Our blog will help keep you informed about news and information related to the farm, ranch and rural real estate markets. If you share our desire for wide open spaces and investment in the land, we hope you will subscribe, read and discuss the stories we find and develop here. More than just an investment, ranch, farm and rural real estate evokes a type of lifestyle that was born over a century ago and still provides a certain romance and passion for those who embrace the pioneering spirit from those days gone by.

Nearly 1,000 Acres near Berkeley Springs, WV Hits Auction Block June 21st

On June 21, 2016, Hall and Hall will be auctioning the 988± acre Coolfont Property, nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in the shadow of Cacapon Mountain. This year-round treasure will be offered in nine tracts and combinations, ranging from 382± to seven± acres, at 10 a.m. EDT at Cacapon Resort in Berkeley Springs. The auction also includes a 2,383 sq. foot office building located in downtown Berkeley Springs. Information days are scheduled for Wednesdays, May 18, June 1, and June 8 from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. To learn more, please contact Hall and Hall Auctions at 970-716-2120 or visit http://hallhall.com/ranches-for-sale/properties/coolfont.


Roughly 100 miles from Washington, D.C., Coolfont Property offers abundant hardwoods including hickory, red oak, white oak, poplar and ash; excellent hunting for deer, bear and turkey; extensive development entitlements; access to historic Berkeley Springs, one of the top small towns in the U.S.; and hundreds of acres of pristine land within a two hour drive of several major cities.

“This is one of the most unique properties available in the region and offers access to remarkable recreational opportunities, wildlife, and natural resources,” said Scott Shuman of Hall and Hall Auctions. “Sleepy Creek Mountain is located six miles due east, the Potomac River is only two miles northwest, and Cacapon Mountain, home to Prospect Rock, is adjacent to the property.”

Other area attractions include:

  • Washington Heritage Trail, a 70 mile self-guided driving tour that links more than a dozen sites throughout the county.
  • Berkeley Springs State Park is a 4-acre village green in the center of town with historic warm mineral springs where George Washington once bathed.
  • Cacapon State Park has 6,000 acres of wild resort along Cacapon Mountain with a lodge, lake and Robert Trent designed golf course. The park encompasses miles of mountain hiking trails, including one along the top of Cacapon Mountain
  • Berkeley Springs includes dozens of welcoming businesses including spas, art galleries, shops and restaurants.

For more information, call 970-716-2120 or visit http://hallhall.com/ranches-for-sale/properties/coolfont. Hi-resolution photography can be downloaded here.

House Hunting by Helicopter in Montana

Tim Murphy, a ranch broker and partner with Hall and Hall, was recently profiled in a terrific story in The Wall Street Journal entitled, ”House Hunting By Helicopter Takes Off.”

An excerpt reads: “More often, agents and pilots say, the helicopter is a great bonding tool. ‘A lot of these folks are pretty standoffish when they first meet us. As soon as you get them in the air and they see the beauty…they really lighten up,’ said Mark Taylor, chief pilot and owner of Montana-based Rocky Mountain Rotors, who tours $40 million ranches with brokers such as Tim Murphy of Hall and Hall.”

Mark Taylor (left), chief pilot and owner of Rocky Mountain Rotors, and Tim Murphy, a ranch broker and partner with Hall and Hall. Mr. Murphy teams up with Mr. Taylor to show multi-million dollar ranches to his clients by helicopter. Credit: Jane Osborne

Mark Taylor (left), chief pilot and owner of Rocky Mountain Rotors, and Tim Murphy, a ranch broker and partner with Hall and Hall. Mr. Murphy teams up with Mr. Taylor to show multi-million dollar ranches to his clients by helicopter. Credit: Jane Osborne

Ranch Land Conservation Easements

By:  Scott M. Griswold

Conservation easements have been providing a means for protecting rural lands, wildlife habitat and scenic landscapes for more than 75 years.  Simply stated, a conservation easement is the granting of certain rights in real property through the issuance of a deed to a qualified holder of a conservation easement.  The holder must comply with Federal regulations governing their qualifications under the Internal Revenue Code, but the holders of conservation easements can range from private land trust organizations to State and Federal agencies.  In addition to rural lands, conservation easements have been used to protect historic buildings and event sites, cultural artifacts and resources critical to large metropolitan areas.  Conservation easements can also serve as a vehicle to facilitate estate and succession planning, and as a tool for achieving strategic goals.  Conservation easements can be structured to provide a wide array of protections, for a period of years or into perpetuity, and their terms and conditions can vary widely depending on how the easement is negotiated.


