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When talking about luxury vacation homes, locations such as Wyoming’s Teton County and Montana’s Bitterroot Valley may not be the first markets that come to mind, but there’s great value in hidden gems.
Cindi Hayne, Real Estate Associate with Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty, and Collin Vaughn, Associate Broker at Jackson Hole Sotheby’s International Realty, can attest to that.
“The Selway–Bitterroot Wilderness area encompasses 1.3 million acres and is one of the largest wilderness areas in the lower 48 states,” says Hayne. “The Sapphire Mountain range is on the easterly portion and is mostly State and Bureau of Land Management open space.”
For agents used to selling in dense urban markets, these vast areas can appear almost untenable for real estate.
“Our county is truly unique, with much of the land forming part of conservation land trusts, national forests, and national parks,” says Vaughn, describing Teton County’s protected regions. “This not only offers a strong connection to nature for our residents and visitors, but also serves to strengthen property values due to the preservation of the area’s natural beauty.”
Here are four reasons why agents are finding huge success in remote markets, as well as four strategies for adapting to the changes and challenges of working further afield.
1. Secondary homes are the new primary homes
The past few years brought an influx of new buyers to remote markets as the option to work virtually became widely available, observed Vaughn — and demand remains steady.
“Buyers value a remote, private location where they can both continue to work and enjoy the community’s stunning features,” he says. “As more people seek a connection to the outdoors, and value the preservation of natural beauty, the demand for properties in the area is likely to continue to follow with a great deal of growth.”
2. Remote markets provide a more peaceful pace
Despite having all of the same recreational opportunities and amenities, the Bitterroot Valley is very quiet compared to resort towns like Bozeman and Whitefish. The Teton County region colloquially known as Jackson Hole includes both the town of Jackson and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, but these close neighbours are each distinct and famous in their own right.
This isn’t a disadvantage. Instead, out-of-the-way locales provide agents with the chance to focus deeply on dedicated service to a smaller clientele with highly specific needs and aspirations.
3. Buyers pay premium prices for natural beauty
“We have a very robust second home and retirement population who are in residence seasonally and hail from all western states, Texas, Minnesota, the deep south, and Florida,” says Hayne.
“Buyers are now more sophisticated and will not compromise on their vision. They’re willing to wait for the perfect property in the perfect location, and are willing to pay the asking price for this package.”
4. Smaller markets can still offer a wide selection
Even in Teton County, clients enjoy variety. “Property types range from low-maintenance in-town condos, slopeside resort homes for outdoor enthusiasts, single-family homes perfect for growing families, luxurious estate properties for those who desire privacy, and expansive legacy ranches for those who appreciate a rustic lifestyle,” says Vaughn.
The same is true for Bitterroot Valley. “We have a myriad of properties from townhomes to multi-million dollar estates and ranches,” Hayne adds.
Embracing the shift to a remote market
Remote markets require an adjustment. Agents need to remember that there may not be as much inventory as they’re used to, and they’ll likely be managing and coordinating the logistics of working with buyers from afar. So here are some priorities to consider:
Participate in the local community: “Agents should integrate themselves into the community by participating in local philanthropies and events, and taking time to learn about local issues and concerns facing the community,” says Vaughn.
Get to know the geographic area: “Understand the region geographically,” continues Vaughn. “Driving through each of the areas and visiting as many types of properties as possible is a great way to expand your knowledge.”
Learn from the seasoned experts: Agents who are new to remote markets should seek out mentors, and work for knowledgeable agents who have been in the industry for a long time. “You’re entering into a new environment and rhythm — don’t assume that your previous experiences in real estate will be applicable or appreciated in your new market,” cautions Hayne.
Forge new business relationships: “Agents should prioritize building relationships with local contacts, such as other agents, lenders, contractors, and other industry professionals,” says Vaughn. “By doing so, agents can gain insight and build a network that can help them navigate the market successfully.”
Having transferred from California to the Bitterroot Valley, Hayne empathizes with the surprise and wonder of buyers coming to her market for the first time; making a move of this magnitude is life-changing. “Clients want to live in a small town environment offering a high quality of life,” she says. “More than anything, they want a meaningful experience.”
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