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.
The Rocky Mountains are symbolic of the great American West and have long been an integral part of the lives of the people who have been drawn here. The waters that come down from the mountains feed rivers, streams, and creeks, which in turn helps provide water for the diverse flora and fauna.
This backdrop attracts many prospective ranchers and old hands alike, with ranch properties in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah being much sought after. However, finding the perfect Rocky Mountain Ranch requires doing some homework before getting out the checkbook.
What is the Purpose?
You need to ask yourself this question before starting your search so that you don’t waste time looking at ranches that are not ideal for you. Are you looking for a retreat, or do you want to spend your time working the land? Do you plan to do the work yourself or put ranch management in place? All of these are areas that need to be considered before contacting a ranch broker.
For first-time ranchers, a small, well-run ranch will be ideal, as a large site will likely be far too much work. Trophy hunters will want a ranch that supports a diverse range of game, something the Rocky Mountains are famous for. Regarding hunting, the Burro Mesa Ranch in Trinidad, Colorado comes highly recommended due to its outstanding habitat suitable for harvesting deer and elk.
Alternatively, if you are a lover of the outdoors and see buying a ranch as a way to generate revenue, then consider running a sports club or ranch resort. For these to be successful, you need to be in an area that can offer recreational activities year-round. Many sites in Colorado are good for this due to the excellent infrastructure, abundant rivers, and world-class ski resorts. There are opportunities to host guests for skiing, hiking, rafting, fly-fishing, and myriad other activities.
Once you have thought about your ideal ranch location, you can start looking around for brokers. When you meet them, it is important to list your requirements and ask questions about the following areas:
- Water and Mineral Rights: Owning these rights can seriously enhance the value of a property and gives the owner scope to develop the land to meet their purpose, such as building new irrigation channels or creating fishing ponds.
- Conservation Easements: These vary from state-to-state and will limit some activities such as farming, depending on the terms of the agreement.
- State Zoning Legislation: If you are planning to develop a hunting club, you’ll need high-quality lodging. Some ranches will already have buildings onsite while others will require new ones.
- Access to the Property: This is important irrespective of why you are looking to buy a ranch. Luckily, the Rocky Mountainsregion has an excellent infrastructure, so you are never too far from a population center or airport.
- Past Pollution Problems in the Area: This is important to know, as it can limit the potential to harvest certain crops or develop fisheries.
- Flooding and Drainage: For specific crops and wetlands, flooding can be beneficial, but in some circumstances, it can be disastrous, so take the time to get to know the weather systems, snow melts, and the lay of the land before investing.
Many families live on a ranch for generations while others work a ranch for a specific financial goal. Whatever the reason, at some point the owners may consider selling the property to scale up their business, downsize, or to move out of the ranching industry altogether. Selling a ranch property is a complicated process and can take a considerable amount of time due to fluctuations in land prices and economic and environmental conditions.
When you have decided to sell your ranch, there are some steps you need to follow to ensure that the process is as stress-free as possible. Here are a few tips on how to sell a ranch so that you get the best possible return on your investment.
Call in the Experts
Valuing ranch property is complex, so it is vital that you get the property adequately appraised by a real estate expert who specializes in agricultural properties. They will be aware of issues in the sector such as zoning, water and soil quality, conservation, and yields, all of which will affect the overall value of the property.
Be aware that prices fluctuate, so it is imperative that you get an accurate price related to current economic conditions.
Emphasize What Makes Your Ranch Great
When you are ready to list your property, make sure you emphasize the strengths of your property regarding the lay of the land, hunting opportunities, and cattle raising features. Making sure that you use high-quality photos and informative listings is crucial to getting the attention of possible buyers. A broker who specializes in selling ranches is best suited for marketing your property and handling the complexity of ranch transactions.
Understand the Tax Implications of the Sale
Taxation can be a very complicated area when looking at selling ranch properties, so getting a tax expert in will help you negotiate this minefield. Ranch properties are subject to different taxes than regular residential properties, and if you make a profit on the original purchase price, you’ll also be subject to capital gains tax.
Make Sure the Property Is Ready for Viewing
First impressions count more than most in the ranch business. If buyers see a well-maintained ranch with sparkling surface water, they will be more likely to invest. Overgrown fields, hedges, and damaged fences are sure to put investors off before they even get through the front door. So even if you don’t spend much time on-site, it is worth visiting the site and attending to any maintenance jobs that are required.
This might seem a strange tip for a blog about selling a ranch, but for some families looking to downsize, leasing the land is a viable option.
Many ranchers have successfully been able to downsize their operations by leasing out pasture land or areas adjoining ski resorts to other ranch owners or business people. It helps to reduce the workload while bringing in a regular stream of income, leaving you time to enjoy the things you like best.
