Montana real estate mavens Jackie Wickens and Trecie Wheat Hughes of HGTV’s “Mountain Mamas” fame have made the move to the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury® program. The pair will work out of the Bozeman office of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties.
“Initially, we weren’t prepared to make a move, but we were really impressed with the support at Coldwell Banker,” says Wheat Hughes of their decision. “We’re at a point in our careers where we want to go to the next level. We wanted to be around the right people.”
Wickens and Wheat Hughes are best known for helping their clients sort through the Big Sky country real estate market, which covers a vast amount of terrain and property types, from historic homes and log cabins to sprawling ranch houses in need of a little TLC. Recently, they have been eager to expand their business. They found like minds and an enthusiastic team at Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties, headed by CEO Todd Conklin and managing director and partner Jeff Renevier.
“When we first met with Todd and Jeff, I thought, ‘We’re not going anywhere,’” recalls Wickens. “But the business that we’re in takes a tremendous amount of energy and time. As moms and as real estate professionals, there’s always something pulling on you. Sometimes, you have nothing left to give. Todd said, ‘Give me two weeks. We have the tools that can help you manage your business and continue to do what you do best.’ We saw it for ourselves. Between the technology and all of the Coldwell Banker marketing packages, the real estate process is so streamlined. It allows us to do our jobs better and be better in our lives, because we have only so much bandwidth.”
While the design-and-construction duo will go by “Jackie, Trecie & Co” as a real estate team, their “Mountain Mamas” moniker fits them well. Wickens has two children, ages 7 and 4, with her husband, Jason, who is a singer-songwriter and a fourth-generation Montanan rancher. Wheat Hughes has a 7-year-old son with her husband, Holden, a hunting and fishing guide. On the show, they put their complementary skills and talents to good work. Wheat Hughes has the design eye, and Wickens has the construction know-how. They have completed about 10 full renovation projects together (and many smaller projects in between), including a 1930s log cabin on the channel of the Yellowstone River that they use as an investment property. “It’s this cute, funky retro cabin,” says Wickens. “It’s the first one that we’ve owned together.” Wheat Hughes describes her style as “eclectic, with a thoughtful balance of old and new,” whereas Wickens’ style tends toward rustic dude ranch. What they have in common is their love for Montana, the great outdoors and homes with a soul. “We love anything with a story,” says Wickens. Similarly, they enjoy helping their clients find homes with a story — and luckily, the Montana housing market is teeming with those types of properties: 100-year-old cattle ranches, rustic log cabins and turn-of-the-century Craftsmans and Colonial revivals.
Buyers from higher-cost cities in California, Colorado and Washington, DC, are taking notice. “Usually, out-of-state buyers have thought about moving to Montana for a long time,” says Wheat Hughes. “Sometimes, it’s a life’s work for people. They want to raise their kids here. They want to expose them to a rural area.” Adds Wickens: “We see people who want the Montana dream property with elbow room, land and a horse, and others who want to live in the historic district in downtown Bozeman.” They understand these clients well. Both Wickens and Wheat Hughes are Montana transplants. Wickens is originally from Michigan and moved to Montana 17 years ago. Wheat Hughes grew up in Texas and originally moved to Montana in 1997 for college. “Montana has a way of capturing your heart,” explains Wheat Hughes. She returned in 2007. She and Wickens often draw on their experiences as outsiders-turned-true-Montanans when they are helping to guide clients toward different properties or areas in Big Sky country. Their knowledge of the land, the people and the history is comforting, if not invaluable.
Typical luxury homes in Big Sky start at $750,000 and go up once you add acreage and amenities to the picture. For example, a legacy ranch on 240 acres in Paradise Valley, with 17 bedrooms and 18.5 baths, recently sold for $14.9 million. However, typical homes in the Livingston and Paradise Valley area start around $500,000. In Bozeman, luxury homes are generally about $1 million. “Bozeman has seen remarkable growth in the last few years,” says Wheat Hughes. “The average sale price of single-family detached homes right now is around $450,000 — up from about $300,000 just three or four years ago.” Adds Wickens: “Technology has really played a role. You live here to raise your family, but you can work from home for Amazon.” Now at Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties in Bozeman with a host of technological tools at their fingertips, Wickens and Wheat Hughes are even more equipped to serve this type of buyer. Concludes Wickens: “We’re really excited for the next chapter.”