Real Estate Profile: Arkansas Realtor Chases Tornadoes

April 7th, 2014 – in miscellaneous

Buying and selling homes is somewhat like chasing tornadoes across Arkansas. Just ask Colby Ward (@Strmchsr77), who does both. As a Realtor, he works with buyers and sellers at his family business in Fayetteville, Ark. But his passion since childhood has been chasing and tracking storms, which he does now for a local television affiliate.

So what do the two careers share in common? Six or seven years ago, if someone wanted a house, she would have to find an agent, who would tell her what she had to choose from. Now a buyer can use Real Estate tech services like Trulia and Zillow to do the search, and tell the agent exactly what she wants.

“Back when I started (chasing storms), I would go out with a weather radio and a map,” Ward said. “Now I have a computer that I strap into my Prius, a streaming camera, GPS, a weather station that goes on top of the car, and I’ve got updated RADAR wherever I go.

“The technology has advanced a lot in the past eight to 12 years,” he said.

Ward is a Realtor at Realty Concepts in Fayetteville, a business his father started 40 years ago. He has been in the business since 2004, and Real Estate is his job, while chasing storms is a passion — although it is a great icebreaker with his Real Estate clients, he said.

Since before he can remember, Ward, as a child, would ride his bicycle down the street to see storms passing through town. Once he was able to drive, he expanded his range farther. Then he went to the University of Oklahoma to study meteorology. He’s been chasing tornados and funnel clouds since the mid-‘90s.

These days, he provides storm coverage for the local NBC and Fox affiliates in his city. He’ll drive in search of the twisters, and then make on-the air calls to the news anchors, describing what he’s seeing and what his computer is reporting about the storm. The live streaming equipment allows the station to broadcast his signal.

And there’s one more thing that Real Estate has in common with storm chasing. You don’t always get to close the deal.

"Your success rate on a chase is probably one out of 10 on seeing anything,” Ward said. “Be prepared to be disappointed, drive any (amount of) miles and eat gas station food. But it’s all worth it for that one time you see a tornado in a field, and you’re right next to it; filming it, calling it in to the weather service or the TV station.”

Author: Roman Gokhman