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Moving to the great American West has been a dream for many souls for as long as this country has existed, and today the urge remains just as strong as it did in the pioneering days. But before you up and move to the country, there are many things to consider.
Buying a ranch is a complicated process which takes a lot of time from the initial idea to the completion of the sale. Therefore, it is crucial that you have someone on board that is well versed in the complexities of the process, as they will know how to buy a ranch that best meets your dreams and expectations.
What Do You Want?
Before you start looking for properties, it is vital that you think about what you want from your ranch and the lifestyle you are planning to lead. You should start by drawing up a shortlist of your requirements, as this will help you to narrow down the available options when you start looking for a ranch. Think about the location and ranch attributes, as well as specific features and functions you would like.
Make sure you create some clear objectives by asking yourself questions such as: Do you want a working cattle ranch or a great escape? Will you be on the ranch full or part-time? What recreational activities do you want to enjoy? Do you want to escape from it all or be close to civilization? Do you want a turnkey operation or a site which has no fixed operation?
Meet a Broker
Once you have a clear idea, you can start your initial search. Meeting with an experienced and reputable broker is an excellent place to start, as they will be able to help you refine your objectives and then start the search.
Using a broker has many advantages, as they will have built up many longstanding relationships with members of the ranching community and will have extensive knowledge of many different types of ranching operations.
When you meet the broker, they will assist you with your search criteria and get a clear picture of your budget and your goals. This is important, as it will save time later and will ensure that they present properties to you that closest meet your goals.
Finding That Dream Ranch
The search for your dream ranch is not a five-minute job, and alarm bells should ring if you meet a broker who says it is. This is because there is extensive due diligence to be carried out before going ahead with a purchase.
When you hire a broker, they will carry out a thorough evaluation of the available properties in a way that you would find difficult to do by yourself. There are many factors to consider such as:
- Legal and tax issues
- Conservation easements
- Mineral and water rights
- Federal regulations
- Access to the land (public or private)
- Ranch management
As you see, there is a lot to cover, and all of these factors can have a significant impact on the valuation of the land and whether it represents a sound investment or not.
Have a Look Around
After the due diligence has been completed, your broker will come back to you with a list of the best options. At this point, you should allow time in your schedule to spend looking at the properties. Again, a cursory look will be insufficient, and you should arrange to spend time in the local area and get a good feel for life where the ranch is located.
When you meet the owner, you should have a list of questions about the property and get the opportunity to have a look behind the scenes. Try to picture yourself living on the ranch and whether it is the right move for you. It is easy for the heart to take over when you are faced with a fantastic view from a veranda, but you need to analyze the pros and cons of each property.
Ready to Buy
Once you have found the right property, you can authorize your broker to go ahead with the negotiation of sale. At this stage, they will discuss the options for the transfer of the deeds and go through any legal obligations you may have to meet before the purchase.
They will also discuss whether you will need any ranch management during the transition or on a more long-term basis. How long this whole process will take depends on many factors, so it is essential to remain patient, because the time spent on the groundwork will help you find your right slice of the American West.
Buying a ranch is a serious investment, so it is important to do your homework before signing on the dotted line. Start by drawing up a list of what you want in a ranch and what sort of lifestyle you plan to lead. Ask yourself if it is a full-time pursuit or a recreational escape? And do you have the time, knowledge, and skills to make it a reality?
Once you have looked at these factors, then you can start searching for properties, but before you do, please bear in mind that there are many things to know before buying a ranch, so take the time to carefully vet the properties. To get you started, we have written down four areas which need your full consideration.
Living out in the great outdoors is a dream for many people, but the reality is that cultivation of that dream takes handwork on an almost daily basis. There are so many moving parts, and you should always be prepared for the unexpected. The good news is that at the end of a hard day’s work, you will be able to sit back and enjoy the view.
For some people, working in the open changes the whole meaning of work, and it soon becomes a way of life, but for some folks, there is a real possibility that you may be overwhelmed by the number of things to do. One solution is to take on staff or hire a ranch manager, but this may be unnecessary if you come into this new venture with a full awareness of what it will take to make it a successful venture.
