Ranchers seeking to protect the value of their property are aces at simple maintenance. For many ranch owners, ranch maintenance is part of their daily ranch management routine, right up there with caring for livestock, doing their books and taking care of their families.
A properly maintained ranch is going to hold its value. And, truth be told, it’s a big job that goes beyond what average homeowners have to deal with. Maintenance might be the biggest key to protecting a ranch investment over time, and it will show when it comes time to sell.
For ranch owners, needed maintenance is often intuitive, and it starts with the basics. The ranch home itself is the core of any successful ranching operation. It’s also the place to start when it comes to maintenance, and the work is likely familiar to just about any homeowner. It entails taking care of everything from the furnace to the roof and all the appliances, plumbing and electrical in between.
But most ranches with any appreciable acreage will also have outbuildings, like barns, shops and garages. These need to be properly maintained, too. So, too, does the equipment in those outbuildings — tractors, vehicles, tools … the list goes on.
Finally, a ranch’s land needs near-constant attention. Ranch maintenance is nuanced. Often, it depends heavily on the land’s use and purpose. Hay fields, for instance, are going to require more attention than land that’s being nurtured for wildlife habitat. If a ranch possesses marketable timber, a maintenance plan should include frequent undergrowth clearing to protect the trees from the potential of wildfire. Riparian habitat that’s vital to livestock and wildlife is going to require a completely different maintenance plan. Game cameras for hunting ranches need to be checked frequently and batteries need to be replaced or charged.
There are hundreds of little tasks, and they all add up.
The point is, maintenance on a ranch isn’t an infrequent task. It’s a daily chore, and if ranchers wish to protect their ranch investment, it’s a chore they’ll take very seriously.
The home place
Keeping the ranch house in good repair is a good place to start. Maintaining the home’s heating and AC system is simple and basic, yet it can also be costly. The same is true for plumbing and electrical. Keeping an eye on the home’s exterior is also important, both for simple function and value. Peeling paint and time-worn shingles are going to be among the first things potential buyers notice when ranches are listed for sale. And, often, the failure to keep up with this simple maintenance is telling to buyers. It likely means there are more problems with the property that aren’t as easy to see.
Yard maintenance is also important. Keeping the ranch house yard mowed and weeded and the trees trimmed lets potential buyers know that the owners of the property care for their home. A presentable and well-kept ranch home and yard sends subtle signals to buyers. “The people who live here care about this place,” is the message many will take away from a visit to a well-maintained home.
The outbuildings and improvements
Taking care of barns, shops and garages is just as important as taking care of a ranch house. This is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to a ranch as a business. Carefully maintained outbuildings shelter valuable equipment, important vehicles and tools that make a ranch run. What’s more, structurally sound buildings, be they for tools, equipment or livestock hold more value than slowly crumbling or time-worn buildings. Sure, older and wearing buildings might have some character. But if they don’t function and help with the ranch’s overall purpose, they might pull value from the property. Future owners may see them as expensive liabilities.
Keeping buildings intact and functional is important if ranchers might one day wish to sell. A fresh coat of paint every few years can protect outbuildings from rot and decay. Making sure the little things, like door hinges, windows and flooring are in good repair will help with a sale down the road. Making sure fences are mended frequently and that their wire is strung tightly will protect livestock and wildlife. Keeping ranch roads in good repair, even if they’re just dirt two-tracks, will show a level of care that buyers will appreciate when it comes time to sell.
Most ranches function only as well as their equipment. Everything from tractors to construction tools to livestock tack needs frequent attention to stay in working order. Ranch vehicle maintenance is a regular chore that must be done in order to keep trucks and ATVs running well. These tasks, if left undone, can impact the overall operation of a working ranch. What’s more, potential buyers interested in bundling ranch equipment in with a real estate purchase will likely consider the condition of the equipment.
This land is your land
That’s literally true. So take care of it. Land maintenance can be fairly easy to very intense, depending largely on the land’s purpose. Many ranches will have different stretches of acreage devoted to different uses, from grazing pasture, to hay fields to timber crops. Sometimes, land needs to simply be left in its natural state to benefit wildlife for ranchers who hunt and fish (or for ranchers who lease hunting and fishing access). Even then, there’s work to be done. Trails must be cleared and maintained. Undergrowth needs to be managed to reduce the intensity of wildfire. Timber resources need to be protected for overall market value.
To potential ranch buyers, healthy land sends an important message. Weed-choked pastures or hay fields show neglect. Overgrown fence lines show a lack of basic maintenance. Overgrazed pasture shows negligence in livestock and land management. Taking care of these basic land-management tasks is important and makes a ranch more valuable.
The final word
Just like any operation, simple maintenance keeps things running smoothly. Maintenance isn’t what we often think of when we talk about ranch real estate and owning ranch property. But a ranch is an investment that can and will appreciate over time, so long as it’s properly maintained. Doing the little things every day to make sure a ranch functions is vital to a ranch’s purpose … and to its overall value when it comes time to consider a sale.