10 Most Important Considerations When Buying a Ranch

Written by James Rinehart
Broker Associate & Principle Owner Mason & Morse Ranch Company

When it comes to buying authentic Colorado, Wyoming, Montana ranch property for sale, or for that matter any working or recreational ranch for sale in the United States it is critical to understand the investment you’re taking on. That’s why it is important to take the right steps and work with a professional land and ranch broker to ensure that you’re getting to view the best ranch properties for sale in the country specific to your wants and needs.
What is the Right Ranch Property?

An experienced ranch broker has an authentic understanding of a ranch, its land and operations. They also know a genuine relationship must exist with buyers and sellers to establish trust. A ranch broker is committed, they travel a lot of miles and know the territories. They will sit down with you to discuss your needs and help get you in a position of owning a ranch that fits your needs. They know how and where to find the right ranch properties or bring forward the best ranches for sale comparison.
All land and ranch real estate may not be listed for sale to the public.  It’s wide open rural real estate country and a seller may only offer the property to the closest buyer – the neighbor.  
Whether you’re searching for premier luxury ranches, a large cattle ranch for sale, a recreation hunting ranch or fishing properties with live streams… an experience ranch broker will help you find the right location, size and property amenities. They will help determine if ranch management was held to its highest standards or needs a lot of work and improvement.
Every Ranch for Sale is Different?

When it comes to finding ranches for sale, every property is different. Every rancher and land owner will have different needs that require a combination of amenities and land characteristics to help the ranch profit or enhance the recreation and wildlife aspects. Your ranch broker will find turn key ranches for sale or properties that need updating if that’s your criteria. 

Here are 10 Important Things to Consider When Buying a Ranch

•    Location & Access
•    Privacy
•    Motorized Recreation
•    Hunting and Fishing
•    Fencing and Improvements
•    Agricultural Production
•    Livestock Capacity
•    Water Rivers Streams
•    Minerals
•    Leases and Conservation Easements

All of the above require a buyer to ask the right questions. An experienced ranch broker will understand the multitude of answers and investigate unknowns. They will know which unknowns are most important to understand and offer insightful information to help in your decision process. 

The List Below Offers More Detail

•    Location & Access, When it comes to owning land, remote can mean miles and miles away. It can also mean seasonal.  Your broker will need to know just how remote you really want to be and where you want to be

•    Privacy, Who do you want your neighbor to be? Do you want it to be private land or government property? Your broker will research to define the use and traffic in the area

•    Recreation, Ranches are generally prime real estate for fishing, hunting and other activities. Your broker will make sure if you’re into a specific outdoor activity that you are on the right property

•    Improvements or New Construction, This varies, but do you want to improve upon the existing structures in place or do you want to build new?  It’s up to you on how much work and additional money you want to spend. Knowing what needs work and what doesn’t is important.

•    How will you use the Ranch?, will you graze yearling cattle or a year-round cow/calf operation? What will your hay requirements be?, how good are the water rights on a particular ranch compared to others in the area?

•    Land Survey,  Has the land you’re interested in been surveyed? All land in the west has been surveyed at some point. Unless some unique issue with the legal description. A ranch broker can help you understand the Public Land Survey System (PLSS).    

•    Leased or Owner Operated, does the property have tenants in place, crops, livestock?

•    Conservation Easements, is an easement state specific or Federal. What restrictions does conservation easement include?

•    Minerals, Are land and ranches with minerals important to own? Are they more valuable?

Buying a Ranch is a Major Process, Chances are you’ll Have a lot More Questions

Mason & Morse Ranch Brokers are Experienced, Trust and Committed. They will answer any questions and leave no gate open or resource wasted during the due diligence period.
Due Diligence -  When it comes to inspections most ranch sales involve unique inspection requirements. We’ve handled thousands of transactions, hundred’s of thousands of acres worth more than a billion dollars in land and ranch sales.

Inspections can include both documentation and physical structures.  

Here are a few Inspection to Consider

Water rights
Verification of legal descriptions, conservation easements, access easements to the property
Title Report Review for exceptions and what they truly mean
Grazing leases to outside operators
Livestock trailing agreements
Leases from state and other government
Leases to outfitters for hunting or fishing
Structures and buildings

How Long Does it Take to Buy a Ranch?

Depending on the nature of the property, a due diligence period of a little as 30 days or as long as 90 or more days.
Now that everything checks out and you’ve learned the fine details of identifying a ranch to buy, it’s time to close. Most ranches will have some form of government lease transfers to complete between buyer and seller at closing. We typically handle those at closing in conjunction with the title/escrow company.
Many ranches will have existing grazing leases between the ranch and a tenant operator. Those will typically stay in place until the end of the grazing season and will be prorated as needed. 
Hunting and fishing leases can also be in place and will carry through the seasons or year-end and are again prorated.
Most sellers will have 30-45 days after closing to finish moving the personal property off the ranch.
You can have comfort knowing that your ranch broker will work through the closing and details afterwards to ensure a smooth transaction and a genuine friendship.

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