Four Reasons You Should Never Buy Land Without An ALC

Let’s face it, buying or selling land real estate can be terrifying. There have been countless times I have noticed visible anxiety on people as they contemplate a transaction. We live in an era where one “bad apple” can spoil the whole bunch.  The news of bad real estate experiences travels fast. The value an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) can bring when purchasing or selling a property is becoming increasingly more substantial. There are many reasons to never buy land without an ALC, but let’s focus on four.

Trust

This is kind of like hitting a baseball on a tee, but it can’t be said enough. Society tends to hear the horror stories and it can be hard for people to feel a sense of trust from a real estate agent. Right or wrong, sometimes us agents get lumped into the over-generalized stigma of used car salesmen and attorneys (comment not intended for the fantastic attorneys with whom I work!). There are far more honorable agents than bad ones, and that is distinctly the case within the REALTORS® Land Institute.  Someone who has taken the time to obtain the ALC designation learns through education and experience that you are often only as good as your reputation. The backbone of becoming an ALC is defining yourself as a trusted professional with high moral character.

Skill

When it comes to selling land, I am absolutely convinced that ALCs are the best in the business.  For starters, you can only become a designated ALC after you have proven yourself in the field.  ALCs are given countless opportunities to hone their craft in negotiations and property presentation.  Through the National Land Conference, Summer Education Week, Online courses, Webinars, ALC to ALC teleconferences and the top-notch staff at the national office, ALCs are given the tools to grow.  A rookie coming into the major leagues for the first time doesn’t stop practicing, and likewise an ALC doesn’t rest on the three letters of the designation.  We are all a work in progress who uses the tools available to get better every day.

Knowledge

I am not a self-proclaimed intellectual genius by a long shot, but I can tell a client without a shadow of a doubt that I am smarter in my field and better equipped because of my ongoing ALC status.  The diversity of knowledge I have obtained through my involvement with the REALTORS® Land Institute is impressive to be honest.  That statement has nothing to do with my IQ or ability to retain information; it has everything to do with what is offered to each and every ALC. What about your competitor at John Doe Reality down the street whose staff hasn’t pursued the ALC and LANDU’s education?  Do they know about Delaware Statutory Trusts, 1033 involuntary conversion exchanges, Timber REITS, current legislation challenges, natural resource negotiations, etc., etc.?  I am confident that an ALC is much better-rounded in knowledge than your typical non-ALC agent.  I don’t see any avenue that would lead me to achieving this vast knowledge without being an ALC.

Connections

When I attended the 2011 National Land Conference in Nashville, I was green as grass and very new to the real estate game.  I remember hearing people talk about the networking and being able to swing all of these deals because of the platform being an ALC provided them.  I have to be honest, that part of me wanted to think these comments were “fluff” or “humble bragging”.  Time and experience corrected me.  Just this year, I was able to help close on one of the largest deals I’ve had the privilege of working on.  The ONLY reason it happened is because of a friendship through RLI.  The large farm wasn’t even being advertised, but my sellers had mentioned that if the right investor came along with a lease back possibility, they would listen.  I made one call.  It was a winding road from there, but it got done and only because of RLI and our bond as ALCs.  Similarly, I have a client moving out to Wyoming.  I have been to Wyoming a couple times, but my knowledge of Wyoming begins and ends with knowing it is out West and is gorgeous. With that said, I can confidently refer him to several ALCs from the Wyoming chapter.  This is a people business. Knowing like-minded professionals throughout the country is a huge asset that not many agents can provide.

Do You Need An Accredited Land Consultant to buy land?

These reasons all sound so simple and in some ways they are.  But, you could delve further into each of these reasons and find sub categories (and sub categories of those sub categories!) on how valuable an ALC can be in this industry.  I shudder to think about how my quality of service would be if I hadn’t made the decision to give it my all within the REALTORS® Land Institute. Maybe I would be oblivious to my shortcomings, but knowing what I know now, I can’t possibly recommend someone buy a property without the help of an ALC.

Contributor 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.

land real estate title issues

The Top Three Real Estate Title Issues REALTORS® Need to Know

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Winter Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

Nothing is worse in the eyes of a real estate professional than discovering an issue with the title to real estate on the heels of a scheduled closing. Real estate title issues come in a multitude of varieties, forms and fashions, and depending on the severity of the issue, can stop a real estate deal dead in its tracks, as well as render the title essentially worthless. The good news is that a solution for nearly every issue exists. The remedies available depend greatly on the issues and factual circumstances. In any event, identifying the problem as soon as possible is essential to resolving the issue in the most efficient and inexpensive manner. Before committing to purchase an interest in real estate, due diligence in the form of reviewing a title commitment and current survey is imperative to discovering and resolving potential issues with real estate titles. A thorough review of a title commitment and current survey will reveal most title issues, including three of the most common title issues encountered by real estate professionals: (i) blanket easements, (ii) boundary issues and (iii) errors and omissions in the chain of title. Below is a brief overview of these top three title issues, along with some suggested solutions and practice pointers for the real estate professionals who encounter them.

Blanket Easements

A blanket easement, also known as a floating easement, is basically an easement that is not limited to a specific portion of the servient tract over which it was granted but, instead, encumbers the entire tract. In some instances, the grantor and grantee intend the easement to be blanket in nature. A conservation easement or flowage easement are both examples of easements generally intended by the parties to be blanket in nature. Other times, blanket easements arise contrary to the parties’ intentions and as a result of the instrument granting the easement failing to limit or describe the area over which the easement is located. Regardless of the scenario, a blanket easement generally constitutes a significant title defect, because the easement holder’s rights significantly limit or prohibit the right of the landowner to use and enjoy the servient tract.

Often times, an unintended blanket easement will arise from an instrument containing ambiguous language, such as language conveying an easement over “a twenty foot (20’) wide portion of the Northwest Quarter (NW1/4) of Section Ten, Range Three West, Township Four North.” While, by the terms of the grant, the easement area is limited to a twenty-foot wide portion of the subject tract, the instrument essentially grants a blanket easement over the entire tract because it fails to specify which twenty-foot wide portion of the tract is encumbered by the easement. Blanket easements on this nature create significant title issues, especially from a development standpoint.

Continuing with this example, consider a scenario where the landowner has entered into an agreement to sell the servient tract to a developer who intends to develop a shopping center on the tract, contingent upon a satisfactory review of the title. Assume also the blanket easement is one for the installation and operation of an underground pipeline, and the instrument prohibits construction of buildings, fixtures and other above-ground improvements within the twenty-foot wide easement area.

