Longtime Fallon firm Berney Realty celebrates 50th anniversary
Lahontan Valley News
FALLON, Nev. — Over the past 50 years, Cari Norcutt and Mike Berney said Fallon experienced growth that more than doubled the city’s population.
Likewise, the county’s population almost tripled during that same time, making the area a preferred home for retirees, commuters and residents who worked either for private businesses or the government, especially at Naval Air Station Fallon.
In 1968, Bud Berney began the realty firm and recently, Berney Realty celebrated its 50th anniversary by opening its doors to the community for a lunch.
Norcutt, who bought the business from Mike Berney in 2008, said Fallon has grown gradually for half a century although growth exceeded 30 percent between 1970-1990. Norcutt began working at Berney as an agent in 2002, and before purchasing the business, she decided to keep the name because it was well-known within the community.
What started as a humble business has now grown to 13 agents. When Berney decided to retire and sell the business, he wanted the right person to run the company and be savvy with the new technology.
“It’s been a great business for 50 years. When I bought the business, why change a good thing,” Norcutt said about keeping the name.
Berney said even during the Great Recession that began in 2008, clients still depended on the Berney reputation and relied on the business to meet their needs.
Although parts of Northern Nevada are once again booming with growth, Norcutt said Fallon hasn’t exploded like Reno with the number of new residents and rising housing costs.
“I don’t see us busting at the seams any time soon,” Norcutt said. “I see a strong market.”
Changing home prices and community values
Norcutt said the community’s leaders have tried to keep the area vibrant and growing, and she envisions the same direction in the future.
Fallon is on the eastern end of growth due to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center. While many people working at the center east of Sparks are living in the Truckee Meadows, Norcutt said others have decided to move to Fernley or Fallon where the housing costs are less expensive.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office in Nevada began encouraging to look at the smaller communities because of their housing, schools and quality of life. Norcutt said the industrial center and the new Polaris plant east of Fernley will have a positive effect on Churchill County.
“We’re seeing a little growth from that,” Norcutt said.
Norcutt, though, said she’s also seeing current residents selling their homes and moving to another area in either the city or county or people moving to Fallon to be closer to family. She said Fallon is a well-rounded community and offers different opportunities than other cities its size or smaller.
“We have a strong economy, good schools, close to shopping and close to Lake Tahoe, other recreation and hunting,” she pointed out.
Norcutt doesn’t base her analysis on reports and graphs. She is personally experiencing it. With her children in involved first junior and now senior high-school rodeo, Norcutt and her husband, Darrell, travel the state each year, looking at other communities and learning what makes them tick.
“I notice we’re like the heart of Nevada,” Norcutt said of Fallon.
The heartbeat is strong, Norcutt said, as she notices more businesses are moving to Fallon or existing businesses are adding staff. With the stronger economy, Norcutt said homeowners are showing more pride in their homes by adding landscaping or improving the appearance of their dwelling, both inside and out.
Years of growth for Berney Realty
Mike Berney said Berney Realty began as a small operation with his father advertising three properties for sale. Now, Berney advertises a number of homes and businesses for sale.
“It’s just amazing the growth in the community and growth in technology,” Berney said.
Technology has changed the advertising model for Realtors. Before the Internet, real estate companies would advertise their properties in the newspaper. Now, most of the advertising is done on the website. The evolving technology and changing dynamics led to Berney selling the business 10 years ago.
Berney, who took over the business when his father retired in the early 1980s, said he’s had an amazing journey as a realtor and involved community member. Now, his son Josh is a part of Berney Realty and will be a witness to Fallon’s future growth.
For Mike Berney, though, he said NAS Fallon has been an integral part to Churchill County’s growth, both with civilians and sailors and their families moving to the Lahontan Valley. He said businesses associated with national defense have also come to Fallon and are growing at a good pace.
“The base with its services brings in their employees,” he said. “This has been huge.”
Berney also echoed Norcutt, saying Fallon is a good destination for retirees, especially for the military.
“I hope we have controlled growth as a community,” he said. “We need a little more diversity and opportunities to help fuel growth.”
Yet, it’s the personal factor that has helped Berney Realty weather both the good and bad times.
“We’ve had people stop in (at the office) and say what a nice place Fallon is,” Berney said.
Berney and Norcutt said the reputation of the realty business is one of a neighbor and friend. Over the years Berney has been involved with many community endeavors including the hospital board and as president of the nonprofit Fallon Community Theatre.
“It’s not about making money but making friends,” Berney said. “We built our own business and have a stake in our community.
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.