Whether you are buying or selling a ranch or sporting property, the sales process can be a complicated and lengthy affair, usually involving millions of dollars, multiple stakeholders (family, managers, public land and water rights officials), numerous legal and title issues, and also a functioning landscape with ongoing agricultural, livestock and wildlife concerns.
For owners of legacy ranches throughout the American West, ranches can make up a significant portion of their total net worth. Many times, legacy ranches have been passed down from one generation to the next, and selling the ranch creates one of the largest personal liquidity events of a lifetime, if not multiple generations. For buyers of these working and recreational landscapes, the acquisition of a ranch property can be one of their largest asset purchases, so it is crucial that they fully understand all issues associated with the ranch.
Given the serious consequences of a buying or selling a ranch, the first and most important decision a landowner or buyer must make when beginning the process is: Who should I hire to handle this important process? More than any other sector of real estate brokerage, ranch brokers must “wear a lot of hats” and be well-versed in a wide variety of topics that are centrally connected to the actual sale of land, water rights, mineral rights, agricultural production, conservation easements, title concerns, wildlife habitat/licensing, public lands leases, and recreational considerations, just to name a few. Fully identifying and understanding these issues, as well as their impact on values, can easily determine whether or not a transaction is a success or failure. When you begin your search for the right person and brokerage to represent you, here are our top recommended considerations in your selection and why Mirr Ranch Group should be considered:
1. Broker Knowledge
No secret to this but experienced gained through years of facilitating transactions allows ranch brokers to develop the hard skills to identify problems early in the listing and marketing phase, preliminary negotiations or the due diligence process. For instance at the beginning of a listing, updated title work should be obtained to identify problem areas early on. It is unwise to spend the time and money marketing a ranch only to have a title issue derail a closing. It is wise to interview owners, managers and public land officials to verify the use and operations of the landscapes and water. For instance, we go the extra mile by subscribing to proprietary databases to study water rights, review environmental assessments and baseline inventories to understand ecological issues that may impact the use of the property. Other skills specific to the property are key, for instance in dealing with sporting properties one must be aware of the existing habitat and available species on the ranch and surrounding area. Just as important are the state game laws that dictate the number of tags available to a property owner and their guests. Forest Plans and BLM Resource Management Plans should also be reviewed to understand any impacts caused by adjoining public lands management. Mirr Ranch Group has ranch brokers well versed in practical land transactions and have backgrounds in law, public lands, water, wildlife and fishery regulations, and conservation.
Knowing what a ranch is worth and making informed decisions related to its dollar value is the most basic, yet commonly misunderstood, skill that a broker can bring to the sales process. Ranches, like all assets, can be valued using a variety of systems and models. In the case of ranches, the quantifiable data translates directly to comparable ranch sales information. Unlike the residential or commercial real estate markets, there is no central database of ranch sales, so ranch brokers must work with appraisers, bankers, county officials, and landowners to uncover useful land sales information. At MRG we are familiar with land values and how they are influenced by the amenities of the ranch. We have historical data showing values for irrigated, sub-irrigated, sage, grass and forested lands and impacts by rivers, creeks and streams, conservation easements, and adjacency to public lands.
2. Brokerage Marketing Capability
Beyond the trusted knowledge and experience of the broker, seller’s also need a marketing platform in place to reach ultra high-net worth individuals (UHNWI), ag producers, investors, hunters and conservation buyers. While on the surface it can appear that many real estate companies provide the same marketing for your ranch, you may be surprised at the wide range of competency as you interview each firm. They all have a website, create a flyer or brochure, some will do some print advertising, and local brokers will place your ranch on the local MLS. However, as you review this information, make sure to consider the firm’s knowledge and capacity in regards to their marketing platform. Some areas to examine:
- Marketing Prowess – Does your broker have professional staff with proven competency in marketing and advertising? Developed sophisticated marketing strategies for selling a multi-million dollar ranch? At Mirr Ranch Group, we do all of our marketing in-house with highly-educated and experienced marketing professionals. Because of this, we know how to brand your property and position it in the marketplace for optimal outcomes.
- Technology and Innovation – 60% of our marketing budget is poured into digital strategies, as the web is the first point of discovery for most ranch buyers. In the last few years, mobile and tablet users account for over half of our web users, so having a mobile-responsive website is more imperative than ever. Between marketing automation, retargeting, content marketing, search engine optimization, Adwords and other PPC campaigns, social media strategies, and continual improvement of the user experience on our website, being at the forefront of innovation and technology for the ranch real estate industry has been critical to our success in finding the right buyer for your legacy ranch.
- Top Notch Photography and Video – We are obsessed with our photography and our videos are works of art. These are complex transactions, and having marketing materials worthy of the enormity of the act of selling your ranch is completely necessary.
- National and Global Reach – Unlike more localized brokers, we employ marketing efforts with a broader scope to reach a larger and more qualified pool of national and international buyers.
3. Passion for the American West
A successful ranch broker must possess an appreciation and passion for the American West, which is a characteristic that is difficult to quantify yet vitally important. You might want to consider the broker’s respect for the ranch lifestyle, their passion for outdoor recreation, or long-term commitment to life in the Rocky Mountain region. We at MRG are quite passionate about the land and are actively involved in many organizations and NGOs that promote the economic and ecological sustainability of our western landscapes. Our brokers serve on boards and in advisory roles for local land trusts, cattle organizations, federal and state committees, Western Landowners Alliance, and Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. We are high-end outfitters and guides, conservationists, and cattlemen. We’re passionate about the American West and we work hard to preserve its unique heritage and natural beauty; we want to keep working ranches working!
Now that you know what to look for, take a deep breath, and make the best decision for you and your ranch real estate needs. We sincerely hope to work with you soon!
For a quick video recap, watch this: