The land, lore and history of Texas have always fascinated Wright Monning of Dallas. “About the time I was in first grade, I used to sit and just stare at a big Texas map that was hanging on our wall,” said Monning, noting he taught himself all 254 counties and their locations at that early age. “I’ve always been fascinated by the land, its history and the stories that come from landowning families.”
The fifth generation rancher built a career on this passion.
“When I finished school, I started improving ranch properties—creating water features such as bass lakes and stock tanks, restocking and managing the bass lakes on our ranch, developing and farming wetlands for waterfowl and habitat for whitetails, planting food plots and a variety of other ranch-related projects,” Monning said. “Ranch brokering was the next logical step. It allowed me to focus on other people by helping them not only see the potential in their land, but develop and dial it in to its full potential, especially recreational ranches.”
He earned his real estate license in 2006.
“Over the years, the ranch business has changed, especially how ranches are presented to the marketplace on the Internet. We also have affordable access to incredible tools such as drones, satellite tools and precision GPS equipment that I never could’ve envisioned when I began my career, but now can’t live without. I love this industry even more than I did in 2006,” Monning said.
This spring, Monning’s enthusiasm and expertise are laser-focused on launching the Monning Ranch Group. The team is affiliated with Compass Real Estate and is based out of Compass’ Dallas office.
“It was the right move at the right time for me,” Monning said. “Aligning with Compass and its proprietary technology platform and having access to its marketing opportunities brings an unsurpassed ability to market my clients’ properties.”
Even in the far-flung corners of the world, the words “Texas” and “ranch” attract attention.
“No other state has more lore than Texas,” Monning said. “I strive to sell ranches that embody the lore of Texas—ranches that people tell stories about and have for several generations.”
Making the connection between land, history and stories isn’t a stretch for Monning because that connection shaped his life. His great-great-grandfather William Benjamin Wynne settled on land in Van Zandt County near Wills Point in the 1870s. Succeeding generations of the extended family expanded holdings to other parts of East Texas, South Texas, the Gulf Coast, Louisiana and Wyoming.
“Members of our family have owned and managed the same ranch land since sovereignty,” said Monning, whose immediate family still runs a cow-calf and stocker operation on this land, which they have owned for nearly 100 years.
Although Monning grew up in Dallas, he spent weekends and summers on the ranch, working and playing alongside members of his family and the ranch hands.
“I couldn’t wait to get to the ranch,” Monning said. “In those days, there weren’t side by side UTVs that fly across pastures, or even four-wheelers. I had the option of walking or riding a quarter horse before I could drive. I’d go get ‘lost,’ even as a six or seven year old to extend my trip to the ranch.”
He continued, “At the time, I didn’t realize how valuable walking or riding horseback over ranch land or through creeks would be to my career. It allowed me to slow down, observe and understand the subtle details of the terrain, such as a change in soil type, how pastures drain when it rains and where that water will eventually end up.”
His great grandfather, Buck Wynne, was a fixture in his life until his death when Monning was 15.
“I got to live our family history and experience first-hand the emotional investment families make in their land,” Monning said. “For ranching families, the land is much, much more than just an economic asset. Ranches are something you can enjoy and use all the time. It is also a place where you spend time with your kids and teach them the things your father and grandfather taught you that aren’t possible on a cell phone or iPad. The lessons and memories I learned at our ranch are unforgettable. Sharing these stories with my son and daughter and watching them develop a love for ranching is the most rewarding aspect of it all.”
He grew up in the saddle.
“We took roping lessons instead of golf lessons,” Monning said.
And in the woods.
“I started carrying a .22 or a shotgun probably before I should have,” Monning said, laughing.
When he was growing up, his uncle, Wynne Monning, who was an avid outdoorsman and Master Naturalist, taught him the finer points of hunting and fishing. Monning was hooked.
“I love the cattle business, but my passion has always been hunting and fishing,” Monning said.
Beginning in his teens, he has hunted from Alaska and Canada to various parts of South America, and spent a lot of time in the Rockies and on ranches throughout Texas.
“Growing up I hunted and fished extensively. I’ve seen a lot of exceptional habitat and outstanding recreational properties,” Monning said. “I’ve got a lot of real-world inspiration to draw on when I evaluate ranches for their potential.”
The Initial Steps
In 2006, he joined forces with Charles McCallum, owner of McCallum Properties in Dallas. McCallum got his start in real estate when his family’s ranch in North Dallas was strategically sold off and developed.
McCallum built his business in the pre-Internet era, when the success of a brokerage was a direct result of networking, personal relationships and experience.
