The Sisterhood of Business

Burke Orizotti Real Estate loses a mother but maintains a legacy

When a family loses their matriarch, a hefty handful of responsibility is inherited to the heirs. In that handful is also a childhood laden with memories, sage words of advice, and business standards. Sisterhood, though, weaves a tight stitch so that the important things stay where they should. Stephanie Orizotti Nelson and Rachael Orizotti Rixford of Burke Orizotti Real Estate give us insight on family and real estate. 

Can you share with me the story of Burke Orizotti's origins? How did this family business begin?

R: After I got married in 2015, I asked my mom if she was serious about opening a brokerage and having me join her, and her response was, “about time!” Burke Orizotti Real Estate opened the doors in February of 2016. My mom always loved real estate and I knew it would be something I would love too.

S: Rachael was with our mom at the inception and beginnings of Burke Orizotti. At the time, I lived in Seattle and taught kindergarten. When my husband and I moved back to Montana with our oldest in 2018, I helped my mom as her assistant and Burke Orizotti was established and flourishing. I approached our mom about obtaining my real estate license and officially joined the team in February of 2020. Going to work with and learning from my mom and sister every day was, and is, truly a gift. 

I'd love to know how your mother's vision for the company came to fruition over the years. Can you share a memory or motto your mom used that has stuck with you?

R: My mom absolutely loved real estate. She never saw it as “work” because she loved this industry so much. Not many people decide to open a business in there 60s, but that was my mom. She never let anything get in her way and if she put her mind to something, she accomplished it. During the last seven years of her life, she fought stage 4 colon cancer and was extremely sick. However, many individuals didn’t even know she was sick because she never complained. She always taught us to get up, get dressed and get into work. Her work ethic has made a lastly impression in my life.

S: Our mom loved mottos and special sayings. Their house displays decorative signs with sayings she loved and lived by. Personally, a saying she is known for in our family is "Love you to the moon and back." Every celebratory card from her and phone conversation with her ended with those words. Professionally, I'm not sure it's so much a saying but rather her way of life that will remain with me and motivate me. She exemplified integrity and unparalleled work ethic. She loved real estate and it was more her passion than work. Love of real estate and honesty in doing business with people is a cornerstone at Burke Orizotti and started with our mom. 

In your opinion, what's the most important thing in doing business with someone, especially in today's wild market?

R: Trust. Trust your real estate professional, trust your team (mortgage lender, inspector, etc.) and trust the process. Today’s market is constantly changing and if you do not trust your real estate professional, your experience will not be enjoyable.

S: I agree with Rachael that trust among the team of people you work with is very helpful, especially for an enjoyable process. I would also add communication. Communicating your needs and desires to your team, and having a team that listens to them, builds trust. The market is competitive and constantly changing, but having a team that you communicate with and trust will make all the difference. 

Why is Missoula special to you?

R: I said I would never do two things in life: move back to Montana and move for a man. Well, I did both in one shot! Seriously though, I absolutely love Missoula. It is the place where I grew up and am growing my life. My boyfriend became my husband here and later we turned into a family with two beautiful children. I found a career that I absolutely love and the best part is I got to learn it from my mother. I also love the sense of community and supporting local businesses. People in Missoula care about each other and want to make sure we help each other.

S: In a way Missoula has always felt like home. When our brothers attended the University, and one played football, our family spent nearly every weekend driving from Butte to Missoula. I loved those weekends in Missoula, going to Griz games and getting a small taste of Missoula living. Now as an adult, my husband and I chose to raise our kids here because of the small-town feel while having great restaurants, nightlife, music, and options for schools to name a few. We love that getting outside to ski, float, hike, have a lake day or play in the snow is easily doable. We also believe in supporting local business and there are so many opportunities to do that in Missoula. 

What do you think each of you bring to the table when it comes to family relations and business? 

R: We are both from Butte where family means everything. My family teases me that nothing I do is small and that includes inviting everyone I know to everything I do. I love to be with family and friends and you can tell that by coming to my house any weekend and there are always at least 10 people over. Relationships are very important to me. I’m also very similar to my mother and I love real estate and I love to work. I think I bring that work ethic, the passion and competitive nature.

S: I believe I am the detail-oriented one of the two of us. I thrive in organization and making sure our 'ducks are in a row" so to speak. Not to quote too much from the show The Office, but I would say I am more day-to-day (or week-to-week) minded, Rach thinks big picture, and both are necessary. Our natural talents and strengths complement each other. We truly love being together. We are sisters but choose to be friends. 

If you had to offer one piece of advice to someone looking for their first home in this market, what words would you offer them? 

R: Your home finds you. It is easy to get defeated especially when other buyers are submitting offers $50,000-$100,000 over asking. I do this full-time, every day. I have seen numerous times, sellers do not always take the offer that is the highest in price or the best terms. There are a lot of different factors the seller(s) look at. Stay positive, this is a huge accomplishment in your life. It is fun and you should be proud of yourself that you are able to purchase a home!

S: Choose a realtor you trust. Speak to a local lender and go through the pre-approval process to know what you qualify for and are able to be comfortable with purchasing. Then choose to stay positive. Rach reminds us during our weekly office meetings to remain positive. I agree with this advice and remind myself and clients to do the same. Maintaining a positive approach to this competitive market is contagious and so helpful. 

Lastly, I'd love to know two favorite memories you have of your mother. It can be business-related or personal.

R: My first isn’t a specific memory, but seeing her with my children. She once told me that the love you have for your children is a love you thought you could never experience because you love your children so much. She then told me to wait until I experience the love for my grandchildren. She had never experienced such a deep love until she became a grandmother. She was her happiest when we were all together. We would always go to my parents’ house for Sunday dinners (usually when we were done hosting open houses)! We would discuss work, upcoming trips, watch the kids play and hang out. Those nights were my favorite.

S: I am grateful to have so many memories with my mom. My family moved home to Missoula to spend as much time with her as possible and that is something I will always be thankful for. There are so many memories, but the weekly family dinners, daily (sometimes hourly!) phone calls, and seeing her each day come to mind as things I miss the most. She always made time for her family no matter what her day looked like. She would stop everything when the grandkids came into the office. She always picked up the phone when I called. She made people feel special, loved, and supported. Her family meant the world to her and all the memories of the ways she showed us her love are my favorite. 

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