As discussed in my previous posts, the sale or purchase of a legacy ranch is a complex and high-stakes process that concludes with millions of dollars changing hands. Because of the significant size of the typical ranch investment, as well as the highly involved nature of the transaction process, it is vitally important that buyers and sellers choose a well-qualified broker to represent their interests. Assuming a broker has a good deal of relevant ranch brokerage experience, the second most important qualification to look for is Education.
There are many different avenues for becoming well educated on the ins and outs of the ranch brokerage business, and there is no standard path that ranch brokers must follow in order to be successful. Again, I am a firm believer that experience trumps education any day of the week. However, I also believe that a broker who is curious, who takes the initiative to always be learning, and who invests time, money, and effort into mastering the ranch business will do a better job than a broker who has no interest in education, learning, or self-improvement.
That being said, there are several ways that brokers can accumulate the education necessary to successfully broker large scale ranch transactions:
- Formal Education – What level of formal education has the broker achieved? Is there any correlation between his/her areas of study and the ranch real estate markets? At Mirr Ranch Group, we have a wide array of formal educational backgrounds, with graduate and undergraduate degrees including law school, MBA, environmental studies, zoology, and wildlife and fisheries management. Each of these unique educational backgrounds brings a different area of expertise to the sales process, and collectively, as the Mirr Ranch Group team, our formal educational credentials are unmatched in the ranch brokerage world.
- Continuing Education – All real estate licensees (and attorneys in Ken Mirr’s case) are required to earn a certain number of annual hours of continuing education (“CE”). While it is possible to enroll in quick online courses to fulfill the bare minimum CE requirements, well-educated brokers seek out ranch-specific courses that help to expand their knowledge base. Multiple times per year there are opportunities to earn CE credits from classes taught by some of the West’s preeminent experts on land use law, water rights, access issues, conservation, etc. Yes, it would be easier and faster to scroll through a mindless online course, but well-rounded, curious, proactive brokers are more interested in mastering their trade than taking the easiest path to just barely meet the requirements.
- Conferences – Industry specific conferences provide excellent opportunities for ranch brokers to expand their knowledge in sectors that directly impact the ranch and land business. Because the ranch brokerage business overlaps with so many other business, the opportunities for conference education is practically endless – agriculture, law, conservation, real estate development, oil and gas, water, the list can go on and on. Other brokers on the Mirr Ranch Group team regularly attend RLI conferences, which are beneficial for both knowledge building and networking. No matter the conference, we always leave with a broader and deeper understanding of issues that will directly improve our performance as ranch brokers.
Finally, I cannot stress the following point enough – A person who simply holds a state-issued real estate license has not been properly educated on intricacies of ranch brokerage. Real estate licensing courses are completely focused on issues related residential real estate, which barely scratches the surface of the complexities involving ranch transactions. A real estate license is a great (and mandatory) starting point, but does not adequately prepare a broker to effectively represent buyers and sellers of high value western ranches.
Check back next week for Ranch Broker Essential Characteristic #3: Understanding of the Issues.