Man, 2016 is gearing up to be a watershed year for billionaires buying up trophy properties. We’ve got Andy Beal snapping up the Hicks estate and possibly more, and we’ve got Jordan Spieth moving on up to the Creeks of Preston Hollow. Now comes word that the owner of the L.A. Rams, Stan Kroenke, and his wife, billionaire Ann Walton Kroenke, a niece of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and heir to the Walton family fortune, was approved by the courts to buy up the $725 million Waggoner Ranch, located northwest of Wichita Falls near the Red River.
Dating back to the wild west of 1849, it’s the biggest contiguous ranch property in the U.S. The King Ranch is about 825,000 acres across multiple parcels, while the 510,000 acre Waggoner ranch is spread over six counties and is almost 800 square miles.
It is quite possibly also the most expensive piece of dirt currently in the U.S. Local brokerage Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty was the major broker involved in the historic transaction. Closing will take place in “a normal time for a deal like this,” says the Briggs Freeman agent who pulled off the deal: Bernard “Bernie” Uechtritz.
And what a deal: this is the first ever sale of the historic ranch.
“This shows that iconic ranches like this can be sold in today’s market with the right strategies and international exposure,” says Robbie Briggs, “We had potential buyers from all over the world. But it turns out the buyer has very strong Texas connections.”
Bernie’s office, of course, is on Fairmount at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Real Estate’s Ranch and Land office, but Robbie says he spent more spent more than half his time at the Waggoner Ranch headquarters in Vernon, where he put together an information data room, a veritable sales War Room that sure paid off.
“It was a series of rooms at Waggoner headquarters, tables and tables of folders and schedules, maps, anything you could think of relative to a complex operation like this,” says Bernie. “We created an intensive electronic data room one could only visit once they had been heavily pre-screened, and that was, of course, available virtually as well.”
Bernie told me there was also a “low level” data room for the hundreds who came by inquiring. When asked how many potential buyers were from foreign countries, Bernie said many. That man’s Rolodex should probably be stored at Fort Knox.
“We had a tremendous amount of international interest from South Korea, China, Russia, South America, really from everywhere,” said Bernie.