Does Your Forestland Have Curb Appeal?

As with residential property, there are steps a landowner can take to add value and make forest acreage attractive from every angle. As a land broker and professional consulting forester, I’m often asked what improvements can be made to add the most value to forest property.

My response focuses on two different sets of property attributes that affect value. The first set is acquired at purchase and includes characteristics inherent to the property. These are fixed attributes such as location, public road frontage, streams, and topography.

The second set of attributes can be implemented or improved upon, creating an opportunity for “acreage appeal,” which is the forestland equivalent to the curb appeal concept in residential real estate. These are improvements that have the potential to increase the marketability and value of your property above the investment expense. Our firm operates across North America, and these six areas are improvements that seem to be universal regardless of market.

“The importance of working with a professional land manager and broker cannot be overstated.”

ACCESS 

Access is a critical component of value and often the first question posed by potential forestland buyers. Having legal access, of course, is key to marketability and upholding property value. A tract without legal access poses many impediments to potential buyers.

If it is a recreational tract, buyers might be uncertain about their ability to easily enjoy the property. For investment tracts, a lack of legal access can impede the ability to extract value in the form of timber sales or hunting revenue, to say nothing of the potential development value down the road.

The investment buyer is likely to discount the standing timber value to account for these challenges. If your property does not have a recorded legal access you should work with some combination of your adjoining neighbors, a land professional, and an attorney to evaluate your options and make a plan to obtain access.

Once you have legal access, creating or improving internal tract access is another strategy to increase acreage appeal. If internal roads exist, funds are well spent to upgrade and improve these roads to ensure they are easy to drive and stable in various weather conditions. This can include smoothing of the road surface (grading), installation of erosion control measures (water bars), seeding, and replacing damaged culverts.

If you do not have interior roads it could greatly enhance the value of your property to have roads built. New roads should be constructed in a way to provide useful access and in locations that will require the least amount of future maintenance. This involves using the existing topography of the land to minimize the slope of the roads (and erosion potential), and limit the number of stream crossings. Choose crossing locations most likely to withstand storms and require minimal maintenance.

In a similar vein, laying out ATV trails or walking trails also can add value. Being able to showcase a property’s Highlights on an initial tour helps create favorable first impressions. Trails should highlight a property’s unique assets such as water features, views or vistas, cultural features like old home sites, large trees, or favorite hunting spots.

BOUNDARIES 

Well-marked property boundaries are a bellwether for good land management. They signal to the public that this property is frequently attended to and minimize the risk of trespassing, dumping, or squatting. The first step to improving boundary markings is to make sure you have a modern survey description that is accurate. The second step is to mark your boundary clearly with paint. Surveyors have customary ways of marking lines so the exact location of the line and corners can be quickly identified. This is done based on the orientation of the paint and shape or number of painted markings on trees or posts along the line. For example, three painted bars on a witness tree typically denotes a corner in the area in front of the marked tree.

MANAGEMENT

Well-managed properties always realize a premium over un-managed or neglected ones, and buyers can spot the difference from a mile away. Attention to access and boundaries signal active land management, but as a landowner you also should have a written forest management plan for your tract that guides your goals and documents past activities. A little organization With this information imparts a huge degree of confidence to the buyer. Consult with a professional on what silvicultural practices will deliver the most return on investment. There might even be cost share assistance from government agencies.

A good consulting forester will be well versed in these programs and can provide guidance on how to qualify. For the private landowner, there are typically programs for activities such as reforestation, site preparation, prescribed burning, road improvements, wildlife food plantings and pre-commercial thinning operations. Implementing management practices that make good financial sense will enhance the income potential as well as the aesthetics of your property.

WATER 

Though it is typically thought of as an inherent and unchangeable attribute, you often can create water features on a property if there is already a water source available. One of the most common requests we receive from potential buyers of recreational land is for a tract with a pond. If your property has a site that is compatible with building a pond, this can make a huge difference in the value and marketability of the property.

Understanding if you have potential sites to construct a pond on your property and how to go about properly constructing a pond can be an enjoyable experience and a significant value add. Typically you need a reliable water source such as a spring or small stream, soils that will hold water, natural bowl-shaped topography to minimize construction, and earth moving expense.

In some areas, pond construction and permitting is regulated by the state government. That means that the first point of contact should be with your local cooperative extension service to begin to understand what is possible on your property. Once you have determined that a pond is permissible and feasible on your site, carefully select a reputable experienced contractor, and have a plan for managing your pond after it is built. Ponds, like forests, benefit from active management.

OPEN AREAS 

The majority of my work is with timberland properties. As a forest landowner, that’s no doubt your focus as well. However, open areas can greatly enhance a property’s appeal, even to buyers looking for timberland. My advice is always to manage natural openings with good forest management, but not to clear land just for the sake of openings. I say this because tracts that have a lot of open acreage might require added continual maintenance time and expense, which could narrow your pool of buyers.

Natural openings are created during harvest operations when loggers use a specific area for a log landing or loading spot. The resulting opening could be maintained as a food plot with annual or perennial plantings.

Open space can maintain sunlit areas along roads if the vegetation is favorable, and this also has habitat benefits. These open areas allow your road to dry after precipitation, and also provide some habitat diversity to your tract on a landscape level. Opportunities can exist to maintain sight or shooting lanes in thinning access corridors post-harvest as well.