Since any development within the 20-foot wide easement area is prohibited and the easement area could consist of any 20-foot wide portion of the servient tract, title to the tract is defective because any development is prohibited as a result of the blanket easement.

So what’s the solution? The good news is there may be several, all of which depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding the grant and use of the easement. For example, if the pipeline has not been installed, one solution commonly utilized is to obtain and record an amendment or modification to the easement instrument from the holder that terminates the easement as it applies to the entire tract and establishes the specific 20-foot wide easement area. Additionally, the accommodation doctrine recognized in many jurisdictions generally provides that where an easement instrument does not establish a definite location of the easement area, the grantee does not acquire a right to use the servient tract without limitation, and the owner of the servient tract processes the right to establish its location, provided such right must be exercised in a reasonable manner, with due regard to the rights of the easement holder. If the owner of the servient tract can produce evidence establishing the parties intended the easement to apply to a certain 20-foot wide portion of the tract, the owner may also seek to have a court reform the instrument to limit the easement area to a specific portion of the servient tract. If the pipeline has been installed, the common law in many jurisdictions provides the undefined boundaries of an easement granted for a specific purpose can become fixed by use of the land for the prescribed purpose with the consent or acquiescence of the owner.

Boundary Issues

Boundary issues are common title issues that generally result from the true boundary being located somewhere other than where the owner believes it to be. The discrepancy in boundary line locations may also be the result of natural forces, such as accretion or avulsion caused by waterways. Other times, boundary lines may change as a result of the owner’s action or inaction. Boundary line issues attributable to the owner include changes in the location of boundary lines that result from adverse possession or agreements with adjoining landowners. Additionally, some states recognize the doctrine of boundary by acquiescence, which is similar to adverse possession and arises when adjoining landowners tacitly agree to recognize a boundary other than the true surveyed boundary shared by the parties.

Determining whether boundary issues exist before purchasing real estate is an absolute necessity because unresolved issues can eventually result in the record owner being divested of title to all or a portion of its property, as well as the improvements located thereon. The only means for confirming whether a boundary line issue exists is a current survey. A survey, however, is only as good as the surveyor who prepared it. When selecting a surveyor, keep in mind that, like real estate attorneys, not all surveyors were created equal. Thus, it is equally important the surveyor selected has sufficient experience, is licensed in the state where the property is located and is of good repute. Along those lines, consider retaining a surveyor who is a member of the National Society of Professional Surveyors and familiar with the area where the property is located.

If the current survey reveals a boundary issue, several methods for resolving the issue are available. An obvious solution to the issue is for the landowner to either convey or purchase the encroachment area. Another common solution is a boundary line agreement between the adjoining owners, whereby the owners agree to the true location of the boundary, regardless of the parties’ past or future actions, or the existing location of boundary markers (such as drainage ditches or fences). An easement agreement may also be utilized if the encroaching fixture or improvement will remain in its current location. Alternatively, a quitclaim deed from the adjoining owner may also be used to extinguish any interest the adjoining owner may have acquired through adverse use or acquiescence. If a quitclaim deed is utilized, however, encroaching fixtures or improvements should also be removed in conjunction with the conveyance or the issue will likely resurface at a later point. If these remedies are unavailable, boundary issues may be resolved by a quiet title action or an action for a declaratory judgment.

Chain of Title Errors and Omissions

Title issues commonly arise from errors and omissions in the chain of title and are often the result of sloppy drafting and undocumented conveyances. Incorrect and invalid legal descriptions; mistaken, misnamed and omitted parties; and ineffective acknowledgements are common examples of chain title issues arising from careless drafting. Chain of title issues caused by undocumented conveyances are commonly the result of undocumented intestate transfers between family members, as well as failures to open a probate estate for a decedent/landowner. Some chain of title issues are not substantive issues or constitute title defects—other times, the result may be a complete failure of title.

In many instances these issues can be corrected through a correction instrument, modification agreement, or scrivener’s error affidavit. Because these corrective measures generally require one or more of the parties or their attorneys to execute the remedial instrument, time is very much of the essence. If the issues are not discovered until many years after their creation, the remedies available are significantly limited. Below is a list of some practice pointers for real estate professionals to avoid or remedy chain of title issues:

  1. Use a Valid Legal Description. An instrument purporting to affect the title to real property must contain a valid legal description, which are usually in the form of a platted, lot and block description or a metes and bounds description. Tax parcel numbers and property addresses are generally invalid legal descriptions. Most importantly, if the legal description is referenced as an exhibit, don’t forget to attach the exhibit.
  2. Attach the Legal Description. It is easy to make a typographical error when retyping a legal description. An instrument affecting title to real property must contain a valid legal description, and in order to be valid, a metes and bounds legal description must “close.” Often times, errors or omissions in retyped descriptions can result in the legal description failing to close, rending the instrument ineffective. If possible, copy and paste the legal description from another instrument in the chain of title, a title policy or a survey. If you must retype the description, have someone read aloud the original legal description used by you while you follow along reading the retyped description you prepared.
  3. Correctly List the Parties. Always review the chain of title to ensure the current grantor is the same party listed as the grantee in the immediately preceding conveyance instrument. For individuals, driver’s licenses and birth records should also be reviewed to confirm correct spelling is used and ensure the parties’ names are listed correctly. Also, be sure to include suffixes such as “Jr.” and “Sr.” and confirm whether the individuals are married. With respect to corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships, review the entity’s filings with the appropriate secretary of state’s office to ensure correct spelling. As for trusts, the trust documents should be reviewed to confirm proper names and spellings. If the applicable state law provides for trust certificates, also consider having the trustees execute and record a certificate of trust verifying the names of the trust and the trustees.
  4. Use a Proper Acknowledgement. In some cases, a defective acknowledgement can render the instrument ineffective. Arkansas for example has a form acknowledgment set by statute. Be sure to review applicable state law to ensure the instrument’s acknowledgment conforms to any state-specific requirements.
  5. Correct the Record. As noted above, many issues can be resolved by correcting the errors and omissions in the chain of title via a corrective instrument. However, before preparing a corrective instrument and tracking down the requisite person or persons to sign the instrument, check with a title insurance underwriter to confirm the corrective instrument will have its intended effect.

