Excerpt One from Land for Love and Money – Volume One          

It was 2003. A tiny black-and-white ad stuck in the classified grid at the back of a local newspaper in Wyoming jumped out at me: “Twenty-eight-hundred acres of pristine mountain land, creeks, secluded.”

I was looking for a suitable 1031 exchange property to defer a large capital gain on a pending sale of a ranch in Montana. Owned by long-time partners for more than two decades, the Montana ranch had been enhanced pursuant to a twenty-year resource and agricultural improvement plan. Values had increased exponentially. Truly an exceptional agricultural and recreational ranch property, portions of it had been preserved by conservation easements. One of our favorite places, we were sorry to let it go, but all things have their time. My partners instructed me to find a property of equal or better value and beauty. I had a tough job ahead of me—just like anyone in a similar situation, and regardless of how large or small the acreage.

My search parameters concentrated on certain areas, which, due to macro-economic circumstances, demographic trends, and conformance to our acquisition checklist (Workbook Section 1, Schedule 1), demonstrated superior agricultural and recreational potential, along with realistic possibilities for increase in value via market trends, agricultural and resource improvements, and preservation.

It was no accident that I searched the obscure pages of the small-town paper in Wyoming. Southeastern Wyoming is home to the little-known but exceptionally beautiful Laramie Mountain Range. This undiscovered area lies just two hours north of Denver and the teeming Front Range of Colorado. I was sure that this location would become ever more popular for outdoor recreation and as an agricultural and cattle center near a major metropolitan area. The story unraveled in a most fascinating way.”


Except Two from Land for Love and Money – Volume One

The basic criteria of a sound purchase agreement includes: price, terms, finance, place and date of closing, conditions, contingencies, and additional provisions. However, layered into each of these basic contractual components are a myriad of advantageous or disadvantageous details. Many times it is the details that make or break a deal, ensure long-term success, or cement eventual failure.  Your sense of business—and many of the land and real estate business secrets in these volumes—along with the critical input of your legal, realtor, and accounting team can make the difference.

These details can protect you from unsavory circumstances; for instance, if the seller were to attempt to void your contract and sell the property to someone else, effectively leaving you high and dry, or refuse to return your earnest money. These details can also protect you if the property does not check out based on your due diligence research. A well-written agreement allows you to “reach back” after closing, if a problem should later arise from a lack of disclosure by the seller or seller’s agent.

The agreement should also address any additional matters over and above those which applicable state or provincial statutes state clearly do not merge with (terminate), but survive, a closing, such as a seller’s continuing post-closing warranties or promises. It is the details that may afford you closing or financing flexibility ever increasing, and confusing, if external economic, governmental, terror-related, or similar matters of force majeure occur prior to closing (See Chapter 3). These general examples are only a few of the many possible scenarios that should be on your radar screen. (An outline of contract considerations developed by me and used by my firms over almost three decades is set forth the Volume One, Green for Green workbook.)


Excerpt Three from Land for Love and Money – Volume One

If you have a buyer’s broker with whom you have a Buyer’s Agency Agreement, that’s great! A qualified broker experienced with land can be your first line of defense. He or she can bring invaluable experience to the purchase equation. Residential realtors typically do not have the specialized knowledge necessary for most land transactions. Remember that the seller’s agent or broker owes their allegiance and agency by law to the seller, not to you. If you are not represented by a buyer’s broker, or if you decide not to assemble a full acquisition team, I highly recommend that you at least have competent real estate competent real estate counsel domiciled and licensed within the same state, and preferably the same county as the property you wish to purchase. There is no substitute for local knowledge, network, and contacts. Do not sign any purchase agreement without having it reviewed by your attorney and buyer’s broker. A seemingly innocuous detail or an inconspicuous term can be the cause of severe post-contract regret.

Don’t be afraid to add special provisions or conditions to your contract. Don’t be too bashful to ask for something you want, or too lackadaisical to care. Don’t blow off an opportunity to get things right at the very outset. Additional provisions or conditions can be suited to your needs and goals, to your financial reality and long-term plan for the property (See Chapter Three). If you employ a standard-form contract, these matters can be set forth in the “Additional Provisions” section. If the selling broker whines that there is only so much space on the preprinted form, look him or her in the eye and say, “Then let’s add some additional provision pages as an addendum or a continuance of the Additional Provisions Section.”


Excerpt Four from Land for Love and Money – Volume One

On that June occasion in 1972, my buddy Bob was behind the wheel of an F-250 one evening, intent on reaching the Madison River in time to fish. I was in the co-pilot’s seat. In front of me, the open glove compartment door formed a tray for the fly-tying equipment, where I was industriously turning out big brown stonefly nymphs. Bob and I were making our annual Colorado-to-Montana pilgrimage to fish the Bear Trap Canyon of the Madison, prior to the salmon fly hatch. Around us, the verdant green of coming summer valleys swept into snow-capped peaks, and the grey-blue of sage covered the flanks of the late spring mountainsides.

We were screaming through Southwest Montana on US-287. I gazed out the window and admired the grandeur of the place. It was near dusk, and the fading sun had painted shadows, which sharply etched the contours and canyons, draws and washes, and the flow of the topography. One huge chunk of land on the flank of the Tobacco Roots called to me, even from miles away. Stunned, I pointed out the window and said matter-of-factly, “One day I’m gonna own that ranch.”

Bob looked at me with one eyebrow raised and a bemused half smile. With a somewhat deprecating tone, he responded, “We need ten more stone flies and we’re only a half an hour from the river. Get tying. Stop talking.”

In 1999, twenty-six years after it spoke to me that dusky spring morning in the F-250 headed to the Madison, several partners and I purchased that large, remarkably beautiful swath of the west face of the Tobacco Roots, with plans to restore the vitality of that sadly degraded working ranch, enhance its resources, and preserve the same through conservation easement grants. (Our cutting-edge work with easements and easement amendments on that fine ranch, from 2000 until 2006, will be discussed later in the chapter, as well as the less than desirable end result of all our hard work and preservation.)