06 - Destination: Peak of Joy

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Arriving at the Peak of Joy

With our checklist in hand and a determination that seemed to hold all the design considerations for our next move. We had connected online with an agent through BiggerPockets. We had market analytics for about 2 dozen houses in hand. We had a notebook full of brainstorming ideas and formulas. We had started talking to a mortgage broker who gave us an accurate appraisal of what we could afford, along with an incredible selection of financing options. In short…We were ready!


So we booked a charming cabin in the heart of Sevierville and packed our bags. We arrived in Sevierville with a few days to kill before meeting our new agent Leslie, so we set off exploring numerous potential homes on our own. Each house we looked at came with their own unique charm and drawbacks. We spent the bulk of our daylight hours driving the mountain roads looking at dozens of cabins we had bookmarked in Realtor, or Zillow. We toured several open houses, and peered through lots of curtainless windows to see what the interior had to offer. A difficult thing to navigate in a hot short term market is scheduling a showing. Often times the homes are rented, and you are forced to decide on bidding sight unseen, or moving along to one that's available at your viewing times. We spent a LOT of time just driving past the homes that were listed, and imagining what the view looked like, or if it was as nice as the listing showed, or quite frankly…whether we were completely out of our minds.


At night we spoiled ourselves with as much as the area had to offer as we could. We were dragging our 6-year old daughter along, and she was a real trooper. It was torture for her, often experiencing long stretches of no service on her tablet. So we committed to tearing up the nightlife after a long day of searching. After all the excitement, Angie and I would stay up for hours analyzing every home we'd seen that day. Over the next few days, based on the strategies of success we had decided on, we narrowed our extensive list down to just 5 houses.


I want to break away from our personal journey to discuss the amazing accomplishments Leslie Anne Morris. She was quite seasoned in the world of Smoky Mountain cabins by the time we met. In 2019 she decided to cash out of her big-shot commercial banker position, and move into the world of real estate. Within just three years she built her portfolio into a remarkable value of over $7 million.


She relocated to the heart of the Smoky Mountains from the West Coast in 2020. She has gone on to establish two complementary companies, 'Invest in the Smoky Mountains' and 'Josh's Cabins Management.' These ventures aim to simplify property acquisition and management processes for out-of-state investors.


Today, when she's not busy filming spots with Dennis Quaid, she's advocating for women's participation in real estate. She's been featured several premier news networks and even Forbes Business Council. She is an incredible business woman, and I'll go so far as to call her just a bad ass b*tch.


It was at the Wears Valley Social Food Truck Park where we finally met Leslie in person. We ordered some street food, sat at a picnic table and engaged in an animated discussion about the strategies short-term rental businesses. While our daughter was running around the playground when Leslie received a call letting her know the house we wanted to see was not only a mere 10-minute drive away, it had just become available for a viewing! Without skipping a beat, Leslie stashed her unfinished burrito in the trunk of her Porsche, and off we went, eagerly following her along the winding mountain roads.


Our anticipation reached a crescendo as we arrived at what would soon be unveiled as the Peak of Joy Lodge. We hopped out of our cars and rushed down the wrap-around porch to see the views. As we opened the front door, a curious bear, drawn by the scents of the Leslie's burrito walked around the corner about 10 feet away from us. My daughter, clamoring to get closer,  my wife climbing up my backside to get behind me, and Leslie frantically screaming about her burrito, I rushed the ladies in the house and started making loud noises towards the bear. It paid me almost no mind as it sniffed around the hood of Leslie's car. It sauntered back and forth a while, and poked its head into the open window of our SUV, leaving scratch marks on the door as a reminder of who's in charge on his mountain. It sniffed around some more before nonchalantly disappearing further down the mountain. Adrenaline coursing through our veins, we cautiously made our way into the property.


As we stepped inside, we were instantly impressed with the craftsmanship and thoughtful furnishings that spoke volumes about the care that had gone into this mountain retreat. But it was the breathtaking vista of Wears Valley, just beginning to be drawn into a dance with autumnal colors, that truly captured our hearts. We knew this was what we were looking for.


We toured the lodge for another 40 minutes, but needed only a brief moment to make a our decision. A call to the listing agent marked the beginning of the offer-counter offer saga. 


Stay tuned as we unravel the story of navigating the intricacies of closing the deal, the exhilarating highs, and the nerve-wracking lows that followed in the wake of our decision. We'll also recount the journey of transforming Peak of Joy Lodge into not just a rental property, and the absolute bombshell of our first guest.

#PeakOfJoyLodge #J.A.C.Rentals #ShortTermRentalJourney #SeviervilleShortTermRentals


Jesse and Angie Ferguson


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