At the end of the day, the question is whether the title to the property will be insured in connection with a conveyance. Accordingly, consult with an underwriter to confirm your plan and form of corrective instrument will result in an insurable title.

About the author: Timothy W. Grooms is a founding and managing member of Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he concentrates his law practice on real estate and general commercial lending transactions.  He is a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL) and a Fellow in the American College of Mortgage Attorneys (ACMA).  He serves as counsel to numerous real estate industry groups and is a frequent lecturer to title, banking, real estate, real estate brokerage, and construction industry groups and industry regulators.

About the author: R. Seth Hampton is an associate with Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC in Little Rock, Arkansas.  His law practice primarily focuses on real estate, agriculture, commercial finance, regulatory compliance, and business succession and estate planning for farm families and closely-held agribusiness corporations.

The Value in Using a Land Real Estate Expert

“Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization. REALTORS ® should recognize that the interests of the nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership.”Preamble to the NAR Code of Ethics

Accurate, reliable and timely information is vital to effective decision making in almost every aspect of human endeavor, whether it be for personal or business gain. It is absolutely essential for making the most informed decision. As one of our responsibilities as licensed real estate professionals we are to “protect the public.” In the absence of accurate information, people will make bad decisions. Being a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute provides the public with the information that you and I are considered as “the land real estate experts.”

Being the Expert
In today’s world of more highly educated adults and, more specifically, the millennial sector, the qualification of being more than fifty miles from home with a brief case doesn’t qualify a person as an expert. As part of today’s college educated society, the process for making a business decision in a specialty area outside that of your educated profession is to hire an “expert.”

When a client hires an expert, the most important quality they look for is someone who presents themselves as a professional. A potential client will evaluate a REALTOR® on how articulate they are, their personal appearance, and the degree of comfort they demonstrate with the specific area of expertise.

Most likely you’re already fluent in several specific areas of real estate. You may know a little bit about several different types of real estate, but stressing overall knowledge doesn’t let you stand out from your competitors.

Alternatively, consider your unique interests, experience and passion for a specific area of agricultural real estate. Look at your business and calculate where the source of the majority of your transactions comes from.

In essence, what is it about real estate that attracts you and gets your juices going? Do a strong and precise evaluation of what you know best, what you wish to know more about, and what will get traction in your area. Then, focus on those issues that come out at or near the top of the list. In order to gain the edge, you will need to acquire all of the detailed information that is available in that area. Sources can be online, seminars, and/or professional meetings with networking opportunities. Accurate information is crucial to nearly every professional and academic discipline because facts are the only way humans can ascertain truth. With that said, the purpose of this article is to emphasize the importance of providing accurate information to our clients and some processes to attain that information.

Communication of information is key
Based on nearly forty years of experience in farm land sales, management and consulting, I have prepared what I consider to be a comprehensive checklist of detailed information that is the basis for listing a property for sale or when representing a buyer, it’s used to acquire the right information. One of the most frustrating issues for me is when I am evaluating a property for a potential buyer and the listing agent provides only a general summary of the information and, in some cases, inaccurate information.

I would like to illustrate a perfect example of why using a land real estate broker with specialized expertise in these types of transactions—preferably an Accredited Land Consultant—is necessary. A while back, I received information on a farm, provided to me by a farm broker, that was not his listing. That fact was disclosed, which is the correct process. The property included a nice residence and several outbuildings. The large barn had been refurbished into a family party facility and the farm did contain some tree and berry crops. The information packet from the listing broker contained significant information about the improvements but very limited information concerning the crops, soil types, crop varieties, historic crop yields, and lease history.

I use this as an example to illustrate two things: First, in my opinion this is not providing the seller of the property appropriate fiduciary service on selling their farm. Second, as a farm buyer’s agent, I will either pass up the farm right away or have to spend significant time acquiring the appropriate detailed information required to make an informed decision for my client.

The “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey always said, is that the broker whom presented this property to me did end up doing the work researching the appropriate detailed information. However, he had a very difficult time of acquiring all the usual crop history, even though he attempted, because it was a bit difficult working with the listing agent. Again, the farm broker worked very hard and did the best he could.

Again, I use this example for a few reasons: First, you would not be providing your client (the seller) “expert” service, because as a result of not providing adequate detailed information, many potential buyers will simply pass on the deal. Second, as a member of the elite RLI you would not be appropriately representing our society. Third, you will be losing deals. With the technology available today, your goal should be to provide 95 percent of the information which a potential buyer will need to make an informed investment decision. I use 95 percent because no two investment experts think alike so there will always be some unique information that every potential buyer will request.

Where do you get the information?
First, start with a very detailed interview with the seller, the current tenant, and the respective Farm Security Administration (FSA) office. Be certain to get a letter signed by the seller giving you permission to access their information at the FSA office.

Second, verify the information provided. Even though the information is provided by the seller, I have found that sometimes their memory may not quite be totally accurate.

Third, you can use websites available for aerial, soils, topo, land-use, water permit registrations, drainage, and FSA information. I have a list of websites that may be of interest and am happy to share if you drop me an email.

Fourth, contact your fellow ALC colleagues for information about areas which you may NOT be real knowledgeable. The MOST valuable resource of information for my business is the tremendous network of colleagues that I have created through all the years of being a member for professional agricultural organizations like RLI. That is why I feel so honored to have earned the ALC designation this year and to become a member the most “elite land experts” in the nation. I have known many of the ALCs for years and am certain that when I call on one of them for assistance, there response will always be “what can I do to help you out?”; which would always be my response as well. However, if I have the opportunity to list a property which is outside my area of expertise, I contact one of my ALC colleagues whom I know is an expert in that particular type of real estate and refer the listing to them. For me, that is providing me the “expert” quality service to my client.

The network of professionals you create by attending the annual meeting, your local chapter events, and attending education classes will continually expand that network knowledge base for you to draw from. Having been in the business for many years I have been blessed with having done sales, management or consulting work on more than forty different crops in the thirty-nine of the fifty states. There are many other members with similar experiences and we all are your best resources to draw from for information.

Accurate, reliable and timely information is the key to “protecting the public,” which is a responsibility of our real estate license, providing our clients the top level “expert” fiduciary service, and will bode well for building a very successful business. The best information resource you have available is your fellow RLI ALC members. As a reminder, always make certain to use a disclaimer statement on all of your brochures.

