Land for Sale in Montana: The Top 5 Things You Need To Know • Mirr Ranch Group (2023)

By Daniel Carter

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With summer fast approaching we are gearing up for another busy season of strong activity representing land for sale in Montana and other markets across the Rocky Mountain West. Mirr Ranch Group services a wide geographic area in order to provide our clients unfettered representation and expertise of significant landscapes across nine different states. While we operate on a broad scale we also understand the specific dynamics and trends of each state or region we work in. As such, a geographically large and diverse state like Montana has a lot to offer, but also creates a market that can be somewhat overwhelming or perplexing to understand. In order for our clients to better recognize drivers and current market conditions surrounding Montana real estate, we’ve compiled this report with the assistance and input of a few trusted industry experts. Here’s what you need to know:

#1: Agriculture in Montana is King

In comparison to other western states, Montana’s economy isstill fundamentally driven by agriculture. With the exception of the more developedmountain valleys in the western region, the ag industry still reigns supreme inBig Sky Country. By the numbers Montana has:

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  • Over 27,000 farms;
  • Spreadacross 60 million total acres with each property averaging 2,207 acres in size,
  • That altogether produce around $4.6 billion inannual revenue 1.

These agricultural activities have historically played a major role in valuation of all rural land in Montana. In turn this creates a market condition that is heavily reliant on the broader trends happening in national and international commodities markets. While agriculture remains a cornerstone of Montana’s ranch market today, it is increasingly difficult for an operational ranch to “pencil out” as outside circumstances have emerged and changed the market dynamic.

#2: The Increasing Allure and Values

Over the past15 years there has been an increasing allure for out of state investors to purchaseMontana real estate for multiple reasons aside from agriculture. Montana’s lifestyle,recreational resources, and scenic open landscapes are becoming progressively moreaccessible and create a desirable refuge that savvy investors and wealthyindividuals are seeking. Montana can still offer better value and often timesthe “best deal” when compared to other states that are consistently perceivedto be saturated. As a result, we have observed a steady rise in the average price-per-acreof land for sale in Montana.

  • In2018 the average price per acre was $2,066,
  • Comparedto an $887 per acre average from the early 2000’s (average of all sales over640 acres) 2.

There arealso less tangible characteristics that have contributed to drawingnon-resident buyers to land investments in Montana.

“One of theattractive attributes of owning a ranch in Montana is that a real sense ofcommunity is still intact surrounding rural ranch living”, said Kelly Bennett, aColorado native whose family purchased a large ranch near Montana’s JeffersonRiver approximately ten years ago.

Kelly claims that, “One of the most refreshing parts of owning the ranch is being a part of a connected landscape and community that is truly collaborative.”

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#3: There are Regional “Sub-Markets”

At 630 miles wide and 255 miles tall, the State of Montana covers a huge geographic area and encompasses a diverse range of smaller regions within the overall state. As seen below the general split is made north to south, with the Rocky Mountains characterizing the western half and the Great Plains in the eastern half. Land for sale in Montana’s western half generally experiences higher demand and higher prices due to influence from dense recreational resources, scenic mountain valleys, higher elevation, and more developed towns with cultural amenities. Eastern Montana on the other hand is quite different with its tight-knit rural communities, beautiful rolling short grass prairie, lower elevation, and large ranches and farms typically driving a lower price per acre. Both of these regions also contain smaller pockets with their own market influencers.

Land for Sale in Montana: The Top 5 Things You Need To Know • Mirr Ranch Group (4)

#4: Montana’s Non-Disclosure Rule

Montana is known as a “non-disclosure state,” meaning that sales information is kept confidential and out of the public record. This is a unique distinction of Montana’s real estate and trade regulation that has a big effect on the ranch market. Having no database of recent sales figures makes it more difficult for the general public to have an accurate idea of current values. It can tend to give some sellers a false sense of confidence that results in many ranches being over-priced, and leaves buyers of land for sale in Montana without much information to base their price evaluations from. This is another reason why it is so important to have the assistance of a knowledgeable ranch broker and other experienced professionals when it comes time to buy or sell a ranch.