We advise you to discuss life on a ranch with existing ranchers and people in the areas you are looking at. They can be an excellent source of information on the local area – its unique attributes, the pros and cons of the land, local flora and fauna, government rules, and a whole plethora of things that are worth knowing before investing.
The Lay of the Land
Once you have a good idea of what sort of thing you are looking for, it is worth spending some time on the ranch lands of the local area. This will enable you to get a real feel for life in your chosen part of the country and the unique opportunities and challenges that you are likely to face.
Spending time on the ranch and questioning sellers will enable you to learn all about the harvests, quality of the local water, the local wildlife, and what cattle can thrive in the area. The last thing you want to do is buy a ranch and then find out it isn’t suitable for your desired goals.
State and Federal Rules, Taxes, and Conservation Policies
Whatever your goals, you will need to learn all about the various laws, rules, and projects that are running in the area. This can significantly impact your operations, so you will need to have a good understanding before diving into a purchase. Ranch management companies can be indispensable in this area because they will have a clear idea of local zoning laws, hunting licenses, conservation easements, etc.
For example, allowing part of the property to remain undeveloped to cultivate local ecosystems can result in certain tax breaks or credits. This can have an impact on the value of the land and its future selling price.
Mineral and Water Rights
Another tricky area of land ownership is mineral and water rights, which is a potential minefield for people unfamiliar with the intricacies of the law. When looking at properties, you need to ask what rights the property has and how long they are valid for. If the property comes with significant water rights, then you will have the opportunity to manage the water on the property as you see fit, ideal if you are planning on developing new irrigation channels or setting up fisheries on the property.
Also, mineral rights mean you own the land above and below the surface. This may be an excellent source of income in the future if deposits are found, as you would control access to these resources. However, if someone else owns the rights, then this can lead to disputes over access to the land.
If you have always dreamed of buying a working ranch or a retreat from the city, then you probably have an idea of what life may be like. Unfortunately, many prospective owners often underestimate the sheer volume of work which comes with owning a ranch, no matter the size. This can soon become an expensive headache for owners who don’t want to move out to the country full-time or hold off-ranch jobs.
Regardless of the size of the ranch, hiring a knowledgeable ranch manager is often a sound strategy to ensure the successful day-to-day operation of the land. In this article, we will look at the benefits of hiring a ranch manager.
Why Hire a Ranch Manager?
Landowners decide to hire a ranch manager for many different reasons. For example, some owners want to scale up their operations, while others don’t have enough time to manage the ranch operations successfully. Whatever your reasons for considering hiring a ranch manager, there are some key factors to think about:
What are your objectives, and can you realistically do them yourself?
How much time can you realistically spend on the ranch?
What is your knowledge of the ranching industry?
Do you have the necessary skills?
While you are considering these different questions, it is worth thinking about what a ranch manager can bring to your ranch.
There is a reason that ranch managers command five and six-figure salaries and that is that they come to you with a wealth of experience. After going through a rigorous hiring process, you will have learned about their extensive knowledge of ranch management, and they will have a clear idea of how to best meet your objectives.
If you are new to ranching, then having a team around with the right skill set and experience will prove invaluable and worth the initial expense. However, it is vital that you find the right fit for your ranch, so take the time to get local recommendations and speak with ranch management companies and brokers to see if they know anyone that might work out.
A Link to the Local Community
This is important if you are new to the area, as a ranch manager will most likely be the face of the ranch and the one that builds working relationships with the local community. In ranching, this connection can provide help and assistance during times of need, as many farms cooperate with one another.
An experienced ranch manager will understand the importance of building relationships and will set about doing so straightaway regardless of whether they are local to the area or not.
Taking Care of Everything
If you have off-site responsibilities or just don’t plan to spend a lot of time on the ranch, then the ranch manager will be able to manage every aspect of the day to day operation, from budget control to maintenance, and staff supervision to managing crops and cattle. Of course, as the landowner, you would have the final say on significant expenses, but by building a good working relationship with your ranch manager, you will have the peace of mind that your investment is in good hands.
Knowing the Small Print
Running a ranch involves knowing lots of details regarding legal and financial obligations. Having a ranch manager in place with sound local knowledge will help you meet these obligations and avoid any unnecessary problems occurring further down the line.
