Sisters Shannon Arnold and Sara Smith followed different career and life paths but both found their way back to Koochiching County and International Falls. In their own words, here is their story…
Hello! Our names are Shannon Arnold and Sara Smith. We are the local “real estate sisters.” Born and raised in International Falls, we are proud to call International Falls and Koochiching County “home” and are pleased to have the opportunity to own businesses here.
Previous to real estate sales, Shannon worked at Shermoen, LeDuc, and Jaksa Law Firm in the real estate department before settling in behind the mortgage desk at Wells Fargo Bank on 3rd Street. In 1999, after a few years of assisting folks with their mortgage needs, she started an internet-based business building custom, decorative shutters to customers all over the U.S., Canada, parts of Europe, South Africa, and Japan. Shannon was also the original owner of the antique store “No Place Like Home” when it was in the Ace Hardware building on Main Street in International Falls (“shutters in the back, shop up front”). In 2014, Shannon sold the business to her sister Sara so she could venture back into the world of real estate.
Shannon was the co-owner of Reed Realty – International Falls until she bought out Mike Reed and became sole owner. She worked diligently as the only REALTOR at Reed Realty – International Falls – until Sara joined her in 2017 after selling the shutter business.
Sara is no stranger to the real estate industry, either. She first obtained her real estate sales license in 1996 while living in St. Paul. Working for a top builder in the Woodbury area, Sara found herself lured away from real estate sales and construction and into the title industry. She worked at Northstar Title (owned by TCF Bank) and then was offered a position at American Summit Mortgage (a multi-lender mortgage broker) where she was an underwriter before following her sister’s footsteps to Wells Fargo as a Home Mortgage Consultant in northeast Minneapolis. Sara specialized in first-time home buyer and neighborhood rehab mortgages during her time at Wells Fargo.
Fast forward to April 1st, 2019 when Shannon made the decision to buy out her partner, Mike Reed. This full acquisition made it possible for her to purchase a national real estate franchise, United Country Real Estate (formerly known as United Farm Agency) which has been in existence since 1925 and is currently the largest “lifestyle” real estate company in the nation (specializing in over 35 specialty property types and rural real estate).
The “little office that could” has now grown to ten strong while we all work endlessly to promote our area as a whole, not just our listings. United Country Real Estate – Voyage North Realty & Auctions is excited to unveil our latest efforts to promote our amazing community with the distribution of “Voyage North Local Life and Real Estate Magazine” this July. This bi-monthly publication showcases all of the incredible opportunities available in our neck of the woods. Through this publication and other marketing efforts, it is our mission to create more exposure and a broader awareness of Koochiching County.
All of the communities that makeup Koochiching County are special and unique, which is why we live here (or in Sara’s case, came back). We run businesses here, shop here, doctor here, raise our families here, give here, invest here, and play here. We are fortunate to live in an area where real estate is affordable, the natural beauty is unmatched, and “rush hour” is 8 cars at a stoplight. We have no crowds, low crime, and zero chaos. Couple that with a brand new, gorgeous airport terminal, solid and reliable internet service, good cell phone coverage (unless you are in the middle of Voyageurs National Park, but if you are there, who cares about cell phones!) and you have a recipe for success.
As former online-business owners, we can attest to the fact that you can live here and make money anywhere. As current local-based business owners, we can also say the communities of Koochiching County are supportive and very welcoming. If you are willing to work hard, do your part to support other local businesses and organizations, offer a level of customer service our citizens deserve, be open to some “out of the box” thinking, and are kind, then you and your business will be successful.