The utilization of conservation easements for various purposes often requires the appraisal/valuation of the property rights conveyed.  That valuation must be conducted by a qualified appraiser under Federal law; and the valuation methods must comply with one or more of three sets of jurisdictional regulations.  These regulations include those imposed by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), under which all appraisals must be conducted, by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and by the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions (UASFLA).  Depending on the type, purpose and qualified holder of the easement, the appraisal must comply with the regulations of at least one, and perhaps more than one, of these jurisdictions.  Therefore, it is important to engage an appraiser who is both qualified under Federal regulations and knowledgeable of the complex requirements governing conservation easement valuation.

Nirling Hill - 01

Hall and Hall has long been dealing with conservation easements throughout the various aspects of our business, from brokerage to appraisals, loans and ranch management.  The encumbrances imposed by conservation easements affect the future use and management, desirability and market value of ranch properties.  These affects are not necessarily negative, but they are a real consideration on the part of market participants, lenders and land owners in the decision-making processes involved with the sales and purchases, financing and management of today’s ranches.  With a thorough understanding of the benefits which can be achieved through the proper use of conservation easements, and by correctly structuring the governing easement, landowners can accomplish strategic goals for their property not otherwise possible.

IX_PN Hunt31

The broad scope of rural real estate services provided by Hall and Hall covers all of these areas. We have developed the expertise necessary to evaluate various types of conservation easements and advise our clients with respect to brokerage transactions, financial planning, ranch management and valuation issues.  The realm of conservation easements can be confusing, but with the proper expertise and guidance, their use can be highly beneficial and rewarding.

Search Ranches for sale in Montana, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, and many other states that may provide opportunities for conservations easements.

Scott M. Griswold - Billings, Montana

griswold@hallandhall.com   |   406.656.7500

Hall and Hall Auctions Update

Virtually every investment class asset-from stocks and bonds to rare art and collectibles-are traded via auction. Farms and ranches are no exception. An auction is an effective way to discover the market and create competition to garner the best value the market will bear.  Auctions offer time-sensitive liquidity, which is advantageous not only to sellers who desire to cash-out, but also to buyers who desire to cash-in at fair market value.  During the past five years Hall and Hall Auctions has had the opportunity to be involved with some incredible auction projects including The Camp Cooley Ranch in Texas, The Circle Cross Ranch in Nebraska, Hagar Farms in Kansas and the O’Dell farms in Missouri, just to name a few.

We’ve become a leader in high-quality land auctions spanning the ranchlands of the Northern Rockies, to the Great Plains and fertile farmlands of the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, to the coveted farms and ranches of Texas. Our market also includes classic Midwest farmland, the plantation belt and virtually any rural real estate that we consider to be of investment quality.

The 2016 Colorado Auctioneers Association Convention was held in Westminster, Colorado on January 1st – 3rd.   During the event Hall and Hall won awards for Best Real Estate Brochure, Best Website Marketing and Best Facebook Marketing.  We continue to strive to bring our clients first-class service in our marketing department. For more information, contact our auction department at 1-800-829-8747.

Hall & Hall Auctions from Hall and Hall on Vimeo.

Wyoming Ranch Sale a Win-Win for Ranchers and Farmers

In a recent Farm Progress story entitled, “Land Exchange Will Benefit Ranchers, Farmers,“  journalist Robert Waggener  writes that the recent sale of Bull Creek Ranch five miles southwest of Buffalo, Wyoming will allow ‘trade’ acquisition of state lands adjacent to the property. A proposed reservoir will hold “about 16,400 acre feet of water”, which can be used by area ranchers and farmers for irrigation as well as the City of Buffalo to meet long-term municipal water needs.

According to the article, the reservoir will dramatically improve in-stream flows for the trout fishery in Clear Creek, which Bull Creek feeds. Additionally, if the state acquires the ranch, it will be open for public use, including hunting and fishing, while ranch and farm lands would be leased for grazing and hay production.

“Developing the reservoir on Bull Creek has been one of many identified positive attributes of the Bull Creek Ranch, and Mr. Johnston bought the ranch with the intention of the land exchange,” says Jason Crowder, an assistant director for the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments. “If the exchange goes through, we view it as a win-win for everyone.”

