Inman Diaries is a weekly feature tracking the day-to-day activities of America’s leading real estate agents in their own words. This week, Jeff Ward of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates juggles family, friends and work while trying to stay on schedule during the city’s busiest time of year.
4 a.m. I’m back asleep for a couple of hours, until the point my brain turns on to the roar of racing thoughts, providing an adrenaline boost that whips me out from under the warm blankets. My partner in life, parenting and real estate, Kelli, sleeps next to me and is rudely awakened by my early exit from bed.
8:30 a.m. Day 1 of photo shoot for our new $7 million listing in Teton Village. Since we promised the sellers that we would get their property on the MLS quickly, we begged our go-to photographer, Tuck, to pull off this miracle. Relationships sure do matter. Kelli is there first and texts me to “bring flowers.” Of course, I am on the road, halfway to the property and must turn around, to head back to town.
I grab four different festive bundles and I’m off. Staging disaster avoided for Day One of a two-day shoot.
I “help out” for a bit, then hurry back to the Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates offices on the Town Square for a client meeting.
10:30 a.m. American clients who live and work in Vietnam are in town for the holidays and want to meet to catch up on the market. They are seeing for the first time (and finally using) two of the three luxury condos I sold them over phone calls and Vimeo in 2017 and 2018. Their plan is to eventually flip these cash flowing condos at the base of Jackson Hole ski area. They have just come from a meeting with one of the best tax/trust/situs attorneys in the state (we have some pretty amazing laws here in the Cowboy state including no state income tax, no state gift or estate tax, no tax on out-of-state retirement income and 1000 year dynasty trusts that are incredible protection tools.
Needless to say, my clients were thrilled about asset protection opportunities. All three of their properties have appreciated nicely so that was an easy conversation. After a long discussion about the market in general, they’ve asked me to find them a rentable home on a nice lot that they could eventually redevelop to build their retirement home. One economic factor we deal with in Jackson Hole is very limited supply of land, as almost 98 percent of it is protected by National Parks, Forest Service property and conservation. This is also a good security blanket for property values. Limited supply and low density coupled with high demand.
1:30 p.m. I have been ignoring text messages and phone calls all during the meeting, which I didn’t notice was running over by 30 minutes. Upon a quick peek at my iPhone, I saw that both my daughter and son were texting “where are you.”
Shoot, once again time ticked faster than it felt. Realizing I was late to meet them for a quick ski before my afternoon showings. Bad dad alert. Luckily, I have good kids and they understand how crazy life is when both their mom and dad duck and dive to balance life in this biz. Hated to tell them that I couldn’t join them. My clients from Vietnam, trying not to notice my weak attempt to cover up my panic, said they were all good and thanked me for everything. Cool clients are the best, especially when they keep buying things!
7:25 p.m. Got a voicemail from a 212 number, so I quickly listened to the message in hopes of a potential lead from buyers in Manhattan. To my surprise, it was from a reporter with The New York Times asking if I could share my knowledge about real estate in Cody, Wyoming (Cody is 300 miles from Jackson Hole). I had a suspicion he was seeking intel about Kanye West’s recent ranch purchases there. I explained the geographic and economic differences and asked him directly if his interest about Cody real estate had anything to do with Kanye’s development plan. He laughed and said, “how did you guess?” Old school Wyoming and Kayne West will be an interesting dichotomy.
8:30 a.m. Heading to my office to my car, I get a phone call from a top local broker who had a buyer wanting to see one of our listings within the hour. Our sellers are a great local family who own one of the most unique homes in the valley, but they do have young kids and short notice isn’t ideal. Miraculously, they hesitantly agreed to speed clean the house and get out to accommodate the showing.
1 p.m. I arrived at the house early and as part of my routine, pull out my laptop to search the potential buyers information in REALM (getting names in advance helps me out a ton, especially now that I have the advantage of REALM). When a buyer’s “dossier” populates in REALM, you know you have a qualified buyer, not to mention all of the supplemental data that can be used to find common ground, such as where they own other properties, what business they are in, who they do business with, what types of philanthropy they donate to and where they were educated, are just a few of the details at your literal fingertips.
1:15 p.m. I am armed and ready with information as the buyers arrive. It was so helpful to read both of their “dossiers” prior to meeting them in person. Truly a differentiator for selling real estate. After showing this lovely couple for more than an hour, I got the feeling (you know the feeling) that they could be our buyers. Immediately after the showing, the buyer’s broker awkwardly texted me that she has another buyer who would like to see the house later that same day.
