As I was lining up the camera to take a picture of Shawn and Kayla Smith, who happened to be closing on the purchase of their very first home that day, I couldn't help but go back to the day my family closed on our house.

    As I was lining up the camera to take a picture of Shawn and Kayla Smith, who happened to be closing on the purchase of their very first home that day, I couldn’t help but go back to the day my family closed on our house. It was a day filled with emotions and finally being done with all the paperwork, waiting for people to call back and making sure our financial “ducks” were in a row. It was a time to take the keys and start dreaming of all the fun ways to make our house a home.

    The Smith’s were lucky enough to snag one of Crookston’s top realtors, Shirley Iverson. Shirley has been in real estate for the better part of 30 years and practicing in Minnesota for nine years. On Mondays, Iverson looks at all the houses on the market and does a short walk-through on the properties she is overseeing. The Monday that I got to tag along was a special day that included the final walk-through and closing of the property that the Smith’s were buying.

    Shawn Smith is the Sports Information Director at the University of Minnesota Crookston and he and his wife, Kayla, couldn’t wait to get the keys to their first home. They looked at the house 70 days prior and viewed “quite a few” others as well. Once they arrived at this house, they knew it was the one they wanted. It’s a three bedroom, two bath rambler-style home with a finished basement that includes a work shop area, and it’s in a nice quiet neighborhood, too. One of the first things Kayla mentioned that she wanted to do once they got the keys was take out the pink carpet. Fortunately for them, they had already discovered there were hardwood floors underneath, so that’s less work for the new homeowners. Shawn added that they planned on painting the kitchen cupboards white and were going to try out a granite-look application on the countertops.

    I remember what I had envisioned in our house when I first looked around. Fortunately (or unfortunately for my husband), we were able to achieve quite a bit over the last six years. We have taken down walls, super-sized the main bathroom, refinished an antique clawfoot tub for the upstairs bathroom, added a bedroom, changed out kitchen countertops, added cupboards in the laundry room, painted almost every wall, changed out 90 percent of the flooring, re-did both the back deck and front porch, re-did the stairs, moved the furnace/air conditioning, updated lighting, added a fence, put in an egress window and changed out multiple windows, bought the open lot next to us, and are currently adding walls for a basement TV room. Can you say “over-achiever” or “money pit?”

    I hope the Smith’s get to make their house their own, but would advise them to take it slow. Or maybe not. It’s quite the thrill diving into project after project.

    While talking with Shirley, she mentioned that she’s the same way when it comes to renovating and remodeling. It’s just so much fun that the hard work makes it worth it. Lucky for her, Kevin, Shirley’s husband, is a contractor and owns his own custom home construction business.

    Owning your own home has many rewards, but being able to help people find their own has be to equally as rewarding.

    “I have two favorite parts of being a realtor,” explained Iverson. “Helping people transition out of a home and into the next chapter of their lives and helping families find their dream homes.”

    “The process itself might sometimes seem difficult, but you forget all about it after you get the keys to the front door,” she added.

    Shirley works for Greenberg Realty, a business that has been around since 1981. Iverson says Greenberg has the “best mobile and online access” as it’s really easy to navigate and find homes in the area of your choosing. Greenberg and other area realtors share listings as part of the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and can show homes anywhere.

    “Greenberg also offers a strong support team with a graphic designer, lawyer, IT staff and others on site,” Iverson boasted. “They believe in giving back to communities, sponsoring events like the concerts held at the Crookston Sports Center, and taking care of their employees.”

    “They also offer realtor classes to those interested in the business,” she added.

    Being a realtor isn’t as easy as Shirley makes it sound although the right people with the right passion for it would never have to “work” a day in their lives. There’s keeping up with the market, being on-call almost 24 hours a day (you never know when people might want to browse online for a home and send a message to the realtor), holding open houses, helping interested buyers through all of the hoops they have to jump through like having inspections and appraisals done, and helping sellers prepare their homes to be put up for sale which might include fixing some things or updating so they get as close to their goal as possible.

    Currently in Crookston, there are 33 active listings (UPDATED after press time Friday) and you never know when your “dream home” might be put on the market. Choosing an experienced realtor like Shirley Iverson should be your first step in the journey toward the “American Dream.”