These practices do not remove acreage from timber production but make the best use of every available acre and demonstrate variety in a property. Some of these open areas could be maintained by a hunt club since the openings improve habitat and, thus, hunting. The annual maintenance expense is minimal, and there might also be cost share programs through state or federal sources to assist you.

GATES 

It might seem obvious, but the first impression of a property often is the entrance. It’s why subdivision developers go overboard with gates and entryways before ground is broken on the first model home.

You need not break the budget in this area, but investing in and maintaining gates at all points of access it will provide security while you own the property, and is viewed favorably by potential buyers. After all, why would a landowner go to the expense of putting up a nice gate if there wasn’t a quality piece of land behind it?

New gates should be properly sized to accommodate any future needs. Consider whether there will be future timber harvests, and the width needed to get equipment through the access point. It is preferable to have the gate installed slightly off the main road so you can easily pull in to open it without having to stop on the road shoulder. The gate also should be installed so that it will not sag and drag on the ground, or not align with their latches properly.

Gates often sag or become unaligned due to not burying the pivot post to which the gate is attached deep enough and in cement.  Gates should last a long time, so if you have an old gate, it can be enhanced greatly with a fresh coat of paint.

These are six key areas often discussed with owners and potential buyers of forestland. There are many other opportunities to add acreage appeal. My advice to owners is to consider these broadly appealing improvements first, and then invest in other, possibly more capital-intensive improvements that enable them to reach their goals for the property. The importance of working with a professional land manager and broker cannot be overstated. These professionals can help you evaluate investments in improvements and explain their long-term impact on your property and investment return should you choose to sell in the future.

Chris Miller, ALCChris Miller, ALC, is a land broker and consulting forester for American Forest Management, Inc. and AFM Land Sales, LLC. in Charlotte, North Carolina. This piece was originally published in the July/August 2016 Forest LandOwner Magazine.

 

5 Ways to Maximize Your Listings

This article was originally featured in the 2016 Summer Edition of the Institute’s Terra Firma Magazine.

I have seen a lot of amazing property listings under-perform or flat out fail from a lack of understanding how to best represent them online. Most of these tips apply to advertising property in any medium- digital or print, but will serve you particularly well online. In our increasingly digital world, there is a lot of noise that can drown out your listing, but with these easy steps, you can stand out and drive buyer interest and leads like never before. Here are my top five tips for how to maximize your online property listing.

  1. Completing Everything
    It should go without saying, but a complete listing and profile is essential. The property should be mapped accurately; titles and descriptions filled out completely; a generous number of photos uploaded; but also, pay attention to the smaller stuff. Things like categories and property types can have a big influence on who sees your property and where it shows up in searches. Often these modifiers work as filters, so if your farm isn’t tagged as a ‘farm’, it won’t show up in a ‘farm’ search. You could be missing out on a massive amount of property searches by leaving these blank.Same with property features like house size and bedrooms. Even if it isn’t the property focus, some buyers will be happy to know there is a habitable structure on the property. Water availability, utilities, property access, proximity to a town, etc. should be addressed if not obvious, and often even if it is. At a minimum, when there is a text box to fill out or drop down to select while creating your listing, you should be entering information into it.
  1. Picture it
    You want your listing to impress the pants off of people, no matter the property. The best way to get an initial response is through great photos. You generally see a two to three times greater response rate from listings with professional photos because they capture people. I’ve seen a weedy lot with a decrepit structure transformed into a landscape you would want to hang on your wall. You don’t want to deceive buyers, but you do want to represent it in the best possible way. If a professional photographer isn’t in your budget, read up on how to take better pictures. All photos should include a focal point such as a structure, fence, tree, lake, livestock, or even a flower. Look at your photos. If you don’t like your photo, neither will a buyer.The technology landscape is changing. Aerial photography and video is becoming more common thanks to drones. 3D tours and street-view technology has made its way into real estate. Mapping technology can orient you to the property terrain and features. All of these technologies are improving the way we tour a property remotely and adding some flash and excitement, but really it is about experiencing the property through a computer or mobile device as if we were physically there.
  1. Reading vs. Experiencing
    The title and description of a listing are nearly as important as photos because they frame the image of the property and fill in the gaps. Think of the photos and title as a hook, and the description as a line- you aren’t going to catch a fish without both.The title should be descriptive and evocative at the same time. The interested buyer isn’t physically at the property, so they need to experience it through your words and photos. What are the properties main features or resources? ‘Elk hunter’s paradise’, ‘mountainous’, ‘vistas’, ‘wilderness’, ‘fertile’. What does the property ‘feel’ like? Use descriptors like: ‘tranquil’, ‘remote’, ‘vast’, and ‘sweeping’. Be creative and come up with your own that fit the property. These words will help form an emotional connection with buyers beyond just seeing a piece of land. Use language and phrases that will resonate with your intended buyer to help them experience it from their computer.Similarly, the description should tell a story. Include all of the essential details–structures, acreage, crops or resources, and make these clear, but go beyond that. What is the history of the land? Who owns it now, and what is their story? What improvements have been done, and why? You want the buyer to care about this piece of land, and a story makes it special (even if it isn’t a very good one).
  1. Forming a Connection
    Not only do you want the buyer to care about the land, but you want them to care about you as well. Establishing trust and conveying confidence up front goes a long way to obtaining a lead, and ultimately securing a deal. You are your brand and vice-versa, so it should be treated and promoted like you would promote yourself. Your logo or photo should be everywhere you are; it shows people you are present in the region and an icon in the industry. The more they see it, the more they will feel you are an established and trustworthy business. Not unlike building a reputation within your community, your reputation and brand online are important to your business.A profile photo and bio can form a further connection. People will recognize you, and may even feel as if they already know you. You are no longer a faceless entity; you are a person, just like they are. If there isn’t a place for this on your listing, add it to the description.
  1. Get it Seen
    You have created a place for the information, now you need to drive people to see it. Post it on social media, add it to your website, print off some flyers and pass them out, pay for a featured ad, send some emails. Promoting the listing is the single biggest contributor to any listing’s success.It is also helpful to review your listing performance to get an idea how many people are seeing your property, and what actions are being taken. Give it thirty days, then take a look at listing views and lead count. These numbers can be helpful in telling you what the interest is like for your property. High listing views means that you are promoting it well, or it is popular in searches. If you are getting lots of leads, then you are doing well, but pay attention to the quality of those leads. Are they just kicking the tires, do they lose interest, are they responding to your attempts to contact them? These could be indicators that you are getting the wrong kind of traffic, appealing to the wrong audience, or potentially misrepresenting the property.

