A Transition from Military to Land Real Estate

On June 22nd, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. More commonly known as the GI Bill, this act provided millions of returning service members the opportunity to receive educational and financial benefits. These benefits included money for education and training, home loan guarantees, and even unemployment benefits. By the time the original bill ended in 1956, almost eight million World War II Veterans had participated in an educational or training program. The GI Bill has undergone two major revisions since its original adoption, but the core aim of the bill has remained constant– to provide educational benefits for Veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

In recent years, our country has seen a large number of men and women separating from the military services, and the transition to civilian life can be difficult. The services themselves, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, have many programs to help ease this transition. This helps service members get jobs, apply for college, or receive job-specific training.

The REALTORS® Land Institute has created its own program to assist transitioning service members. It was implemented in 2014 and is known as the Military Transition Program or MTP. The MTP provides enormous benefits for service members who are interested in the land or real estate industry. Anyone who has served in any US military service since the year 2000 is eligible. I have personally benefited a great deal from the MTP and would like to tell you all about it.

First, here is a short personal military history. I spent 9 years in the US Navy after receiving my commission thorough Auburn University’s ROTC program. I had dreamt of flying jets on and off aircraft carriers since I was very young. So…that’s what I did. After training to fly and receiving my Wings of Gold in Pensacola, FL, in 2005, I was assigned to Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA, where I trained for nine months in a F/A-18 Super Hornet. I then spent three years stationed in Atsugi, Japan, and deployed aboard the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS George Washington in the Western Pacific Ocean. Following my operational tour, I was sent to Naval Air Station Lemoore, CA, where I served as a flight instructor in a F/A-18. After one year, I was assigned to serve as Flag Aide to the Commanding Admiral of the Joint Detention Center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Once complete there, I returned to Lemoore, CA, where I served an additional year as a flight instructor.

I left active duty in July of 2012 after 9 years of service. I transitioned to the Navy Reserve and continue to serve the standard “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” in Jacksonville, FL. After separation, my first task was to return to school–just like a veteran returning from WWII. I attended the University of Florida and received my Masters in Real Estate. I then joined Crosby & Associates, Inc. in Winter Haven, FL to start my new career in land real estate.

Thanks to the MTP, my transition was a smooth one. My first experience with the REALTORS® Land Institute was at the National Land Conference in Charleston, SC in March of 2014. I had only been in the land business a few weeks and was somewhat apprehensive about fitting in and networking with all the other land professionals in attendance. But my apprehension soon turned to excitement. At the opening session, I was introduced to the entire assembly. I also participated in an exclusive MTP session which included the Institute president, past president, and entire executive committee. This gave me the opportunity to meet others as I attended various sessions and networking events. It was easy to strike up a conversation–mainly due to having been introduced at the opening session. Each and every person I met went to great lengths to welcome me to the Institute and to offer help or advice whenever I needed it. I realized very quickly that the Institute was the perfect launching platform for my new career.

To get a little more specific, the Military Transition Program (MTP) is targeted at people who have served in the US Military in the year 2000 or later and offers the following benefits:
  • First year of membership – FREE! ($445 value)
  • Land 101: Fundamentals of Land Brokerage course – FREE! ($445 value)
  • One additional LANDU elective course – FREE! ($445 value)
  • Additional educational scholarship opportunity: John Eshenbaugh Military Scholarship ($500 value)

When you do the math, that’s over $1600 worth of benefits! Plus, the non-monetary benefits are even greater. When I first joined the Institute through the MTP, I was personally called by Ray Brownfield, ALC Advanced. Ray is also a veteran who spent several decades in the military in addition to the land business. He personally contacts every person who joins through the MTP. I must say, although I have joined many real estate related organizations since leaving the Navy, the REALTORS® Land Institute is the only one I have ever joined where someone called to welcome me to their group.

I also had the benefit of a conference call for MTP members with Bill Eshenbaugh, ALC, who donated several education scholarships to the MTP in honor of his brother, John Eshenbaugh. Bill is a very experienced land broker in Tampa, FL, who does an incredible job of networking and connecting various individuals. He did a great job of encouraging the MTP members in our new careers and gave us the opportunity to leverage his network to connect with others in the industry.

Opportunities like these are just a small sample of my experiences after having joined the Institute through the MTP. In general, the entire group of members has been well above average in terms of making a new guy feel welcome in a brand new community. I’ve had frequent instances of people saying “thank you for your service,” followed by an engaging conversation about the land business and an offer to help however they could. These encounters solidified my desire to be heavily involved in the Institute, and I have already seen lots of success networking and collaborating on deals with other members.

So, for everything that I have benefited from since the day I joined the organization, let me turn the tables and say to the REALTORS® Land Institute, “thank you for your service!”

mcdow, calebCaleb McDow, Institute Member, is a member of Crosby & Associates, Inc in Winter Haven, FL. Caleb is originally from Shelby County, AL, and attended college at Auburn University graduating in May of 2003. After graduation, Caleb spent 9 years in the US Navy flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet and was stationed in Japan, California, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He continues to serve in the US Navy Reserve. Caleb’s current specialty is with agricultural land in Florida, focusing primarily in the north and north central regions. Caleb has a Section 333 Exemption from the FAA to operate as a certified commercial drone pilot.

If you know of a service member who would benefit from MTP, please refer them. For more information about the Military Transition Program, contact the Institute at 800.441.5263 or rli@realtors.org.

Integrated Content Marketing (Made Easy) for Real Estate Professionals

Today, email remains the most effective way of digitally marketing your services. It still beats social media and direct mail by a longshot. In this article you’ll learn why email marketing is important as well as get an overview of the different types of content you should be using in your email marketing.

