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.

Hall and Hall Sponsors Idaho Conservation Easement Seminar

Trent Jones, broker and partner in Hall and Hall’s Sun Valley office, participated in the recent Idaho Conservation Easement Seminar hosted by the Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts (ICOLT), a group of 19 nonprofit land trust organizations and two local and state government-sponsored programs working on private land conservation and voluntary conservation agreements throughout Idaho.

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The event was attended by landowners, attorneys, appraisers, real estate agents, and conservation professionals from around the state. Discussion topics included — a landowner’s perspective on easements, how easements are valued, and tax incentives of easements.

Trent, who is a board member of the Wood River Land Trust, has been involved with conservation easements in a variety of capacities over the past two decades.  During the seminar he participated on a question and answer panel addressing many practical aspects of easements, including the relationship between eased properties and the current real estate market.

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There are tens of thousands of conservation easements across the country covering millions of acres of private land. These easements are held by a variety of federal, state, local, and private non-profit entities.

As landowners’ goals have changed with the times, Hall and Hall’s Resource Management Group has become a valued partner to ranch owners. Established in 1981, its  traditional land management approach has evolved to include the enhancement of aquatic, wildlife, and recreational resources as well.

 

 

 

 

Ranches Serve as Critical Wintering Ground for Wildlife

By: Cody Lujan

Many ranches serve as critical wintering grounds for wildlife. While many of these inhabitants are resident throughout the seasons, their populations often swell during the winter months as their high-country and migratory cousins join them to partake in reliable sources of feed and water.

Blessed with favorable topography, ranches located at the base of national forest lands serve as sanctuaries during crucial periods of deep snows where wildlife can subsist without the stress of human interaction. Many properties are dependent upon migration patterns or snowfall and will hold few, if any animals during spring, summer and fall.

Both male and female pronghorns have characteristic two-pointed horns, which are ... growing over a bony center; the hair-like part of the horn sheds annually.

Both male and female pronghorns have characteristic two-pointed horns, which are … growing over a bony center; the hair-like part of the horn sheds annually.

Ideally, a ranch will hold animals during the periods of most recreational use by ownership. The bulk of recreational activities on mountain ranches typically begin in late spring and early summer and run through the fall. Observing or hunting deer, elk, pronghorn and other wildlife on one’s ranch during these periods is integral to the experience of ownership.

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With more than 23 million acres of public land, Colorado is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.​

Identifying a ranch that holds good numbers of wildlife can be difficult under even the best circumstances. Resident herds can change their patterns for no apparent reason, and it goes without saying that most wildlife activity is observed by human eyes during the early morning or late evening – on even the least pressured and most carefully preserved properties.

Aside from conducting common-sense field work and contacting biologists, one of my favorite methods of gaining insight into the existence of reliable game populations of ranch is to conduct a spring visit. Experience gained by a lifetime of living and hunting in elk country combined with the observations of many seasoned outdoorsmen lead me to the realization that bull elk in particular will often return to rut (breed) in the fall months in the very locations where the cow elk calve in the spring. Perhaps this is because the cows prefer to inhabit the areas with the easiest access to forage and cover and the bulls know where to find the cows. If left unpressured, herds of cow elk will generally reside in the same general area from early spring through the fall. Factors such as drought, predation and pressure from humans will clearly impact a herd’s preferences, so while this observation is certainly useful, it does not always hold true. Locate the cows before and during the calving season and odds are that the elk will be utilizing those same general areas for months to come.

Elk behavior and subsequent hunting strategies depend on a variety of factors, including the time of year, the rut, food availability, weather and hunting pressure.

Elk behavior and subsequent hunting strategies depend on a variety of factors, including the time of year, the rut, food availability, weather and hunting pressure.

The Mosca Pass Ranch in southern Colorado’s Huerfano County exemplifies a property that holds significant populations of wildlife throughout the seasons. Though over 1,000 head of elk were counted on the ranch during this past winter, Mosca is home to a significant local herd. The ranch has been utilized by current ownership as a wildlife reserve and has not been hunted or grazed by cattle in over three years. Adjacent to national forest lands dominated by large peaks and two large ranches, Mosca is a haven for wildlife. It serves not only as critical winter range, but also as a rich calving and breeding ground. The April 29, 2015 population survey conducted on the south portion of the ranch returned a count of 352 elk spread out over 10 herds. Additional wildlife presence noted was mule deer, pronghorn and turkey as well as a number of raptors and song birds. The cow elk have not yet begun to calve, but are breaking down into smaller bands that included a number of smaller bulls – nearly all of which have dropped their previous year’s antlers. While some of these herds will inevitably follow the retreating snowline, many of the cows will reside as they have for many years throughout the rolling draws and forested slopes of the ranch.

