A passion for making connections
By Abigail Thorpe
Photo by Kiersten Patterson Photography
“Who moves to Idaho?” Eric Skinner jokingly asked his sister when she said she and her husband were moving here. Fast forward a few years, and Eric and his wife, Julina, were finding their own way to Idaho, realizing this is where they wanted to raise their kids. “We loaded up and moved here with little more than a passion for Sandpoint in 1991,” recalls Eric. His wife and he started with a small computer and internet service company, offering a real estate database that made properties searchable long before Zillow or any of the nationally known sites. Today, he helps people fulfill their own dream of moving to Sandpoint as an owner and associate Broker with Century 21 RiverStone.
Q. Is there a specific memory, story or person that has greatly influenced who you are today?
A. That’s a hard one, as at different stages in life, many people stepped in and influenced me greatly. That being said, Julina and I were both greatly inspired and influenced by my sister, Leigh, and my brother-in-law, Joe Mire, when we were first starting our lives together. Julina and I both grew up in families with divorced parents and the normal life junk associated with divorces. So family unity was something we both longed for.
Leigh and Joe were great inspirations to us in how they raised their three kids. They invested heavily in the time they spent with their kids, and it showed early on and into the adults they became. Julina and I tried, in many ways, to mimic what we saw in their family with Ryan and later our daughter Bethany.
Q. What makes our town such a special, unique place to live?
A. Sandpoint is a community where you feel connected. Of course, the lake and mountains are extremely beautiful, but the kinds of folks that are attracted to our area generally want something different than what you can find anywhere else. Family and traditions matter more than jobs and possessions. Most kids from the Sandpoint area try to figure out how to stay here and raise their families here, not how to leave the town where they grew up. That is special and hard to find. To me, that’s Sandpoint.
Q. What are you most passionate about in your role as a Realtor and Broker?
A. The people you get to know. I find myself personally invested and caring about those we work with and our clients. You spend time with them learning about their families and story, and by finding common ground with them, I oftentimes become friends with my clients. Naturally, this makes the process of matching them with the right property that much easier. It’s not a job when hanging out with friends. I’m also passionate about finding unique properties and seeing something special that others don’t see—until you show them.
Q. The current real estate market is unprecedented. How have you managed to navigate it, and what are the key takeaways/advice you would offer buyers and sellers as a result?
A. First, I navigate everything with a great business partnership with Brent Stevens and his mother, Margie Stevens, our designated Broker. My smartest moves in life have always been by surrounding myself with people who are smarter than I am, from my wife to my business partners, to our great staff and agents.
At Century 21 RiverStone, we have a great core group of professionals that know this industry inside and out. Our internal communication is a major key to our success. This mindset of agents helping other agents is a powerful benefit in navigating crazy market swings, and it is our secret sauce in my opinion.
Q. What is exciting about the current market and changes in North Idaho, and what do you expect to see in the future?
A. It’s easy to focus on the concerns we all have about the rapid growth of our area. We all feel that way as we see some things changing. Let’s face it, the secret of Sandpoint is out. But one thing I find as we are growing as a community, we are seeing great new products and properties hitting the market.
I think it’s important for people to understand there is a lot of responsible development happening. I believe with the new standards developers must go through, we are going to see better planned communities, with amenities that serve to keep North Idaho a special place to live.
Q. What has been a piece of advice or experience that you’ve carried with you and that has impacted your life for the better?
A. Don’t let others pull you down! I think we live in a time where there is a lot of negative junk going around. I would be the first to agree, there is plenty to be worried about as a nation divided making bad mistakes. But we need to not lose our zest for life, or our passion for our future, or that hope of that next generation figuring out what we couldn’t.
Q. In your free time, how do you spend your time? What is your biggest passion and outlet outside of work?
A. I seriously enjoy hunting, fishing and pretty much anything outdoors. I’ve been blessed to enjoy activities like being a pilot and flying all over the Northwest. But, without question or hesitation, my greatest passion is spending time with my family, specifically my grandchildren.
Julina and I have been given the greatest gift we could have ever imagined in our lives. We moved to Sandpoint to raise a family, and our children and their spouses gave us a large family that is extremely close. That was our dream when we moved to Sandpoint, and Sandpoint provided the quality of life that our kids wanted when raising their kids. So, when I’m not working these days, I’m setting up a fishing trip, planning a sleepover or bleeding internally from them jumping on me like a trampoline, and I wouldn’t change a thing!