It’s one of those days, the kind when the sky is just a stretch of turquoise blue and a smattering of cotton-ball clouds. To the right, tall wisps of wheat and grass, to the left, towering hills shaded purple and green, cut in places by thin, glistening streams…
No, this isn’t a description of the backdrop for a soon-to-be released Western film. It’s the scene Greg Fay, founder of Fay Ranches brokerage, sees all the time while showing premium ranching and sporting properties to his clients. And with price tags ranging from $1 million to $100 million, Fay likens the complex process of taking a ranch from due diligence to the closing table as nothing short of real estate combat. But if this is a battle, Fay — whose gross sales for Fay Ranches topped $180 million last year — may have already won the fight.
“It’s not an investment prone to the vagaries of human whimsy like the SEC having a bad day and the stocks responding to it,” Fay says about the motivation behind the increasingly popular ranch ownership trend. In fact, for Fay’s clients — many of whom he describes as among the most successful businessmen in the world — ranch real estate is more viable an option than dealing with the fickleness of today’s stock market. “When it comes to ranches, my clients are very bullish,” he says, perhaps with pun intended.
But beyond the financial benefits, there’s a recreational and familial aspect to ranch ownership too. “You can just watch clients’ shoulders drop as they get to the ranch,” Fay says. “Then they get to see their kids or grandkids running around, skipping stones in the pond or riding 4-wheelers or a horse.” For Fay’s clientele, it’s about giving their children these “non-Nintendo moments” — like observing a bull moose ramble in an open field or listening to an elk bugle on a quiet night. “You can’t get those same experiences from stocks,” he says. “All you get from stocks is heartburn.”
However, convincing potential buyers that ranch ownership is an investment worth making still takes work — and a little bit of creative marketing. “Catching a big fish can be one of the strongest sales tactics we have,” Fay says, adding that many times, a “showing” consists of fly fishing, hiking, or even floating clients down the river on drift boats so they can get a better sense of the expansive landscape as they leisurely cruise on the water.
One of Fay’s favorite moments happened with two of his longtime clients: They were interested in purchasing a property but weren’t quite convinced. At dusk, Fay brought them to a particularly beautiful vista boasting panoramic views of the hilly, lush terrain. As the sun set between the mountains, Fay arranged a twilight happy hour, complete with folding chairs and margaritas for all. “My client’s wife was hurting a little the next morning,” he says, “but they bought the ranch!”
REALTORS® who are interested in specializing in ranch and land sales can learn more about becoming an Accredited Land Consultant at REALTORS® Land Institute.