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The 6,416± acre (5,056± deeded) Mosca Pass Ranch is located 15 miles west of Gardner, Colorado.

Demand for Large Ranch Properties Remains Robust

By: B Elfland

If there was any question about the growing strength of the ranch market, little doubt remains. Momentum experienced in 2014 carried through the first quarter of 2015 as numerous properties went under contract and sold. This activity spanned market segments and includes several ranch properties which were listed in the $15 to $25 million range. In Montana alone, four different ranches of this size/price within 90 minutes of the town of Bozeman have sold or gone under contract within the last month.  And there are at least three additional large ranch sales Hall and Hall is actively negotiating at this time.

Why are so many deals getting done this spring? A couple of reasons. First, pricing has come down to meet demand. Many of these ranches have been on the market for some time. Prices have been reduced and buyers see the market as upwardly trending. When an upwardly trending market meets the price curve, many investors see it as a good time to buy.

Secondly, recreational demand has risen. This trend began taking shape in 2014 when amenity buyers began entering the marketplace, which had previously been largely driven by agricultural production and return on investment. The 10,000 plus acre ranches that are trading in today’s market tend to still have  a significant agricultural component, but the sales have been driven more by strong recreational amenities, such as the quality of the elk hunting or trout fishing. Clearly, the current market for large landscape ranches is attributing long term investment value to the unique recreational resources that these properties offer.

So what does this mean for buyers and sellers in the marketplace? For sellers, the environment is vastly improved. There are active buyers in the marketplace, values have come up, and there are sales to support current values. For buyers who see the market on an upward trend, this is an opportunity to enter the market on the front end of that trend.

Texas Land For Sale: Two Farm and Ranch Auctions in TX

Hall and Hall Auctions will be managing two sizable Texas land auctions in April 2015. Costa Grande Ranch is a rare Texas Gulf Coast offering encompassing 5,221± acres, with more than five miles of frontage on the Intracoastal Waterway. It will be auctioned Tuesday, April 21st at 1:00 pm. The second auction, Char-Lin Ranch, presents a unique acquisition opportunity in Corsicana, Texas, with 1,189± acres of pastureland, 135± acre private lake, extensive ranch improvements, and a 6,200 sq. foot home. It will be auctioned Thursday, April 23rd at 1:00 pm. Each property is offered in multiple tracts or in its entirety. Diligence packages are available now.  For more information, visit http://hallhall.com/ranches-for-sale/pstatus/upcoming-auctions-52  or call 970-716-2120.

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The Costa Grande Ranch is located in Southern Calhoun County, once home to multiple large coastal prairie cattle operations. Over the years, many of the large tracts of land have been divided, developed, or placed into conservation easements. Recently, the adjacent Powderhorn Ranch was acquired by the State of Texas to be developed into a State Park and Wildlife Management Area. Costa Grande Ranch is one of the last remaining large parcels available in the area and home to a diverse population of deer, hogs, and 400+ species of bird, making it ideal for a sportsman or conservationist.  It is located 2.5 hours from Houston, Austin and San Antonio. An information date is set for April 7th from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm at the clubhouse in The Sanctuary at Costa Grande.

“Costa Grande Ranch provides easy access to Shoalwater Bay, Dewberry Island and deep water,” said Scott Shuman of Hall and Hall Auctions. “It is unencumbered by conservation easements, which is rare in this part of Texas.”

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Char-Lin Ranch is unique to Corsicana, Texas because of its large size and regular shape. The main home is the centerpiece of the property and perched atop a hill that offers panoramic views of the pastures, the lake, and surrounding countryside. The four-level home has a pool & spa with lap swimming lanes, a trophy room loft, and four fire places.  The estate also includes two additional homes. It is a productive ranch with fine cattle and horse improvements all located within an hour of Dallas/Fort Worth.

“We are extremely excited about these two unique Texas auctions,” said Shuman. “A complete due diligence package on both properties is available now, just give us a call.”