One last testimony: I contribute a very large percentage of my success in the farm land brokerage, management, & consulting business to the networking relationships that I created through the REALTORS® Land Institute. Whenever I have called a colleague for help the answer has ALWAYS been, providing they knew the answer, “How can I help you?” In the cases where the person did not know the answer, they always knew someone to contact. I am willing to share my listing due diligence information checklist if you happen to be interested or if I can help you with any type of project, please contact me.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Winter Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

About the author: Fred Hepler, ALC, has been involved in the land business for over forty-two years and is a licensed broker in multiple states for over twenty-five years. He has experience in selling, managing, and/or consulting in thirty-nine states. He is a past president of ASFRMA where he held numerous positions on committees at the state and national levels and is now looking forward to becoming more actively involved in RLI.

Be An Intentional Real Estate Networker

It happens to all of us!  We attend a conference and we are pumped to network — fully armed with a new box of business cards, excited about the all the like-minded business leaders we are about to meet.  We meet energetic people who are passionate about land transactions, and start to collect brilliant ideas – and business cards – to bring home like souvenirs.  Let’s be real, we are so blown away by the talented associates we meet along the way, we think that there is no way that we will forget that face and the incredible value they provided during the brief interactions.  When we get home, the face, value and promised follow-up morphs into a big stack of ambiguity.

land real estate professionals networking at the 2015 national land conferenceWe know that our biggest strengths are often our biggest weaknesses and too many outstanding connections is a problem I am happy to tackle!  I am taking steps to be more intentional about my networking and more importantly, my follow-up. Join me in my quest to be an intentional networker!

Have a Networking Mission and Goal
Is your mission to build your referral business or to attract talent? Be focused about this mission and then set a goal to achieve this mission. Networking is lead generation and you are already a pro. Determine how many people you want to meet and track this number each day. What we focus on expands!

Identify and Leverage a System
Before heading to any networking event, create your system for follow-up. If a connection is a brief encounter that involves a business card, write a quick note on the back of the card so that you have context for any follow-up or notes that should be added to your database. Leverage an assistant or technology to track your follow-up. Using Evernote or assigning yourself Outlook Tasks are great ways to ensure you do what you say you will do when you return home.

Digitize Your Business Card Collection
The dreaded stack of business cards does not have to be a dread.  Technology is your leverage! Check out these tips from PC World on how to digitize business cards. Transfer these contacts to your phone AND your database.

Use Your Database
Your database is not just for clients, it’s for your network too. Add a tag or bucket for RLI Referrals for all of your new connections. Create a monthly touch campaign for your fellow RLI members from afar that includes fun tips about your city, a recap of key takeaways from your last RLI Chapter training or updates about your business. You will be front of mind when one of your contacts has a client interested in your area.

land real estate professionals networking at the 2016 national land conferenceWork Your Calendar
If it’s not on our calendar, it doesn’t exist. This goes for networking too! Before attending any networking event, make a list of the people you want to meet. This could be an actual name or it could be that you wish to connect with someone from a certain state. Leverage the RLI Membership Portal to collect contact information. Then, reach out to these associates ahead of time to schedule a coffee break to connect one on one. Don’t forget, conference events are perfect for meeting new people.

Be Social
Keep in touch and stay front of mind by connecting with your new contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social channels. A “like,” retweet or comment will keep you in the networking game — even from afar. More importantly, engage with your connections through all the benefits being a member of RLI offers you.

There will always be a new opportunity to implement these best practices to help with more intentional networking.  Stay connected!

About the author: Holly Priestner, Director of Talent Acquisition at Keller Williams, has never met a stranger, literally. Her enthusiasm for people and their stories enables her to connect people to resources that can make both their professional and personal dreams come true. This is advantageous when recruiting top talent to KWRI, with recruits quickly recognizing that their goals matter to Holly and that she cares about their happiness and success. Attend Holly’s webinar Elevate Your Elevator Pitch hosted by the REALTORS® Land Institute on March 8.

A Quiet Strength: The Voice of Advocacy in the Wake of Devastation

Born and raised in Louisiana, Brandon Rogillio, ALC, began practicing real estate as a profession while studying economics at Southeastern Louisiana University and is now the Owner/Broker of Rogillio Real Estate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Rogillio is known among his close friends and family for his humility and “quiet strength.” He is family man and can often be found bringing his son along to his local golf club in the little spare time he has leftover between running his own business and working for the community.

After devastating floods tore through parts of his hometown last August during a thousand-year-rain event (over 150,000 homes and structures were damaged), Brandon felt a responsibility to assist his community on a whole other level. “There isn’t anyone I know who wasn’t affected by the flooding,” said Brandon who grew up with the awaiting location of the Comite Diversion Canal, infrastructure that would’ve significantly decreased the destructive impacts of the flooding, basically in his backyard.

When approached to have this story written, Brandon was very humble about the work he has been doing on behalf of private land owners and his community, saying “I didn’t save any lives.” While that is true, his dedication and commitment to improving his community and preventing this type of flooding from happening again should not go unmentioned, as it someday could save lives.

As the only Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) and CCIM in Louisiana, his expertise in land and commercial real estate transactions as well as on legislation relating to the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) has empowered him to take action advocating on behalf of the people in his community. Brandon has strong feelings opposing the WOTUS rule, stating that “our country is founded on private property rights and land is the foundation of all real wealth in America. The government should not be able to regulate that or take it away from citizens.” He went on to explain that “government regulation has become the biggest impacting factor on land ownership; attempting to dictate everything from how people can use their land to how much their land is worth.”

Since 2014, Brandon has been chosen by the Louisiana Land Owners Association to serve on the Comite River Diversion Canal Project Task Force created by the Louisiana State Legislature. The Comite River Diversion Canal Project has been talked about for over 33 years and has now been in the “planning stages” since funding was approved by tax payers in 2000. However, the process has been slowed significantly by the US Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s rules because of the need to purchase mitigation land and access federal funding.

He explained that federal law that requires developers to offset damage to wetlands in one area by creating/restoring them in another. “One of the big problems we encountered was that the place they wanted to establish the wetlands is home to 75 private property owners who would have lost their homes through the government’s power of expropriation.” Brandon has worked to assist the state in successfully passing legislation to stop the government from being able to acquire the land through eminent domain, saving these families their homes.

