WOMEN YOU SHOULD KNOW IN WYOMING: Cheyenne Realtor Earns Elite Seller Certification
Mariah Jeffery uses competitive mindset, engineering expertise to help clients find investment properties
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: Jan 18, 2023
By Elizabeth Sampson
Special to the Wyoming Truth
This story has been updated to reflect the accurate spelling of Ronna Boril’s name.
Mariah Jeffery has escaped from Alcatraz two times, so it is clear she is no stranger to challenges.
Her “escapes” were part of an annual triathlon held in San Francisco that requires athletes to swim a mile and a half from Alcatraz Island through freezing, shark-infested waters, bike 18 miles up and down San Francisco’s famously hilly terrain and finish with an eight-mile run. Jeffery has participated in four of the six World Marathon Majors and is training for her fifth and sixth to take place in London and Chicago later this year.
When it comes to her career, Jeffery brings the same determination. She recently became the first woman in Wyoming in 40 years to achieve real estate’s Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation and is now one of only 12 in the state.
“Anything worthwhile is not easy,” Jeffery told the Wyoming Truth. “You have to be prepared to stick it out and put in the work. You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Her mantra lines up with Wyoming’s first female CCIM designee, Casper’s Ronna Boril, who earned her designation in 1983.
“Work hard—talk to people,” Boril said about what it takes to put the CCIM to good use.
Jeffery sought the CCIM designation because she knew she could turn her expertise buying commercial real estate into a positive experience for other investors. She also knew the designation would reassure investors that she had the knowledge to navigate large commercial deals.
To earn the CCIM designation, Jeffery completed coursework in financial and market analysis and passed a six-hour test in October. She also submitted a portfolio that showcased $10 million in successful commercial real estate transactions.
“It’s the highest designation you can receive as a commercial real estate agent in the United States,” said Gunner Malm, managing broker of Cheyenne’s Coldwell Banker The Property Exchange where Jeffery works. “It takes a lot of work to obtain. It’s an awesome testament to her hard work, dedication and intellect.”
Investing in herself
Jeffery, 42, finished the CCIM coursework in three months, but she has been getting hands-on investment experience since she bought her first property at 19. As a student at the University of Central Florida, she felt like she was throwing away money on rent, so in 1999, she asked her parents to cosign on a $62,500 loan for a three-bedroom condo.
Jeffery lived with roommates whose rent paid the mortgage. After she graduated, she sold the condo in 2005 for almost $100,000.
“Seeing how well that worked out was the thing that started all the real estate,” she said. “I was hooked and wanted to buy more.”
Now, Jeffery and her husband, Casey, own four residential rentals in Cheyenne, a commercial building in Gillette, a ranch and a strip mall in South Dakota, a medical office building in Wisconsin and an Office Depot building in North Dakota.
“I was an investor before I was an agent,” she said. “Having been through it myself, I am really familiar with the tax consequences of your investing…It really goes beyond just looking at certain metrics. You really have to have experienced things to really be able to advise someone.”
Jeffery obtained a doctorate in industrial engineering from the University of Central Florida and worked as an IBM Global Business Services consultant. She leveraged her degree to help lay out a manufacturing floor for Intel, assist General Motors with a data mining and customer analytics project, and develop an algorithm for inventory management for Coca-Cola. While she loved the frequent travel and interesting work, she sought a less hectic schedule when her daughter, now 12, was a toddler.
At that point, she began teaching engineering classes at American Public University and the University of Maryland Global Campus. She continues teaching those courses as she pursues her career in real estate.
Jeffery said her industrial engineering background ties into commercial real estate, because she can help her clients determine what will work best for their business. She also is a successful residential agent, but prefers the analytical side of commercial real estate.
“My brain works more in an analytical space,” she said. “I like the number crunching aspect of commercial. Is this space going to help my business succeed? Can I produce what I need to produce here? Is this space going to maximize my revenue?”
The Jefferys moved from Portland, Oregon, to Cheyenne in April 2021 after Jeffery’s husband, an engineer with Intel, started working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, they planned to settle in Colorado, but a visit to Cheyenne changed their minds.
“We came to Cheyenne on a day in February that was not windy, and it seemed like the greatest place on earth,” she recalled. “Honestly it is, except for the wind.”
It’s been a challenge for Jeffery to reinvent herself as a newly licensed real estate agent in a community where she knew almost no one. Despite that, Jeffery is working hard to promote her services by introducing herself to business owners who have “for sale” signs in their windows, and believes her CCIM designation will let potential property investors know she is qualified to help them.
“I’ve always enjoyed a challenge,” Jeffery said. “I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m not ever going to fool myself into thinking something is going to be easy. If it was, I probably wouldn’t want to do it.”
Jeffery’s determination to succeed in real estate comes from the same place that powers her weekly 16-mile training runs.
“Put in the work,” she said. “That applies to my career and my marathons.”