Are the billionaires pushing out the millionaires?
Lifestyle, wildlife, and weather: what’s that all about in Jackson?
And what’s going on in the West that makes Jackson so appealing?
The latest Western Home Journal Real Estate Roundtable took place at Hotel Terra in Teton Village, Wyoming, overlooking the Grand Teton during the peak of fall. Real estate was the talk of the day with four of Jackson Hole’s prominent real estate agents: Matt Faupel of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, Richard Lewis of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, Rob DesLauriers of Terra Property Management Company and Sotheby’s International Realty, and Dave Spackman of Jackson Hole Sotheby’s International Realty. Years of real estate history and experience made for an interesting Jackson Hole property discussion where no stone was left unturned.
These gentlemen discuss the state of the Jackson market, the best value for the location and property, and those things that distiguish Wyoming when it comes to buying property.
whj: How often do people who have never been to Jackson decide to buy in Jackson?
DAVE SPACKMAN: It does happen occasionally. Jackson is an easy place to quickly fall in love with, and real estate here is such a good investment.
RICHARD LEWIS: Quite often. My goal, when working with buyers who are not familiar with the area, is to introduce them to the beauty and multitude of options available to them. Jackson Hole is a vibrant community surrounded by some of the most dramatic scenery in the world and, yet, provides easy access to fine restaurants, theatre, and the arts, and excellent shopping. The area sells itself.
MATT FAUPEL: There are a number of factors that influence people wanting to be in Jackson. Usually, a purchase in Jackson Hole represents something more than just a home. It represents a culmination of life events leading up to a purchase. Often, if buyers have never been to Jackson, they’re trying to decide between other mountain destinations. When they have the opportunity to experience not just the outdoor amenities but the cultural lifestyle and philanthropic heart of this community,
other destinations pale by comparison. On the other hand, manybuyers have a long history with Jackson Hole. They may have come here as children, either on vacation or to the Teton Valley Ranch Camp, for example, and they’re now looking to make a legacy property part of their family story.
whj: In mountain town communities, what role do real estate agents play?
SPACKMAN: Our job is to educate and to help buyers find what they want. I tell my team we’re not here trying to sell anything. Our job is to educate and assist people to fulfill their needs. While all buyers are different, the easiest buyers are those who have been here before or are a referral. There are a lot of advantages to living here that many buyers don’t know about. It’s the most tax-friendly state in the U.S. It’s also, by far, the best state to do your estate planning. What’s your desire—skiing, golfing, fishing, privacy, in-town, or by the airport? Everyone has different needs and part of our job is to help a buyer find what they want, not what we think they should want.
DESLAURIERS: The key is to determine what a buyer wants. Dave and his team have a slogan, ‘your guide to the Jackson Hole lifestyle.’ I think that’s the role of agents—to guide buyers through the market, help them get to know everything about the area and market and help them discover what they really want. The last thing someone wants to do is make a mistake with a home purchase. It’s a big asset, and it’s expensive in Jackson. People want to have peace of mind when they buy. Agents help their clients make good decisions because in this market, we’re not really selling as much as we’re helping buyers make well-informed decisions.
FAUPEL: For people new to the area, we’re their first exposure to the valley as a whole. We’re often the ambassadors of the valley. Many people come for the skiing and have no idea what summer offers or the cultural aspects of the valley. They don’t realize what the community is like, and we’re their first conduit to that experience and education.
LEWIS: First and foremost, we’re selling an incredible lifestyle and a strong sense of community. The rest of it takes care of itself—if we do our job.
whj: Jackson Hole has a long history of being a very ‘Western’ town, how does that appeal to potential buyers?
DESLAURIERS: Back in the day, there was a reason why nobody lived here year-round. It was a seasonal place for Native Americans and trappers. Then it became a ranching community. It was tough living here. Every mountain town has its own personality. Jackson Hole is built around hearty people and its natural wonders. Once ranching was established, then we got the national parks followed by skiing, and the valley grew from there. Now, we have three or four beautiful golf courses and there’s fishing, hiking, biking, endless outdoor activities no matter the season, great arts, culture, shopping, and restaurants. But somehow, through it all, Jackson has maintained its authentic Western culture. It’s the people combined with the history and natural beauty that make Jackson Hole real. That’s why people fall in love with it.
FAUPEL: People refer to Jackson as Western, but I think a more appropriate description is ‘authentic.’ When people come to visit Jackson, we often hear about how friendly everyone is and how welcoming the community is to visitors and new residents. There are a lot of the Western values that still exist in this town.
