Cary Spier and her daughter, Sarah
This interview series focuses on the people in Santa Fe’s real-estate industry. Cary Spier is an associate broker with Santa Fe Properties.
Your family has been in Santa Fe since the 1940s, is that right?
Yes. My mother’s family was from the East Coast. They were big fox hunters in Pennsylvania and my grandmother was a rally racer. She was voted best female sports-car driver in 1957.
This was the Denise McCluggage era?
It was. In fact, she wrote a book about women and sports cars and Denise is in it. But they came to Santa Fe in the early Forties to visit friends in Pojoaque and they bought their home that night. They said this is the most beautiful place.
Where in Pojoaque?
Way out there on the left side past the Nambé entrance.
Below the barrancas?
Dermot Monks once told me he hunted rabbits in there with a slingshot when he was a kid.
Dermot is my cousin. He and I used to play together as kids. My grandmother and Dermot’s father were first cousins.
And you’re both longtimers at Santa Fe Properties!
It just happened that way. When I went shopping around for a brokerage, I just thought this company was very family friendly. It has a global impact but it’s local, and I love that. We still have so many locally owned restaurants and other businesses. I’m a big believer in shopping local, local, local.
Where did you grow up?
My parents divorced when I was young. My father lived in Boulder, which is where I was born. And my mother lived here, so I really had the best of both worlds.
My father served at the very end of World War II on the [U.S.S.] Tarawa [amphibious assault ship] in the South Pacific. What an amazing generation of people. I have such respect for them. Unfortunately most of them are dead. They were honest, honorable, hard-working, everything I kind of strive to be.
You went to high school in Boulder?
Boulder and Santa Fe. And I ended up working in the film industry. In the late 1970s, our family started running a production company in Hollywood called Excalibur. My brother and I just got thrown into the business. It was the second largest production company in Hollywood. My mother’s grandfather was the vice president of Fox Hearst [1926-1930] and then the president of Pathé News [1930-1937].
What did you do?
I produced and directed, everything in the production company, but I later took my film passion and did promo documentaries for the LANL Foundation. One was First Born, about helping first-time parents. I did a lot of films for the foundation and I really loved it, because it was a way of giving back to New Mexico. Then I jumped into this 12 years ago.
At Santa Fe Properties?
Yes. I walked in and it was like, This is it. I joined forces with Deborah Bodelson; she’s the one that got me into it. We’re a team. One reason we’re successful is that we share the same work ethics. We are hard-working women who love what we do.
I remember you had both the Witter Bynner place and the Frank Applegate house on El Caminito.
Right. We do love these historic properties. We are known for the higher end but we’re equal opportunists. We want the best in any price range, and if it’s not the best, we’ll make it the best. We’ll go in and stage and paint.
You have a pretty good range right now, from $359,000 to $3.6 million, in your listings.
We have a huge range. Fortunately and unfortunately, we’ve sold most of our listings and we’re a little shy right now.
There was such a glut after the recession and now inventory is really low.
And that’s great for the contractors. I love to see everyone prosper. Deborah and I had our best quarter ever. She closed a $2 million-plus property last month and I just sold a $2 million-plus property this month.
Where were those?
One was on Canyon Road and one was above St. John’s College. As people have read in the paper, 2017 was the Santa Fe market’s best year since the fall in 2008, but starting this quarter we’ve already seen an increase. In the first quarter of 2017, the $250,000 to $499,000 range had 183 sales and we just had 235. If you look above $1 million, it went from 27 to 40 sales.
In terms of inventory, we’ve sold a lot of our listings. I took some customers around recently and it’s slim pickings.
Driving prospective buyers around looking at houses?
Do people come to you after doing a lot of searching on the internet and they’ve narrowed it down to two houses?
I’ve never had anyone say, “Just show me these two.” But they do say, “We have found this group of homes,” and I always like to add some other options as well. We take the same pride with our sellers. We’ll look at the house and assess it. Because of my experience in the film industry, I am very particular about the photographs taken on our listings. The first impression of any listing is through the photographs that go up on the website. Deborah, who I call Martha Stewart, will do some staging and moving furniture and I look at everything through the eye of a camera and that might mean some new carpeting, new paint, decluttering.
Do you have difficult clients sometimes?
Are you married?
I am, to Chris Spier, who’s a dentist here in town. We met in Santa Fe when we were 12. He was born at St. Vincent Hospital, as our daughter was. Sarah lives and works in Spokane. She’s the program director and developer of a foundation for girls 18 and under who have trauma and addiction problems. She has a job where she gets to really help save a life on a daily basis. She’s amazing. Sarah is getting married in Oregon this summer. One of the guests will be Rebecca Moss from The New Mexican. They’ve been best friends since first grade.
About Santa Fe, the city has a pretty diverse personality now with Meow Wolf and all the brewpubs and coffeehouses. Do you think the historic district and historic preservation are still very important?
Are you still working in film?
I’m not, but I probably will help my daughter do a documentary on the opioid crisis. It is a monstrous issue.
What do you like doing in your spare time?