No Substitute for the Real Thing
Unlike many jobs, it is almost impossible to fake being a good ranch manager, as the role is so hands-on. During the interview process, you should invite the prospective candidates to the ranch to show you what they can do. At this stage, it would become apparent quickly if there were any imposters about. Therefore, when you have met the right candidate, you can be sure that you are hiring someone who has a proven track record and knows the ins and outs of a ranch operation.
Running a ranch is hard work, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Not all ranches and farms are created equal, with each one having its own unique selling points as well as its problems. But if you have decided that you want to run a successful and profitable ranch, then it is helpful to focus on the things that will help you get the best results.
Many new ranchers have put the focus on the wrong things and neglected things like the paperwork, which is not recommended. We find the most successful ranchers can efficiently prioritize jobs and continuously analyze what they are doing and how they can improve upon it. So, if you are thinking about moving out West, then here are some tips on how to run a ranch.
Plan for the Unexpected
Life on a ranch can be challenging, and every day can bring a new problem to address. This can be more easily managed if you have an adaptable and flexible management approach. For example, storms can cause damage to fences or cause a tree to fall. These issues will need to be addressed as soon as possible, especially if you are running a cattle farm.
There may also be unexpected costs caused by broken equipment or damaged buildings, which will need to be dealt with. Therefore, it is a good idea to be organized with your books, so you have some spare working capital should the need arise.
Do the Paperwork
Some people love this, while others loathe it, but it pays to stay on top of it. If you need to borrow money or want to get a valuation on your property, then the banks and brokers will want to see up-to-date, accurate, and well-organized financial documents such as cash flow statements, inventories, and profit and loss reports. Without these, you are going to have a hard time getting the money you need or an accurate valuation of your property.
Having someone in the family who likes doing paperwork and managing the financial aspects of the business is always going to be a valuable asset. Some people choose to hire a ranch manager or accountant to look after this side of things, which can also free you up to take care of the daily operations.
Whatever approach you decide on, it is much better to get the books done today, rather than tomorrow.
Running a ranch involves a lot of trial and error irrespective of the kind of ranch. You may have problems with your yields or struggle to attract paying guests, so you should be prepared to change things up if your current strategy isn’t working. Sometimes, simple changes in pastures, irrigation, or management can have a major difference.
Also, try not to get stuck in your ways. Just because your ranch focuses on certain kinds of cattle doesn’t mean that you always have to do that. Many landowners have diversified their operations by opening up lodging for recreational use such as hunting, or they have leased out parts of the land to other members of the community.
Don’t Live in a Bubble
Ranching is all about community, and you should try to get to know your neighbors and other important members of the community. You never know when you will need an extra pair of hands, and you will be amazed how quick people are to help.
Also, keep up-to-date with changes in local and federal laws regarding zoning, land taxes, and conservation, as well as changes in the local environment which may have an impact on the eco-systems on your property. All of these factors can affect your bottom-line and the overall success of your ranch.
When you initially start looking at ranch properties, it will soon become apparent that it is not a simple process, and there are many things to look at. An experienced broker will be well aware of the ins-and-outs of the process and will be on hand from the beginning of the search all the way through to completion.
Therefore, choosing a ranch broker is one of the first things you need to consider, as they will be able to help you draw up a list of your requirements and then search for ranches that best meet your criteria and available budget. Take the time to meet a few brokers before you move forward, as this is going to be a long road, and you don’t want to waste any precious time.
What Is a Ranch Broker?
Ranch brokers specialize in the buying and selling of ranch properties for a wide range of clients. They may have a specific specialty or offer a broad range of services, but in all cases, they will have extensive knowledge of their chosen field and play a pivotal role in the sale.
For buyers, the broker will help you create search criteria and then search for available properties, providing a thorough evaluation and analysis of each option that they suggest for purchase. We will briefly go through the services you should be looking for from a ranch broker.
Reputation and Contacts
The ranching industry is a longstanding one and plays a crucial role in their respective communities. Therefore, you need to find a broker that has been in the game for a number of years. This is because they will have built a comprehensive list of contacts which enable them to find properties of which others might not be aware.