Take Away
To follow up, your property listing should have all of these qualities to reach maximum potential and performance:

  • Fully Completed Listing – Check all the boxes and enter all the information
  • Transport the potential buyer to the property with your words and photos
  • Convey an emotional connection, tell a story about the land
  • Establish trust and form a connection
  • Promote like crazy, and monitor listing performance

Online property advertising reaches a huge audience, and expands the buyer pool to include the entire country, or even world. When used correctly, it can be the most effective property selling tool in your arsenal. Implementing these tips will allow you to maximize your property listings, and lead to more deals closed in less time.

Jean Paul LaCountJean-Paul LaCount was the Head of Marketing for Lands of America and Land And Farm, and has been a digital marketer for the last 12 years.

Working with Efficiency on the Road

How much time do you spend in your vehicle during the work week? What about the average amount of time you spend in your vehicle during a growing season? Don’t forget the commute to and from work. If you tally it up, you might be shocked or perhaps a little horrified at the answer. Then comes the next level of questioning: What do you do with yourself during that time? Are you prepared for what might be waiting for you on a dusty dirt road?

These latter questions were posed during a recent ALC-to-ALC teleconference that I co-hosted with Jeramy Stephens, ALC, from National Land Reality out of Stuttgart, Arkansas. These questions lead us many different places but for me personally, it comes down to efficiency. I have a thirty-five minute drive to and from work on top of wherever my job takes me during the business day. I have been intentional about developing habits that allow me to be productive during this time. This seventy minute minimum of car time has become a valuable part of my work day. Here are some tips that might help you achieve greater efficiency:

  1. Get started on the go. If you have support staff, then I recommend a Dictaphone or other recording technology. I try to dictate at least 2-3 emails/letters every morning on my way to work. These communications can range from crop reports to land inquiries – you name it. Just this very morning I dictated a letter highlighting crop inputs that need reimbursed at an upcoming closing, contacted a neighbor about a property for sale and sent a “feeler” to an owner in Missouri who has underutilized land near a management account of ours in Greene County, Illinois. Each of these things needed to be done. Why not do them while I am sitting in the car?
  2. Plan calls accordingly. We all obviously spend a lot of time on the phone in order to do our jobs well. Some calls need to be made while sitting at the desk so we can access folders, spreadsheets and computers, but there are also calls that can be made anytime, anywhere. I categorize my calls. If I don’t need to reference something at my desk, I save it for when I am in transit going home, to a closing or checking on crops across West Central Illinois.
  3. Be prepared and communicate with your co-workers. If I am going to be scouting farms in Morgan, Scott and Greene counties, then I make sure I have all three of those plat books with me, either in paper or electronically. You never know when you might get a call to check something out while already on the road. If I am going to a county seat, I always ask my co-workers if they need anything while I am there. If I spent all morning near Carlinville, Illinois (1 hour away) it would be discouraging to get back to the office and hear Dad say, “Not sure when you’re going to Carlinville, but the next time you’re there I need something from the courthouse.” Kill multiple birds with one stone and help each other limit needless travel.
  4. De-Compress. This might sound contradictory to previous points, but we all reach a point on certain days where we are fried. We are tired and desperate to chill out a bit. I use the “Pocket Cast” app to download my preferred podcasts. It allows me to quickly filter and download podcasts that interest me. I can go from economics to sports to my own personal nerdy interests with the click of a button (nerdy interests shall go unnamed). As much as I love podcasts and music, I also find it reinvigorating from time to time to simply turn everything off and sit in the silence. Silence is hard to come by at work and I certainly don’t get it at home with sons ages one and six!

Jeramy did a great job on the ALC teleconference call highlighting certain technology he uses to stay plugged in and there is a wealth of articles out there on smartphone apps that help in all sorts of ways. He also mentioned his truck being a traveling convenience store full of emergency and convenient items. He spoke on it better than I can write so I highly recommend you take some time and listen to the recording which can be heard here.

