Sun Valley Lifestyle and Market WatchHe Put 'Real' in Real Estate
Published Friday, January 23, 2015 Updated on Friday, January 23, 2015

He Put 'Real' in Real Estate

Gary Vinagre Reflects on 37 Years in the Market

Gary V fishingGary Vinagre (pictured, right) is a quiet loud person.  He is not going to walk into a party and take over, but by the end of the evening, nearly everyone in the room will have a memory of engaging with him.  He’s loud in the quiet, connected sense.  Spending just a few minutes with Gary, who, after 37 years in the real estate world is calling it a career at the end of January, will confirm that he cares about his fellow humans on a cellular level.  It’s not difficult to see that this ability to connect with others explains some of the success he has enjoyed in his real estate career.

Gary, who is from Auburn, California, spent some time after college ski-bumming in Europe.  Returning to the States, he made his way to Sun Valley because he wanted to see the Wagon Days parade.  He said he ran into about 10 people he had met while in Europe.  “It seems like everyone I met over there was all of the sudden in Idaho.  So I stayed,” Gary recalls.  He got hired by Bill Janss at the Sun Valley Resort, and spent the next 10 years catering to tourists while running restaurants and the Sun Valley Inn.  When the resort changed hands in 1977, Gary figured it might be the right time to see what else he was good at, and, on the advice of his friends, jumped with both feet into real estate.  “My friends told me I’d be a natural at selling real estate,” Gary reflects.  “I guess it’s because I’ve always known how to take care of clients.” 

He joined Bitterroot Realty, and soon he and Bob Dittmer, his office-mate to this very day, bought the company.  “Back then, the MLS was some paper and a binder,” he remembers, referring to the system by which properties for sale are cataloged.  “We would study the copies in the binder so we knew the inventory.  I made sure I knew everything that was out there.”  Of course, there was much less for sale in the late 70s than in today’s market, but the lesson remains useful.  “I’d listen closely to what buyers said they were looking for, and I knew what properties to show them.  Even when they had others in mind, I could tell which place they would really like.”  The very definition of a people person—knowing what others want before they know.

Gary became an agent for Sun Valley Sotheby’s International Realty in 2005, when the company he was part of, Associated Brokers, was bought by Sotheby’s International Realty.  He has had a steady, calming influence over the Downtown Ketchum office over the last decade, helping his fellow agents keep the profession in perspective.  While he bemoans the unstoppable march of technology (“Agh, all these computers and online stuff!”), he doesn’t believe real estate has changed all that much.  “It’s still a people business.  You ask someone ‘Will you buy this?’  ‘Will you sell this?’  This is how real estate works, to help buyers and sellers get what they want, to be happy.  That is the joy in the job.”

Anyone who knows Gary knows he is not going to sit still, just because he has shelved his area maps and calculator.  He has become integrally involved in the Higher Ground program, which gives wounded veterans their own adapted Sun Valley Experiences.  This is fitting, because Gary’s own perfect day is “hiking, fishing, skiing, and having an Irving’s Hot Dog,” the same experiences he is now helping veterans achieve when they come to Sun Valley through Higher Ground.  In discussing his work with Higher Ground, Gary became emotional for a moment, a testament to how much this outwardly-gruff man cares about his fellow being.  “Helping people do something they never thought they would or could do.  That’s amazing.”  Hundreds of his real estate clients would concur that he has been doing just that for the last 40 years.

Happy casting, Gary, and thanks for all the good, real work.