#5: The Montana Real Estate Market is Strong

In general, 2018 was a strong year in Montana mostly drivenby larger acreage land sales located in the western half of the state. By thenumbers, below are a few statistics illustrating how ranch sales stacked up:

  • 194 total sales (over 200 acres);
  • The average price per acre was $1,750;
  • Which was a 26% increase from the year before 4.

While there is a large inventory of available listings, the top-quality properties seem to be moving quickly if priced accurately. In 2018, those sales considered to be “top tier” spent on average less than 70 days on the market and accounted for approximately 40% of the total sales dollars for the year 3. In our experience brokering ranches up and down the Rocky Mountain West, the average land listing is on the market for 18-24 months.

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“The outlook for 2019 is strong as we continue to see a healthy trend of moderate growth,” according to Andy Rahn, a respected ranch appraiser and founder of Montana Land Source, a website and robust resource that tracks listings and sales data across Montana.

A snapshot ofcurrent market data from earlier this spring seems to support that notion:

  • $2,064,700,000in total listing volume;
  • 595active listings (over 200 acres);
  • Averageproperty size of 2,103 acres;
  • Withan average asking price per acre of $3,077 5.

Ranchesranging from $2.5 million to $10 million seem to be the sweet spot and make upover half of the market currently, as referenced by the below chart.

Although we can also glean that pricing is sensitive as about 30 percent of the current listings have had their asking price adjusted on average by 23 percent 5. This is an indication that buyers still have leverage and that some sellers are responding by becoming more motivated.

We expect the Montana ranch real estate market in 2019 to resume much of what we saw in 2018 with a slight check in price sensitivity. Major trends we expect will continue this year are large ranches continuing to expand, non-resident investor’s focus on legacy quality ranches for long-term holding, and the dominance of the western region to remain strong and in high demand.

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For a recap of the top 5 things to know about land for sale in Montana, watch this video:


  1. Southwest Montana Farm & Ranch Brokers 2019 Value & Trends Presentation, page 7 (presented by Scott Pogh)
  2. Southwest Montana Farm & Ranch Brokers 2019 Value & Trends Presentation, page 19 (presented by Norman C Wheeler)
  3. Southwest Montana Farm & Ranch Brokers 2019 Value & Trends Presentation, page 40 (presented by Norman C Wheeler)
  4. Southwest Montana Farm & Ranch Brokers 2019 Value & Trends Presentation, page 108 (presented by Andy Rahn)
  5. Southwest Montana Farm & Ranch Brokers 2019 Value & Trends Presentation, page 80 (presented by Andy Rahn)


How much is an acre of ranch land worth in Montana? ›

Percent Change to Today
TodayThis Date 2021
Properties for Sale343445
New Listings101177
Median Listing Price/Acre$2,272/acre$1,758/acre
Median DOM (Days On Market)284 days367 days

What is the average price for an acre of land in Montana? ›

Dollar per acre sales price for properties with 640+ acres in western Montana have been steadily increasing over the last 30 years, with an average dollar/acre value of $1,255 (1990-2020). Dollar per acre sales in western Montana reached a new high in 2021 at $2,115/acre.

Who is the biggest landowner in Montana? ›

  • The Federal Government. The largest landowner in Montana is the federal government, with over 27 million acres of land. ...
  • The State of Montana. ...
  • The Wilks Brothers. ...
  • The Farris Family. ...
  • The Sunlight Ranch Company. ...
  • The Turner Family. ...
  • The Fidelity Investments company. ...
  • The Singleton Family.
Apr 20, 2023

How many acres is a good size ranch? ›

On average, a farm is considered a ranch at about 450 acres although this varies significantly by state and cattle headcount. In the USA you will find small ranches with about 200 acres of land and 2,000+ acre properties which are considered large ranches.

How much is 50 000 acres worth? ›

See it: Largest land offering in California—50,000 acres in Bay Area— hits market at $72 million. A massive, unspoiled property in the Bay Area that stretches over 50,500 acres has hit the market for $72 million.