The long story short is that we as professionals in the land industry are on the road a lot. We can’t afford to mindlessly hit seek on the radio over and over. Tweak your tasks that need done to fit your travel schedule. You can get more done and become more efficient in the process. Be prepared. Take the time to think through your day before jumping in the car or truck. Do the preparation that has you ready to tackle the day and adapt on the fly. Do it safely and do it efficiently.

Luke Worrell, ALCContributor Luke Worrell, ALC, Worrell Land Services
Luke Worrell, ALC, is a Broker and Accredited Farm Manager in Jacksonville, IL.  He specializes in agricultural real estate and land management in west central Illinois.  Luke enjoys all things sports and traveling.  He resides in Springfield, IL with his wife Allison and two sons Kale and Benson.
ranch real estate

Tips & Thoughts On How To Sell A Ranch

If this title had you thinking, “Oh good, I’ll just read this, gather a few pointers and be on my way to selling that ranch!” — think again! This topic would be a great Napoleon Hill “brainstorming” session, wouldn’t it!

My fellow Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs) could all write this article, and certainly could elaborate on it based on their own knowledge and procedures. I hope this piece will help those new to selling larger land parcels, including ranches.

Ranches–first of all–what are they?

They come in all sizes and uses including hunting, hay, cattle, fishing and recreation, high fenced exotics, vineyards, and true working ranches.  This will not include a discussion on agricultural production, other than hay as that is an entire subject regarding farmland and not part of this article.

You have secured a wonderful ranch listing, discussed the aspects of the ranch with your sellers, and counseled with them regarding the listing and selling process, expectations and potential results.

Have your sellers tell you what they have loved about the ranch, and different parts of the property. How is the lighting different in the summer versus the winter? What have they changed, built, or modified since they purchased? What would they still change if they were to continue as owners? You need to really get the ‘feel’ of this property, and your sellers are your best resource–now you can share that through your marketing to potential buyers and agents.

Gather your data–no shortcuts!

Surveys; legal descriptions; tax information; how property is assessed (agricultural, timber, wildlife, etc.); mineral ownership; production; water rights; wind rights; BLM leases or other agricultural leases; conservation easement documents if applicable; well logs; zoning information; local utilities; inventory list of exclusions and inclusions (talk to your sellers about this, get this early in process–it will still probably change!); income/expense/proforma statements (as many years as possible); off record items.; distance to airports and FBOs; know the length of runways for private jets, all jets are not equal and require different distances.

Have there been any environmental assessments done on the ranch? Many buyers will want, at minimum, a Phase One–we all know most ranches have their own “landfill” somewhere! Also, inquire about government programs, CRP, Grassland Reserve, etc.

As you move forward, gather information on competitive properties and projects as well as sold and closed properties within a determined area where buyers would look for similar properties.  This could include several states! Collect regional and local information and articles–if in a resort area, sell that! If your ranch has development or conservation potential, put together development costs and estimates.

You will want to gather all building descriptions and specs, floor plans, building diagrams, blueprints, etc.

Study your subject–maps, maps, maps!

Know your boundaries. How much is wooded, how much in crop production, hay production, native grasses?  How many water features? What’s the size and depth of ponds and lakes? Check with your local NRCS office as they have great maps. With your mapping programs, create boundary, aerial, topo, FEMA and flood maps. Locate improvements and points of interest on your maps. Now, create your soils maps–NRCS has a great site for this as do most mapping software. This is important to buyers! Figure the carrying capacity of your pastures; knowing how many AUMs in certain climate conditions will be beneficial information for some buyers. Know the current pasture plans in place; when and how often it is fertilized; how about weed control, planting, sprigging, and so on. Can this be improved? How?

Regarding fences, know which are boundary and which are cross fences. If a ranch is high fenced, find out who built it and when it was built.

When it comes to hunting and fishing amenities, get photos–elk, deer, turkey, cat, ducks, geese, fish sell! If a ranch is primarily used for hunting and recreation, there is a host of other categories on which to gather information.  It is also important to know the areas in certain parts of the country, how many tags a land owner gets, licensing, season dates, etc.  If outside hunting is allowed and if a business is part of ranch, then, all financials are important. Same goes for dude ranches, vineyards and all income production which contributes to value of the ranch and is part of what you are selling.

Yes, assembling all of the critical information that makes you as knowledgeable as the seller about your ranch listing is paramount.  Now you can decide your marketing strategies.  Foremost is determining if your ranch listing is a local, regional or global property in its appeal. Most ranch brokers utilize the excellent esoteric publications of our business.  These magazines were our “bibles” and served as our main Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for years! Now, they can be strategically placed on coffee tables for high-end buyer prospects.

Publications and websites catering to hunting, fishing, and equestrian properties should be considered depending on scope of property. Print publications such as the WSJ, for high end properties, have regional market advertising options. Of course, if a property is more local in scope, then, use your best local marketing publications.

If you have a potential conservation property, consider highlighting that aspect and explain state tax credits and federal tax deductions associated with easements in your marketing materials.

Offer a resource of qualified agricultural lenders. Invite them to be part of your “Open Ranch” tour. It puts you miles ahead if you can offer a knowledgeable ag lender to a prospective buyer and agent. Inexperienced large land buyers may think their local lender or private wealth management lender will secure their financing. We have all been down that path!

