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Realtors: Buyers like foothills for community and for beauty

Realtors, like canaries in mine shafts, get the first whiff of “quality of life” concerns from people seeking to flee cities and suburbs for the foothills.

Measurable qualities such as low crime and high academic test scores are as sought after as that undefinable sense of community, realtors say.

“People want to be in a community where people look you directly in the eye and wave to you,” said Mimi Simmons, a Realtor at Cornerstone Real Estate in Nevada City. “People want to spend more time with their family, and don’t want to be under the gun of their work environment. They don’t want to be on the freeway two hours a day, and they want to feel safe in their neighborhood.”



“The most common theme is that people are looking for a community,” said Lee Good, owner of the Good & Company real estate firm in Nevada City and a former county planning commissioner. “They want an area where they feel their presence would make a difference.”

“They want a good view. They want to look at a natural landscape, as opposed to a concrete building or staring into another building,” said Dick Law, broker for Paul Law Realty in Grass Valley. “They’re looking for a lack of congestion and a slower pace.”




“They move here for a lifestyle change because the pace is too hectic where they live now,” said Cheryl Rellstab, a Realtor with Network Real Estate in Grass Valley. “They have no time to enjoy their families, the environment they’re living in. They don’t look at what’s in front of them and get caught up in a rat race.”

Physical features, such as seven lakes and two international airports an hour and a half or less away, draw people to Nevada County. Cleaner air and less traffic make the quality of life less strained.

“A lot of people mention crime,” Rellstab said.

Simmons, a fifth-generation Nevada County resident whose family put the Morgan in Morgan Ranch, uses the catch phrase “quality of life” prominently on all her advertising.

“They’re coming up to Nevada County because of schools, arts and culture, the climate and the lifestyle, which all equals the quality of life,” said Simmons, whose 21/2 pound relocation packet includes information on the county’s low unemployment rate and work opportunities.

“When I’m taking people around, I’m showing them how strong the churches are up here, how involved people are with their family,” Simmons said.

Access to recreation – skiing and mountain biking – is a big draw, Good said. People would rather live here and commute to Roseville than live in the Bay Area and have the same commute time, he said.

“I’ve been up here 25, 26 years and take all this for granted,” Law said.

Compared to Bay Area prices, Nevada County’s housing is affordable, Simmons said. Traffic in the Brunswick basin never compares to that in Los Angeles.

“I told one buyer, ‘I shouldn’t have taken you through this bad traffic,’ and she looked at me like I was nuts,” Good said.

Their search for a better quality of life puts things in perspective.

One woman from the San Diego area said she wanted to move because police helicopters overhead awakened her regularly at night, Good said.

“They come here for the four seasons, our pretty trees and nice-smelling air,” said Rellstab, who moved here in 1984 with her four kids. She now has six. “They leave for a while, go to college, but come back. We must know what we’re doing.”


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