Estate properties require a Realtor with vision, reach, and deep relationships. Jackson Hole agent Latham Jenkins used these to get a 233-acre ranch—the most expensive listing in Wyoming at the time—under contract in nine days.
Jackson Hole Ranch wasn’t looking for its next owner, but its next steward. Bill and Sandy Givens spent three decades buying critical wildlife habitat adjacent to Grand Teton National Park for the purpose of protecting it under conservation easements. The Givenses eventually amassed 233 acres and protected 96 percent from future development through conservation easements. The easements allowed for an additional 18,262 square feet of buildings to be constructed on the ranch, but “a reasonable first thought was that there was a very limited amount of land you could build on relative to the acreage,” says Latham Jenkins, who, in 2021 was the national top producer for Live Water Properties and also the top individual sales agent in Wyoming.
An additional hurdle was that a river—the Snake—literally runs through the ranch and makes accessing a significant portion of it only possible by using a drift boat. “You could look at a map of the property and see it was big, but on the ground it was difficult to understand its vastness,” Latham says.
Finally, the Ranch’s main and guest houses were of a past period and were built in service to the landscape rather than to maximize the property’s stunning views of the Tetons and Gros Ventre Mountains. “I could imagine buyers being slowed down by the houses,” Latham says. “They might just want a solution and not a project.”
“I heard other Realtors talk about carving up the ranch and selling the parcels individually because of the conservation easements,” says Latham. “But I saw them as a positive. It is thanks to the easements that the views, habitat, and landscape of the ranch are protected for perpetuity. It is a national park to call your home.” Latham focused his marketing efforts on highlighting the extraordinary experiences possible because of the Ranch’s wildness and wildlife.
A natural storyteller—Latham has experience as an advertising and media executive and also works as a professional photographer and videographer—he spent hours at Jackson Hole Ranch to inform the ranch’s marketing narrative. He experienced it in different seasons and at different times of the day (and night). “It’s likely I visited parts of the property that the Givenses never did,” he says. “I personally feel the obligation when listing a property to not disgrace it by skimping on doing my homework. The property deserves to be showcased for all of its key attributes: historical, cultural, physical, and ecological. This helps prospective buyers identify with the property and recognize if they would make a great steward for it going forward. It is such a privilege to own a property like the Jackson Hole Ranch, and my goal was to assure the marketing and positioning of the property worked to identify the right buyer.”
Latham focused his marketing strategy on the benefits of the conservation easements. “It is because so much of the property is protected that it is the ‘American Serengeti,’” he says. A herd of 600 elk and a pair of nesting bald eagles live on it, and Sandhill cranes migrate through during their mating season.
Latham’s days at the ranch were not merely about learning, but also imagery; he took thousands of photos and hours of video of wildlife and also of the recreational opportunities possible on such a large tract of land. He captured models horseback riding, fly fishing, cross country skiing, and hiking on the property. In the winter, he shoveled snow off the largest pond and held an ice skating party. In late spring, he erected a safari-style canvas wall tent and had lunches, bonfires, and cocktail hours there. Calling on his creative background, Latham edited his images and video footage into a 7-minute promotional video.
Buyers intrigued enough by the video and associated print and online materials—produced by Latham directing a creative team that included a writer, stylist, and an art designer—to want to see the property in person “got a nature tour with a stop at a safari tent, not a listing presentation,” Latham says. “It wasn’t typical at all—we used binoculars and waders, ATV and I brought my own drift boat to get buyers across the Snake River to experience the portion of the ranch that is otherwise inaccessible.”
Media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Insider, and Robb Report responded to the story Latham told and ran their own stories. In total, the property appeared in 15 online, offline, and social outlets that together had a reach of 625 million people. Links about the ranch were shared more than 2,500 times.
Even though the media interest was amazing, that’s not where the buyer came from. The buyer found the property because of Latham’s and Live Water’s global network of more than 42,000 buyer prospects and real estate professionals. “As soon as we listed the ranch, we shared it via a marketing email, and an industry professional had an immediate fit with a buyer,” Latham says. “Relationships are everything in real estate. I have worked hard to earn a reputation of being an expert on Jackson Hole and its real estate market. Combining this with the sphere of influence Live Water has in the recreational ranch and estate market is powerful.”
While the buyer didn’t come from the media coverage, the attention was still important. “The media presence reinforced the property’s value,” Latham says. It also brought in several back-up buyers. “It’s never guaranteed that the first buyer will work. It’s essential to have other interested buyers,” he says.
The initial buyer did work though. Jackson Hole Ranch was under contract in nine days and closed in 39 days, and the Givenses were thrilled:
“Latham is the best real estate agent I’ve ever worked with. His willingness to go above and beyond in research helped us to position our property perfectly in terms of price, which led to a fast offer and closing. He prides himself on telling each property’s story, and that creates a feeling that goes beyond a simple business transaction. He misses no detail and does anything and everything he possibly can to make the property look good, the process be smooth, and all parties end up happy. He is measured, calm and incredibly diplomatic. I would recommend him, hands down, without hesitation on either side of a real estate deal. He is simply the best!”
The buyer insisted that the safari tent Latham erected at Picnic Point be included in the sale. “That’s proof that my storytelling approach works,” Latham says. “Every detail of showcasing a property is important to enable it to be seen in the best light and find that emotional resonance with a buyer.”