Selling Your Ranch: How to Prepare & What to Expect
August 2016 marks my 30th year selling land. I’ve been involved in some of the most significant land transactions in several states, including farms, ranches, timber, and plantations. This article is about preparing your ranch for sale, however many of the recommendations can be applied to different types of land in any state.
There are generally two types of ranch owners: the multi-generational ranch owner who uses the ranch as their primary income source, and the modern ranch investor who uses the ranch to recreate and as a gathering place for friends and family. For both of these ranch owners, selling a ranch is almost always an emotional process. For traditional ranch families, the ranch has been the fabric that has woven multiple generations together through shared work and hardship, as well as hard-fought successes fueled by a love of the land, country, and family.
For an increasing number of ranch owners whose primary income does not come from the ranch, the property serves as a retreat. It is a place they go to escape from day-to-day life, learn new skills (like fly fishing and horseback riding), gather family and friends, and strengthen relationships through shared adventure. This is their happy place, where they sleep more soundly than any place on earth.
These are two very different owners, yet for each, when the day comes to sell, everywhere they look will be the tentacles of memories binding them to the land. The memories won’t go away, but there is a loss of connection when you can no longer walk the land. This day will occur at some point for most ranch owners. The key is to prepare and execute the process in a manner that ensures the most beneficial outcome for the owners and their families.
Greg Fay is a pioneer in the land brokerage industry. When Greg founded Fay Ranches in 1992, it was initially called Fay Fly Fishing Properties. Greg was the first to assign value to the recreational amenities of large agricultural ranches. He began marketing ranches on a national and international basis to a new audience, anticipating that there would be buyers who shared his recognition of placing value on the quality of the trout fishing or elk hunting on a given ranch—a paradigm shift in the market. Prior to Greg’s new approach, the value of a ranch in Montana was based primarily on its agricultural production.
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