Firm premieres ranch-equestrian brand
SANTA FE PROPERTIES HAS ADDED A NEWBUILDING TO ITS COMPLEX at 1000 Paseo de Peralta, and in the building is a newbrand for the company: Farm, Ranch & Equestrian. The firm owned by Gerald Peters has just expanded its real estate with purchases of several buildings south of its main office— 419 Orchard Drive (the former home of Milagro Herbs), 417 Orchard, and 417 1/2 Orchard— and has bought the 216Washington Avenue building that it has occupied since 2011; this is now its luxury boutique office.
Liz Cale, Santa Fe Properties qualifying broker and president, said DonWood is directing the Farm, Ranch & Equestrian operation, covering the State of New Mexico. Wood grewup as a cowboy on a big Texas ranch, was a rodeo performer “from Canada to Mexico,” as he puts it, and has had his own company, Mountain Country Ranches, in Colorado for almost 20 years.
“When I came here a year ago and got my license, there was a large national ranch company talking to me about becoming their representative in New Mexico, then I was introduced to Liz Cale. When I walked out of that 45-minute meeting, I had goosebumps and I said, I’m going to join this company, because she has a vision. She has a vision to brand something that is needed here, and I was very impressed.
Wood, a longtime horseman and horse trainer who also taught wilderness survival in the Rocky Mountains, is a member of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, an advisory board member of the Santa Fe County Horse Coalition, and cofounder and board member of Listening Horse Therapeutic Riding.
He once spent three years studying wild horses. “They have a communication system. I adopted a deaf horse one time and taught him sign language and after six years he came alive and he became a champion horse. It’s a very warm feeling that an animal can give you when he trusts you completely and that gives you confidence to work with other four-leggeds. The animal world is very important tome.”
He said the Texas ranch he was raised on “would be called organic” if it was still there. “It was all grass-fed beef and we didn’t use chemicals and fertilizers. That’s the way you farmed and ranched back then.” The closest town was Bowie, 35 miles away. “I didn’t know what neighbor meant. When I knew was that in branding season, all the other ranchers came and helped; those were our neighbors. It was a different world. I have thousands of stories I could tell you, but everytime I get into them, people look at me like I’m two hundred years old.
“I cowboyed all my life as a boy. But my father looked at me one day and said, ‘You like cowboying too much and there’s another world out there,’ so he sent me to college and I went off to Europe and South America and built businesses there.”
He got into cowboy boot design and fashion marketing for a while, then created a company teaching sales and marketing in Europe and South America. Ultimately, he wanted to get back to his roots. “Even when I was in the fashion world, I had many horses. I would come back after a week or two in Europe and go sit onmy horses half the night. I had a ranch in Steamboat Springs and I had a place in Durango, and outside of Denver. The four-leggeds are some of my best friends.”
Wood has two sons from a prior marriage. His wife is Laura Pearson, who was a creative director when he met her at a So- theby’s auction house in Manhattan. “At 25, she went to Ecuador and started a company [Tijuca] designing handknit sweaters and went on to win four international design awards.“
The old cowboy is also a broker in Florida. Few people realize that 90 percent of Florida is ranch country, he said.
How has he fared during the recent hurricanes? “I have three large ranches there and two of them are under water,” he said on Sept. 19. “The cattle are used to it. Those are cracker cattle, which is a type that was left over from the Spanish in the 1500s.”
Wood said his customers in this new Farm, Ranch & Equestrian division are “people whowant to be, or can be educated to be, in an agricultural environment. Today, a lot of my buyers are hedge-funders who always wanted to be a cowboy and now they have enough money to play at it. And a lot of them ask, ‘By the way, do you know anybody who can run this thing for me?’ That’s the ranch manager, and there are a lot of young peoplewho have grown up on ranches and I can fit them in to this.
“The other thing that often happens is that someone buys a ranch and doesn’t know exactly what to do with it. I sold a 1,700-acre ranch and the man just wanted to keep it. I said, How would you like to have a tax advantage? He said, ‘What are you talking about?’ and I told himabout conservation easements. Then I said, You have a thousand acres that’s great pasture and I know a guy who will fertilize it, seed it, and sell it, and he’ll give you 40 percent of what he makes. And the other 700 acres, you can run cattle on it. He didn’t want to run cattle, but I told himI could find someone who will lease it and pay him $10 to $20 a head a month. He said, ‘My god, bring that on.’ This is way beyond residential property sales.”
But how often will he find that type of client? Wood said that over the past 18 years he has built a network of more than 800 websites that cater to that kind of buyer. “These are hunting and fishing websites, agricultural websites, cattle and horseman websites, even agricultural financing companies, because the average bank doesn’t want anything to do with ranches.”
After 9/11, and with the development of more powerful personal computers and internet services, more people want to get out of cities and do business wherever. Is that a trend that also applies to ranch properties? “Very much so,” Wood said. “There was an article in theWall Street Journal about three weeks ago that said the new gated community that is popularity with investors today has 50- to 100-acre parcels nestled together and gated.” He hinted that he knew of “a couple things coming up in this area” that fit that bill.
Wood is working with David Mead, another broker at Santa Fe Properties. “David’s a very strong horse person and very strong in real estate. We’re going to build the brand, and we’re going to bring in other Realtors. I’ve seen lots of Realtors get into trouble selling farm, ranches, and equestrian properties. There are water issues and mineral-rights issues. You have to know what kind of grass is growing and you have to know what kind of soil will grow good grass.
“I tell Realtors, If you have somebody wanting to buy a ranch property in Clovis, don’t say, I don’t do that. Bring them to me, and I’ll pay you a 25 percent referral. I built a whole business like that in Colorado. If it’s too far away or out of your knowledge area, please call me.” The office number at Santa Fe Properties is 505-982-4466.