In addition to fighting for private homeowners’ rights, Brandon is working on another front to ensure the canal is built to prevent future flooding from having the same destructive effects, reducing up to 25 percent of the damage done by flooding in the area. Brandon works closely with U.S. Representative Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, as the National Association of REALTORS® Federal Political Coordinator and a leader on securing funding to aid in the community’s recovery efforts. “What is so frustrating about this is that you spend billions of dollars after a disaster instead of millions of dollars before,” Graves said in a phone interview with the The Advocate news outlet last August. Brandon looks forward to working closely with Graves moving forward to continue restoring the community and advocating on their behalf.

In the land real estate industry, Brandon has used his “quiet strength” to build his own business as well as become an active leader within the REALTORS® Land Institute—a membership organization that strongly supports NAR’s efforts to advocate against legislation like WOTUS and 1031 Tax Reform on behalf of land professionals and private property owners. Last month, he was inaugurated as the 2017 National President of RLI where he plans to continue using his voice and expertise as an ALC to advocate and improve the legislative environment that so many work and live in every day. So, while he may not have “saved any lives,” Brandon’s work continues to have a huge impact on his community and the industry as a whole.

Unlock the Door to Your NAR Member Benefits and Resources

This article originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Winter 2017 Terra Firma magazine.

In today’s world of rapid-fire technological shifts and constant email churn, it is often the case that you don’t have time to explore all of the wonderful benefits you can enjoy as a National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) member.  By virtue of being an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designee, you are a member of NAR and can benefit from a plethora of commercial resources and services, as well as partner offers with the REALTOR Benefits® program. Let’s take a quick look at all of the splendid services, educational opportunities, engaging networking, and more NAR is offering you.

Advocacy

With nearly 1.2 million members, NAR is one of the largest advocacy groups in the United States and we put those numbers to work, fighting hard for real estate professionals & property rights at the Federal, State, and Local levels.  Staff works closely with elected officials in Washington to advocate public policy established in the annual Public Policy Priorities agenda, which is informed by members of NAR whose voices are heard across the country.  As a member, you can stay informed with the Federal Issues Tracker, which allows members to see how their businesses are being affected by shifts in policy, and the Commercial Issues & Actions Brief, regularly updating members on issues including 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges, Water Rights, and Flood Insurance that have an impact on your business. The Washington Report is a wonderful source of information on governmental matters touching on real estate. But the fight doesn’t stop at the national level as NAR also provides REALTOR® Party initiatives closer to home, lobbying at the state and local levels to ensure that someone is looking out for our members. RPAC works tirelessly to monitor and inform officials in your corner of the world so they know what their constituents need and can ensure that those needs are met. Members can become involved in our Broker Involvement Program to have an even louder voice in these policy conversations.  Put simply, REALTORS® are heard and respected by government officials everywhere.

Research

NAR has a world-class research arm, providing a slew of cutting-edge work designed to empower members through access to robust case studies and reports. Commercial Real Estate practitioners enjoy expert research and analysis through NAR’s annual Lending Trends Report, quarterly Marketing Trends and Outlook Reports, and the Expectations and Market Realities in Real Estate Report. NAR understands the complexity of all disciplines within the commercial real estate industry and prides itself on providing powerful tools to its members. You also benefit from local case studies, bringing a century of research know-how to your backyard to examine local issues and provide answers. This top-to-bottom research approach is a core commitment and something that will never change.

Education & Networking

NAR strongly believes that REALTORS® should be connected to the best educational tools and the most dynamic real estate practitioners in the world. You already know first-hand about the exceptional education from the REALTORS® Land Institute; you can also dive into resources from the other affiliate organizations (CCIM Institute, Counselors of Real Estate, IREM and SIOR), which offer a robust blend of educational opportunities designed to accommodate even the busiest practitioners. Members can take advantage of online and traditional courses designed to enhance their understanding of the industry, to provide vital continuing education credits, or to polish off a REALTOR® University Master’s Degree. Achieving additional discipline specific designations, including CCIM, CIPS, CPM, CRE, and SIOR, will boost your expertise, and potentially your income.

Publications & Resources

In addition to the superb Terra Firma magazine you already receive, NAR provides you with a host of other print and digital items bursting with valuable information. Commercial Connections, a NAR publication mailed directly to you, provides a treasure-trove of helpful articles and industry-specific coverage. Identifying your specific “Field of Business” in the National REALTOR® Database System (NRDS) automatically subscribes you for this excellent resource and also for the Commercial Digest monthly e-newsletter. Your NAR membership gives you access to ample legal and risk management resources as well as proprietary field guides, both of which can guide you through complicated changes and trends in Commercial Real Estate. NAR’s Library provides free eBooks, Journals, and Audiobooks, a perk for which many ALC designees might not know they qualify. NAR also provides a wide array of templates for business letters, official letter head, and commercial forms through REALTOR Benefits® Partner zipLogix™.

Technology & Data

NAR understands that many of its members strongly desire access to powerful databases with property information, demographics and listing information. The CommercialSearch™ platform is an invaluable access point for marketing available listings, with nearly 500,000 commercial properties to search – all at no charge. REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR), the parcel-centric property database, available as a free benefit to REALTOR® members, provides rich demographic data, property reports and more on all parcels in the United States.  Adding the rapidly expanding Xceligent® Research & Property Data Platform results in a trifecta of complimentary commercial technology that is right at your fingertips.  Our CRTLabs are always working to foresee emergent technologies and the NAR REach® Technology Accelerator Program Companies aligns members with forward thinking companies sure to be at the front of the next wave of commercial real estate technology.

One thing is certain: at the end of the day there is a mountain of member benefits that are yours for the taking. Realtor.org/Commercial is a great starting point on your journey to all of these amazing options. Open a new window in your browser to discover the value and of the array of benefits that you have access to as a NAR Member and begin taking advantage of them right away.

knabb-jacobAbout the author: Jacob S. Knabb is the Communications and Member Services Associate for NAR Commercial, editing Commercial Connections and running social media. Follow NAR Commercial on Twitter @commsource to see his tweets about the latest in the commercial real estate industry.

How will the elections impact land and real estate?

With Trump in power and Republicans taking the House and Senate, what does this mean for real estate practitioners and homeowners?

