Unique Homes, Elite Brokers

On the Horizon...the Dynamic New Breed

John Holt

As Seen in Unique Home Magazine | Elite Brokers Issue

The nineties is the decade of expediency... microwaved food. shop-at-home television channels, utility bills that can be paid by credit card, an abundance of time saving opportunities surround us. Unfortunately, this mentality of saving a few seconds at the expense of quality, has carried over to much of the business community. Personal, well-informed, concerned service is becoming a dinosaur in today's technocratic society. For those trying to escape the fast-paced crush, moving to the Rocky Mountain West is more than a dream. Living the good life with ease and panache is as much a means of survival in this hectic world as it is a change to a more satisfying lifestyle.


The Rocky Mountains are experiencing a rebirth in interest not unlike the homesteading days of decades past. Because of the capabilities of computers and ease of communicating with the rest of the country, many professionals are discovering that they can do most of their business from the home office. Why stay in a big city when you can earn a living at home and still enjoy the good life in the mountains?

With this renewed interest, demands for a qualified real estate broker can be overwhelming in some locales. This makes finding an experienced professional an imperative. Lack of familiarity with all aspects of a property or region is unacceptable. When an individual or family prepares to make this psychological and geographic leap of faith, that individual needs to know that the broker with whom they are dealing with knows their stuff, will pay solid attention to details, and will expend all effort necessary to complete a transaction to the client's total satisfaction.

Fortunately, there is now a growing number of professionals in the field that recognizes the need to offer a complete, conscientious package for the prospective buyer or investor. In the northern Rockies and Montana, in particular. Gary J. Kauffman, President of Rocky Mountain Habitats Real Estate, is rated as one of the nation top 200 real estate brokers. Located in Bigfork, Montana. Kauffman lives in an area surrounded by clear rivers, lakes, panoramic views, towering mountains and millions of acres of dense pine forest. The countryside can take your breath away. Excellent fishing, hiking, camping and hunting abound. Quality restaurants, top-notch art galleries, skilled theater companies, regular performances by national recognized musicians and dependable, state-of-the-art health care are readily available..

Kauffman's Rocky Mountain Habitats Real Estate specializes in brokering the niche of ranches, farms, wildland acreage, water properties and out-standing homes with equally unabashed settings. (Affiliate Company, Rocky Mountain Habitats offers complimentary services to best, serve their clients. such as environmentally sensitive building and interior design, conventional and log home construction property reclamation and restoration.).

Rocky Mountain Habitats Real Estate represents the new paradigm in what was simply referred to in the past as the real estate business. Kauffman and many of his professional peers around the country have recognized the need to provide more extensive services for their clients, services that include a sincere concern for the needs and desires of those willing to invest their time and money in the area.

"I believe a client comes to a place like Montana seeking a lifestyle. It is my job to match the client with the property that will fulfill his objectives." said Kauffman. "We match purchasers with the best available properties. We track an extensive data base. We can present purchasers with an assortment of properties to consider by disseminating our information according to the purchasers' selected criteria. We track properties all over the state, which involves a tremendous amount of research, but this commitment gives our company and clients the edge in finding the most pristine properties in the Rocky Mountains."

This is no small task in Montana, the country's fourth-largest state. You can drive all day in one direction and still be in Big Sky Country. The terrain varies from the arid high plains to the glacier scoured peaks of the western mountains.

Kauffman emphasizes that he has a concern with environmental issues that affect the quality of life and aesthetics of a particular property. Kauffman states, "Sound forestry and ranch and farm management are often choices overlooked as a result of not knowing or for financial expediency." As an example. Kauffman points to his former 800 acre cattle spread that he owned and operated in the Darby area of the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula.

As a result of managing to achieve long range financial and quality of life goals, Kauffman substantially increased the value of his property. He used practices that encouraged wildlife, like the resident herd of 60 head of elk, improved agricultural production and used very low impact approaches to buildings and improvements that contributed to the "post-card" setting. Kauffman feels that experience like this adds a dimension of expertise that benefits the purchaser particularly when it comes to ranches and wildlife habitat. Twelve years of-running his own ranch has exposed Kauffman to the many facets of the business. He understands what it takes to balance, the financial-aesthetic considerations.

With 20-years in the building business, Kauffman has built over 300 homes, giving him an understanding of site selection, design, and a myriad of other details involved in building a custom home once the customer has chosen a property.

