Thanksgiving Day and Legacy Ranches

By: Jim Taylor

According to Merriam Webster, the operative definition of the word “legacy” is,  “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”  I was struck by this meaning of the term as I stood to give a toast at our family Thanksgiving celebration.I looked down the table, which for the first time in my 70 plus year lifetime extended the entire length of the room, to see nearly 30 members of our family plus friends spanning 3 generations.

IMG_6099.jpg Also fully seated table

My parents, gone now for nearly a dozen years, were very much there in spirit as it was the house they built/remodeled when they bought the ranch 70 years ago. I remembered well the many Thanksgivings that we had celebrated with them over the years. I was unfortunately reduced to tears by those memories and was unable to complete what I intended to be an inspirational toast!

IMG_6085.jpg kids section 2 Thanksgiving 2017

That’s when it really came home to me that legacies are really created by people and passed on to other people. Land and houses often serve as the vehicle in which they are carried and celebrated. It made me realize that the term “legacy ranch” might well be a misnomer because the legacy is really created and passed on by the people who lived there.

When I stood to make the toast I was overwhelmed by the memories of my parents and my siblings and the many Thanksgivings we had shared over the years. It seems to me that we need to think carefully before so loosely using the term “legacy ranch” to describe a property.  Perhaps we simply need to consider more carefully what the legacy of the ranch is or perhaps we should recognize that every ranch has a legacy and that legacy relates to the people who have lived there.

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Hall and Hall Featured in Mansion Global Ranch Real Estate Story

We were pleased to see two of our Partners, Jeff Buerger and Jim Taylor, prominently featured in a Mansion Global story about the ranch real estate market. The piece highlights Stealey Mountain Ranch, a new Colorado ranch listing. Excerpts from the story entitled, “Home on the Range: Multi-Million Dollar ‘Lifestyle’ Ranches Are a Strong Draw For Wealthy” can be read below.

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“We have a long list of people who will quickly buy something really super [that are] under the radar at a top price but won’t even consider places that aren’t quite super,” said Hall and Hall’s Jim Taylor

Though not the most common method of sale, Mr. Taylor said that this year, his firm sold four premium recreational ranches—ranging from about $10 million to $40 million—without ever formally listing the ranches.

Putting a premium on the beauty and recreation value of a ranch really began in full-force in the late 1980s, Mr. Taylor said. In 1989, he helped broker one of the largest and perhaps most well-known recreational ranch sales of the time: Ted Turner’s purchase of the 107,000-acre Flying D Ranch in Montana for $21 million. “After that, the floodgates opened,” Mr. Taylor said. “People were then really willing to pay for the scenery, for the trout fishing, it was much more than just about a ranch.”

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“What makes a premium recreational ranch can really depend on the buyer, but when it has a lot of those bells and whistles—really beautiful views, privacy, great hunting and fishing, tucked up near a national forest, and not too far from civilization, it’s something people who can afford it will buy,” said Jeff Buerger, a Hall and Hall broker who represents the Stealey Mountain Ranch—a $24,950,00 Colorado property at the foot of the San Juan mountains, a soaring and rugged range of the Rocky Mountains. Along with wildlife and expansive views, the more than 2,100-acre property, bordered by the Uncompahgre National Forest, also features an 8,079-square-foot main residence, perched on a hilltop, with an indoor saltwater pool. The seller of the property, which has been on the market for about three months, declined to comment.

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While the demographic of the top-tier lifestyle ranch buyer is generally someone from the Baby Boomer generation, “someone who maybe grew up watching John Wayne and really put value in that old-fashioned Western way of life,” Mr. Buerger said, he’s also seen a growing number of younger buyers, especially from the tech world, looking to invest in the land and the lifestyle.  

“A beautiful ranch can really be like buying a beautiful piece of art,” Mr. Buerger said. “It can be a be a long term investment, and it’s also very subjective.”

The Wall Street Journal Profiles Jim Taylor and Montana Properties

Hall and Hall Partner Jim Taylor was recently profiled by The Wall Street Journal in a story entitled “Brokers Who Bet on a Few Sales”. The multiple page feature highlights several real estate brokers who spend their time focusing on only a few elite properties each year.

An excerpt from the story reads:

In the end, more often than not, deals for once-a-year brokers occur through referrals and long-term relationships. Years ago, Chuck Pfeifer, a film producer, says he heard a well-known Newport, R.I., socialite and a Citibank executive discussing Montana properties at a posh racket club in New York City. Mr. Pfeifer interrupted the men and asked whom to call to help him find his fantasy of a cabin on a trout stream. “They both said, ‘Jim Taylor,’ with no hesitation,” recalls Mr. Pfeifer, who has bought two properties and sold one ranch through Mr. Taylor. So when Mr. Pfeifer put one of his ranches on the market with the Montana broker about six months ago, he was elated when in just three weeks an offer came through from a hedge-fund executive in Seattle. Says Mr. Pfeifer: “It’s all about the personal references.”

Ranch Real Estate Market Trends

by: Jim Taylor, Hall and Hall Ranch Partner

It looks like the market for high-end scenic ranches and “retreat” type properties is following the same pattern as the rest of the economy. In short, there is a recovery brewing, but it is slow and hesitant. We are hearing the term “the new reality” bandied about and we suspect that pretty well describes what is going on. Defining the new reality is a more difficult proposition.

One thing is for sure and that is that no one – not even the most optimistic seller – is expecting to achieve the “irrational exuberance” levels of 2006-2007. History tells us that it could be 5 years or more before those levels will be seen again. However, as is always the case when markets reach peaks, there were actually a relatively limited number of transactions at those very high prices. What we remember from those days is an abundance of inventory priced at 25% to 50% over the then market that did not sell; naturally, only the actual sales made the headlines. We have watched many of those sellers try to chase the market down and only a few have managed to catch it. [Read more...]