We give back to the community, we support each other, and our word is our bond. Those types of values don’t exist in a lot of places and that makes Jackson quite special.
MOUNTAIN MODERN BEAUTY
Located at the base of the renowned Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, this custom mountain-modern home features 4 bedrooms and 5 baths on two levels. Owners will enjoy exquisitely comfortable living spaces, graciously sized bedrooms, a private office, a media room, and a fully appointed gourmet kitchen. The majestic mountain setting offers views throughout the home complemented by exterior decks and surrounded by a plush landscape. Conveniently located,this home is steps away from the world-class skiing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and all of the amenities of Teton Village.
LEWIS: Jackson Hole derives its magnetism from its rustic yet refined lifestyle grounded by small-town Western hipness. Modern day technology allows the area to draw upon those with an entrepreneurial spirit with the resources to be successful including upstart companies. They can do business anywhere they want, but they choose to be here.
DESLAURIERS: As real estate agents, we’re often asked to be involved in the community for planning and development input for speaking out on the balance of needs and to help manage growth and the changes that growth requires. It’s a balance of preserving what makes Jackson special, but also finding a way to assure the people who live and work here that they will always have place to live. Zoning is being reconsidered to balance the continued pressures of growth, and as real estate agents, we need to be active.
LEWIS: Jackson Hole is uniquely poised because of technology. Many people who come here have that entrepreneurial spirit with the money to back it up. They can do business anywhere they want. There’s a lot of incubation here for very significant start-up companies and capital is available from people here or elsewhere.
FAUPEL: We’re the most philanthropic community in the country, and that is a value that is instilled in every resident. We’re not just a town or a destination, we’re a community first. We can’t manufacture here because we don’t have the facilities or the square footage of industrial space, and we can’t afford to ship anything out of here. We don’t have a lot of buildings that offer office space for 50 employees. Outside of tourism, we rely on a number of entrepreneurs and small, local businesses as the backbone of our business community. Because of the nature of the population base and the continued demand for properties from buyers moving from urban environments, we’re fortunate to have a wealth of resources and expertise that have relocated to Jackson. These new residents are fueling tremendous growth and opportunity for local entrepreneurs that are blazing trails in a diversity of fields from recycling to information technology, human services to publishing.
JACKSON HOLE LEGACY RANCH
The VandeWater Ranch is one of Jackson Hole’s hidden treasures that rarely, if ever, makes it to the open market. The ranch has been in the same family since 1939 with incredible stewardship of the land and its natural resources. The VandeWater Ranch is absolutely one of the best privately held blue-ribbon fly fishing properties in the Jackson Hole valley. It boasts approximately 1.5 miles of Fish Creek and .25 mile of Lake Creek, which join on the ranch. Several cold-water springs originate on the ranch providing exceptional opportunity for spring creek enhancements. In addition, the ranch is within the moose and mule deer migration corridors with a resident elk herd and also provides direct access to Bridger Teton National Forest. Substantial conservation opportunities exist. Price Upon Request
SPACKMAN: There’s a certain appeal to that but there’s also so much more that this area offers. Recreational opportunities are unlimited. People in the community are well rounded in all areas, but enjoy putting on a pair of cowboy boots and jeans.
DESLAURIERS: There are people who do ‘passion projects.’ They’re not starting another Fortune 500 company, but they want to do things, get involved, and have the means to do great things.
whj: When buyers are comparing various resort markets, what sells them on the Jackson Hole area?
SPACKMAN: It starts out with the beauty, the quality of life, and the favorable tax status—but in the end it’s about the people. They want to be here because the people are well educated, well traveled, friendly, and very understated.
FAUPEL: There’s a lack of gentrification. You can go to Nora’s and see a past Fortune 500 CEO, a guy who just sold his small business, a rancher, and a local contractor all sitting together at the bar enjoying a good time talking to one another about their outdoor pursuits and their latest adventures. Their common bond is a love for Jackson Hole. It has nothing to do with their careers, their bank accounts, or a specific social circle.
LEWIS: There are numerous reasons why those who live in the Jackson Hole area have chosen to have their primary residence here. Some of those reasons are emotional, such as the sheer beauty of the natural surroundings and the overall quality of life. Other reasons are more practical such as Wyoming’s overall tax benefits—it’s the best in the nation.
PREMIER SLOPESIDE TETON VILLAGE PROPERTY
This ski-in/ski-out location is the best priced building site in Granite Ridge and provides an ideal building envelope for a world class Jackson Hole dream home. Enjoy mountain views, lush flora and fauna, wildlife and close proximity to the Lower Teewinot ski run and the heart of Teton Village. This is a rare opportunity to buy a well-priced slope-side property. The views, the location, and the access to recreation are unmatched. Building plans are available or work with your favorite architect to build the ultimate home on the perfect lot. No matter the season, this property is a Jackson jewel.
whj: Does it usually take long for a buyer to commit?
