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Selling Your Land: Preparing Your Ranch for Show

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As you contemplate selling your ranch, it is important to have an understanding of the process ahead of you, and to prepare your ranch to be as attractive as possible to potential buyers.  This often involves cleaning up the junk.  Ideally, this begins prior to putting the ranch on the market.  For many ranch owners, there is an accumulation of old, discarded machinery often loosely organized in a “bone yard.”  It is likely the buyer will require the bone yard be cleaned up as a condition of sale, which can add to the stress of selling.  Cleaning up before offering your ranch for sale is beneficial because it will show better.

If you hire a good ranch broker to help you with the sale, one of the first things he or she will determine is the most attractive aspects of your ranch and how to best show these off to a potential buyer.   As a landowner, these assets may be different from those you have always felt were the most valuable characteristics of your ranch, but a good broker will have a sense of what buyers are looking for and help you prepare.

If your ranch has a significant agricultural operation that makes money on an annual basis, you’ll need good books because you’ll have to show how you do it.  The next owner may change the operation from grain to hay or from a cow/calf operation to yearlings, so your numbers may not be applicable to what they do going forward. However, if you want to market the ranch as an operation that makes money, you’ll have to have understandable books. This is also a good time to fix that loading shoot you’ve been meaning to get to.

Elk can be highly destructive to fences and can eat a tremendous amount of grass that a rancher would prefer to feed to his or her cows.  However, if you are selling your ranch, elk can be highly desirable.  Love em’ or hate em’, trophy size elk drive value.  If you have big bull elk on your ranch regularly during hunting season, it makes sense to market your property as an elk hunting ranch.  You’ll need to prove the animals are there, and the best way to do that is with photos.  Collect photos of big elk that have been harvested on your ranch, and start taking photos of large bulls.  A game camera can be a good way to accomplish this.

If you have a trout fishery, this will drive value.  If the trout are big, you’ll also need photos of these.  Keep a trail cut along the fishery to make it easy for people to walk or drive along it.  This is beneficial for showing off a valuable asset and also protects against fire danger.  If you hire a good ranch broker to market your ranch, he or she will know how to show off the most valuable characteristics of your ranch, whether it’s the agricultural operation, the views, the big game hunting, the trout fishery, the upland bird hunting, the waterfowl hunting or, ideally, a combination.

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