Vail Ask a Realtor column: Location, size can impact ranch property price |

Vail Ask a Realtor column: Location, size can impact ranch property price

Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan: I have made a commitment to myself to finally go ahead and purchase a ranch on the Western Slope this year. I have been looking for years, and some of the ranches I have looked at are still on the market, several years later. Does that mean there is something wrong with them? Also, when a ranch first comes on the market, is that a bad time to look at it, because they won’t be flexible on price?

I have so many questions, including what is the going rate per acre for a small to medium-sized ranch? I know you sell this type of property, and I would value your opinion. Thanks.


Dear Soon-to-be-Rancher: This is going to be a wonderful adventure for you and your family. It may be one of the most important times to make sure you have a realtor who has access to the knowledge about the area, irrigation and domestic water, rights-of-way, public or private access, easements, grazing leases, wells, septic systems and more.

No realtor has knowledge of every possible issue, but your realtor can help you do a well-structured offer that will put you on the best path to having a smooth, successful transaction.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Now, to address your specific questions: Outlying acreages and ranches usually take some time to sell. It is a small pool of buyers looking for this type of property, and each of the properties is so unique, it is time consuming to match the right buyer to the right property.

Why is the property still on the market?

If a ranch has been on the market for many months, or years, then it could mean a huge variety of things: too expensive for the type of buyer looking for that size or location of property; it has some sort of difficulty, such as access, water or location; it is so unique that it only fits the needs of very few buyers; and there are many other scenarios.

It does not necessarily mean it would not be a wise buy, with the correct guidance. If a ranch is newly on the market, then you could be right, that they might stick more closely to their asking price. On the other hand, they may have put it on the market because they need the money soon. There is only one way to find out, and that is by putting in an offer if you like it.

Finally, going rate varies greatly due to the number and quality of the improvements on the property, the size of the property (smaller parcels go for much more per acre than ranches that are hundreds, or even thousands, of acres) and, most importantly, the location of the property. If you are fortunate enough to find what you want in Eagle County, then you will be paying much more per acre (four to five times as much sometimes) then, say, for instance, in Delta County. However, the beauty and location make the higher price worth it to many buyers.

And, as you know, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and all of Colorado has its own uniquely beautiful landscapes. Please check with your realtor for specific comparative acreage prices, and have fun making your ranch selection.

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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