Nailing the “Open Ranch”

Yes, have an Open Ranch and invite your network of farm and ranch brokers. These brokers have buyers! This was certainly a successful part of marketing and had great support among the members of the Colorado RLI Chapter while I was there. Texas is vast and properties can be combined with other local ranch listings to showcase your unique properties to your broker network.

Certainly we all know that the “basics” are important in selling a ranch and they are far more reaching when selling a home. A well-staged home and barn is important. The property must have all deferred maintenance completed, be the cleanest it’s ever been. Barns and out buildings must be clean and organized. Fences should be fixed with no sagging wire or broken boards; fence lines sprayed for weeds; etc. This list could go on and on!

Good photography, both still and aerial from a drone, is essential on large properties. Also, having the proper vehicle available to show your property is a must!  A low profile car just isn’t going to work!

These are just a few of the aspects to consider when preparing to market and sell a ranch.  Last, but as important as first, when you are counseling your sellers, ask them about their plans for “after”.  Many sellers are not aware of tax deferred 1031 exchanges and how this IRS code can possibly benefit them.  Have your trusted Qualified Intermediary in your resource list to provide to your sellers-this can possibly save them a lot of tax dollars.

Pull on your boots now and good luck!

Deitra Robertson, Accredited Land ConsultantAbout the author: Deitra Robertson, ALC, is President and Owner of Deitra Robertson Real Estate, Inc. She is a founding member broker of American Farm & Ranch and founding President of the Texas Land Broker’s Network. A member of the REALTORS® Land Institute since 1996, Deitra has served as President of both the Colorado and Texas RLI Chapters and on the ALC Designation Committee.

Conservation easements - signature

Discussing Easements With Your Clients

Note: This post was originally published in the Winter 2016 Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

Almost all articles about easements deal with their appraisal. Valuation of easements is important and the real estate professional can benefit by understanding these valuation techniques. However, this particular article is designed to assist the non-appraiser real estate professional in their discussions with buyers and sellers regarding the impact of easements on land.

WHY ARE EASEMENTS IMPORTANT

Most properties have easements and in some instances these easements can impact the utilization and even value. Knowing if there are easements present, where they are situated and what they are used for, is an important part of listing, buying, selling, financing and appraising land. Any analysis or presentation of a property should include a discussion of easements. A few thoughts on the nature of easements and how they may influence value can help ascertain their significance to the transaction. When the subject property already has easements, if there is going to be an easement placed on the property or if the comparable sales and/or listings used to value the property have easements, then, their possible impact should be considered.

WHAT IS AN EASEMENT

According to the Land 101: Fundamentals of Land Brokerage LANDU course,

An easement is defined as a right in law held by one person or entity to make use of land or property of another for a limited purpose. Under the terms of an easement, the owner grants a portion of, or interest in, his property rights to an individual or organization. An easement grants a portion or interest in the property rights of a property to another individual or organization. When it is recorded, an easement becomes part of the property’s chain of title.

Easements result in a diminution of uses to the landowner and sometimes, but not always, a reduction in the value of the property. The landowner can no longer build within the easement area. Depending on the easement document, he may be restricted from traversing or crossing the easement area. There could also be restrictions on the use of the subservice or aerial portions of the land within the easement area.

NATURE OF EASEMENTS

Each easement is unique. Easements are created by a document including the specific agreements between the landowner and the holder. These agreements may have a time limit or extend into perpetuity. Very few easement agreements are exactly the same. There are almost an infinite number of uses for an easement, the most typical of which are roads, pipelines, and electrical transmission lines. Each easement reflects the highest and best use, and other characteristics of the land it crosses, further adding to its uniqueness. An easement is not a highest and best use but the existence of one could change the highest and best use of the subject property. Often, easements are described as surface, sub-surface or aerial but these classifications are primarily physical and the easement agreement may include additional rights. For purposes of discussion, easements can also be divided into right of way (land) and infrastructure (improvements). Either the right of way or the infrastructure within it can impact the value of the land. Again, the easement agreement spells out the specifics of both the right of way area and the improvements which are allowed in that area.

Another factor of uniqueness is that an easement physically divides the property which it encumbers. A property with an easement can be said to have three physical parts: the subject whole, the portion burdened (also called right of way or acquisition) and the remainder (that part of the subject whole not encumbered). These distinctions are important when analyzing the impact an easement has on value as discussed below.

RESEARCHING EASEMENTS

Easements are quite specific and, as mentioned above, are spelled out in a legal document. A title search may uncover an easement document and this agreement should be read. Many easements are visible at inspection but some are not. The landowner should always be interviewed regarding the presence of easements. Assumptions regarding easements should be avoided.

WHEN DO EASEMENTS IMPACT VALUE

In most cases there is no impact on value due to easements, particularly if they are of the standard utility or access variety. In some cases, the easement area itself will include significant infrastructure such as highways, electrical transmission lines or pipelines. Value impact issues may include proximity to improvements; visual impairment; crossing restrictions; location issues such as traversing the land through the middle rather than along the boundaries; and destruction issues such as loss of trees or improvements. Loss of value should be based on market data rather than subjective or anecdotal reasons. Individual markets react in different ways to a particular type of easement. For example, a natural gas pipeline causes little comment at all on the Gulf Coast of Texas while a similar easement could create a great deal of consternation in rural Vermont.