As we mentioned, ranching is built around community, so if you hear a lot of bad reviews about a particular broker, then there is likely some truth attached to it. The best advice is to meet with the brokers in person and see how you feel about them. Do they seem like they are trustworthy and knowledgeable? Do they give you realistic assessments or do they say yes to everything you say?
Range of Services
You need to know this up front, so there are no surprises later on in the process. Look for a ranch broker that offers a range of services starting from initial searches all the way through to after completion. Ideally, they will provide the following:
- Development of search criteria
- Access to exhaustive buyer resources, such as databases and local contacts
- Targeted buying strategies
- Due diligence – Evaluation of properties
- Reporting – Clear and accurate analysis of the properties
- Full assistance in closing the deal – legal, financial, and regulatory consulting (Keep in mind, a broker’s review does not replace consultation with your attorney. )
You can find out whether a broker offers these services on their websites or through specialized publication, but there is no harm in checking when you meet them.
When you meet the prospective brokers, they should lay out a plan of action on how to proceed with the search and future purchase. You need to have a clear picture of what is going to happen and when it is likely to happen. If you leave the office confused or uncertain of what is going to happen, then that broker might not be for you.
Specialized ranch brokers will be aware of the lay of the land and the sheer volume of work that goes into the due diligence process. They will also know about the intricacies of the sales process and the transferring of the deeds. General realtors might not have a full awareness, which causes problems later. So, make sure you feel confident in the broker before starting to work with them.
Fly fishing is one of the most popular outdoor pursuits in the United States, and its popularity is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Avid fishers travel all across the states to get away from city life and catch that prize fish they have always dreamed of. For many people, a couple of visits a year is enough of a fix for them, but for others, they dream of spending the rest of their lives on the water.
Owning a ranch can make the dream become a reality, as many ranches are on or near rivers or lakes. However, this isn’t enough for some fishers who want the water to themselves, and that is why they look for a ranch with well-stocked waters on the property. These types of ranches are very popular for investors, as there are many benefits to owning your own fly fishing ranch.
Good for Your Health
Just do a quick search for“fly fishing in the USA” and try not to feel relaxed. The sport really gives you the opportunity to enjoy an energetic activity surrounded by fantastic scenery. Just sending all that time in the open is good for the lungs, body, and your mood in general, with many fly fishers saying they do it for the exercise and to unwind.
Every time you hit the water, you will get a solid workout while having the time to thoroughly disconnect from everyday responsibilities. Understandably, this helps people relax and recover from any stress they have been under.
Having a ranch with large bodies of water running through it offers almost unlimited scope for investment. Well-stocked ponds, lakes, and wild fisheries attract high-spending clientele from all over the United States. Therefore, providing exclusive fly fishing retreats or operating as a private sports club will bring in sustainable income. If the ranch also has access to trophy hunting, it has the potential to generate revenue throughout the year.
Purchasing a property with opportunities to expand the fishable waters is also an option for those looking to increase the resale value. Improving or cleaning up creeks and streams throughout the property gives nature the chance to take its course and will increase the overall stock of fish on the property.
Helping Sustain the Rich Diversity of the Waterways
In addition, having a ranch with water rights and the potential to get involved in habitat conservation programs can lead to becoming a leading fishery while also gaining generous tax credits. There are numerous Federal and State Conservation programs designed to improve the stocks of many fisheries across the country. As a ranch owner, playing an active role in the maintenance of the land and waters in the ranch can have added benefits to myriad ecosystems, the surrounding area, and other species as well.
Living the Dream
This article mentioned just a few of the benefits that owning a fly fishing ranch could offer, so whether you are looking for an investment opportunity or a place to escape to, there are many exciting possibilities throughout the country.
Recreational ranches have grown in popularity over the years, attracting families, friends, schools, and corporate groups. They can be used for a wide variety of purposes and provide people with the perfect escape from the busy life of the cities.
Buying a ranch can be a complicated process and involves gathering a lot of data. With that in mind, we have prepared some large recreational ranch buying tips to help you during the initial planning stage.
Have a Clear Vision
Is the property going to be a getaway for you and your family, or are you planning to turn it into a sports club? Different properties have unique attributes which are well-suited to particular activities such as big game hunting, farming, fly fishing, and horseback riding. For example, having a property with big game hunting tags will attract big-spending hunters from all over the United States.