Quail Hunting on Southern Plantations

South Georgia is home to the Red Hills and the finest upland bird ‪hunting ‪plantations in North America. This video showcases the experience of hunting wild quail on some of America’s most beautiful and historic georgia plantations. Contact Elliott Davenport at 423-364-2092 for additional information.

Farm and Ranch Land Market Trends 2015

Here is a view from the ground in each of our different market regions, delivered by the individuals that are actually doing business there and who are often not impressed by statistics – or at least can give you the real story behind them as well as a sense of the mood of the market and where it is headed for the coming year.

Northern Rockies – Jim Taylor: Optimism is high in our marketplace and we are seeing a limited supply of operating ranches coming into the marketplace at higher asking prices due to high cattle prices and good prospects for them to remain high. Everyone is hanging on to their heifer calves as cattle numbers begin to build. Good farmland is also in high demand and there is very limited supply for sale. We anticipate upward pressure on anything productive. Retreat-type property is a bit of a mixed bag with a limited supply of buyers moving into a very crowded marketplace. Certain unique properties that really fit a buyer sold very well with many others selling at significant discounts and plenty of inventory is languishing – even after price reductions. If the national and international economy does not weaken, we anticipate more sales of recreational ranches in 2015. There is still a fair bit of inventory to move through the system before there will be much upward pressure on prices.

The 260± acre Crown Creek Ranch has approximately one mile of Red Lodge Creek frontage coupled with an expansive riparian corridor.

The 260± acre Crown Creek Ranch has approximately one mile of Red Lodge Creek frontage coupled with an expansive riparian corridor.

Northwest – Roger Dryden: The Northwest Region has some outstanding opportunities for clients looking at buying operating ranches. The Northwest still represents excellent value. Hay production has been exceptional with many ranches producing high quality forage that is marketed to the dairy and export markets, which are doing very well. Farmland availability is very limited as it is in other regions, but does become available from time to time. Our recreational properties have been on the market for a longer time than production ranches and prices have been reduced. We expect demand to remain limited in 2015. One facet of the recreational market that showed strength in 2014 included properties that exhibited proven hunting opportunities combined with some cattle production to offset the carrying costs. Blocked-up properties with live water and limited public access were particularly in demand. We expect 2015 to remain positive with prices holding and reasonable inventory in most categories.

Encompassing its own secluded valley, the Chapman Ranch spreads across 14,506± deeded acres 25 miles from Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Encompassing its own secluded valley, the Chapman Ranch spreads across 14,506± deeded acres 25 miles from Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Southern Rockies – Brian Smith: We witnessed a number of large scale “landmark” ranch transactions in southern Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico in 2014.  Over the last several years most of those had been in Montana so perhaps we were due.  An interesting new trend was that recreationally oriented properties, which had been lagging, surged in activity.  A dozen river properties in the $5 to $15 million category traded hands, some at surprising prices.  Larger acreage hunting-oriented properties have been selling well for the last several years and they saw sustained activity.  True working ranches remain in short supply and high demand, especially those priced without a premium for fancy improvements, views, elk or trout.  Across the board, a common theme has been that buyers are recognizing that the highest quality properties are irreplaceable and those that are priced appropriately are seeing the bulk of the activity.  On the other hand, properties with substantial challenges or that are perceived as significantly overpriced are not getting much attention.  With the increased absorption, we seem to be inching closer to a balanced market.

Table Rock Ranch is one of the finest fly-fishing properties in western Colorado.

Table Rock Ranch is one of the finest fly-fishing properties in western Colorado.

The Great Plains – John Wildin: Interest in production agricultural land is still strong throughout the Midwest.  The primary driver is still the near-zero interest rate environment, which has left the investor with few options for a decent rate of return on their cash.  Over the last several years, producers have benefitted from good commodity prices, which have pushed up lease rates on ag land. The surge in domestic oil and gas production has minted many new buyers looking for a home for their new-found wealth.

While the grain commodity complex is lower overall from a year ago, cattle prices are near all-time highs.  The drought continues and, in fact, has been expanded to again include all of Oklahoma and Kansas.  The press coverage of the drought has shifted from Texas to the hardest-hit state of California. This will continue to inhibit the rebuilding phase of the record low U.S. cattle herd and should keep cattle prices and the demand for ranches high.

