CBRE Arranges Land Sale Among Largest in U.S. History

With the sale of 1.283 million acres of land and minerals in Nevada CBRE Group, Inc. has completed one of the largest land sales, by acreage, in U.S. history. The land, which stretches from Reno to the Utah border along Interstate-80, was purchased for $31 million by Florida-based Fountain Investments-owned M.C. Davis and Heath Rushing.

The seller, Pico Holdings Inc., a La Jolla, Calif.-based public company, had owned the property for 15 years.

Of the 1.2 million acres involved in the transaction, 483,000 acres were purchased outright as fee-simple land. Fountain Investments purchased mineral rights for the other 800,000 acres and formed a new entity, New Nevada Resources, to oversee the mineral rights. Don Pattalock, formerly of Pico Holdings, will serve as president of New Nevada Resources, as well as a senior advisor to New Nevada Lands, the entity created to manage the fee-simple land.

The majority of Nevada’s 110,567 square miles—approximately 85 percent—is either tribal or owned by the federal and state governments, with only 15 percent of the total land area privately owned. This transaction represents just over 12 percent of the privately-owned land in Nevada, and equates roughly to the size of Rhode Island, according to Steve Lehr, senior managing director of CBRE’s Land Services Group, which represented Pico Holdings in the transaction. Brett Edwards of CBRE’s Reno office worked with Lehr on the deal.

“A land sale for more than $30 million is very significant today,” Lehr said in a prepared statement. “The good news is that values have appeared to stabilize.”

Although a handful of land deals have traded at prices between $50 and $115 million, Lehr notes, most of them involved far less acreage than this latest transaction.

This is the third major land sale completed by CBRE’s Land Services since 2009. The group sold the high-profile, 13,000-acre Yellowstone Club resort in 2009 in conjunction with CBRE’s Golf Services Group and, in 2010, completed the 7,000-acre sale of Festival Ranch in Phoenix, Ariz., which is entitled for 14,000 homes and five golf courses.

“The recent sale in Nevada represents a trend of investors seeking hard assets in the U.S. and as hedges against inflation,” Lehr added.

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