With summer underway, those returning to the Nisswa area for warm weather events may have noticed 46 North is gone, and in its place is a very up north realty office.

Woods to Water Real Estate is the brainchild of Colton Maher, a boutique style real estate office with additional services that go beyond handing over the keys at the end of a sale, because Maher also runs Woods to Water Vacation Homes, a business that manages property and property rentals.

"We can help you buy your place and if, for whatever reason, you no longer get to use your lake home or place in the woods - let's say you get relocated and you can't get to your house for a year - why let that house sit empty? Why not rent it out?" Maher said. "Even if nobody is there, you want somebody to look at it and make sure everything's good."

The service is mutually beneficial. When a homeowner isn't using their property every day of the year, Maher can help the owner to capitalize on the property by managing leases, walk-throughs and rent collection, or he can simply do regular check-ups on a seasonal property to make sure there are no surprises. Maher benefits from several business standpoints as well.

"It's an opportunity for us from a business standpoint to stay in front of people, but it's just more ways we can serve clients rather than just say, 'Here's the keys, call me when you want to sell.'" Maher said. "It makes it enjoyable when we build those relationships and help people full circle, in a real estate spectrum. There is much more in real estate than just buying a place and selling a place."

Maher has been working in real estate for seven years, starting at a small brokerage in Minneapolis. He got started out of college when he decided to make a business out of a unique interest he's had for a long time.

"It's always piqued my interest watching things sell, things come on the market and what buyers' reactions are to certain things," Maher said. "It's always been interesting to me. Not what I went to school for, but when I got out of college, everyone has to make a living doing something. That's what spoke to me."

Maher is a Pequot Lakes graduate, so he always knew he wanted to return home eventually. He chose Nisswa because, if he's learned anything in real estate, it's location, location, location.

"I would love to put up shop in Pequot Lakes, but I think this was more centrally located," Maher said. "I want people and Crosslake and Pequot to not be afraid to come to Nisswa and Brainerd, and I want the Brainerd crew to not be afraid to come to Crosslake and Pequot. I think a lot of times people draw that line a little too firm."

The doors opened in Nisswa the day after Thanksgiving 2018. He has one other broker in his office now, but ideally he would like to have five. If he has enough business to hire more than five, Maher said he would open a second office, which is also a goal for the future.