Mark Walter paving the way for St. George commercial real estate

In 1975, and at 22 years old, Mark Walter married his Dixie High School sweetheart Valene Leany, and began a real estate career in Southern Utah that would become legendary. Mark spent the next forty-five years shaping the Southern Utah landscape and improving peoples’ lives in the community.

Real estate didn’t come easy. Mortgage interest rates rose from 9% in 1975 to 18% in 1981. While selling real estate, Mark and Val ran a small motel, worked side jobs, went to school, and somehow made it all work.

Like other companies in the early 1980s Mark’s real estate brokerage, Walter and Associates, was struggling. The recession of 1981-1982 was considered by some the worst recession since the great depression. The solution was Walter and Associates and four other leading real estate firms in the community came together in an unprecedented merger. Mark Walter, Clark Houston, Lowell Frei, Ron Lemmon, and Sam Sampson created a real estate partnership under the new name ERA Brokers Consolidated in August of 1982 that has outlasted all of their peers.

Ron Lemmon said, “Mark was a man of integrity. He was always concerned about the welfare of other people, especially those at the office. Everyone remembers him as a fun-loving guy but his interest in each individual was what defined him.”

Mark Walter, Jon Walter, Matt Walter, Neil Walter - St. George real estate family

Ownership evolved some over the years and Mark Walter and Thayne Houston became best friends and business partners as ERA Brokers Consolidated opened offices across Southern Utah and into Mesquite, NV.

Thayne Houston couldn’t say enough good things about Mark. “Mark Walter was a fantastic business partner. He always gave 110% in the partnership and did way more than he needed to. He liked to be involved and contribute in the community; he was amazing with people. Mark made everyone feel welcome and included in everything he did.”

In the 1990s, Mark was actively involved in brokering both residential and commercial real estate transactions. His signature commercial project was the development of the Boulevard Office Park on 200 East and St. George Boulevard. Mark’s vision and commitment to the project resulted in a timeless Class A office park with a glass and red brick structure. Mark and Valene partnered with their friends Hyrum and Gail Smith, Joseph and Katie Smith, and Larry and Stacie Shurtliff on the development. Gail said of their dear friend Mark, “His fairness, honesty, and integrity are his most distinct attributes and are becoming harder to find these days.” Mark also worked closely with the Smith family to assemble the ground for Tuacahn and Stone Cliff.

Starting in 1998, Mark developed over three thousand acres of mountain property on Highway 89 near Bryce Canyon with his parents and siblings. These developments include Paunsaugunt Cliffs, Casto Canyon, and River Ranch.

1995 Grand opening of ERA Real Estate in Saint George, Utah

In 2001, Mark saw the need for an exclusive commercial brokerage in Southern Utah.  Mark was a founder in NAI Utah Commercial Real Estate Southern Region, now NAI Excel. Mark acted as its Principal Broker for the next nineteen years. He personally assisted his friends and clients in many hundreds of transactions over the years.

Stephen Wade said about his good friend, “Mark’s personality was always upbeat. He was fun, and an exciting person to be with.  He was innovative in real estate and kind to people. He always knew what was going on in the community.”

Over the years, Mark was President of the Chamber of Commerce, Business Person of the Year, President of the Board of Realtors, Realtor of the Year, District Chairman for the BSA Snow Canyon District, Silver Beaver Recipient, and served on numerous committees, councils, and boards.

Mark Walter passed away on August 11, 2020 at age 67 from kidney cancer after being diagnosed only three weeks prior. Mark was known for his energy and enthusiasm. His voice and presence filled the room, and his knowledge of real estate and local markets was unparalleled. Mark was continuously involved in his companies and the community until the time of his diagnosis. Above all, Mark was a friend to everyone.

He said, “I never met a person I didn’t like.”

Long time neighbor and friend Steve Caplin said “Mark Walter is a pillar in the Southern Utah community and his influence continues through the people he has impacted over several decades. Mark was trusted and loved by everyone because of his integrity and charity. There is really no way to measure the great good he has done for our community.”