When Sonya Winterhalder moved to Marin County from San Francisco three years ago, she says she did so because of the lifestyle here — and to escape the cold of the city. In the time since, the 42-year-old has found love, discovered a passion for horses, and taken her career in the real estate industry to new levels — as an agent with Alain Pinel Realtors, working in Marin County.
“I would love it if my career took off helping people to find their own horse farm,” Winterhalder said. I would love to help new homeowners find places for their horses. Novato has Indian Valley — all horse properties. It’s a cool little corner of Marin. Marin is all horse country.”
Winterhalder said that her passion for horses emerged while exploring the lay of the land after moving to Novato.
“I moved to Novato and started to look for all the things you look for when in a new town — where to get your hair cut, that kind of thing. It so happened that my new stylist was a horse person. So I started out by taking riding lessons in Novato."
She added that she felt it important to learn how to care for a horse. She discovered Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Petaluma, a nonprofit that gives riding lessons to children at risk and with disabilities.
“I went there and got a full education on how to care for horses,” Winterhalder said. “I then found a ranch that practices natural horsemanship in Sebastopol where I now board my horses. It is 100 percent ‘horse centered’ — how to care for horses and how to make them have a great life.”
Winterhalder said she began going for lessons consistently, eventually adopting a one-year-old wild mustang that had been separated from her mother. The filly has since been halter-trained by Winterhalder and, she says, has come out of shell.
“Now she is wonderful, sweet, people-loving horse,” Winterhalder said.
A few months ago, Winterhalder and fiancé, Michael Hollander, came across an adorable pinto mustang. “Now we have two horses that play with each other and something to do together,” she said.
Winterhalder jokes that her career in real estate started at age 5, working alongside her grandmother, who marketed residential properties, vineyard land, and country estates.
After graduating with a degree in art history from Western Washington University, Winterhalder landed a job working at a real estate firm in central California, and was part of a team that sold 95 properties in her first year. Her career later took her back to Washington, where she got her first real estate license, and worked for Windermere Properties. Through the ups ad downs of the market, she worked for Who’s Who in Real Estate, and was in charge of real estate advertising for the San Francisco Examiner newspaper. She also spent three years as an agent at Pacific Union in San Francisco.
Winterhalder said she is happy to have landed at Alain Pinel because the company gives agents the flexibility of working from any of their offices, which she said is helpful in selling upscale properties in the country, Marin and San Francisco.
She added that her experience running advertising campaigns for agents while with Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate/LuxuryRealEstate.com and the Examiner is an added media experience many other agents don’t have.
“I know how to do creative marketing for a property, and where to market it,” Winterhalder said. “I can often figure out how to get editorial for a property, what websites it should go on, demographics, and more. It’s all second nature to me now.”
“I have worked with so many agents throughout the Bay Area and I plan to network with them to market all of my listings-and I also plan to engage in referrals with them as often as possible-I have a huge network of agents that I’ve worked closely with over the past 15 years, I know that we can help each other in getting our clients what they want and deserve”.
To learn more about Sonya Winterhalder, visit her Alain Pinel web page at ResideMarin.com, or call her at (415) 827-4096.
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