Bull Creek Wyoming Ranch for sale

Bull Creek Ranch lies adjacent to the Bighorn National Forest and encompasses some of the Bighorn Mountains within its boundaries. It is one of the largest private holdings in existence on the Bighorn Front and certainly the largest to be offered for sale in recent history. This ranch has been in the same family ownership for nearly 100 years, has no structural improvements and is unencumbered by conservation easements. The property is an excellent livestock grazing ranch with good water development and loads of wildlife. There are numerous spring-fed, aspen-filled draws which combine with a diversity of terrain and cover to make Bull Creek Ranch into what we believe to be the best private elk hunting ranch along the Bighorn Mountains.
Search more Wyoming ranches for sale - http://hallhall.com/ranches-for-sale/wyoming

Managing Farms and Ranches for Appreciation, Enjoyment and Profit

In addition to real estate marketing, mortgage banking and appraisals, Hall and Hall offers its clients a full line of resource management services. Managing quality rural real estate properties – be it commercial farms or ranches or prime recreational retreats – can be a daunting challenge. This is particularly true for absentee or part-time owners, but even full-time resident owners can benefit from the outside perspective of an experienced ranch management team.

Increasingly, complex federal and state environmental regulations, changing national and world markets for livestock, crops and timber, critical water and mineral rights issues and tax considerations (including those affecting inheritance) all come into play. They require a high level of current knowledge and on-the-ground experience and expertise. Diligent operational oversight and creative business and resource development planning are often best introduced by an independent third party who comes to the table with broad exposure to many other operations. Among the management services Hall and Hall offers to owners and prospective owners of quality rural properties are: Budgeting, accounting services and bill paying; creation and execution of resource development and business plans; asset evaluation including land, equipment, structures, herds, crops, fish, wildlife, and other tangibles; product sales and marketing services; recruitment and hiring of management level personnel; periodic oversight of operations; direct management of deeded properties, leases, and grazing allotments.

Hall and Hall resource management

Today, the value of a ranch’s non-agricultural components may be significantly greater than the value attributable to its ability to produce commodities.

“Historically, the most reliable predictor of a successful farm, ranch, or recreational operation is competent, honest, and qualified management,” says Wes Oja, Director of Hall and Hall’s Management Group based in Billings, Montana. A fifth-generation Montanan.

Oja is a graduate of Montana State with a B.S. in Agricultural Business and a minor in Economics. Prior to joining Hall and Hall in 2000 he was with CHS, Inc. for over 10 years where he was a floor broker at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange and eventually become a Director of that organization.

“Virtually all facets of the operation revolve around people and the weather,” Oja emphasizes, “and because you can’t control the weather, owners need to be sure they’ve got the best people available. In the end, the returns they get—financial and otherwise—are highly dependent on the skills and abilities of those management-level personnel.”

For 70 years, Hall and Hall has specialized in serving the owners and prospective owners of quality rural real estate by providing mortgage loans, appraisals, land management, auction and brokerage services.

For 70 years, Hall and Hall has specialized in serving the owners and prospective owners of quality rural real estate by providing mortgage loans, appraisals, land management, auction and brokerage services.

Hall and Hall maintains a large database of management-ready, proven candidates, Oja notes. Some are capable of handling large farms and ranches and others are geared toward smaller operations and recreational properties. “We help the owner define the position by carefully looking at the operation. We fully research the potential candidate’s background in addition to references, and we make sure it’s a good match for the owner and the operation.” Employment of farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers is projected to decline by 2% over a 20 year period beginning in 2014. (1)

For example, Oja and Dan Bergstrom, another key member of Hall and Hall’s resource management team, recruited and hired such a manager to execute the business plan they developed for a 26,000-acre ranching operation combining three separate properties in Montana’s spectacular Shields River Valley. “After calculating capacity and forage production for the properties and translating that into a grazing schedule and corresponding ranch Profit and Loss, we created a four-year operating plan and budget for the owner,” Bergstrom notes.

Meade Creek Ranch

As landowners’ goals have changed with the times, Hall and Hall’s Resource Management Group has become a valued partner to ranch owners throughout the Intermountain West.

Raised on his family’s ranch in central Montana,  Bergstrom has a B.S. in Range Science from Montana State University. Prior to joining Hall and Hall he was a pasture and range management specialist with the Wilbur Ellis Company and has been involved in projects in Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, and Montana. Today, he and Oja continue to provide management oversight for the Shields operation, including the improvement of pasture and hay lands, the expansion of the cattle herd and infrastructure development such as roads, buildings, and irrigation systems.