Does Kevin Costner owns ranch in Montana? ›

Kevin Costner may not be willing to give up his Yellowstone ranch in Montana, but he is saying welcome to his real-life ranch in Colorado. The recent Golden Globe winner has put his 160-acre (64.8ha) Aspen estate up for rent for a jaw-dropping $36,000 (AU$52,400) per night, The Post reports.

What celebrity owns a ranch in Montana? ›

Huey Lewis, a popular lead singer of Huey Lewis and the News from the 1980s, found his way to Montana in 1987. He bought a 500-acre ranch outside of Stevensville, where he lives comfortably today.

What is the oldest family owned ranch in Montana? ›

Established in 1893 by H.D. Hildreth, Hildreth Livestock Ranch is one of Montana's oldest continuously owned and operated working ranches. Hildreth Livestock Ranch sits in the beautiful Medicine Lodge Valley on the Montana-Idaho border in extreme southwestern Montana.

Where rich are buying land in Montana? ›

Big Sky, Montana

This also includes other cities in Southwest Montana, including Bozeman, Livingston, Belgrade and Manhattan. “Pending sales on land in Montana are up 40% in Big Sky and 50% in Bozeman,” White says.

Is buying an acre of land a good investment? ›

Is it a good investment? Yes. Land is a tangible investment that will continue to go up in value over time. So, if a buyer purchases land today for $250,000, then in a few years, its value can increase to $400,000.

What is BLM land in Montana? ›

The Bureau of Land Management Montana/Dakotas manages about 8.3 million acres of public lands for multiple use and about 47.1 million acres of federal mineral estate in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

What is the biggest ranch sold in Montana? ›

340,000-acre Montana ranch sold to Rupert Murdoch; biggest in state's history. Rupert Murdoch recently purchased Beaverhead Ranch in southwest Montana from Koch Industries. The price tag for which makes it the largest ranch sale in the state's history.

Where is the best farmland in Montana? ›

Stacker compiled a list of counties with the most farmland in Montana using data from the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency.
  • #8. Chouteau. ...
  • #7. Fergus. ...
  • #6. Phillips. ...
  • #5. Blaine. ...
  • #4. Big Horn. Updated Jun 1, 2023. ...
  • #3. Garfield. Updated Jun 1, 2023. ...
  • #2. Valley. Updated Jun 1, 2023. ...
  • #1. Rosebud. Updated Jun 1, 2023.

Who bought the most expensive ranch in Montana? ›

The Murdochs purchased the 340,000-acre Beaverhead Ranch from Matador Cattle Company, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, according to the Wall Street Journal. Fred Koch bought the property about seven decades ago and passed it along to Charles and David Koch, his sons, after his death.

Is owning a ranch profitable? ›

Ranchers can make anywhere between $70,000 to $140,000 a year on average. There are many factors that come into play when it comes to producing income from ranching. The size of your ranch will make an impact. Large cattle ranches make the most money because of the price of a cow.

How do ranch owners make money? ›

Traditionally, a cattle ranch generates income from the sale of each cow. To maximize profits and make the most of their resources, most ranch owners offer additional services.

Is 10 acres considered a ranch? ›

Texas Farm Bureau has defined a small farm or ranch as “a property of one hundred (100) acres or less on which the owner/operator has been an active producer of commodities for five (5) years or less.”The Texas Farm Bureau Small Farm & Ranch Management Committee's mission is for the organization to become the leading ...

How many football fields in 10 acres? ›

Articles abound online comparing 10 acres of land to a host of seemingly relatable, visual examples. Commons visual representations include: 7.5 football fields. 90 basketball courts.

Who owns 2.2 million acres of land? ›

The 2022 Top Landowners in the Land Report 100:

The Emmerson Family – 2.33 million acres. John Malone – 2.2 million acres. Reed Family – 2.1 million acres.

Can you make money off 50 acres? ›

Hosting Hunting and Fishing on Your Land

Another great way to make a profit off of 50 acres of vacant land is to host hunters, fishers and even have a campground. You would be surprised how many hunters and fishers are interested in guided activities. Plant some trees if you don't already have a decent wooded area.

