Navigating a Montana Land Sale: Do I need a broker or realtor?

January 3, 2020
The decision to buy or sell land is a personal one. That’s because it is not just a piece of land. If you are selling, it’s the field you and your family worked. It’s where your kids took their first wobbly steps. It’s where you’d sneak down to the stream on hot days. If you are buying, it’s where you imagine future memories being made. It’s where your family will gather, spend long summer days together and holidays in the snow.

Montana farms and ranches are full of memories. Generations of children have grown, played and been married on the family ranch. When it comes time to sell, or buy, one of these enduring properties, it’s important to work with someone who understands the true value of the land. In this article, we talk about the differences between a real estate agent and land broker and equip you with information and questions to ask during the process of finding a representative in the real estate industry.

Broker or Agent

A real estate agent is someone who has earned a real estate license. A broker, in general, is someone who has pursued further education and has passed a broker license exam. A land broker is someone who specializes in the sale of large tracts of land like farms and ranches. Finding the right agent or broker to help you through the process can lead you to the right property for you, equip you with the information you need to make decisions and leave you with no questions or surprises after the purchase. While we see neighbors buy and sell properties all the time without the help of an agent or broker, going at it on your own certainly is not for everyone. Some people feel comfortable navigating the process themselves. The buyer and seller discuss and agree on terms then have an attorney draft the documentation to be executed and recorded. But these are folks who have been dealing with federal land leases and water rights their whole life and who know one another. Not everyone is prepared to handle the details of a land transaction themselves. In this case, an expert can be extremely helpful. If you are new to large land purchases, particularly ones in Montana, the right agent can be a great asset. There are a lot of details involved in farm, ranch and recreational transactions. Having a trusted partner on your side to help facilitate that transaction can ensure that your interests are being prioritized. At 18 Land Co., we help people who don’t have the years of on-the-ground knowledge and relationships that we do.

Questions to ask 

When talking to an agent or broker, the main trait we tell people to look for is integrity. You want someone who will put your needs first. Ask about their experience. How long have they been working in this field? How familiar are they with Montana land? Ask what they consider to be the crucial points about owning a large tract of land in Montana. Learn what they think are potential negatives to owning a Montana farm or ranch. The right agent or broker will be one who is knowledgeable and willing to share that information with you. You should feel that they will do what is in your best interest throughout the entire process.

Do your homework

Before making a decision on a land agent or broker, do your homework. It’s as easy as going online to do some quick research. Visit several websites to get familiar with different companies that focus on recreational properties and farm and ranch sales.

After your online research, call your top choices and talk with someone from each firm. Call around until you make a connection with someone. Making a connection doesn’t mean finding someone who will tell you what you want to hear; it’s finding someone who will be up front with you about the details of a property, even the ones that you might not want to hear. There will be aspects about every piece of property that aren’t perfect, but they should be disclosed.

On-the-ground experts

At 18 Land Co., we have realtors and brokers on our team, but accreditations don’t make people experts. Classes and workshops can’t make you a specialist in farm and ranch sales. But time and experience can. Our team is made up of folks who have owned, operated, bought and sold large farms and ranches several times over. We have worked out the terms with the other buyer or seller ourselves. Additionally, our 18 Land Co. broker has been focusing on the sales of farms and ranches in Southwest Montana for his entire 15-year career. This first-hand knowledge and industry insight specific to Southwest Montana means that we provide guidance specific to the land and the market here.

Our dedication to helping you acquire and maintain Montana land that is right for you extends beyond the sale. We also offer a full range of land concierge services, including management for wildlife habitat, water and streams, farms and ranch operations and administration and finance services. We are committed to being your partners before, during and after the sale.

At the end of the day, finding the right representative to buy and sell land is about great service, honesty, knowledge and integrity. Give us a call if you’d like to know more about land brokerage and real estate sales in Montana. We’re happy to help!

If you have questions or would like to talk to one of us about navigating a Montana land sale, we welcome you to contact Nate Finch at 406.660.2601 or OR Keith Handlos at 406.925.1814or