This may all seem like a lot to comprehend at first glance, and-to some extent it is. This reflects the increasingly complicated dynamics of negotiating the potential minefield of buying, developing or building in the West today.

Kauffman describes himself as an avid hunter, fly fisherman and photographer with a great love for the . outdoors and wild places. He says this gives him real, insight into the concerns of sportsmen 'who are. - interested in preserving the wild and unspoiled characteristics of, the properties with which he is involved.

"One of my goals is to locate the most pristine properties in the Rocky Mountains and place them with purchasers who appreciate the qualities of properties and will work in preserving their attributes.'

We know how to balance the needs of people with the needs of wildlife through sound land planning, land use management and practices, while not losing sight of the important considerations of the seller and purchaser." stressed Kauffman.

As mentioned before. Kauffman is one of a new generation of professionals involved with real estate in the West. People like Les Poole with his Moonlight Basin Properties in southwest Montana and the Rocking, K Ranch near Tucson, Arizona are also examples of this new concern for preserving the integrity of the natural environment’

Working these properties included more than the transaction itself. Prior to the actual listing, lands in both these locations were set aside to preserve fragile ecosystems. Road construction was held at a minimum and done to the highest standards possible. Professionals in wildlife management, wetlands, forest management and fisheries were consulted before any action was taken. This is the new direction being taken when handling sales and acquisitions in the West.

Businesses such as Kauffman’s are doing much to enhance the image of brokers throughout the West. In the process valuable wildlands, a commodity increasingly short supply, are being protected through the creative use of marketing and implementation of conservation easements, transactions that preserve the unsullied personality of quality country for generations.

Horseshoe Lake Reserve is another example of the emerging philosophy, a project Rocky Mountain Habitats completed recently. It is located along the Western flanks of the Swan Mountains and just a few air miles from Flathead Lake, the largest, naturally-occurring body of fresh water west of the Mississippi. The Reserve encompassed 29 acres featuring six tracts of land. Each property either fronts on or is adjacent to Horseshoe Lake. Special provisions were made in allowing for the nesting of loons so as not to disturb them during critical times of the year. Deer, elk and even occasional black bear are not uncommon sights in the cedar forest. To enhance and protect the natural environment for the residents of the community, restrictions and covenants were placed upon the properties to encourage building of homes in naturally occurring materials for low visual impact.

Returning to the overall services offered by Rocky Mountain Habitats Real Estate, Gary Kauffman is a stickler for details. Insisting on proper preparation for showing of properties. It is important to know existing management practices, timber, production, weed and other infestations and water rights. The broker should know both the property he is showing as well as adjacent properties. because the way adjoining properties are operated and managed has a significant impact on the current and future value of property.

Kauffman set out to form the mutually enhancing divisions of his business, specializing in properties and projects for individuals who want a home, ranch or investment properly with outstanding natural attributes. He hopes to eventually expand his company into other resort locations like Snowmass, Santa Fe and Jackson Hole, but sees it as a long range goal. At the moment he is more concerned with enhancing the already solid reputation of Rocky Mountain Habitats Real Estate.

Because of the diversified nature of his companies, Kauffman is able to help both buyer and seller with all facets of the transaction; selection, management, planning, interior design and future acquisitions

"This is not something I just jumped into, said Kauffman This is what I have done for over 20 years and I really enjoy it." His homes have a Montana flair that is typically his, in the exterior design, interiors and placement as well. The techniques and styles used leave no one to doubt that this is the real West. The homes have a definite "Montana rustic" feel and appearance without the sacrifice of any of the modern amenities that make living here a charmed existence. Hand-peeled logs and conventional framing are melded with contemporary designs featuring clean lines, and lots of glass. Vaulted ceilings, massive rock fireplaces and superb views are hallmarks of his design. The properties Gary Kauffman handles normally feature lakes, streams or rivers, stunning vistas and "dreamed-for home sites."

Moving to the Rockies from points east or west is an adventure, but companies like Rocky Mountain Habitats are taking the guesswork and uncertainty out of the process.

As Kauffman said recently. "I want to be known as someone who people can come to and count on when they are interested in buying or selling premium properties in the northern Rockies. I want the people that I work with to be satisfied with all aspects of the transactions. More than likely, we'll end up friends."