What ranch is Yellowstone filmed at? ›

These days, the The Yellowstone cast spends most of their time in Montana to film on a real-life ranch in the state where the show is meant to take place. The Dutton family's gorgeous log cabin is actually a 5,000-square foot mansion located on Chief Joseph Ranch near Darby, Montana.

Who owns Dutton ranch Montana? ›

Yellowstone Dutton Ranch is the largest ranch in the United States located in the Paradise Valley in Park County, Montana, east of Bozeman and west of Livingston. The ranch is owned by John Dutton.

Who owns the ranch in Montana where Yellowstone is filmed? ›

The Chief Joseph Ranch, a historic working cattle ranch in western Montana, has been owned and operated by rancher Shane Libel and his family since 2012.

Does Kelly Clarkson own property in Montana? ›

Singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson previously purchased a massive $10.4 million ranch in Montana -- Warren Peak Ranch -- which she lived in with her family before her split from estranged husband, Brandon Blackstock.

Does Kelly Clarkson live in MT? ›

Clarkson offloaded her 9,839sqft Los Angeles estate in 2021 for $8.25 mil. Kelly Clarkson purchased a home in Toluca Lake, CA for $5.4 mil in 2021. Clarkson has owned a 14-acre ranch in Montana since 2019.

What actor owns land in Montana? ›

Justin Timberlake

He and his wife Jessica Biel own a home in the Yellowstone Club.

What is the biggest privately owned ranch? ›

King Ranch, largest ranch in the United States, composed of a group of four tracts of land in southeastern Texas, totaling approximately 825,000 acres (333,800 hectares). The King Ranch was established by Richard King, a steamboat captain born in 1825 in Orange county, New York.

Who owns the largest privately owned ranch in the United States? ›

The nation's largest private landowners are the Emmerson family in California who own over 2.4 million acres. The bulk of that land is dedicated to timber in Northern California. But the most headline-worthy transaction of 2022 was the Four Sixes Ranch in Texas.

How much is the most expensive ranch in Montana? ›

The Ranch was listed in April 2021 for $136,250,000, making it the most expensive ranch transaction in the history of the state of Montana and within the top ten most expensive in the United States.

Why are billionaires buying up Montana? ›

American billionaires are buying large ranches across Wyoming, Montana and Texas, creating a new class of luxury assets, writes Bloomberg. Why it matters: The wealthy are often buying the land from "asset-rich, cash poor" small farmers whose families have owned the land for decades.

How much land can you claim in Montana? ›

The Homestead Act of 1862 enabled thousands to claim land in Montana. This act offered 160 acres of public land to US citizens on the condition that they live on, cultivate, and improve it.

How many billionaires live in Montana? ›

Forbes lists 4 billionaires in Montana.

Is there a downside to buying land? ›

Land can be expensive to trade into and out of. There's real estate agent commissions, surveys, title insurance premiums, transaction taxes, etc. and all of these costs (those that you pay when you buy land and those that you pay when you sell it) reduce your profit.

How do you make land pay for itself? ›

How to Make Land Pay for Itself
  1. Option 1: Lease it to Hunters. ...
  3. Option 3: Lease it to Grazers. ...
  4. Option 5: Lease it to Fisherman. ...
  5. Option 6: Lease it to Solar Power Companies. ...
  6. Option 7: Lease it to Communications Businesses (Cell Towers and Billboards) ...
  7. Option 8: Rent it to Glampers.
Mar 9, 2023

Is it legal to camp on BLM land in Montana? ›

There are no designated long-term camping areas in Montana, North Dakota or South Dakota; the maximum stay is 16 days. Camping is permitted on BLM lands that have not been developed as a camp site. You must have legal access to the area and travel on existing roads and trails. The maximum stay is also 16 days.

What percent of Montana is government owned? ›

We also mean lands owned and managed by the state. Public lands managed by the federal government constitute about 30% of Montana's landmass. The U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service are the federal agencies that manage these lands.

What are BLM lands called? ›

A: The National Landscape Conservation System, sometimes called our Conservation Lands, includes some of the BLM's most remarkable landscapes and wildlife and water ecosystems. These lands also feature natural and cultural resources, including artifacts, rock art, ruins and fossils.

