Sticking out like a refreshingly sore thumb in an otherwise drab sea of black-suited realtors, Marty Van Diest smiles brightly in his professional photo on Valley Market’s website, dressed in a purple, plaid button-down shirt. Almost as hospitable as his photo, his most recent blog entry begins,
“I like to hike the Butte. Looking down from almost any rest spot I can see the Reindeer Farm, and notice that there is a lot of action almost any day. That’s when I often comment, ‘we should go do that’- well we finally did. This time, I was part of the action.”
What follows is a story about reindeer feedings, bunnies, and hot chocolate. After reading, apart from the computer screen in front of me, I felt as though I’d just experienced an ideal December day in the town of Wasilla, Alaska.
When I imagine Alaska I see white: snow, more snow, some ice – I don’t think of homes, families and least of all realtors. If Alaska is the wintery “Final Frontier,” then what property can possibly be for sale? My ignorance was extinguished the moment I visited valleymarket.com and gazed upon the blues, greens, and reds splashing the landscape, as well as the homes and citizens featured on almost every page. If Marty Van Diest’s Wasilla is a sample of Alaska, I want more.
But the Valley Market website is not all anecdotes and Alaskan landscape photos; Van Diest’s business is real estate and homes are featured heavily. Visitors can take in the marvelously ambient photographs (I can’t help but wonder if some are filtered, or the sunshine is simply superior in Wasilla) showcasing everything from darlingly dated properties hosting oak dinettes, wood stoves, beds covered in quilts, and possibly the world’s coziest kitchens, all the way to high-end homes and cabins with modern interiors, sprawling decks and vaulted ceilings.
Van Diest does not limit his posting to bunnies and beautiful property, however – he takes a real interest in community education and safety, posting a number of updates on government housing policies and local concerns. The latter is exemplified by the October 10 entry End For A Symbol Of Matanuska River Erosion.
It cautions readers, “If [glacial rivers] shift far enough they will reach the extreme of the river bed and erode the banks. A house can be 100 yards from the river one year and drop over the bank the next.” The urgency is illustrated by a picture of a victim’s collapsed home – one of the only tragic images on valleymarket.com. Like Van Diest’s lesson about having fun and finally joining the reindeer party, the collapsed house is meant to teach readers that Wasilla is both precious, and unpredictable.
The Valley Market site blooms with such a wealth of information that it cannot possibly be covered in one review, so all I can say is take a look for yourself. You will go away smarter, tickled, and all the more endeared to Wasilla and Van Diest, its advocate, and friendly realtor.
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