Questions To Ask When Buying Ranch Land

Posted on: 15 April 2020

The listings that show ranch properties for sale can only share so much about a property. After all, listings tend to be fairly brief, and ranches are expansive properties. If you're going to buy a ranch that's for sale, there are several questions to ask before you decide to purchase it.

What Is the Full Extent of the Operations?

The best ranches for sale aren't just remote acreages of vacant land but have existing business operations in place. Before purchasing a ranch, you need to have a firm understanding of all its operations so that you can continue them after the sale goes through.

The reason to continue a ranch's operations isn't just so that you can continue to profit from any proceeds that the ranch earns. In many situations, the owner of a ranch also needs to maintain continuous operations in order to keep their ranch's public grazing rights and agricultural tax classification. Should you cease operations and lose these two benefits, the value and operating costs of a ranch could significantly change.

What Is the Water Situation?

Water is an essential asset of any ranch, and listings of ranches for sale might note the basics of a property's water situation. No listing will capture all of the water-related details you'll need to know as a prospective owner of the land, though. There are at least three specific related issues that you must investigate.

First, you need to determine where the ranch's water sources are. These may include lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams that are on the property itself, as well as rights to water sources on neighbor's lands or public lands.

Second, investigate the yearly and seasonal flows of whatever water sources a ranch has access to. Water sources vary a lot in most ranching regions, and you'll want to make sure the cattle can drink year-round. Your operating costs will go up a lot if you have to truck in water during arid times of the year.

Finally, find out what rights the public has to your ranch's water sources. Public water rights vary from state to state, so you should have an attorney check the state laws for wherever a ranch is located. Some states will allow anyone to access your ranch's water sources.

Whether the public has access to water sources is especially important to know if you plan to fish much. Access rights will determine who else might fish on your ranch.