Modern city living is unpleasant with the population and traffic continually increasing while the cost of living continues to rise. It is no wonder more and more of us are feeling stressed and overwhelmed while going about our daily commutes and routines. Some people have already had enough and moved away, but this is not the reality for all of us due to family and work commitments.
There is, however, a solution that a large number of families have started considering, and that is following in the footsteps of our forefathers and heading out west. Buying a ranch gives you and your family the opportunity to break free from the drone of the city whenever the kids have holidays or if you just feel the need to get away. Escaping to your own western ranch retreat offers a respite, even if it is currently impossible to move out west full-time.
There are many advantages to owning your own ranch from an investment side, but there are also significant personal benefits.
Spending the summer on the ranch gives everyone in the family a chance to spend some quality time with one another, learning new skills together and enjoying the various recreational activities available in and around the area.
Being far away from the city will give your lungs ample oxygen to recover from the polluted air of the cities. Spending time in the great outdoors is extremely relaxing, which can reduce stress, and there are many jobs and activities that will get you in shape in no time.
Interacting with the local ecosystems is hard work but extremely rewarding. Just going for a long walk will reinvigorate you, while spending time with flora and fauna will give you a sense of pride.
Great for the Kids
There is so much to see and do on a ranch that it would be difficult for even the grumpiest teenager to be utterly bored. There are new skills to learn, and they can also be empowered to take responsibility for specific ranch tasks.
While owning a ranch is a great investment and can provide a considerable amount of joy for you and your family, there are also some potential pitfalls that a new rancher can fall into.
Always Work to be Done
A ranch is a big responsibility, and unexpected costs are likely to be incurred during the year. It is possible to get a ranch management team in to run the day-to-day, but you will still have to sign off on the expenses.
Different Way Of Life
Living on a ranch is a world away from the city life, which can be boring for some people. Depending on the location of the ranch, you might not see many other people. Teenagers might not be happy being away from social media and friends for the whole summer.
This is an important consideration but one that might get overlooked. You need to find a retreat that has useful transport links and is a realistic distance away, but this might have an impact on your overall budget. If your ranch is too much hassle to get to, your investment is likely to be wasted.
Not Understanding the Small Print
There are many things to consider, such as water and mineral rights, conservation policies, state zoning laws, easements, and tax issues, which new ranchers might not truly understand. Most of these issues are incredibly complex and easy to get confused by, which can lead to problems later.
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
Buying a ranch has an almost unlimited potential for people looking to diversify their property portfolios, expand their existing ranch operations, or make a massive change in their lives. No matter the reason, it will involve a substantial investment, regardless of the size of the property.
When you start looking for available ranch land, there are numerous things to consider, which can be particularly overwhelming for prospective ranchers. However, in all cases, there are some important details to think about. Here are our five essential tips for buying your new ranch.
Have a Clear Picture
Having a clear idea of what you want to use the ranch for is one of the first things any would-be investor needs to consider. If you are seeking a place to escape, you will be looking for something very different than people who wish to raise cattle or grow crops. Likewise, investors looking for top-quality hunting and fishing will be looking for ranches with a varied topography close to or within National Park boundaries.
Once you have a clear idea of the type of ranch you want, you can start looking at available locations and the amount of space you will realistically need for your desired operations.
Where Did the Day Go?
Running a ranch is a full-time job, and there will always be a to-do list! The amount of work required will depend on what you use the ranch for, and you may need to hire additional staff during busy periods. This is as true for dude ranchers as it is for cattle ranchers. For example, a dude rancher will have to maintain the lodging and stables to a high standard, while a cattle rancher will have have to look after the livestock, fields, fences, and irrigation.
It is essential that you are fully aware of the time involved in running a ranch. If you are new to ranching, take the time to consult experienced ranchers or property agents to gain a greater understanding. From there, you can create a realistic plan for your property regarding its management.
Where Is the Water?
All ranches need a reliable source of water to operate successfully, so this should be a major consideration when conducting your research.
Owning the water rights of natural water sources passing through or adjacent to the property can add a lot of value to the property while offering the owner a tremendous amount of flexibility to use the water to develop or expand the operations of the ranch.
A Gift from the IRS
In many states, owning a ranch offers potentially significant tax benefits, especially if the ranch is used for agricultural purposes or participates in statewide conservation projects. Each state has different rules, which can be tricky to understand, so if you are new to ranching, it would be worth consulting with an expert before proceeding. They will be able to explain any existing tax breaks the property currently holds and what needs to be done to maintain them in the future.
This is a crucial factor that you must be aware of when purchasing a ranch. For example, if you planto hunt, you need to know how many tags you are eligible for and whether they are easy to obtain. Also, you need to be aware of the zoning rules of the state, especially if you have intentions for future expansion. This is why it is essential to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve on your ranch long before you start looking for available properties.