ST. GEORGE – Gov. Gary Herbert cut the ribbon for a new luxury real estate brokerage firm Thursday in St. George, one of three appearances scheduled by Herbert in Southern Utah this week.
The ribbon-cutting took place at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty’s new St. George office at Ancestor Square, 151 N. Main Street. St. George Mayor Jon Pike also attended the ceremony.
“As a realtor myself, I understand the importance of real estate, for two reasons,” Herbert said. ” … it’s the basis for freedom – the fact that you have the ability to own your own piece of real estate is what this country was founded on. It’s something unique around the world, and is the basis for the freedom and liberty we enjoy.”
“You are in fact selling … a piece of the American dream,” he said. “I like to think that Utah is the American dream.”
Sotheby’s started in 2008, and did a little over $100 million in sales the first year, Thomas Wright, president and principal broker of Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, said. Last year the company did close to $2 billion.
“We’re really excited about the growth of the company,” Wright added. “Utah is a great place to do business.”
Herbert said he was at the ribbon-cutting because he was in town for a reading challenge at LaVerkin Elementary School, and because he has known Wright for many years.
“Real estate tends to be the first to be hurt in a down economy. It’s also the last to recover,” the governor said. “So the fact that we see recovery in real estate is an indication, a barometer that the economy in Washington County is starting to improve.”
The county has much to offer and a lot of people are buying second homes in the area, Herbert said.
“As they bring in more manufacturing and other jobs, you’ll find people wanting to have year-round residency here,” Herbert said. “There’s a lot to offer down here in sunny St. George.”
Wright said the timing is right to open a new office in Southern Utah. St. George has a great quality of life and is a great place to live, work, go to college and retire.
“St. George really has something for everyone,” Wright said, “and we love that lifestyle.”
“I think (right) now, St. George is really robust. It’s hit a critical mass, population-wise … it’s hit a point where it makes sense to come and open an office and make a substantial investment to do business.”
Wright likes what the mayor and city council have done in planning a technology park and locating Dixie Applied Technology College at the Ridge Top Complex, and expects the area to attract more technology companies.
Summit Sotheby’s St. George office in Ancestor Square has 14 agents, Wright said. The new office is the sixth in Utah; other offices are located in Salt Lake City, Park City, and Deer Valley.
Sotheby’s has been planning and anticipating this opening for nearly two years, Wright said.
“With numerous national parks and stunning surrounding landscapes, Southern Utah has become the ‘it’ location for both full-time residents and vacation home owners, which makes now the perfect time to introduce the Sotheby’s International Realty brand.”
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