Shelly Stranski and Anya Morton

Shelly Stranski, left, and Anya Morton of White Pine Realty Idaho

Getting into business with your in-laws might sound like a daunting endeavor to some, but two East Idaho women have found success with each other in their real estate business, White Pine Realty Idaho.

Shelly Stranski got into the real estate business several years ago, and after being on the job for a while and finding some success, she decided she needed help.

That’s when she decided to ask her daughter-in-law Anya Morton for some assistance, specifically managing the social media side of things.

Morton had previously held a real estate license in Florida, which she earned during an internship she had while attending college at the University of Florida.

“Shelly was like, ‘Would you be interested in getting back into it with me?’” Morton said. “At the time, things were just so busy for her that I was just going to do it to help her, but after that, it ended up turning into a cool team effort where we both bring some different things to the table and we work in different areas. ... It turned into something we weren’t planning, but it turned out even better than expected.”

While they hadn’t planned on starting a business together, that original nudge sparked something greater. Now, about a year after launching White Pine Realty, which is part of HomeSmart Premier Realty, they’ve really made it work.

“She initially just got into it to help me but then we just found that it was such a good fit because we were able to cover this whole East Idaho area from American Falls to Idaho Falls,” Stranski said. “I live on one end of it and she lives on the other and we kind of help each other out all the way in between. It really has worked into a full business for both of us.”

Stranski has a background in the heath care industry, which she says gives her an interesting perspective. She’s been a practice manager at a local clinic for about 35 years.

“I had a considerable amount of experience with medical office leases and purchases through the years, so that aspect has helped on the commercial side,” she said. “I enjoy doing that — helping new physicians come into the community and find a space. ... I’ve always had an interest in real estate and it was kind of on my bucket list of ‘someday I’d really love to be a Realtor.’ I finally just decided to do it about three and a half years ago. I just wanted to bring my passion to help others realize their real estate dreams."

She added, "I love health care and I’m still in it as well as real estate because I didn’t want to give up either. It’s kind of a good mix.”

Morton said one thing that makes White Pine Realty stand out is their commitment to making sure their clients are happy.

“I think we’re different just because Shelly and I both have really soft hearts and we just want to see people in a good situation, so we do everything we can to help others, and that’s really what drives us forward,” she said. “Just going above and beyond for everybody. I helped some buyers put a fence in in October, so not the best time to put a fence in a yard, but the house wasn’t going to sell without it."

Morton continued: "Just stepping in and taking responsibility to help the deal close even if that means we’re doing some legwork that you wouldn’t typically see Realtors do. Just going above and beyond and maybe stepping outside the role a little bit just to help out both parties to ensure the deal goes smoothly and just to help in any way we can.”

East Idaho is in the middle of a housing boom, which has made it an interesting time to start a real estate business. It’s a seller’s market, so most houses are worth much more than they were a couple years ago, which has made it frustrating for many people looking to buy — especially with most homes selling quickly. Stranski said the housing market in East Idaho is quickly catching up to the Treasure Valley.

“It’s pretty eye opening in a lot of ways — just the amount of equity people have if they bought in a year, two years ago,” Morton said. “It’s crazy, honestly, how much equity people have. It’s not abnormal to see people have $100,000 in equity in a house they bought two years ago. I think it puts people in a unique situation because then obviously if they can use that equity, it can help them pay their debts down and things like that. But then there’s a lot of people who don’t want to be moving right now because even if you’re making a hundred grand in equity then you’ve got to move and spend more money on buying another house. It puts people in a tough situation.”

Despite not many houses being listed at any given time, Morton says they’ve still been selling a lot of homes.

“Our market has been really strong surprisingly,” she said. “We’ve sold more houses in the last year than we did before. Even though it seems like there’s less on the market because they’re going so fast, there’s actually more homes that are being sold.”

And she says she expects business to pick up even more with warmer weather on the horizon.

“I’m excited to see what happens this spring and summer when more people start to list because it’ll be interesting to see if it’s still as competitive or if you’ll have better odds of buying,” Morton said. “It’s obviously a little better being on the selling side because there’s so many buyers out there looking for houses and there’s so little inventory that most houses are selling within a couple weeks or even days. The buyers are just having to wait a little bit longer to find what they’re looking for, but I think that will change pretty soon as the weather gets better.”

If you’re interested in investment properties, White Pine Realty can help you with that, too.

"We kind of have an investment perspective as well because we both have a little bit of experience with short-term rentals,” Morton said.

Morton understands why some people decide to sell their homes without a real estate agent, but she says that sometimes having an agent can save you money — or, at least, take some of the stress off your shoulders.

“I know that people are always trying to save money,” she said, “but I feel like in some ways working with a Realtor is probably going to save you money because they can negotiate terms for you that will probably end with you in a better place than if you were just going to try to sell it yourself. They’ll help you throughout the whole process and really just take the weight off of you, which is really nice because real estate is stressful for anybody.”

Stranski says it’s been a pleasant surprise getting into business with Morton.

"Honestly, I was worried about working with a family member, especially my daughter-in-law," she said. "She has things that she really enjoys and excels at and so do I. We both have a huge amount of respect for each other. It’s been awesome. It’s been a lot of fun. I think it’s even strengthened our relationship.”

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