HOW EASEMENTS ARE APPRAISED

Easements are not valued per se. There is no market for easements in and of themselves. The value (impact) of an easement is always the amount of loss in value of the burdened property, not the value of the easement to the taker (user). Another way of saying this is that the value of easements is based on the underlying value of the land. There are two components of possible value loss to the land: reduction in the value of the easement area and loss of value to the remainder of the tract. As discussed above, the loss to the remainder can be caused by either/or the right of way itself or the infrastructure within the easement area itself. The total loss in value caused by an easement cannot exceed the value of the entire subject property.

The generally accepted methodology used by appraisers, and the one almost always accepted (required) by the courts, is the “Before and After” method. In practice, this requires the appraiser to perform two separate appraisals: the value of the property before the imposition of the subject easement and the value of the property after the easement and infrastructure is in place. The difference in value between the two is the impact of the easement. Since any appraisal is market based, comparable land sales will be used. In the before scenario, comparables without easements will be used, and in the after analysis, comparables that are encumbered with easements similar to the one to be placed on the subject will be used. Generally, these two appraisals and the data are presented in one report.

RULES OF THUMB

There are a number of alternative methodologies (rules of thumb) which are often used to estimate the impact (value) of easements. None of these rules of thumb reflect market value and should not be relied upon. In any event, they are not recognized by appraisers or courts of law because they are not supported in the marketplace. In the final analysis, alternative methodologies are not based on the underlying land value. Three examples of these rules of thumb would be: (1) linear expressions of value such as per rod or per running foot, (2) prices paid for other easements and (3) expressing damages (diminution in value) in terms of percentages.

Basing the value on linear expressions, such as dollars per rod or foot, is a commonly used rule of thumb particularly in pipeline easements. Many companies used this metric as a budgeting tool. It is not a reliable indication of value, however, for several reasons. There is no market for sales of individual easements in the market place. Many easement acquisitions involve eminent domain and, as such, are not arm’s length transactions.

The price paid for the acquisition of individual easements is usually based on many factors in addition to the underlying value. Examples of these would be negotiations based on timing of the project and holdout situations. Additionally, because of the uniqueness of each easement, the easements being purchased probably are not similar to the subject easement.

The use of percentages not based on comparable sales data does not reflect the market. An example would be to say that a power line easement reduces property value by twenty-five percent. This is a generalization which does not take into consideration such factors as differences in size of the property being affected; different sizes of the transmission line size and voltage; different neighborhoods; different highest and best use of the property; etc.

ADVISING YOUR CLIENT REGARDING A PROPOSED EASEMENT

In the event of the possibility of an easement being imposed on the subject property your client may seek your advice. The real estate professional should exercise a great deal of caution at this point and should not ever offer legal or appraisal advice. The party seeking to obtain the easement may have the right of eminent domain, and this introduces a legal environment which will require, in most instances, the assistance of an attorney. Recommending an attorney is fine as long as they are qualified to handle a condemnation matter. In the event that an appraiser is needed, the attorney usually selects one they have worked with in the past. Acting as a negotiator or expert witness for either party in an eminent domain matter should be given a great deal of thought before accepting the assignment. Most states require an appraiser license or certification before an individual may act as a valuation witness. Any comments about easements and values, particularly in public meetings, should be based on comparable data and not alternative methods or rules of thumbs.

SUMMARY

Easements are important and can impact both use and value of the property. Generalizations about easements are of little use primarily because each easement is unique and does not fit a preconceived pattern. Generally speaking, both appraisers and the courts apply an underlying land value based approach (before and after) to the valuation of easements. The reason for this is that this method reflects how the market reacts. Rules of thumb to estimate value (impact) of easements themselves should be avoided.

Albert AllenAbout the author: Albert Allen, ALC, represents buyers and sellers of farm and ranch properties, rural recreational acreage and close in transitional land. His background includes growing up in a South Texas ranching family, graduating with a degree in Agriculture Economics from Texas A&M University and serving as a real estate officer in the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Antlered Assets

WRITTEN BY DAN PEREZ, RLI MEMBER

COURTESY OF REALTORS® LAND INSTITUTE AND WHITETAIL PROPERTIES REAL ESTATE
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY LAND MAGAZINES

At one time the value of land was primarily based on the fertility of the soil, maturity of the timber or the minerals beneath the surface. But today there is another asset that will not show up on a property appraisal sheet, yet represents a huge value to many outdoorsman. I’m talking about the quality of the wildlife that inhabits a particular tract of land.

There is one animal in particular that generates more revenue than all God’s wild creatures on earth put together and that is the whitetail deer. When you consider the billions of dollars hunters pump into the economy every year by purchasing licenses and tags, lodging, fuel, hunting equipment, food plot equipment, recreation and utility vehicles, seed, fertilizer, camouflage clothing, attractants, and land for the single purpose of hunting the allusive whitetail deer it is absolutely astonishing! There are many businesses in the US and even entire towns in the Midwest that would go bankrupt and blown away if this majestic beast were gone.

