James Ahern Jr. brings experience gained in the saddle to every ranch real estate transaction conducted at Ahern Ranches, his ranch real estate brokerage established in 2000.
“Everything I bring to the table comes from being in the saddle,” said Ahern, who owns working ranches in Alpine and Cameron, Texas, as well as Paonia, Colorado. “Ranch real estate requires a breadth of knowledge that spans raw land, production agriculture and wildlife habitat, the intricacies of tax law, real estate law and the entire realm of mineral, water, solar and hunting leases.”
He continued, “What I know comes from navigating these complexities for myself on my land—not from sitting behind a desk and reading about it.”
The ranch real estate business was a natural outgrowth of his passion for ranching. Both are part of his family’s heritage.
“My grandfather and father always owned ranches—and I spent as much time as possible on them when I was a kid,” said Ahern, who was reared in San Antonio and now lives on his Alpine ranch. “I purchased my own as soon as I could.”
One of his strongest memories occurred when he was about 12. Ahern would catch the bus in San Antonio and ride it to the ranch in Eagle Pass where he’d help the foreman irrigate pecan trees.
“I would stay up all night long breaking dirt dams and letting the water move to the next paddock,” Ahern said. “I still remember the smell of that water on fresh plowed dirt. I was in Heaven.”
Through the younger Ahern’s formative years, his father, James “Jim” Ahern Sr., was also active in the ranch real estate business. Today, he works alongside his son out of Ahern Ranches’ San Antonio office. The business also has offices in Alpine and Boerne. The team that includes office manager/agent Rhonda Cole, agent Case Gatlin and agent Monte Blevins, has a statewide reach.
“South Texas, West Texas and the Hill Country are literally in our backyards, but we know Texas—and all of her diverse eco-regions,” Ahern said.
While Ahern Ranches successfully represents sellers across the state, the team has refined its focus through the years and now concentrates on matching buyers to their perfect property no matter where it might be or how long it might take.
Our top priority is developing long-term relationships with people who want to buy ranches in Texas,” Ahern said. “We take the time to custom fit people and properties. We’re available 24/7 for however long it takes, because owning a piece of Texas is a lifelong dream for many of our clients. We pride ourselves on doing whatever it takes to make those dreams a reality.”
Because Ahern has often sat in the buyer’s and seller’s chair himself, he and his team provide ancillary services as part-and-parcel of doing business with Ahern Ranches.
“Some people call it experience, but I call it learning from my mistakes,” Ahern said laughing. “I try to put together a complete package for my clients, so they are armed with the best information every step of the way.”
The Ahern Ranch customer care package includes unlimited access to in-house attorney Howard Hastings Jr. of San Antonio and Gail Guest of Orion, Guest and Little, a San Antonio-based CPA firm with extensive real estate experience.
“I provide my clients direct access to my personal ‘go-to’ experts,” Ahern said. “While everyone has attorneys and CPAs, the professionals I’m affiliated with specialize in real estate, so their proven knowledge complements the work of other professionals.”
Another component of Ahern Ranches’ customer care package is service that continues long after the paperwork is signed.
“We’re never too busy to help a client before—or after—the sale,” Ahern said. “Because I own and manage land all over the state myself, I have a network of people who I can recommend to help new landowners achieve what they want to.”
The network includes everyone from wildlife biologists and cattle breeders to fence builders, brush management consultants and contractors who specialize in building in the country. The Ahern Ranch team can also manage ranches for clients after they purchase them. And, as part of Ahern’s “been there and done that” approach to land ownership, Ahern Ranches also has an extensive inventory of ranch equipment that is available to its clients.
“We have anything someone needs to get the job done from airplanes and helicopters to trucks, trailers and heavy equipment,” Ahern said. “When it comes to owning land, we know that the work—and the fun—starts the moment the ink on the contract has dried.”
Because many Texans want to own land in Colorado as well as Texas, Ahern Ranches has started selling quality Colorado ranches alongside Billy Long at Ranch Marketing Associates. Ahern Ranches is also selling superlative ranches in Wyoming and Montana.
“I own my own place there—and love it, so it’s natural for me to pair other Texans with their summer dream ranches,” Ahern said.
Regardless of how many times Ahern has been part of a land transaction either for a client or personally, the excitement never fades.
“Land, especially land in Texas, is one of the greatest assets available,” Ahern said. “You get to own a piece of the greatest state there is. It’s an investment that historically appreciates at the same time you’re getting to touch it, improve it, live with it and enjoy it.”
He continued, “No matter where you go, you can say, ‘I’m a Texan.’”