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.


“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.”


“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.


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.”

Ranch Broker Road Trips

By: Tim Murphy

Each year Hall and Hall travels nearly a million miles in pickup trucks, small aircraft, helicopters and ATV’s.  I don’t know a single one of us that has to refer to a map to know where we are going.  To each of us on our own regional turf, this is familiar territory and nobody does road trips better than we do.  Our partners, management staff, appraisers and lenders all have depth in this industry far beyond our collective colleagues and countless miles and hours behind the wheel.  It’s what makes us effective at what we do and valuable to our clientele.  Our opinions are generally quite calculated because we have “been there” many times before.


A million miles sounds like something only a trucking company could accomplish.  It’s a daunting number to think about, but consider what we do and where we go.  We are extremely fortunate to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world and sell unique and at times massive assets within this market.  Driving thousands of miles to me is not something I dread, rather I cherish it.  On any given year I discover a new canyon or secret trout stream that most people are not aware of.  We see the best and worst of all seasons as they roll in and out.  Through the windshields we often see things that few other do.  Truthfully, I never tire of this and often take the time to pull over and photograph something interesting.


Photography dovetails perfectly with our careers. I have been fortunate to work with many incredible professionals such as Kenton Rowe and Craig Hergert who are masters of the art.  One thing that I never knew about the hobby is that it ultimately causes you to look at everything differently.  Primarily, you see how light reacts to certain subjects.  For better or worse (I think better), you never look at anything the same ever again.  You appreciate beautiful landscapes just a little bit more than the norm.


The best opportunities are often the ones you don’t see coming.  Upon completing a multi-day tour with clients in the Cody, Wyoming region, I was blessed with an opportunity to take a personal adventure home across the Beartooth Plateau.  The plateau is located on the east side of Yellowstone Park.  A primitive highway ascends to 11,000 feet extending for nearly 70 miles above tree line connecting the communities of Red Lodge, Cooke City and Cody via spurs of this road.  It rightfully is claimed to be one of the most scenic byways in North America, potentially in the world.

That day, I could not have timed better as the high-country was just out of winter slumber coming a bit late as parts of the region received 200% snow pack.  At 10,700 feet my thermometer read an exceptionally pleasant 64 degrees contrasted to the predicted 94 at Red Lodge below at lower elevation.  Thick wedges of snow and ice still dotted the landscape and I stopped at the Gardiner Headwall to watch skiers descend off a cornice and into a cirque to the lake below.  A short distance later I spotted a band of mountain goats 100 yards or so off the road.


There was a place to pull over so I parked, grabbed my camera and walked downslope a bit to take a few images of them.  The light was high in the sky so I was not hopeful on any sort of quality but the ground was a complete carpet of wildflowers, the air was fresh and I was having a moment just happy to be alive and sitting in that location.  The goats were feeding towards me so I stayed put and watched as several very young kids fed and played amongst the nannies.  The kids were snow white and just starting to figure out how to forage.


The band continued coming closer, and closer and closer. They leveled off at 10 feet and literally fed right through me.  They knew I was there but did not feel threatened despite me aiming a large camera at them and snapping 220 images hoping/praying one would turn out.  I think a few did indeed and you can see the culled photos in this gallery link- Beartooth Goat Gallery.    I found it amusing to stand up after 45 minutes to find a crowd of people had gathered above me many of whom were commenting that they were taking photos of me taking photos of the goats!  I was pretty neat from my vantage point, I am sure it was from theirs as well. This was a solo experience, and I rather enjoyed it.  It is often that we are fortunate to share these experiences with clients.  It’s a rewarding part of the process for all of us.



Randy Shelton Interviewed by “City Streets and Country Roads”

Hall and Hall Partner Randy Shelton was interviewed by “City Streets and Country Roads.” He discusses the ranch real estate market and Hall and Hall’s history at the 14:45 mark.

City Streets Country Roads – Real Estate from Community Seven Television on Vimeo.

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.

Tight Supply in Western Ranch Market Underpins Positive Price Momentum

By: Mike McDonnell

Demand for larger ranches for sale and productive cropland generally outpaced supply in 2013. In the later part of the year many real estate professionals and economists predicted a softening in land values brought on by increasing interest rates, tightening margins and declining commodity prices.

As we move into the second half of 2014, interest rates remain near historically low levels through the slow economic recovery. While tapering bond buying efforts, an anemic economy continues to hamper the Federal Reserve’s ability to move the fund rates.

Declining grain prices are expected to strain farm incomes with the USDA predicting a 26.6 percent decline in net farm income in 2014 from 2013. While well below the historic levels reached in 2013, at $95.8 billion, the 2014 net farm income forecast remains $8 billion above the previous 10-year average. Falling corn and grain prices equate to lower feed cost and increase profitability for cattle producers.

The IX Ranch runs a cattle herd of 4,300.

The IX Ranch runs a cattle herd of 4,300.

The combination of economic conditions and elevated cattle prices has pulled on an already tight supply of quality ranches in 2014. Demand from recreational investors has remained steady adding to demand for productive ranch properties. Increased earnings have, in some cases, made owners reluctant to sell, creating additional supply constraints.

While scenic retreat properties remain below the levels experienced prior to the economic downturn, tight supply has generally created steady appreciation and positive price momentum in the market for quality working ranches. A continuation of this trend is expected as interest in available properties remains high.



Ranch and Farmland Market Trends Fall 2013

In our current inventory, there have been 39 recent price reductions. There is a continual  stream of price reduction notices being publicized by other brokers. Within Hall and Hall’s transactions, we have seen a steady decrease of the spread between contract prices and asking prices. This spread has gone from 22% in 2010, to 18% in 2011, to 9% in 2012 and 5% YTD.

Unfortunately, we have seen very little showing activity on properties with pricing that falls outside the strike zone. If a property is perceived as over-priced, it tends to languish. However, a continuing positive development is that there has been a marked increase in sales activity below $5 million in the retreat market. This is a segment of the market that has been very flat in recent years.

In talking to our colleagues in the business, it seems that sales volumes are going to be off across the board this year. Buyers are exceptionally aggressive right now with a high percentage of negotiations failing in the beginning stages over price. The general feeling is that we are in the process of establishing a base-line for prices and that activity is pretty well balanced between buyers and sellers in the active portion of the market.

The bright side of the picture is that there are indeed buyers in the marketplace and when they find a property that fits, they will pull the trigger and deals are being made. The resort markets like Jackson, Steamboat, Bozeman and Sun Valley have all seen upticks from the beginning of 2012 when the bottom was reached. Since then, legitimate traction has been reported in all of these markets at all price levels. Historically, this has been a good lead indicator for the retreat markets in the outer-lying regions as well.

The traditional agricultural markets have been strong, bolstered by solid commodity prices and the desire from the market to place capital in income producing investments. The challenge has been in finding product, as this market has been tightening for several years now. Actively marketed working ranches currently are being offered at 25% or more over the last comparable sale, but buyers have not been willing to play at these levels.

We are very excited to be bringing two major farm and ranch properties – Hager and Bliss – to the auction market this fall. These represent great opportunities for operators and investors alike.