Kanas 8 JTB_4118_v2_2400x 2015 NB

Just as there are farmers who pour their lives into the land in order to grow corn and beans, today there is a new generation of farmer that pours his life into the land to hold, grow and harvest the largest whitetail bucks producible in his region. I’m not referring to holding and growing big mature whitetail bucks behind a high fence. I’m talking about holding and growing wild, free ranging whitetail deer by providing premium habitat as well as an abundance of year-round high-quality food. Make no mistake, this process is time consuming and requires a lot of hard work. But when you’re passionate about whitetail deer and passionate about land it becomes the most enjoyable and rewarding work you’ll ever do.

Very often a savvy investor might purchase the least desirable home in a very up scale neighborhood. He does this because he figures, even after he spends money on improving the property he will still have far less invested in the purchase than what that property will be worth after improvements. This is a great way to purchase equity. By comparison, if you research areas that have historically produced record book bucks then employ the services of a licensed real estate land specialist to help you narrow your search, you can apply the same principals. You see, by finding a tract of land with the least desirable whitetail habitat (an example would be an old cattle ranch) in an area where big bucks are common and then by transforming that land to prime whitetail habitat you will accelerate appreciation and grow equity.

Dan Perez

These are the steps I take after purchasing that perfect property: First I start by strategically laying out the property on an aerial. I like to identify where it makes the most sense wind wise to put in food plots, bedding areas and watering holes or banks, Wild Water systems, as well as access roads, gates, and fences. As it relates to food plots, my rule of thumb is to put in at least 10 percent of the farm in food plots: Two-thirds of the plots in perennials and one-third in annuals. Next, my goal is to build cover: In the timber areas my plan is to thicken the understory as well as create densely obscure edges. I do this by feather cutting the timber along the edges of the fields and selectively hinge cutting some of the less desirable trees in the interior. This allows sunlight to reach the forest floor thus allowing new growth to sprout. Not to mention, the trees that are hinged over are still alive so now every limb grows on the sun facing side of the trunk thus creating much more dense cover at eye level. From there I work on converting cool season grassy areas into early successional plants by spraying the grassy areas with an herbicide then control burning these areas. This is a great way to provide more cover and food at same time. It is often amazing how many seeds/plants have been lying dormant for years under the thatch. If you’re not familiar with burning, spraying or cutting, don’t worry there are plenty of experts out there that you can hire. A great way to learn is to hire an expert then serve as his apprentice. You will learn far more from that experience than attending a seminar. There is an excellent book on the market right now called “A Guide to Wildlife Food Plots and Early Successional Plants.” This book is written by Craig Harper and it is the single most comprehensive book on the subject that I have ever read.

You’ve heard it before, “build it and they will come” and indeed they will. The improvements alone have already increased the value of your property, but now the key is to build a prospectus by documenting the quality of whitetails that inhabit your farm. It is amazing how in three or four short years you can really make a difference. The best way I know to build a prospectus is with trail camera pictures and by keeping an album of mature animals that have been harvested on your farm.

I’ve been involved with many farms that have sold for twice as much per acre than similar farms in the same county simply because they had documented history of producing big bucks. But at the end of the day the true value of purchasing a farm and building a quality whitetail paradise are the memories you build with your family and friends on your slice of God’s creation.

About the Author: Dan Perez is the CEO, Chief Broker, and one of the Founding Owners of Whitetail Properties Real Estate as well as the host of the ever-popular Whitetail Properties television show. The Whitetail Properties team has grown this business to over a half a billion in sales in less than nine years.  Dan is passionate about the land business and driven by hiring and developing real estate agents to become multi-million-dollar land specialist.  He is also a proud member of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

2016 National Land Conference

RLI Did It BIG in Texas

I have been to Texas countless times.  I always enjoy my time there, especially when visiting my sister and her family down in Harlingen.  My most recent trip was to the REALTORS® Land Institute’s 2016 National Land Conference in Dallas.  I have visited enough to where I playfully laugh off some of the “Texas-isms” I am so used to hearing, namely “Everything is bigger in Texas.”  That one came up a lot during the advertising and early stages of this conference.  It wasn’t just a cute saying however; this time they were serious. Barring an emergency or the birth of a child (the reason for my 2015 absence) I don’t miss the National Land Conference.  I love my one year old but thank goodness he isn’t a big brother because the Dallas conference was a can’t miss event.

There are many reasons professionals across the country leave home for a few days in March to attend;  I go for two mains reasons.  First of all, the educational value is exceptional.  It is easy to get lost in your own neighborhood sometimes.  Traveling to hear world class speakers, national experts and legislative representatives is an invaluable experience.  Just take a look at my Saturday schedule to capture a small sample: I started the day hearing from renowned economist Dr. Mark Dotzour and Senior Credit Risk Officer of SunTrust Bank, KC Conway.  After participating in a 45 minute Q&A session with both distinguished speakers, the agenda then provided a wide variety of 45 minute breakout sessions throughout the day.  I was able to get first-hand information on potential tax reform and how that could affect agriculture.  I learned about “Delaware Statutory Trusts” becoming a more commonly used method of a 1031 exchange.  I was able to spend some time focusing on our business and heard from a Public Relations professional and listened to a presentation on better utilizing technology to brand ourselves and serve our clientele.  I also participated in breakout sessions centered on networking and collaboration with other firms.  This was just one day! The conference was three days long.  I haven’t even talked about the breakfast round tables, legislative updates straight from Washington or the presentations on new technology.