Did the election help or hurt real estate?
Regardless of how you feel about the national election results, it appears homeowners, realtors and the real estate industry overall will benefit from them.
“It was a great night for us,” NAR Senior Vice President Jerry Giovaniello said regarding the Realtor Party results. RPAC won over 90 percent of races in which it was involved. In addition, RPAC was also extremely successful in state and local races. For example, RPAC supported Governor-elect Gary Herbert (R-UT), Governor-elect Phil Scott (R-VT), and a constitutional amendment in Missouri to ban sales taxes on services.

Will Trump support tax reforms such as changes to the Mortgage Interest Deduction or 1031s?
Under a Trump administration, Giovaniello says that because of Trump’s knowledge of real estate and development, he will have valuable input to offer Congressional tax committees. It appears, however, that with Republicans at the helm, several tax incentives could be at risk.

When politicians say we must “simplify tax codes,” Giovaniello hears it as a euphemism for “going after home ownership incentives” like the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID). There are already proposals on the table, and Giovaniello says they’re already talking to the authors on both sides of the aisle.

“The Realtor platform did mention that [the MID] is important, but they weren’t very specific, nor were Democrats on this,” noted Giovaniello. What does a Trump presidency mean for the MID? “We’re not exactly sure,” given that what will be prioritized won’t be clear until he is sworn in. Trump has indicated he supports the MID, however, and Giovaniello points out that Trump “knows the tax code as far as real estate is concerned, and has used it very successfully.”

1031 exchanges are in the cross-hairs, and Giovaniello says both Congress and the administration have said we should limit these tax deferrals. There are proposals from both sides to limit 1031s, with the belief that the same numbers of transactions will happen regardless. “That’s just not the case,” Giovaniello asserts and NAR and RLI will be working hard to make sure 1031s remain unchanged in the tax code and are kept as a valuable tool for investing in commercial real estate.

Will fear chill foreign investments?
Some areas are doing quite well as a result of foreign investments in the real estate markets, but will the perception regarding Trump’s attitude impact sales? Trump “has very strong opinions on immigration, so whether that leads to a chilling effect in the short term” is unclear, notes Giovaniello, reiterating that until priorities are set, we simply don’t know. “It’s something we have to be alert to,” he said. In particular, the EB-5 program has been used successfully to jump-start real estate development in all areas of the country. However, there has been a call from critics to reform the program and make it more transparent and accountable. A Trump Administration could increase the pressure to end the program or make it more difficult to use effectively by foreign investors.

Are federal regulations in the crosshairs?
The Trump Administration has described an aggressive attack on burdensome and overreaching federal regulations. For example, Trump has blasted Dodd-Frank on the election trail, and much conversation has centered around loosening Dodd-Frank regulations as the economy has improved. Trump also mentioned the Clean Air Plan, the regulation that was created to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, and the Clean Water Plan, the regulation that sweeps in more waters of the U.S. under federal jurisdiction, as rules that he could withdraw, rescind or limit.

Will there be incentives to purchase homes?
As home ownership rates creep back up, Giovaniello doesn’t anticipate new tax credits for the purchase of a home under a Trump administration, noting a more likely scenario would be student loan refinance initiatives. Republicans believe that FHA should be available for first-time or low-income borrowers, but want to end incentives for high-income Americans. That appears to be the direction incentives will head.

Gridlock, and gobs of governors?
Will there be gridlock under a Trump presidency? Giovaniello doesn’t think that’s going away, but says “The American people voted for change. I think either party that doesn’t embrace that is going to be in bad shape.”

What will RPAC do? “Make your friends before you need them,” said Giovaniello. “We’re about to have a new, impactful class of governors, so we need to get in early now, before campaigns start,” noting they must proactively engage the candidates. The goal of the Realtor Party is to coordinate national, state, and local levels and leverage their national scale to enable those at the local level that know their communities best.

In conclusion, Giovaniello says of the election results, RPAC “did very well,” winning 90% of the races they were involved in, but are now preparing for post-election life now that the chips have fallen, by planning for the coming battle over federal and state regulations and a massive national gubernatorial race.

Riggs, RussellAuthor: Russell Riggs, RLI’s NAR Government Affairs Liaison. In his position with the National Association of REALTORS®, Russell Riggs serves in Washington, D.C., conducting advocacy on a variety of federal issues related to land.

A Passion for Ranch Real Estate With a Hint of Equine

This piece was originally featured in LAND Magazine.

Driving down a Texas highway north of the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, you see one horse ranch after another. Visitor’s think, “I Wonder why all these horse ranches are here?” The equine enthusiast thinks, “Man I wish I could live here!” The equine industry has exploded in the North Texas corridor traveling north on Highway 377 leading out of the D-FW metroplex from Aubrey to Whitesboro. It is a constant draw for all aspects of the equine industry. There are days the trucks and trailers outnumber the cars, from the normal bustle of horsemen and horsewomen hauling their horses to a trainer, a vet, another farm, to a lesson, delivering a sale horse, buying a horse, riding with a friend, going trail riding, moving mares to another farm, competitions and even the traditional life of just going to check and gather cattle.

lisa-horses-2

North Texas and southern Oklahoma have become popular locations for the equine industry.  For years Aubrey and Pilot Point Texas were considered one of the most highly esteemed equine areas in the United States. At that time the growth of horse ranches was moving north up the Highway 377 corridor. Now the entire corridor from Aubrey to Whitesboro is populated with horse ranches. This attraction has been going on for some time. “What is it that attracts the horsemen?” you ask. The three main draws of the area for the equine community are sandy loam soil, climate and proximity.  

Sandy Loam soil is a must if you are a horseman moving to Texas. If a person isn’t knowledgeable about soil they can be fooled by location. The Sandy Loam Corridor is only thirty miles wide and runs from the Red River in Cooke and Grayson Counties, south two-hundred miles. The eastern boundary of the sandy loam soil is just a few miles east of Highway 377 and can turn to black land very quickly. The black land is good for farming but most horsemen don’t care for it and will insist on the sandy loam. The sandy loam has such great density and base that after heavy rains the soil will dry quickly. The density and base of the sandy loam soil is what makes it so incredible for footing in a riding arena and also a great composition for growing Coastal Bermuda grass. Coastal Bermuda grows best in sandy loam as it is drought tolerant and can handle heavy grazing and close defoliation. It is also the most economical forage to feed as it is readily available and the next step up in protein value is alfalfa which nearly triples in price.