What Can You Do
Once you have an idea about the use of the ranch property, you need to search for sites where you will be able to do these things. Understanding zoning regulations will be vitally important if you are planning to build lodgings or barns, as well as if you are planning to change the original purpose of the land. You also need to be aware of any rules regarding conservation and water rights, as some parts of the property might be exempt from development.
Having landowner tags is also a very lucrative commodity if you are planning to operate a hunting lodge, but the specific rules vary from state to state.
Location, Location, Location
No matter whether you are planning to use the ranch as a private or commercial retreat location will be vitally important and affect the buying price. More remote sites are likely to be cheaper, but they will be harder to get to. Therefore, try to be realistic about how much you and your potential guests are prepared to travel, and how cut off you are willing to be from civilization.
Look at how far the nearest townships and airports are from your front door, as well as the quality of the local road infrastructure. Also, search for local amenities and attractions for days off the ranch, such as ski resorts and national parks. All of these things can add value to the property and attract more guests.
Type of Property
When drawing up a potential list of properties, you have to consider whether the property is turnkey or not. A turnkey property will already have existing lodging and on-site facilities, so you will be able to hit the ground running. However, former farming ranches or sites that haven’t been fully developed may require a considerable outlay in addition to the purchasing price. The type of property will have an impact on price, so which property will be ideal for you will depend on your vision for the property.
These are just a few of the things to consider, so it is well worth speaking to an experienced broker about your requirements before wasting unnecessary time and effort.
The Wild West has captivated the American people for a long time, with people either looking to start a new life or taking some much-deserved downtime. And ranching has played an integral role in the daily life of the West since the first pioneers headed out this way.
Anyone who has spent any time in the great outdoors is likely to have fallen in love with a particular spot and decided that it is the place for them. But before rushing into any decisions, get to know the unique qualities of the area, which may aid or hinder a successful cattle ranch operation. We have prepared a few tips for buying your first cattle ranch to help you avoid some of the mistakes others have made.
Don’t Leave Your Heart In Charge
The thought of moving out West is one of the most mesmerizing images associated with the United States and one that has been inspiring people for generations. However, people often underestimate the cost and hard work involved in running a cattle ranch. If you are not planning to live on the ranch, then you will need to hire a ranch manager and support team, and even if you do decide to live on site, you will need help during the busier seasons. Unexpected costs are never far away, as equipment breaks down, and repairs need to be made after storms.
Get To Know the Market
Cattle are a prized commodity in the United States, capable of bringing in significant financial gains, but as with all commodities, these gains can quite quickly become losses, which affects the overall price of the property.
Before looking at investment opportunities, it is well worth spending some time going over the figures and also spending some time in a ranching community. Talking to experienced ranchers will give you a realistic overview of potential yields.
How Has the Weather Been Lately?
This may seem unimportant, but it is vital that you get to know about the local weather systems and historical weather data before purchasing a site. Flooding, drought, and damage caused by storms can create extra expenses that may ruin your chances of a good harvest.
Read the Small Print
The value of the property can be influenced by many factors, so it is crucial that you understand the lay of the land. State legislation on zoning and conservation can have an impact on the operations you can run onsite. Mineral and water rights can have an effect on the price of the land and of successful operations when it comes to irrigating the land and setting up pasture lands.
Learning about the local habitat is also vitally important. There may be parts of the property set aside for conservation, while there may be a diverse range of big game and fish onsite. These properties may have licenses for fishing and big game hunting, which can be an additional source of income for ranch owners. However, any diversification has to be balanced with creating the optimum conditions for the cattle.
Buying a cattle ranch is a dream come true for many people, but it is essential to look at all the details and speak to experts before diving in.
Many prospective buyers have little or no knowledge of running a ranch, but this doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. While it is highly recommended that you learn as much as you can about ranching before considering a purchase, it is possible to hire a team of experienced ranchers to take care of the daily running of the ranch.
For a first-time rancher or investors not planning to work the ranch, hiring a ranch management company can prove to be a sound investment. But, what exactly is the role of a ranch management company?
