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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, November 22, 2019

East’s focus on real estate but his love is nature photography




Jarred East is a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Signature Brokers in Ooltewah. - Photograph provided

At 29 years of age, Realtor Jarred East already has seen and done more than many people see and do in a lifetime.

A talented photographer, he’s traveled to Switzerland to capture images of the Swiss Alps for National Geographic and the Alsace region of France to document the unique blend of French and German culture in the small towns there.

These expeditions have filled East’s laptop with hundreds of vibrant photographs, each of which contains interesting details he seems to relish sharing.

A photograph of the Swiss Alps might bring to mind the handmade meal he ate in a remote mountain village, while a picture of half-timbered houses in Alsace might spark a fascinating lesson in Old World architecture and building codes.

“I love where photography takes me,” he says. “I love the process. Some people like to paint; standing behind a camera is my thing.”

East is especially proud of a wildlife photograph he snapped in Colorado. While exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, he saw a bull elk running a pair of competing males away from a herd of more than three dozen females and caught him in midbellow.

“It was amazing to be there and see that,” he says.

East has explored many other professional avenues. Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, he’s coached sports, traveled across the U.S. as a CrossFit trainer and worked as an actor and a model. He even took a stab at being a firefighter, although that didn’t work out.

On the personal front, East managed to win the heart and hand in marriage of a McKee, although that’s where his stories stop.

While he’s happy to mention the time he brought several boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes to an office party, he prefers to say only that he married Brittany McKee East in May and that they are the happy owners of a gorgeous Rhodesian Ridgeback named Daisy May.

“She’s basically a 90-pound lapdog,” East says of Daisy May. He then clicks on a stunning photo of the pup overlooking Dead Horse State Park in Utah. “She goes everywhere with us.”

Having deftly dodged the topic of marrying a McKee, East delves into real estate, which became his bread and butter in 2018 when injuries and a waning interest in training CrossFit brought him to the end of that path. “I needed a job that wasn’t hard on my body,” he says.

As a CrossFit coach, East had enjoyed helping people improve their lives, and he wanted his new career to allow him to continue to serve others. So, at the advice of a friend who was a Realtor in Orlando, he began selling real estate.

East’s energetic nature served him well during his initial foray into the business, which took place in Denver, Colorado. The market was booming, and as the newest member of a luxury homes team at a Keller Williams brokerage, he immediately found himself in the midst of the blasting zone.

“We did five closings my first week,” he says. “In the first five months, I was a part of 17 transactions. I learned a lot about real estate very quickly.”

East also discovered he didn’t like driving an hour to the office (and then another hour home), so he switched to wholesale brokering, which was just as frantically paced. “We pushed out 10 properties a week,” he says. “It was a lot of work.”

East was looking forward to working in a new market when he moved to Chattanooga, even if he was disappointed about being unable to transfer his broker’s license. “In Colorado, you earn your broker’s license immediately, but here, you have to work under another broker for three years first,” he says. “I basically had to start over.”

Even so, East is pleased with the firm he chose: Better Homes and Gardens Signature Brokers in Ooltewah. He says owner Gina Sakich is a responsive, knowledgeable broker who’s given him a solid education in the local market. “She’s been a great broker for me to learn under,” he says.

Switching markets has required East to adjust to a few differences. In Denver, he says, builders were building houses “one on top of the other,” meaning homes there typically rested on small lots. So, when he began selling real estate in the Chattanooga area, where many houses come with several acres of property, he had to learn to appraise land.

East also had to grow accustomed to the more affordable Chattanooga market. While working in Denver, the median price of a home was $500,000; here, it’s much lower.

Despite these differences, East says he’s thrilled about selling real estate in the Chattanooga area, which is undergoing an unprecedented period of expansion. “It’s a fast market. It’s exciting to be here and see the city literally growing before my eyes,” he says.

East has also adjusted to living in Chattanooga, which has a more welcoming atmosphere than the bigger cities in which he’s lived.

“I love how people walk around smiling and saying, ‘Hello,’” he says. “In Orlando, people keep their heads down or talk on their phone; no one says anything to you. Here, if you don’t say something, it’s kind of rude.”

East is also feeding his spirit of adventure in Chattanooga. Despite having traveled around the world, he’s enjoying exploring the city and its surrounding trails. “It’s a medium-sized city with a small-town feel. There’s a lot to do, but you can easily go anywhere,” he says.

East is even ecstatic about the reduction in his commute to the office, which takes 15 minutes from the home he and his wife are building in McDonald between Ooltewah and Cleveland.

He just wishes he could earn his broker’s license that quickly. “I like to move fast. I like to do whatever it takes to get things done.”