Climate is another reason so many equine enthusiasts have moved to Texas. They come from all over the United States, possibly where winters are harsh and harder to keep horses trained and ready for competition. Winter in North Texas is inviting with average high temperatures in the fifties and average low temperatures in the thirties. However, there is that occasional snowfall or ice storm that will bring us to a standstill; but, never fear, the sun generally comes out and temperatures rise again in a timely manner.

Location! Location! Location! Many of the largest equine breed shows and specialized events, not to mention race tracks, are located in Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and surrounding areas. All of these cities are a reasonable driving distance from North Texas and on any given weekend you will find breed shows, reining, cutting, halter, working hunter, barrel racing, roping, cowhorse, mounted shooting, team roping, rodeo, racing and ranch horse versatility events at one or all of these outstanding facilities. The proximity makes it an easy day trip to spectate or compete! In November and December these facilities hold some of the most prestigious events in the Western Equine industry hosting the American Quarter Horse World Show, American Paint Horse World Show, Appaloosa World Shows, National Reining Horse Futurity, National Cutting Horse Futurity and the National Barrel Horse Futurity. That is two full months of outstanding competition from the best in the industry.

lisa-horses

During the fall, in these major events, you will find that the international presence is overwhelming. Nationals from Japan, Brazil, Australia, all of Europe and more will travel to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to spectate and also make purchases, both from the equine and retail side of the industry.

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is within seventy miles and an easy drive for those flying in or out of North Texas. Equine buyers, both international and domestic, will fly to Texas to look for their next great prospect or show horse. The horse population in North Texas is unsurpassed. A serious buyer can leave the D/FW airport and drive in a one-hundred-mile radius and access Weatherford, Gainesville, Whitesboro, Tioga, Pilot Point, Aubrey, Denton — and all points in between — to view all the horses that they want in a day!

The breeding business is one entity of the equine industry that keeps traffic flowing. Each breed and discipline are well represented by world-class stallions and producing mares. The pedigrees and records from the breeding progeny are exceptional. Outstanding breeding derives prospects that are of the highest quality for sale and creates even more traffic. Equine breeding and training entities go hand-in-hand as many of the popular stallions and mares are still being shown successfully. With the modern-day technology of embryo transfer, mares can continue to be successfully shown and have recipient mares carry their embryos, which is a very big business in the area.

Horse trainers in Texas are considered to be some of the best in the world. Enter any given barn and find numerous trophies and buckles on display for World Champions, Futurity Champions, Derby Champions, National Finals Rodeo Champions, and the list goes on. The combination of horse trainers and North Texas’ amenities draw owners along with Non Pro, Youth and Amateur competitors, from afar to be a part of the equine community.

The reasons for wanting to be — and the types of people who want to be — part of this area are endless. Horse trainers who move to the area from other states will also have a following from their customers who will also make the move and buy property. Many horse owners are retirees who still have horses to compete or breed with. People who work from home will relocate to get closer to a trainer or the community. Many will purchase a second home for a place to stay when they come to ride with their trainers.

The equine industry is paramount to economic development in so many ways that have been unrecognized by society. Along with successful equine industry you have the supporting services that makes the industry successful, including but not limited to farriers, veterinarians, feed companies, tack stores, clothing stores, truck and trailer sales, and of course Realtors!

Another reason that people covet the North Texas area is the sense of community and fellowship. There is nothing like being able to share your love of horses and the sport with your neighbors and friends who appreciate and understand the industry. Many times your neighbor may have an interest in a different equine discipline since the equine industry is so vast. However, it’s the camaraderie that makes it fun to “cheer” for your neighbor. Horsemen stick together through thick and thin, win or lose. It’s knowing that if you need help your neighbor is there to help and they know horses. It’s the cowboy way of life!

I moved to Whitesboro, Texas nineteen years ago as a professional in the equine industry. I worked at a ranch as a trainer, breeding manager and ranch manager. I love the equine industry and I am still active as a professional judge for the American Quarter Horse Association, American Paint Horse Association, National Reining Horse Association and the National Snaffle Bit Association, along with being a Professional Horseman with AQHA.

I have been a REALTOR®, with Ebby Halliday REALTORS®, for the past nine years and work primarily Farm and Ranch sales. I have my own horses that I raise and show and enjoy them immensely. I will always be a part of the Equine industry that I love as a horseman and a REALTOR®. They go hand-in-hand for me today. Peers from the equine industry respect me for my knowledge in real estate. My experience has helped me become an expert in farm and ranch real estate as I understand the function of land and structures that horsemen are looking for. My true passion is ranch real estate with a hint of equine.

As my brother-in-law, who is a native Texan, says, “She wasn’t born here but she got here as fast as she could!”

lisa-moden1_bcAuthor bio: Lisa Moden is a prestigious Accredited Land Consultant of the REALTORS® Land Institute and has been a Broker for Ebby Halliday REALTORS® for over nine years.  Lisa’s experience and passion for equine has helped her become an expert in farm and ranch real estate. In addition to farm and ranch, she also specializes in lake properties and investment land.

AgriWhat? How the Emerging Trend of Agritourism Can Help Your Business

What do the following have in common?

  • Pumpkin patch
  • Crop maze
  • Farm store
  • Petting zoo
  • Wedding barn
  • Dairy with ice cream and cheese
  • Pastured pork farm
  • U-pick apple orchard

They are all types of agritourism activities and locations.

No matter what you call it – agritourism, agri-tourism, agrotourism, agritainment – it is cool! More than half of all U.S. states have some type of agritourism language written into their respective state laws. So what does this mean for you and your client? Knowing about the agritourism trends and practices around the country can not only assist you in finding the appropriate land for your clients, but can help your clients find future business opportunities. This follows the “growth begets growth” theory.

What is the difference between agritourism and ecotourism? It depends on the location and governing entity. Confused yet? No need to be. The bottom line is that knowing what is applicable within your sales region will help you help your clients, which in turn helps your bottom line.

Agritourism Operations

To be successful, agritourism operators must follow best management practices on their farms, but also must be welcoming to consumers and offer activities that pique their interest. Seasonality comes into play for all operations, with some farms offering multiple attractions year-round, and some farms offering only one or two options in a short amount of time.

An example of the former could be a dairy farm that produces value-added products for sale on the property year-round. Farm visitors can view cows and calves, see a milking parlor, walk through the processing plant, and end up in a store where they can sample and purchase farm-fresh ice cream, cheese, and other products.

