Firm pre­mieres ranch-eques­trian brand

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Wei­de­man

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.


Don Wood

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