The real estate profession hangs its hat on the concept that “under all is the land”. In fact, the Preamble of the Realtors® Code of Ethics opens “Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization.”
New wealth comes from land. Natural resources have been defined as the “natural wealth of a country, consisting of land, forests, mineral deposits, water, etc.”1 Be it minerals beneath the surface including coal, oil, gas, uranium, gold, copper or any other earth metal on your high school periodic chart; Or be it those things we can see and touch daily such as water, trees, or prairie grasses waving in the breeze; Or be it the wild things that live around us – land is the underpinning of it all.
We’ve all heard it before…. land is a rare commodity. Mark Twain is credited with the quip, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore”. If we deconstruct that sentiment we find a fair bit of wisdom and practical application.
Full-time users (for our purposes meaning farmers & ranchers) are in a constant state of competition for land because it is the basis for growth. Land is the fundamental basis on which their business, their livelihood, is established. Presuming wise financial management then, land is the basis for increased profit for the farmer and rancher alike.
For the off-site land investor, the unchangeable rarity of land provides a level of stability to land values when compared to more transient assets such as manufactured goods. New technologies may lead to the creation of new wealth as in the case of deep, directional drilling for previously untappable oil reserves in eastern Montana and Wyoming. New sociological priorities may lead to the creation of new wealth as in the case of carbon dioxide sequestration in western Wyoming.
A third type of Wyoming and Montana landowner may be described as the occasional user. They may derive their primary income elsewhere and they may live most of their lives in other places, but they have an affinity for the west and love to spend some of their discretionary time here. Land value appreciation and land use leasing provide opportunities for monetary return. However, the intangible returns from memories created and adventures experienced may be the greatest of all.
To all those who presently own land, may you enjoy this rich and wonderful treasure. To those who dream about the future of your own land purchase, both a thrill and deep satisfaction awaits you.
1 Random House Unabridged Dictionary Copyright © 1997