Acting as the owner’s representative, they also negotiate, secure, and oversee ranch and grazing leases for other ranching operations. “We continue to conduct regular inspections to ensure that the tenants are properly managing resources in line with the owner’s goals as well as tracking capital improvement projects on these properties,” Bergstrom notes.

Having a skilled management services team available to farm and ranch owners is vital to operational profitability and maintaining and adding to property values. It is a major advantage if and when a decision is made to sell. Jerome Chivilicek, a Hall and Hall Director, who joined the company in 1989, has been working with the McEwen Ranch and Cattle Company , an Oregon ranch for sale, for many years. A profitable legacy ranch of almost 52,500 acres, the McEwen Ranch is one of the largest deeded ranches for sale in the West today.

McEwen Ranch and Cattle Company

McEwen Ranch and Cattle Company

“Jerome has been providing professional management and oversight services to our ranch since 2008,” notes the owner, David Feinberg. “This has been a great help in maintaining and growing the profitability of our cattle and hay operations and enhancing the ranch’s diverse natural resources. Having a stable, proven management team in place not only eliminates a lot of day to day stress but is a great advantage for a potential buyer who can see the value in the property in black and white and be assured of a smooth ownership transition.”

Raised on a Montana dryland wheat and barley farm, Chvilicek has a B.S. in Agricultural Business from Montana State University and an M.A. in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University. Always stressing the importance of long-term personal relationships with Hall and Hall clients, Chvilicek specializes in the oversight and management of larger income producing properties such as the McEwen Ranch, where owner value lies not only in the land and its ability to raise quality cattle and crops, but also in its extensive fish and wildlife resources.

Established in 1981, our traditional land management approach has evolved to include the enhancement of aquatic, wildlife, and recreational resources.

Established in 1981, our traditional land management approach has evolved to include the enhancement of aquatic, wildlife, and recreational resources.

Natural resources and ecological concerns are increasingly taking center stage today and have a strong impact on the value of farm and ranch lands. Justin Bryan, based out of Abilene, Texas with a B.S. degree in Wildlife Management from Texas Tech and an M.S. in Wildlife Management from Texas A & M, Kingsville, is an integral part of the Hall and Hall land management team. Bryan has a diverse background in wildlife research and management.

Prior to joining Hall and Hall in 2015, Bryan worked for The Nature Conservancy and then as a farm and ranch manager for U.S. Trust-Bank of America. He also worked as a wildlife biologist for Cabela’s Inc. in their wildlife and land management division.

“Creating quality habitat for fish and wildlife on rural land holdings not only improves natural beauty and recreational opportunities,” Bryan stresses, “but increases the land’s value as well and can result in generating profit-making opportunities for the landowner.“

Because every ranch, farm, or recreational property is unique and owners have different, often competing goals, Hall and Hall’s management team stands ready to accommodate the individual needs of each client with an integrated team approach to problem-solving, backed by the integrity, experience, and a network of professional relationships unmatched in the business.

Our success in land and resource management is directly attributable to our ability to integrate wildlife and fishery enhancement with traditional and innovative farming and ranching practices.

Our success in land and resource management is directly attributable to our ability to integrate wildlife and fishery enhancement with traditional and innovative farming and ranching practices.

Hall and Hall is a close-knit, nationwide, employee-owned company with more than seven decades of experience. It operates under a unique partnership arrangement that promotes across-the-board internal cooperation, which results in an exclusive focus on the needs and goals of their clients. They have a long-standing track record of success in financing, selling, auctioning, and helping their clients buy, manage, use and enjoy tracts of quality rural land in the United States and abroad. This has resulted in a loyal base of repeat customers.

In terms of Hall and Hall’s management services, their track record and loyal customer base is built on the education of the client, and the expertise and hands-on experience of a team skilled in the integration of traditional ranching and farming practices with up-to-date fish, wildlife, and environmental considerations. This is all designed to maintain and increase land values while maximizing owner satisfaction and enjoyment of their property.

Most importantly, Hall and Hall’s focus is exclusively on the representation of farm and ranch owners. This focus allows them to always be part of the solution for the landowner, not part of the problem. Management services can be reduced to simply handling the bill paying and monthly reports against budget. These are critical services and allow just enough oversight to allow the management team to identify a problem and immediately step in to solve it.

*Special thanks to Dennis Higman for writing this excellent blog entry.


Cited- (1) http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/farmers-ranchers-and-other-agricultural-managers.htm