bought my first two rentals in 1996," she said. "I just went from there."
Gustin graduated from Hay--den High School in 1993 and returned to the Yampa Valley after two years at the University of Wyoming.
"When I first moved away I didn't realize what I appreciated about the area," she said. "I liked the things that most people like about the area."
In her first six years back, she continued to invest in rental properties in the Yampa Valley. During that time, she realized that she could help others buy and sell homes.
"I came in on the back end of real estate," she said. "Helping others purchase and sell was a natural fit for me."
Now, 3 1/2 years into her career as a real estate broker, Gustin owns her own firm. She purchased Country Living Realty from her former boss Marylou Wisdom. The sale was finalized Friday.
"This will be an easy move for me because Marylou is going to stay as a full-time employee," Gustin said. "My husband encouraged me to buy, and I thought the time was right."
Now the couple owns two businesses in Craig. Yvonne's husband, Lonnie, owns Great Basin Lath & Plaster.
In buying the business, Gustin took the advice she gives to young, potential homebuyers.
"The first-time buyer can tend to be nervous about making that big purchase," she said. "I encourage them and try to help them know it's a big step, but it's worth it."
Real estate brokers can wear several hats in the span of a workday, Gustin said.
They're part mediators between the buyers and sellers and part counselors with some sales thrown in.
"Some of my favorite clients are the ones who thought they had to rent their whole life," she said. "There are programs for them, and we work to let them know it's possible to be a homeowner."
What has made it all work for Gustin is hard work.
"In real estate, you get out what you put in," she said. "If you're not into it, you can get tired fast because there are times when it's go, go, go."
She said that she'll work 10 straight days and not even realize it.
"In the summers it's very busy," she said.
When she does get a break, Gustin said she likes to relax at home with her husband.
Getting to know you
There are few jobs that involve getting to know the community as much as that of a real estate broker.
Gustin said a trip to the grocery store usually means she'll see someone she knows from the job.
"It's an awesome job getting to know the community," she said. "A lot of times you continue the relationship after working through a sale or purchase."
In her time as a broker, Gustin said she has watched Craig grow. She expects the growth to continue.
"Most of the people I meet moving to Craig are here either for job relocation or they are moving from a bigger city for better schools and because they don't want to be scared to let their children walk on the sidewalk."
Not only does she get to meet a lot of the people, Gustin gets to do a lot of sight-seeing.
"I love to get to go out in the country on a nice day and show a house," she said. "On the rainy days, I'll stay in the office to do work. On the nice days, I'm out in the sun doing work. It works out nice."
Gustin doesn't think she'd be a real estate broker if she lived in a bigger city.
"I've heard that it's much more cutthroat," she said. "It's a whole different atmosphere here."
She said that because of the smaller market, she works with other Realtors on a regular basis.
"We have a mutual respect for each other," she said. "You have to because you are dealing with each other's properties all the time."
Gustin's experience has led her to make plans to stay in real estate for the long haul.
"This is long-term for me," she said. "I see our office growing with the community, and I look forward to the future."