Why It’s Important?

Reduces Costs

Email marketing greatly reduces marketing costs. The cost to reach a potential customer is very low compared to direct mail, which requires materials, production and postage. Email marketing does require the use of an email service provider. There are many such providers including Constant Contact, MailChimp, Aweber, and many others. These service providers help you manage your list of email addresses, sending emails in bulk, provide templates that you can use, and most include other options as well including social media integration.

Ease of Use

What other method of marketing allows you to reach your entire customer base with the click of an email? Through the user of an email marketing provider like MailChimp or Constant Contact you can write your email once, schedule it, and have the service provider sent out the email to all your subscribers at once.

Email service providers make the job of email marketing easier by providing functionality such as a database for storing your contacts, web and mobile HTML templates for your email communications, sending of email to your entire list or a segment of your list, automated unsubscribe, and the ability to group or segment your list.

Customer Communication

Email allows you to quickly and easily communicate with your audience, drive traffic to your website, develop loyalty, increase brand awareness, and gain referrals.

6 Types of Email Content

Real estate professionals should constantly strive to add fresh, new content to email marketing campaigns. Many of us fall into a rut of sending out the same old boring content over and over. Not that there is anything wrong with letting your email subscribers know all about your current listings.

That certainly has a place in any email campaign, but your readers want and expect more from you. And I’m not talking about providing buyer and seller checklists, tips for selling your home, and other articles that we’ve all seen a million times. Guess who reads those? That’s right — no one. Don’t waste your time writing these, because no one is going to waste time reading them.

There are many different types of content that can be integrated into your overall email marketing strategy. You should not think of these content types in isolation but rather as individual components that are combined into an overall strategy. In this article we’ll give you a high level overview of the basic content types that can be used in real estate email marketing.

It’s really difficult to separate email marketing from your overall content marketing strategy including the obvious need for a website. And you shouldn’t separate them. You want to create an integrated content marketing strategy with email marketing playing a central role. Your email should be directing readers to your website so they can consume your great content, and in turn the great content on your website should attract many new readers (and potential clients). Ultimately you want the great content on your website to trigger a desire on the part of the reader to register for your email newsletter.

Here, then, are six basic content types that every real estate professional should be using in email marketing efforts. There are many email marketing providers but they should all be able to support all of these content types.

Blog Posts

Your blog posts will be the primary way that you generate content. Blog posts can contain many different types of content including articles about local events, restaurants, shopping, schools, and other local information. And yes, your property listings will play a big role as well. You should also include market reports and neighborhood tours as well as property tours. Tours are a great way to introduce video to your site. Other blog posts include curated content and graphic visualizations. Portions of these blog posts can be placed into your email newsletter along with links to the full article on your website. Again, you want to use the email to funnel readers to your website. The Your Berkeley site provides a great example of how to provide fresh content that can also be integrated into an email newsletter.

Video

Video is becoming more and more widespread and important. In real estate visualization is extremely important and video is the best way to visualize a property without actually being at the physical location. Video allows potential buyers to sort through potential properties without physically visiting each location. It is a more efficient way of searching for properties from a buyers point of view and saves you time as well. You should plan on using a video sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo to host your videos. Using a video sharing site increases the potential viewership of your videos so that search engines can organically display your videos in search results.

Also keep an eye on the drone (UAV) video space. As of the writing of this article we are still awaiting FAA guidelines on how drones can be used for real estate marketing. However, drones have the potential to revolutionize how video is used for marketing various properties. It has particular significance for high properties and large acreage properties.

There are also many apps that you can use to record high quality video. I recently wrote about the Hyperlapse application and its potential to add unique video capabilities for marketing properties.

Audio

Audio is sometimes neglected in content marketing efforts but don’t overlook this opportunity to provide great content. However, audio is not for everyone. Some people are not comfortable with this medium, don’t like to hear their own voice, or simply don’t know what to talk about. With a little practice though most people can become reasonably comfortable and effective with this content medium. Podcasting has become extremely popular and is a great way to attract attention to your website and social media channels. You could interview local or industry experts, talk about important topics or simply record question/answer sessions.

Graphic Visualization

Graphic visualization is a diverse and exploding content type. This can include many types of visualization including maps, infographics, charts and graphs, and photos. These provide unique, highly visual content that people really enjoy. These content types require specific software and expertise to create but are highly effective in generating traffic.

Reports

Buyers and sellers want information about their homes and the areas where they live. In particular, sellers want to know how much their house is worth and buyers want to the general trends in an area. Your reports should ideally be generated and shared on a monthly basis and should contain information such as active listings, recently sold properties as well as market trends.

Social Media

You shouldn’t consider email and social media to be isolated activities, but rather different channels that should be integrated into an overall plan. Today, email remains the most effective way to digitally market to your customers. While social media gets all the attention, it is not as effective as email. That doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, but you really need to combine the channels to take full advantage of everything they provide. The question is how? Most email marketing providers are fast becoming integrated solutions providing functionality that allows you to embed social media follow and share buttons into your emails as well as automatically send notifications to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels. The integration capabilities of providers will vary widely so you’ll need to do your research in this area.

In Conclusion

Today there is no excuse for not providing your email subscribers with fresh, compelling content. A wide variety of content types supported by easy to use technologies make it easy to attract and keep readers.

About the Author

Eric is an approved LANDU Instructor for RLI. He is the founder and owner of the GeoSpatial Training Services and has over 20 years experience teaching GIS solutions and other technology. You can learn more about this topic in his company’s upcoming Getting Started with Email Marketing for Real Estate Professionals Course offered by Location3x.