The Wilson Ranch is an excellent tall grass ranch situated on the western flank of the world-renowned Kansas Flint Hills.

The Wilson Ranch is an excellent tall grass ranch situated on the western flank of the world-renowned Kansas Flint Hills.

Southeast – Elliott Davenport: The Southeast includes several sectors of the rural real estate market, but a few trends hold true throughout the area. In general, activity in the marketplace is up. With this said, the level of increased activity varies widely among different markets and property types. Buyers have a very good handle on what they want and properties with unique attributes and lifestyles are garnering the lion’s share of their interest. For example, the most productive quail-hunting land in the core plantation belt of southern Georgia is in short supply with rather strong demand. Outside of the core belt, market activity is still rather soft, but moderately improving. Regardless of the property, buyers are price sensitive and are being thorough in researching market comps and holding close to these price points. There is still strong demand from multiple sectors for income-producing properties despite the drop in commodity prices that has tempered activity somewhat.

Braewood is 363± acres situated in the heart of the Red Hills Plantation belt and is considered some of the most sought-after dirt.

Braewood is 363± acres situated in the heart of the Red Hills Plantation belt and is considered some of the most sought-after dirt.

Texas – Tyler Jacobs: The Texas market is generally characterized as lacking supply of higher-quality properties regardless of the market segment. Irrigated farms were actively traded in the Panhandle region largely driven by dairy producers.  In cotton raising areas, we are expecting to see downward pressure on land prices due to low cotton prices and lack of quality inventory.  Working ranches are in demand due to high cattle prices. Much of the state remains understocked, so leased capacity is available depending on moisture. The Cross Plains, Rolling Plains, Central Plains, North and East Texas regions have seen modest trade with many sales built on the back of hunting, recreational and lifestyle opportunities.  These properties remain in demand and will move if priced appropriately.  The Hill Country sales have been dominated by premium properties with desirable improvements and/or water features. We anticipate that low oil prices might put a damper on demand for 2015, but there is no evidence of that so far.

Cripple Creek Ranch is an exceptionally improved property located just 80 miles from The Woodlands, Texas near the small east Texas community of Groveton

Cripple Creek Ranch is an exceptionally improved property located just 80 miles from The Woodlands, Texas near the small east Texas community of Groveton.

California –  Bill McDavid: California’s punishing drought affected ranchers and growers, forcing irrigators to switch from surface water to precious groundwater and many ranchers to liquidate breeding stock. Abundant December rains kicked off the winter season reinvigorating rangelands and filling stock ponds.  However, ranchers are still relying on supplemental feed and much more rain is needed.  These rains also benefitted dryland crops. The winter wheat crop is currently rated good to excellent. March rains are absolutely critical at this point.

Record cattle prices and low interest rates have caused operating ranches to be in high demand, but in very tight supply.  Almond growers are competing for quality pasture land, which has driven up prices and further tightened supply.  Recreation and lifestyle properties are on the market in abundance.  Buyers, however, have not been very aggressive and continue to be sensitive to pricing and location.

The Genesee Valley Ranch is situated in the midst of the Sierra Nevada Mountains two hours northwest of Reno and just under four hours northeast of San Francisco.

The Genesee Valley Ranch is situated in the midst of the Sierra Nevada Mountains two hours northwest of Reno and just under four hours northeast of San Francisco.

Auctions – Scott Shuman: While there are fewer large land auctions taking place than at this time last year, there are more smaller farms going on the auction block than a year ago.  It appears there are more equipment sales being scheduled for this spring than last, giving an indication that there could be more inventory of farmland hitting the market soon.  With the decrease in commodity prices throughout the year we began to see more uncertainty in the cropland market. Nevertheless, prices remained strong throughout the country on quality farmland.  Ranchland has remained in strong demand following the cattle market with many buyers looking for additional acres.  While prices have been high, sellers have not been motivated to market many large acreage properties via auction.  It is anticipated that several high-quality properties will be offered at auction this spring and early summer.

The Costa Grande Ranch is a rare Texas Gulf Coast offering. Southern Calhoun County was once home to multiple large coastal prairie cattle operations and Port O’Connor was a quiet fishing town.

The Costa Grande Ranch is a rare Texas Gulf Coast offering.  The 5,221+ acre property goes to auction April 21.