Ranch sales good, reports Fay Ranches



It’s a gorgeous Montana day when I find myself talking to Ever Charles of Fay Ranches, Inc. based in Bozeman. Though I’ve never thought of owning a ranch in the Rockies, this is the kind of crisp, blue-sky day when that kind of thought could cross the mind of even a city kid like me.

Ms. Charles has been with Fay Ranches—a ranch real estate company—for two years and says she “absolutely loves” her job. Check out the website (pictured above) and you can see why—her ‘office’ is some of the most beautiful land in the world. “And the people are down to earth and family-oriented. We enjoy the outdoors life and have fun together.”

But they do get down to business—the business of selling American ranch lands, that is, like the ranches you’ll see on our sister site, flyfishingranchesandlodges.com. Charles tells me that 2012 has been a good year so far for the company—they’ve sold ranches in every price category and genre, from large working ranches valued at over $20 million to small fishing ranches in the $1 to $3 million range.

But if I really want the inside scoop, Charles says I should talk to Gregory Fay, owner/broker of Fay Ranches, Inc. I learn that Greg Fay graduated in 1984 from the University of Colorado with a degree in English Literature, but has been a full-time real estate broker since 1986. Now, his company operates in five states with 19 agents and seven satellite offices.gfay1109788967

So of course I have to ask Mr. Fay (shown at left) how one goes from a degree in English Literature to being a real estate broker. But really, it’s not a fair question, since how many college grads actually end up with a job in the field their degree covers?

Still, Fay says, his studies have helped, “I do a great deal of writing and I have a tremendous appreciation for good writing. So my degree has been handy for all the writing and communications for the company—accurate communication is essential in this work.”

Ranch transactions are far more complex than residential real estate–and why folks need a specialist And even after twenty years as a realtor selling ranchlands, he continues to find the job fascinating. “Every day I’m learning something new,” Fay contends, “which is what makes this job so fun and challenging. A lot of multi-generational ranches have water rights issues, title issues, neighbor issues. My experience of twenty-odd years helps me solve them.”

Flexibility is another skill that has helped make Fay Ranches, Inc. a success during the past few years of a challenging economy. “The last three years have changed the real estate landscape,” Fay notes, adding that many brokerage firms haven’t made it. “But the first two quarters in 2012 have been the strongest in the history of Fay Ranches. There’s a slingshot effect coming out of the recession and it has been an opportunity to increase market share.”

It may also be a fantastic time to buy a ranch. In his 2012 Ranch Market Update, Fay says “When I ask buyers why they have entered the ranch market, the reasons I hear are as follow:

‘I feel the market has hit bottom, and I want to take advantage of the opportunities.’

‘I want to invest in something tangible that I can enjoy; I like ranches because there will always be a diminishing supply.’

‘I have frugal fatigue.’

‘My business is doing well, and I have discretionary money again.”

What’s even more interesting is that today’s buyers aren’t just speculators. “Its really satisfying to work with today’s clients–largely families,” Fay tells me. “Any property today, it has to pass the investment test. The consistent theme is value.”

“Once the transaction is completed, it becomes very much a family investment,” Fay concludes. Overall, Fay feels ‘tentatively optimistic that we are in the beginning stages of a slow and moderate growth market for ranches.’

Four pillars—sporting pursuits, family, conservation, ranch value—are the bedrock of Fay’s success as a realtor. “It central to our mission and its who we are. It was not a strategic decision, just who we are. As a broker, you can have a very tangible effect on these lands,” Fay says. And the Fay Ranches outfit wants their effect to be a positive one.  “To float down a river and know that a whole bank is protected by a conservation easement of clients of ours–it’s pretty gratifying.”


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