“Charles reiterated the lessons I learned from my family,” Monning said. “Nothing is more valuable in real estate than earning and keeping someone’s trust.”
Holding court in living rooms across the region, McCallum also showed Monning the importance of open communication with clients and always being available.
“People want to know what’s going on, especially when you’re hired to help them purchase or part with one of their largest assets,” Monning said. “I’m open, honest and always available to my clients.”
In 2012, McCallum’s health forced him to retire.
Monning then became part of the team at Hortenstine Ranch Company in Dallas, a position he held until October 2019. While at Hortenstine, Monning represented top properties throughout Texas and was the firm’s top producer over many of those years.
“I think the most important aspect of selling ranches is being able to effectively differentiate a high quality or ‘special’ ranch,” Monning said. “To me, the keys to doing this include identifying and capturing the special attributes and unique points of distinction of a ranch. Meeting with each landowner to learn as much about the ranch’s history and getting a detailed understanding of each ranch’s operations is extremely important. Once I have my arms around each of these components, I work with photographers, marketing and advertising experts to accurately showcase these ranches in their best light.”
He continued, “Identifying these attributes and understanding the ranching operation is where my hands-on experience comes into play. This is something I’ve been very involved in my whole life and understand well. I love getting to hear the stories and see the different ways landowners operate their ranches. You really get an understanding of what works and what doesn’t work for ranches, and this can vary significantly by region. It is extremely rewarding to help clients realize their ranch’s full potential, whether they are making improvements to operate the ranch they’ve just purchased, or making improvements to the property to maximize its value in a sale.”
A broker can’t discover many of those attributes by sitting behind a desk or staying inside a truck.
“It is a privilege to get to spend time on these fine ranches learning as much as I possibly can,” Monning said. My goal is to never be asked a question that I don’t know the answer to because I’ve anticipated it and already researched it.”
His personal, boots-on-the-ground approach works. In the last 18 months, he has sold Star Brand Ranch in Kaufman County, which earned the distinction of being the top sale in its quarter according to Land.com. He also sold the Wavy V Ranch near Athens and the Circle B Ranch near Emory in Rains County. They ranked in the top sales during their respective quarters as well.
The Next Step
In 2019, Monning worked in tandem with Compass on Wavy V Ranch, a unique listing that had a luxury waterfront residential property with an exceptional recreational ranch component. Monning partnered with Compass agent Duke Jimmerson, and he saw the power of the Compass network and marketing opportunities for himself.
“The reach still astounds me,” Monning said. “In my estimation, the future belongs to those who can put their properties in front of the most eyes—and these tools are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my career.”
He was also impressed by the administrative support available from Compass’ staff members.
“With Compass, much of the in-depth information that used to take me days to gather is available in just a few minutes,” Monning said.
Monning also recognized the power of crossover sales offered by aligning with Compass, which dominates the luxury home and property market across the country.
“Currently, in our area there are a number of boutique ranch brokerages, and we likely know a lot of the same people,” Monning said. “As a dominant force in the luxury property market, Compass brings a host of potential ranch customers from around the country.”
Because real estate is ultimately a people business, the level of professional expertise throughout the organization was the icing on the proverbial cake.
“Compass has brought together top performing agents in top markets, so everybody you work with has experienced success and understands their segment of the industry extremely well,” Monning said. “Excellence across the board means everyone continues to grow as professionals.”
He has taken that lesson to heart and has begun assembling his team.
“I’m surrounding myself with people whose resumes are more impressive than mine. Our group has extensive, real world experience with ranching and at ranch brokerages,” Monning said. “I would hire anyone on this team to sell or find a ranch for me personally. I cannot wait for our clients to benefit from this collection of talent.”
“We’ll be large enough to provide exceptional service and small enough to be nimble and responsive. And I guarantee you no one will work harder than we do,” said Monning, noting he’s hired two so far and interviewed “a bunch.” The complete team will likely grow to include five to six team members.
Monning never loses sight of the financial bottomline in a sale, but his ultimate measuring stick of success is and will continue to be the satisfaction of his clients.
“I like people, especially those in ranching America,” Monning said. “These ranches are serious matters for families and they deserve serious attention by experienced professionals. My team delivers steak, not just sizzle.”
Wright Monning | Monning Ranch Group | Compass Real Estate
Dallas-Fort Worth | 5960 Berkshire Lane, Suite 700 | Dallas, Texas 75225
214.794.1475 | Wright.Monning@Compass.com | Compass.com