Access to the Experts
The ranching community is a tight-knit network of people who specialize in different areas, so building relationships with the local community is imperative. However, there may be times when you want to hit the ground running or don’t know where to start. This is where the services of a ranch management company can prove indispensable.
Well-established companies will have spent generations building relationships with the local ranching community and will be able to find the right person for the job. Whether it is a livestock or irrigation expert, a tax specialist, or a ranch manager, the company will get someone on site who will help drive your business forward.
They Know All the Small Print
As Ranch Management Companies have been working in the industry for generations, they will be well aware of the minutiae of state and national tax and conservation projects, as well as mineral and water rights. This area can be particularly challenging to understand for newcomers, but all areas have the potential to affect the value of the property.
When investors start looking for new properties, the management company can advise you on the potential for conservation easements and whether the property has any existing mineral or water rights. Participating in conservation projects can lead to sizeable tax benefits, but each state has precise rules to follow, so having someone on hand to negotiate the small print will be a valuable asset indeed.
Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is one of the keys to success in the ranching industry, and without it, you are likely to make some expensive mistakes. It all starts with being an active member of the local community, which builds up a spirit of cooperation concerning ideas and an extra pair of hands during busy times. Ask any rancher, and they will tell you they would be lost without this community spirit.
However, building relationships takes time, and many investors will want to hit the ground running, which can be difficult if they lack the experience or know-how. This is another area where a ranch management company excels—with their extensive knowledge of modern irrigation, livestock management, and pasture land management just a few areas they can help with.
A management company can help draw up extensive plans to ensure the successful operation of a ranch, whether your primary income stream is cattle, crops, or both.
Help When You Need It Most
The examples above are just a sample of how a ranch management company can help with the successful operation of your ranch. Their knowledge of the industry can be utilized from the moment you start looking at potential sites all the way through to completion and day-to-day ranch operations
Nebraska has a rich history when it comes to agriculture, and today its beef and corn are still famous around the country. Nebraskans have always prided themselves on their innovations and have been lucky to be graced with an abundance of natural resources, which helped this along nicely.
The diverse topography and weather systems also attract a wide array of big game and birds, which also makes an attractive place to set up a ranch. Throughout the state, ranches with multiple uses can be found, and many owners run successful farming operations alongside other business operations such as sports retreats. These are just a few reasons why investors look to buy Nebraska ranches.
Beef is a major driver of the local economy with massive production across the state. In fact, Nebraska’s output is second only to that of Texas, which is a significant achievement when you take into account the disparity in the size of the two states.
Nebraska is graced with a wealth of natural resources which enable ranch owners to manage high-quality pasture lands. This leads to happier and healthier cows. If you are looking to invest in a Nebraskan ranch, cattle ranches offer a substantial return on investment. However, the type of site you choose will depend on your level of experience in ranching. For newer ranchers, you will want to have a well-established infrastructure in place alongside well-irrigated pasture lands.
Demand for beef is likely to increase in the coming years, which makes growing other crops a worthwhile operation.
Corn and Other Crops
Nebraska is nicknamed the ‘Cornhusker State’ because corn has always been such an integral part of life here. Corn is the largest crop produced in the USA and has a wide variety of uses, with many producers making it for the cattle industry. In addition to corn, substantial levels of soybeans, wheat, and hay are grown, so there are numerous profitable crops to consider growing on the land.
With growing populations across the US and the rest of the world, demand for food is at an all-time high, so investing in different crops has the potential to bring in substantial returns.
Sporting and Diversification Opportunities
It is not just farming which attracts investors to ranches in Nebraska, but the world-class hunting and fishing opportunities. For a rancher looking to diversify their operations, the options are endless. By adding lodging, it is possible to attract private and corporate sportsmen for hunting retreats.
Nebraska plays host to a wide variety of big game such as big horn sheep, elk, mule deer, pronghorns, and white tail deer, making it a desirable location for the experienced hunter.
There are numerous bodies of water across the state which are located on some of the ranches or are easily accessible. Trophy fishing is big business and offers potential income generating options, alongside the big game hunting.
Whatever your reasons for looking at investment opportunities in the Midwest, Nebraska is well worth keeping in mind when analyzing the available options.