Cathy Miskell Sonnenalp Real Estate
Twenty years on Wall Street was the perfect training ground for a real estate career in the Vail Valley. Cathy Miskell, broker/partner of Sonnenalp Real Estate, brought a strong financial background with her to the Vail Valley and found the world of high finance very closely aligned with the local real estate market. She determined that some of the similar skills essential when working with Vail Valley luxury homes are an understanding of the dynamics of a buy-and-sell market; establishing the right fit between client and product; assessing comparables and establishing value. These interconnected skills have served her clients well.Miskell, a New York City native, had not planned on a Wall Street career; she was headed to a position with the Ford Foundation. But after graduation from college, a brief change of pace from the rigors of academia was needed. A move to San Francisco and a position as an administrative clerk in a stock brokerage firm proved to be an early turning point. Two years later, when I returned to New York City, instead of going to the position being held for me with the Ford Foundation, I went to Wall Street. I simply loved the business. For the next 20 years I happily worked in the financial and securities markets, eventually becoming treasurer of an investment counseling firm, Miskell explains.During that time, a vacation to Steamboat Springs also proved a turning point. I skied for the first time in my life and fell in love with the Rocky Mountain West. I kept a picture from that trip on my desk and thought about it for the rest of the year. I knew I had to go back.That opportunity presented itself a year later and the timing was perfect. Miskell settled into the delightful lifestyle change of the Vail Valley taking a position at the Vail Library. I went from dealing with millions of dollars to collecting 25-cent fines, she laughs. She, however, did not leave her tenacity and relentless professionalism in the big city. Within three years, Miskell had earned a masters degree in library science. Six years after arriving in Vail she met future husband, Whitney Miskell. He played a pivotal role not only in her personal life, but her professional life as well. Whit astutely assessed her range of capabilities and stated, You need to come to work for me. At some point in time youre going to get into real estate, and I dont want to compete with you. She said yes to that invitation, and yes to his personal invitation to marry him, affirmative answers proving to be the foundation of two successful partnerships.We worked together for eight years with Slifer Smith & Frampton in Beaver Creek and it was a wonderful experience. Then in 2001 Joni White Taylor, founder of Sonnenalp Real Estate, described to us her vision of building a boutique real estate company specializing in high-end, luxury properties. As an affiliate of the Sonnenalp Resort of Vail it would share the Sonnenalp name and its reputation for quality and excellence. It would consist of veteran brokers who would bring their expertise and their established client base to the company. She invited Whit and me to join her as partners in the firm. It was such a compelling and attractive offer that in October of 2001 we joined her.A moving experience of a different kind has brought the Miskells to the place they now call home – Eagle Ranch. Weve lived almost everywhere in the valley. We moved to Eagle Ranch because we wanted to be a part of a year-round community, a close-knit small-town environment. The sense of community is apparent in a story she delightedly relays. Whit was sitting on the porch last summer reading with our Tibetan terrier close by when some young boys came by on their bike and called to him, Hey Mister, can we come and pet your dog? Up they came onto the top step where they sat for a while, scratched Bravos ears and had a nice chat with Whit. It was a vignette straight from Norman Rockwell.But for the moment, the relaxing calm of a charming Mayberry environment doesnt mean a lifestyle of slowing down for Cathy Miskell. The exhilaration of the current real estate market and running a successful company remain front and center. Number one: the success of this firm is energizing and involving. Number two: Vail is going to be such an exciting place to be for the next 10 years, at least. With the New Dawn renovation now underway, creating all manner of new real estate product to sell, it is and will continue to be action packed. Were very much looking forward to the continuing excitement. Whit and I are fastening our seat belts.