Where else can I glean that much knowledge in three days from that caliber of sources?  I leave the National Land Conference every year a better land consultant, broker and farm manager.  The quality and depth of the education keeps me coming back year after year.

RLI Illinois Chapter

Luke Worrell, ALC, accepting the 2016 Chapter of the Year Award on behalf of the RLI Illinois Chapter.

The other main reason I attend is the people.  The opportunity to gather with accomplished and trusted colleagues is an amazing experience.  The chance to bounce ideas off one another, share stories and ideas is a monumental learning experience in itself.  The REALTORS® Land Institute is like many organizations in that you get out what you put in.  I have been fortunate to become involved with the Illinois chapter.  I was honored to accept the “National Chapter of the Year” award on behalf of Illinois (shameless plug for my Illinois friends).  The genuine friendships made and professional networking is immense within the REALTORS® Land Institute organization.  It also is a valuable resource for my clients.  I have a network of trusted and accredited professionals across the nation who would be happy to help and assist our clients should their scope expand beyond west central Illinois.  Even if they don’t, I am more equipped than ever to handle tax reform, 1031 exchanges, legal issues, communication and collaborative marketing efforts on their behalf.

It was a memorable and valuable trip.  Barring an unexpected third Worrell baby (my wife, and proofreader, panicked a little when she read that!), next year’s conference in Charlotte is on my schedule.  I simply can’t afford to miss it…And neither can you.

Luke WorrellLuke Worrell, ALC, is a Broker and Accredited Farm Manager at Worrell Land Services in Jacksonville, IL. He specializes in agricultural real estate and land management in west central IL. Luke enjoys all things sports and traveling. He resides in Springfield, IL, with his wife Allison and sons Kale and Benson.

Is New Technology Replacing Land Brokers?

Are real estate land brokerages going the way of the dinosaur?

With the advent of drone videos, Google Earth, digitized County GIS records, and property advertising websites, are the traditional services of rural land brokers still needed? This article is my attempt to address that question.

If you are a part-time or mediocre land agent who only does an occasional land deal, you should be worried about how necessary you are going to be to consumers going forward. Your services will probably not continue to be as relevant in the near future. Brokers that continue to get better at their jobs and excel in professionalism have a bright future ahead.

My conclusion comes from observing craftsmen in their trades. A mediocre cabinet maker with access to fine tools, will continue to make substandard cabinets. A master with ordinary tools can accomplish surpassing quality because they pour their heart and mind into their work. It isn’t the tools that do the work, it is the expertise and discipline of the craftsman.

Websites, videos, mapping systems, UTV’s, and internet access to information are all tools of the land brokerage trade. There have been immense advancements in technology in my short 8 years in this business. Mapping technology is infinitely easier to use than when I entered the field. Now every buyer has access to Google tools that allow them to zoom in and out, draw boundaries, measure distances and area, and determine distances to their home. This is no longer proprietary information that consumers rely on brokers to obtain. There have been similar developments in finding property listings and also about obtaining county tax assessor information on parcels.

A conversation like this begs the question,  “What do land brokers really do?” If you are a broker and your answer to that is that you put properties online and in the newspaper, then your days in this business are likely numbered. I answer it this way, “I help people buy and sell land.” The emphasis in that sentence is on, “I help people.”

Consumers like to work with people they trust.

Our job as brokers is to give people all the information they need to make the best decision possible. For our clients, we also provide advice as to the proper course of action for their situation. In order for a broker to be able to provide expert advice, one must continue to learn and develop professionally. It takes a deep level of commitment to follow current trends, join professional organizations, network with others in the business, and constantly reflect on issues and trends that affect our industry.

My feeling is that brokers that are in this career for the long haul should join an organization like the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI), and work toward earning their Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designation. The Institute was founded by and for land brokers to promote the level of professionalism and increase the level of service to our customers and clients. Our members take an oath to conduct business in the most ethical manner, and agree to be held to a higher standard in their daily practices. The ALC designation is earned by those who demonstrate a commitment to obtaining the education and exercising proficiency in serving people who buy or sell land.

A consumer may be thinking, “But brokers are not necessary because I can use the internet to do what you do.” A portion of that statement is true, the internet is helping to educate consumers. There is an ample amount of good information from Toyota on how to change the timing belt on my truck. Is that something that I would personally try? Probably not. My feeling is to leave that to the experts, because messing up such an important task could cost me more than it would save me. WebMD is filled with information on diagnosing many important health conditions. Is it a good idea to diagnose and treat yourself based merely on the range of symptoms contained in the two paragraphs you read?  No. You should seek out the person with the training and knowledge to help you diagnose and treat the actual condition.

We should work hard to offer our clients the best possible service that leads to the best possible outcomes for them. Those brokers who take the time to get the proper instruction, master the tools of the trade, and do their work with expert skill will have a successful career. There will be changes in our industry, and some among our ranks will be weeded out. Make a commitment to do the things necessary to help you excel in our profession and elevate the reputation of our industry. There will never be a replacement for a passionate person, driven to excellence who excels in serving people. Those are the brokers consumers will line up to work with.

Goode, JonathanAbout the Author: Jonathan Goode, ALC, is an active member of the REALTORS® Land Institute. He is a Co-owner of Southeastern Land Group, LLC (SELG) and is the Responsible Broker for the company in Mississippi. He is passionate about helping people buy and sell land.

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.