2:55 p.m. I have an hour until my next showing, which is unique in itself because the owner of this rare ski-in ski-out condo received a seller solicitation letter from the buyer’s agent I am showing with. Upon receipt of the letter, she texted me and asked for my help. I teed it up for them and if this buyer comes through, the owners are looking at doubling their money to the tune of $1 million in six years!
Once again, I relied on REALM to learn more about this buyer. Sure enough, her “dossier” populated, assuring me she’s a capable, qualified buyer. She loved the condo… we will see.
4:45 p.m. I check in with Kelli as she finishes the second day of the photo shoot at dusk and I’m running behind to get to Wilson, Wyoming, for my 5 p.m. showing with the broker’s other buyers.
5:05 p.m. Buyers are already there, checking out the historic pre Civil War guest house as I drove up (hate being late). I didn’t have time to REALM them, but after a quick intro realized they were long time locals, who I learned had recently sold one of their companies, poised to upgrade from a nearby neighborhood.
5:45 p.m. After showing into the evening’s darkness, I’m trying to get home in time to make it to a family dinner with one of our ultra-high net worth clients (now close friends) who we helped successfully navigate the tax firewalls between California and Wyoming. Their $17 million house was effectively free given the approximately 15 percent tax savings they avoided by moving to Wyoming.
6:30 p.m. Arrive home and I’m scrambling and still needing to jump on my laptop to answer a few time-sensitive emails. Mission accomplished, Kelli, the kids and I were out the door in 30 minutes and arrived on time for 7 p.m. reservation. Head still spinning, pulse still high, I finally settled into a night full of laughs and good food. I love my job.
10:10 p.m. Home and ready for bed. One more glass of red wine? Yes, please.
4:35 a.m. Left eye opens to sneak a peek at the clock. Awesome, I have a little more time to sleep. Bad news though. My brain decided to punch in for the crazy day ahead before my body was ready to do the same.
5 a.m. Time to make some lists for grocery shopping. Cooking is my escape, but I tend to over commit.
6:15 a.m. Quick bowl of very boring oatmeal and I’m off to the office to upload the photos and prepare the marketing for our new village listing to MLS (thanks Tuck for the quick turn on the images).
7 a.m. As I’m working on the listing, the buyers who looked at the Wilson house last night want to see it in the afternoon.
11:15 a.m. I finally finish uploading the listing (love that feeling) and I have to grab a few last minute gifts and go grocery shopping.
2:20 p.m. I’ve completed my gift list, visited the tourist filled grocery store (rookie move) and started dinner, friends arriving later — all of the steamed clams are open and shucked. Stock is peacefully simmering.
3 p.m. Off goes the apron I got from my niece last Christmas (chef Jeff embroidered and all) and back in the car I go to drive to Wilson for the second showing.
3:30 p.m. Ironically, the buyer’s broker asked me to show it alone as she was entertaining that night and needed to get her house ready. LOL. It’s cool, we’re friends and that’s what living in Jackson Hole is all about.
4:15 p.m. Showing goes great and I’m heading home to get back to dinner prep.
5:45 p.m. Dinner guests arriving. I got this. Crab cakes, fondue and homemade clam chowder, all a success.
11:15 p.m. Friends have left, and I call it a night. Visions of real estate showings danced in my head.
8:30 a.m. Hopefully, work will be quiet today but first I need to connect to my CPA. Thank God for a good CPA. About this time every year, our CPA reaches out to ask “what did this year look like compared to last year?” I generally have a pretty accurate running total of where we are in volume and commissions. Expenses are always the hard part.
As painful as it is, we pay our estimated quarterly taxes, which helps to avoid a massive George Foreman gut punch come April 15.
9:30 a.m. Out the door and off to the office thinking that very soon I’ll be sitting by the crackling fire, looking out to the snow-covered mountains, in a house filled with joy.
For over 15 years Jeff Ward’s signature professionalism, experience and market understanding, coupled with a tireless dedication to his clients’ success, has made him one of the top-producing real estate agents in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Inman Diaries is a weekly feature tracking the day-to-day activities of America’s leading real estate agents and brokers. To submit a diary, please send requests to Diary@Inman.com.
A previous version of this diary incorrectly identified Jeff Ward as working with Sotheby’s International. He is licensed with Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates. Inman regrets the error.