What is the most expensive land in Montana? ›

The current record in Montana is held by the $132.5 million Broken O Ranch, which billionaire Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke bought in 2012 in a deal also handled by Mike Swan.

How many acres is Dutton ranch? ›

Dutton Ranch isn't one place (although there is a home office on Graton Road where the Shop Block vineyard is), but a collection of over 60 non-contiguous parcels in Russian River Valley that comprise approximately 1,300 acres of land that they either own, lease or manage.

Who just bought a ranch in Montana? ›

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his wife, Jerry Murdoch, have purchased a Montana cattle ranch spanning about 340,000 acres from Matador Cattle Co., a subsidiary of Koch Industries. The price was roughly $200 million, making it the largest ranch sale in Montana history, according to people with knowledge of the deal.

What are the top 3 crops in Montana? ›

Montana's primary crop is wheat. In addition to the list below, other crops grown in Montana include apples, canola, potatoes, dry beans, field peas, flax, grapes, garlic, lentils, safflowers, mustard, squash, alfalfa, and many more.

Who owns the most farmland in Montana? ›

Plum Creek Timber Company ranks as the largest land owner in Montana with 765,925 acres.

How much is Montana Ranch land per acre? ›

Prior Year Market Statistics
Total Listings1,008 listings1,256 listings
Median Sales Acreage508 acres640 acres
Median Land Sale Price/Acre$1,157/acre$1,087/acre
Median DOM (Days On Market) of Sales339 days367 days

Who is the largest ranch owner in Montana? ›

These spectacular Montana ranches are owned by some of the wealthiest people in the world. In the TV show Yellowstone, the Dutton family owns Yellowstone Dutton Ranch of Montana, the largest ranch in America. However, in real life, King Ranch in Texas is actually the largest ranch in America.

Who owns the largest private ranch in Montana? ›

Top Landowners In Montana
LandownersTotal Acres
1. The Federal Government27,000,000
2. The State of Montana5,000,000
3. The Wilks Brothers672,000
4. The Farris Family640,000
6 more rows
Apr 20, 2023

How many acres does John Dutton own on Yellowstone? ›

How Big is the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch? Yellowstone Dutton Ranch is estimated to be around 776,000 acres. In an early episode of Yellowstone, John Dutton says he owns “a ranch the size of Rhode Island,” which is 776,900 acres.

What is the average price of a ranch in Montana? ›

Montana Ranch Information

The average price of ranches for sale in Montana is $5.3 million. whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, ducks, geese, bear, moose, pheasant and grouse are among the typical game species that can be found on Montana ranches for sale.

Is Montana expensive to buy land? ›

The average price of land parcels for sale in Montana is $1 million.

What is the average acreage of a ranch in Montana? ›

Montana is home to 28,100 farm and ranch operations that cover 59,700,000 acres of land (63% of state land area). The average size of these Montana farms and ranches is 2,125 acres.

How many acres can you homestead in Montana? ›

The Homestead Act of 1862 enabled thousands to claim land in Montana. This act offered 160 acres of public land to US citizens on the condition that they live on, cultivate, and improve it. They could then "prove up" and obtain a deed after five years.

Do ranch owners make a lot of money? ›

Ranch Owner Salary. $39,000 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $181,500 is the 75th percentile.

Is owning a ranch a good investment? ›

Ranches are always profitable. Even if you don't plan on developing or planting crops or raising livestock, you can still earn money by having your property leased. This provides a passive revenue stream that requires you to do nothing while earning an income at the same time.

Do you have to pay land taxes in Montana? ›

The Montana property tax system supports local public services, including schools, roads, and other infrastructure. Residential property owners pay almost half of all property taxes. Every two years, the state undergoes a reappraisal process to update the property values for purposes of property taxes.

Is there land tax in Montana? ›

Overview of Montana Taxes

Montana has relatively low taxes on residential real estate. The state's average effective property tax rate is 0.74%, lower than the national average of 0.99%.

Why are so many people buying land in Montana? ›

The land in Montana has become an escape ground for people who want to live a life of peace away from the city hustle. In addition, the reason why people are now thinking of investing in Montana land is because of the abundance of natural resources.


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