Updated: Jul 23, 2020
For many people, buying a ranch surrounded by beautiful countryside is part and parcel of the American dream. Perhaps you already own a ranch and are looking at selling it and moving on to the next exciting stage in your life.
Ranches come in all shapes and sizes. They also have a wide variety of uses including vineyards, fishing, cattle, hunting, hay and of course, proper working ranches. As such, buying or selling a ranch can be very different to a regular home. There are certain considerations you should take in to account to choose the right ranch for your requirements, or get top dollar for the ranch you are selling.
Top tips for buying a ranch
Decide what you want your ranch for?
With so many types of ranch available, you want to ensure you pick one that fits your needs. If relaxing with plenty of private outdoor space if your priority then a working ranch that requires time and commitment is probably not the right choice for you. However, many ranches are created with productivity in mind, so if you want to grow crops, rear livestock or create a haven for hunting or fishing, then you will need to find a ranch with the space and amenities required to support your aim.
Think about location
Ranches are almost always very rural, isolated properties. If you will need to commute to work, have family and friends coming to visit, children that are in school, or if you will be employing people, then travel time should be a major consideration.
Equally, if you are moving out of a city or town, then you are probably used to having amenities such as local stores, malls and recreational facilities nearby. Decide how far away you are comfortable living from those you use most regularly and use that as a guide for the location of your new home.
Gather your intel
There is a whole heap of paperwork involved in purchasing any property, and often a good deal more in the case of buying a ranch. Surveys, legal descriptions, tax information, classification (agriculture, timber etc), mineral ownership, water rights, wind rights, the results of environmental assessments, conservation easement documents….. these are just some of the documents that you will need to find out everything about your prospective ranch and decide if it is the right purchase for you. Choose a realtor and attorney with specialist knowledge in ranches to give you the support you need interpreting and assessing the paperwork!
Know your livestock
If you are buying a ranch with the intention of going into the cattle business then in addition to preparing yourself for a lot of hard work, you will also need to know your livestock and understand the requirements and commitment that a successful cattle farm needs. This can include knowing how much cattle the land with your ranch can support, what livestock you would like to keep and what the financial implications may be.
We highly recommend seeking the advice of a professional, such as local county agricultural extension agents and local veterinarians.
Top tips for selling a ranch
Get your property appraised by the right person.
Whether your ranch has been in your family for generations, or you are the first farm owner in your generation, you will undoubtedly be anxious to get the best value for your home. Ensure that you get an appraisal from a specialized agricultural real estate appraiser as they will have the unique knowledge necessary to properly assess factors that are unique to ranches – such as soil conditions, water and irrigation, crop yields, climate and environmental easements.
Get to grips with the taxation involved
Ranches are considered to be business entities, and as such are subject to taxes beyond that of a standard residential home. However, the types of taxation are far from straightforward and the various rates and treatments apply depending on factors such as land, livestock and equipment that is being held. To be certain that you know where you stand in terms of taxation, we strongly recommend that you consult with an experienced tax consultant.
The financial bit
If you are selling a productive ranch, then potential buyers will be very interested to know how successful you have been. Up to date accounts of the expenses incurred while operating the farm, and proof of the income and profit you have made while running it will be important to anyone coming to view your property.
Choose the right realtor
Again, a ranch is very different to a standard property and so a realtor with experience in selling agricultural property and land is essential if you are to market your ranch correctly and to the right audience. Ask around other local ranches for recommendations and ensure you meet with the realtor and find out more about them and their experience before signing on with them.