The purchase or sale of a Rocky Mountain Ranch can be an enormously complex process with many moving parts. While an experienced and educated ranch broker can solve most issues that arise, there are times that it is necessary to engage other professionals to assist with specialized aspects of a ranch transaction. In order to solve issues quickly and cost effectively, it is mandatory that ranch brokers have a Professional Network that consists of proven, effective leaders in their respective areas of expertise.
Below are several examples of professionals that are frequently engaged during the ranch sales process:
- Appraisers: Appraising high-end ranches is an extremely specialized niche and requires a level of expertise not found with standard residential real estate appraisers. A properly researched ranch appraisal can take weeks if not months to complete and is generally much more expensive than standard residential appraisals. More than once I’ve seen buyers and sellers try to save a few dollars by hiring a residential appraiser, only to have their deal blow up because the poorly-researched appraisals do not reflect the true value of the ranch. Given our cumulative decades of experience, Mirr Ranch Group has established relationships with a number of well-qualified appraisers who truly understand ranches and ranch values.
- Attorneys: Attorneys can play a number of important roles in a ranch transaction, but an attorney operating outside of his or her area of expertise can quickly ruin a deal, incur astronomical hourly fees without actually solving the problem, or, worst case, both. It is important that your ranch broker be able to promptly refer you to an attorney with a proven track record of solving the issue in question. Ken Mirr was previously a renowned public lands and conservation attorney who is very well connected in American West’s legal community. Our established relationships with a wide variety of legal experts will ensure that the problems will be solved quickly and as economically as possible.
- Water Rights Professionals: Water rights can be an extremely complex component of western ranches. When the water rights are well documented and straightforward, most ranch brokers are able to understand and value them relatively easily. However, if there are uncertainties with ownership, questions about usage, or general confusion about the details, it is mandatory to bring in outside professionals to fully understand all issues related to the water rights. Depending on the issue, professionals can include water rights attorneys, water engineers, or water rights consultants. A ranch broker who understands the issues can quickly identify the type of water rights professional their client needs, as well as the specific individuals to engage.
- Accountants and Financial Professionals: Ranches, particularly those that have been owned by the same family for multiple generations, can present unique challenges related to taxes, capital gains, ownership structure, or estate planning. Ranch brokers must have established relationships with accountants and financial planners who have expertise in advising landowners on strategies for selling or purchasing high value ranches. Early in my career, I worked in the wealth management divisions of both Merrill Lynch and UBS, so I’m well aware of the many “red flags” that can be raised when buying or selling a valuable asset. I, as well as the rest of the team at Mirr Ranch Group, have a rolodex of financial professionals who specialize in tax, ownership, and wealth management issues related to real estate.
- Conservation Organizations: In the event that a buyer or seller may want to conserve a portion of their ranch, it is important that they be connected with a well-respected, reputable, and thorough land trust. The conservation easement process can be lengthy and complicated, and easements must be placed according to a strict state-regulated procedure. Knowing that your land trust of choice has well-established protocols and processes is important not only to ensure that the land is protected, but to ensure that the generated tax credits and deductions are legitimate and will be honored by the IRS. Ken Mirr was the former president of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, Woody Beardsley previously worked for the Trust for Public Land, and I serve on several regional and statewide land trust committees. Our deep connections in the conservation world will ensure that our clients’ easements are handled thoroughly and professionally.
By hiring a ranch broker with deep professional connections, the client is effectively gaining access to a prescreened group of experts who have proven that they can solve problems quickly and at a fair price. There is little room for error in high-value ranch transactions, and small issues can quickly become huge problems if not solved thoroughly and effectively. At Mirr Ranch Group, we take pride in the professional connections that we have cultivated over years of selling ranches, serving on boards, and being leaders in the farm and ranch community.
Check back next week for the final installment: Ranch Broker Essential Characteristic #6: Passion for the American West.