wsj ranch feature

wsj ranch feature

Meet The Brokers Who Wrangle Luxury Ranch Sales
These brokers face grizzlies and avalanches to sell multi-million dollar Western properties

Live Jackson Hole’s Chopper Grassell and Richard Lewis were recently featured in Wall Street Journal article, Meet The Brokers Who Wrangle Luxury Ranch Sales.


“Routinely spending years with clients before they buy, ranch brokers must be equal parts tour guide, park ranger, financial adviser and agriculture expert, adept at representing both lifelong cattle ranchers and urban billionaires, and discussing heli-skiing in the same breath as complex water and mineral rights. “You can be sitting around the kitchen of a third-generation rancher having coffee in the morning, and then in the afternoon you’re in the truck with a very well-known, successful business person from Palo Alto or New York,” said Greg Fay, the founder of Fay Ranches who last year sold newscaster Tom Brokaw ’s Montana ranch, which had been listed at $17.9 million. He added: “We joke that it’s like being bilingual.

Ranch brokerage in its current form is relatively new. It was only a few decades ago that moneyed, big-city elites like Ted Turner, Charles Schwab and Malcolm Forbes started buying up Rocky Mountain ranchland primarily for recreational rather than agricultural purposes.”

“In the early 2000s, money was so easy, it was just pouring in,” recalled David Halgerson, a ranch broker in southwestern Idaho. In 2007, Mr. Forbes’s heirs sold his Colorado ranch for $175 million—more than 20 times the estimated $50 an acre the patriarch had paid in the 1960s.”

richard lewis chopper grassel wsj

The article goes on to quote Richard Lewis, “but since the 2008 financial crisis, ranch buyers have become much more cautious, and are more likely to scrutinize a property’s agricultural production (or “ag,” as ranch brokers call it) as well as the views, said Wyoming ranch broker Richard Lewis. Mr. Lewis said he once worked with a client for eight years before he finally bought a ranch for $48 million.”

“Brokers have to sell not just a property, but the ranching lifestyle and romance of the Old West. Often—and this is the fun part for brokers—that means behaving like a glorified tour guide, taking clients hunting, horseback riding and fly-fishing. The job tends to attract people who embody the lifestyle buyers are looking to emulate,” the article goes on to talk about.

Chopper Grassell also says in the article, “Nobody’s getting rich doing this—you’ve got to love the land.”


Article by Candace Taylor on August 22, 2019 and photography by Greg Von Doersten for the Wall Street Journal.

Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, the region’s largest and most dynamic real estate company, is proud to present our comprehensive Market Report for the year end of 2018. Assembled from Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates’ proprietary database, the most extensive source of information about the region’s real estate market, and insight from our dedicated team of professionals, the report provides valuable insight into the market segments that make up the Jackson Hole area.


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Jackson Hole Market Report

We are pleased to present our comprehensive market report for the mid-year 2018. In this detailed report, you will find information on the market segments making up the Jackson Hole area. As the market leader in Jackson Hole, we have developed a more dynamic report that sheds fresh light on the insights and trends that are shaping our real estate market.

Jackson Hole’s real estate market started very strong in the first half of 2018 with number of transactions up 11% and average sale price up 10%. Even more important to note was the increase in median sale price, a more accurate indicator, up 22% from a year ago. The majority of transactions were in the $500,000 – $1 million price segment, however, there was a sharp increase in transactions over $5 million, up 77%. This sharp increase drove total dollar volume up by 33% compared to a year ago. The single family home segment was the most popular among buyers achieving 41% of the mid-year market share. Inventory continued to decrease as did well-priced new inventory, which was a contributor to the 23% decrease in active listings and 13% decrease in average days on market. CLICK TO VIEW FULL REPORT.

As a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, we are privy to global economic insights from LeadingRE’s Chief Economist, Marci Rossell, who takes complex economic issues and makes them relevant to buying and selling real estate. In this edition, we are covering Rising Home Prices and Affordability.

Home prices have skyrocketed causing an affordable housing crisis in many parts of the globe, particularly with first time home buyers. To help make housing more affordable, some governments are taking action by placing restrictions on the purchase of real estate. In addition, market-based solutions are occurring


  • Restrictions may keep some foreign buyers from purchasing homes.
  • To control home prices, some countries are purchasing property.


  • New companies have emerged with creative solutions and programs to help homebuyers with a down payment or make monthly mortgage payments. In return, when a buyers sells the property, the appreciation is split.
  • Another example is a start-up in Seattle, Washington, USA, helping homebuyers come up with a down payment in exchange for a share of Airbnb revenues that the property generates.

Expect to see more innovative market-based solutions occurring, providing a better answer to affordable housing without causing home values to decrease or be suffocated in the long run.