REALTORS now connect the drops between land value and water rights with greater efficiency, accuracy
Recently Ponderosa Advisors, LLC announced a new partnership with a key Montana trade association, this time focused on helping realtors better understand the value of land as it relates to water and water rights. By tapping Water Sage, a web-based mapping and research platform designed and operated by Ponderosa Advisors, members of the Gallatin Association of REALTORS (GAR) are now better equipped to serve their clients’ needs at a time when the Bozeman and Gallatin markets are booming and the need to understand water rights has become more urgent.
Water Sage integrates water rights, well, and land data for nearly 840,000 land parcels; more than 350,000 water rights; and data for nearly 280,000 water wells and structures in Montana, making it the most comprehensive land parcel and water database in the state. From water rights, to historical water wells, the platform instantly accesses and evaluates land parcel information in different counties through area searches, or by owner, site address, or parcel identification number. Water Sage has become the premier one-stop-shop website for water mapping, document and records retrieval, and analysis. Examples of integrated documents and records include decrees, water court resumes, well permits, diversion records, and irrigation records.
“Water Sage provides simple, efficient access to data, helping our members to quickly understand and evaluate water rights and their relationship to a home or landowners’ property. Through this new partnership, we’ve learned accessing water data doesn't have to be hard or time consuming,” said Jeff Renevier, President of GAR.
“We opted to share this tool across our entire membership because it’s accessible to non-data experts. We just draw a box on the map and it can identify surface and groundwater rights, irrigated areas, land ownership, and stream flow. That’s a huge time saver to REALTORS and adds a layer of professionalism to our business. It’s a new day in real estate in Gallatin,” added Renevier.
Water Sage will now enable REALTORS to visualize water rights, wells, and land together, and delivers comprehensive knowledge in seconds, not hours or days. Not only does Water Sage combine all of these data sets in an easy-to-use platform, but also links directly to important verifiable legal documents.
Steve Candler, executive director of GAR, also joined in praising the partnership. “Everyone knows location matters the most in real estate. Water Sage’s interactive priority stack feature also helps GAR members assess relative priority of water rights indicating who is upstream from a property and who is downstream in terms of water priority. We have so many newcomers in our area that have never heard that, or simply don’t understand who has first rights to water and why. This tool has dramatically improved the learning curve for newcomers to Gallatin,” added Candler, who was instrumental in implementing the partnership between Water Sage and GAR.
Last year, members of the Montana Bankers Association (MBA) signed onto using Water Sage for risk mediation and due diligence purposes in their lending practices. GAR’s partnership with Water Sage arrives as state lawmakers consider water-related legislation and Montana’s water rights reexamination or “second decree” process continues, whereby nearly half of the water rights claimed will be reviewed and/or contested.
“As our counterparts in lending began to ask more questions about water and water rights associated with our members’ real estate transactions, we found Water Sage to be the fastest, most effective way to resolve their issues while simultaneously educating ourselves,” said Candler. “It was really the lenders that turned us onto this tool and we’re sure glad they did, otherwise we’d be stuck doing this the old fashioned way,” added Candler.
Candler refers to the time-consuming, yet alternative method of researching water rights which often included trips to the state capitol of Helena and hours, if not days, of courthouse document searches.
“In many ways I feel it’s the association’s moral responsibility, to identify and promote new ways to help REALTORS® members in Gallatin do their jobs better. If are we not bringing the right tools to our members to improve their ability to offer the right services to help their clients, then we are not providing the best for our members,” said Candler.
Ponderosa Advisors has been partnering with various industries in Montana, as well as hosting a series of complimentary workshops to share about the reexamination process underway. Although water rights are critical to land value, they are sometimes overlooked exposing both buyers and sellers to unforeseen risks. Water Sage was developed to research water rights and is a valuable risk mitigation tool. Efficient access to water rights data allows users to understand and address the relationship between the land value and the water.
About Water Sage
Water Sage is a web-based mapping and research platform that integrates water rights, well, and land data, with diverse analytical capabilities. Water Sage provides simple, efficient access to this data, helping users understand and evaluate water rights and their relationship to land. The platform is the brainchild of the team at Denver-based Ponderosa Advisors, LLC, a firm of analysts, lawyers, technical experts and developers, that believe access to information and transparency facilitates better decision-making, which benefits everyone. The firm has locations in Colorado and Montana.