SPACKMAN: I’ve had customers take 10 years and some people buy on their first visit. I want to make sure that they are familiar with all their options and familiar with the valley before they decide.
LEWIS: I had one buyer who took eight years to find the right property and others that purchased on their first visit.
DESLAURIERS: There are easy homes to own such as cluster homes in Teton Pines with zero-maintenance where homeowner associations take care of everything. Shooting Star and Teton Village have great options like that as well. Then there are the condominium projects, which can be rented. These are easier ways to get into the market than the commitment of a full second home. I see lots of folks start simple and spend more time in Jackson Hole, then eventually move up to their dream home.
FAUPEL: It can take buyers a while. We’ve worked with some buyers on executing their purchase in Jackson for years. That said, some buyers arrive and find their perfect ‘place’ instantly. A property purchase in Jackson is a very personal experience and usually represents much more than just buying a house. We try to give our clients the appropriate time and information to make the best decision for their needs and the long-term benefit of their investment.
LEWIS: Every buyer is different and has his or her own rhythm.
TWO MOUNTAIN VILLAS IN THE AMANGANI RESORT
These two Villas in the exclusive Amangani neighborhood, the first Aman Resort in North America, overlook the Snake River Valley and have stunning Teton views as a backdrop. Offering warmth and modern design in their redwood, timber, granite and glass construction, these luxury homes are individually offered for $9,400,000 and $11,200,000. A top-tier offering in terms of Aman, these homes allow unlimited access to world-class service and amenities including a ski lounge at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
whj: Is there a demand for finished homes or are buyers remodeling and building custom homes?
FAUPEL: I think there’s a great demand for new, finished homes. Since the downturn, we’ve not seen new construction to any real level since 2009. You don’t have much new product out there at all. A new home is more likely 10-20 years newer than what is next door to it. Architecture and design have changed, and there’s a lot of interest in new product. The difficulties are construction costs, building codes, and land development regulations. New product is expensive to build and make a dollar doing so. We’re just starting see the tide shift on construction economics allowing people to be able to build a home, sell it, and make a profit.
SPACKMAN: Some people want a home ‘toothbrush’ ready—so they can move right on in and enjoy. They also want to be able to lock it and leave it, knowing that everything is being taken care of when they’re not here. Other people, however, want to invest more time into the project with architects, designers, and decorators to produce the custom-home they envision.
FAUPEL: We’re definitely seeing that a lot on the high end. We’re seeing people who are into a project with land and home over $10,000,000. There’s a lot of interest in new construction like that.
LEWIS: As inventory is limited, I think you’re going to see more teardowns. Only three percent of the land in the county is privately owned.
DESLAURIERS: The inventory Matt is referring to is in limited supply. There was an era when they were running up the market and now they have so much into it, they can’t sell it, but they are starting to enjoy it again. So, on the high-end, buyers are looking at remodeling something that is 20-years old or looking at a lot and building. However, there are not many chances there because land is so scarce here and so expensive. It’s an interesting dynamic right now with the lack of high-end inventory and the cost of building versus remodeling.
SPACKMAN: Our population cannot grow very much larger because most of the property belongs to the Forest Service, a national park, or is designated wilderness. A high percentage of privately-owned land has a conservation deed restriction in place, is riparian, or has a designated wildlife restriction. There’s a very small percentage of land left that can be developed.
whj: Does Jackson Hole have a lot of legacy homeowners and does that affect the market?
SPACKMAN: Often that is the vision of the parents, but the children would prefer to divide up the cash from the sale of the property as opposed to sharing it.
FAUPEL: There are some great legacy properties in some of the best places around the valley, and because they’re legacy properties no one else will ever get a chance to own them. This, of course, has a negative impact on the availability of great properties. However, when you have a legacy homebase for a family, you’re beginning to see children and extended families start to buy homes nearby because it’s the desired homebase for the entire family.
DESLAURIERS: For families that are in that property for a second or third generation, who decide they’re not using it enough, ranches become parceled up. In the early ‘80s, that’s how The Pines and Aspens were created.
DESLAURIERS: This state is the best in the country for dynasty trusts when it comes to legacy properties. Families are buying with the idea of forever in mind, and it will never come back to the market. It’s a select group of buyers. They usually want to protect it, not build on it.