An example of the latter could be a Christmas tree farm. The size of the land to grow trees is of foremost importance since the farm may only be open to the public six to eight weeks a year. However, the farmer may decide to be open for events during other seasons (e.g. pumpkin patches and corn maze “haunts” in the fall, u-pick hydroponic fruit and vegetables in the spring, or pick your own flowers in the summer).

In both of these examples, the land size matters. Having a workable space for the farmer is critical to the operation. However, having a safe place for agritourists is also critical. REALTORS can help farmers determine how much land is needed to conduct both public and private business, and can assist in finding the most usable, arable, visitor-friendly space possible.

In the Christmas tree farm example, space is needed to grow the trees, to prepare the trees for purchase (cut, shake, wrap, load), for customer parking, for tree and other product sales. For this type of operation, when parking is needed, usually LOTS of land is needed to accommodate the customers. If the farmer decides to provide other agritourism activities throughout the year, the acreage needed for those activities must also be considered. These are all things to consider when looking at property before purchase.

Ecotourism Operations

Again, depending on the governing entity, what one state considers agritourism may be considered ecotourism by another. This may or may not matter to your client depending on what they want to offer, but the distinction is important in terms of liability protections for one category over another.

Ecotourism can be any outdoor activity that doesn’t need to be consistent with a farm. It CAN be, but doesn’t need to be. These include kayaking, ATV tours, skeet shooting, zip lining, hiking, and many others. Your clients may want to provide these opportunities for their existing or potential customers, and the land specifications are as important for them as if they were considering offering agritourism. Where you can add value for your clients is by knowing the difference, especially in terms of statutory and legal definitions.

The Future

The possibilities for agritourism opportunities are numerous and exciting for REALTORS®, clients, and consumers. Getting people to experience the outdoors and hearken back on America’s agrarian history is a way to tie us back to the land. By navigating the nuances of agritourism policy and how that can shape a client’s business future, a REALTOR has the ability to help clients achieve their dreams. How many people can state that?

I encourage you to take a look at what agritourism operations exist in your nearby communities. If you get a chance, stop by to see the possibilities for how your clients can take advantage of this emerging trend. And don’t even get me started on the exciting trend of agrihoods …

About the Author: Melissa Hunt is the Chairman of the National Agritourism Professionals Association. Learn more from Hunt on this topic at the 2017 National Land Conference in her presentation on Is Agritourism a Viable Option (For You or Your Client)?

Recruiting and Developing Our Most Valuable Asset

This piece originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Summer 2016 Terra Firma magazine.

You know it isn’t very difficult for an agent to shine in the real estate profession.  In some cases all they have to do is return a phone call or follow through on something they promised.  I think it is pretty sad that the bar is set that low….

whitetail2You can have a beautiful building and offices, state of the art website and office equipment and you can spend a fortune on PR, social media and marketing.  However, at the end of the day, if your company is not represented by professional real estate agents you are hurting your business, your brand and the real estate profession as a whole.

Make no mistake, when a real estate agent, regardless of who he or she is licensed with, represents himself in less than a professional manner due to his or her poor work ethic, lack of skill or dishonesty, every single one of us in the real estate profession pays the price.

One very common real estate business model is to hire as many agents as possible, offer them a large split and let them beat it out.  Meanwhile, whether those agents know what they are doing or not, they may acquire a listing or two simply because a friend or family member feels obligated to list with them.  This approach is strongly why over seventy percent of the real estate agents will quit this profession within two years.  I feel this business model is extremely unfair to the agents; unfair to the public; and catastrophically harmful to the image of our industry.

Forget the representation of your company for the moment and consider the amount of money that exchanges hands along with legalities, complexities and the consequences associated with the sale and purchase of land.  I believe our objective as brokers and leaders should be to hire the best people and support them through training, marketing and structure.  In essence, we pour everything we can into them to ensure they are successful and in turn we will be successful because our relationship will be bilaterally equitable.

Recruiting

Our primary recruiting resources are online companies like, Monster, Indeed and Zip Recruiter to name a few. We target the nearest major metropolitans to the areas we wish to populate. These companies cast pretty large nets in that they often have sub-chapters/boards and communities that extend their radius. Our collateral resources include: our own career page on our website; social media; LinkedIn careers; The Outdoorwire; outdoorindustryjobs.com; AGcareers.com and AgHires.com to name a few.

What we do not do at Whitetail Properties is try to recruit/steal-away other broker’s agents. When you consider that we work in an industry where we work together through co-brokers and referrals, trying to recruit agents away from other brokers does not feel anymore ethical to me than calling another broker’s client. If agents from other companies call us, we are more than happy to talk to them; however, we will never call them first.

The prospective agent’s initial phone interview is with our HR executive (we provide her with the qualifying criteria).  If the prospective agent makes the cut, HR then sets up a second phone interview with our three-person interview panel. We then rate the candidate on a scale of one through ten on a ten-line score sheet.  If the candidate makes the second cut, we then setup an in person interview.  If the candidate gives a good personal interview we sign them up for the next orientation after they’ve obtained their real estate license.  It’s important that they attend orientation before we allow them to represent our company and our brand.

Basic Foundation

There are a lot of real estate companies that will hire anyone who has a pulse and the ability to acquire a real estate license.  I believe that this, along with a lack of training, is why many people stereotype real estate agents as a bunch of incompetent crooks.

We have four basic cornerstones when considering a new agent:  First and foremost, the prospective agent has to be an honorable person; the prospective agent has to be passionate about land and every aspect of land; the prospective agent has to have a strong work ethic; and the prospective agent has to be professional.

We can teach real estate, but in my opinion by the time human beings reach adulthood we can’t make them love land or teach them to be honorable!

Additional Prerequisites:

  • Financially Stable
  • Ability to work full time
  • Self-motivated
  • Accountable
  • Trainable

Developing Superstars

whitetailOrientation

We are accountable for and to our agents.  For this reason, we do not allow our agents to represent our company until they have attended orientation.  At Whitetail Properties’ three-day orientation, our goal is to give our agents everything they need to start their career on a successful path.

Weekly Webinars

Our weekly webinars provide our agents with solid career building knowledge. The topics cover everything from utilizing your sphere of influence to recognizing a property’s highest and best use.  Training is not something that you do once in a while.  Training has to be scheduled and repeated on a regular basis.  The key is to keep it fresh, informative, relative, productive and entertaining.

Maintaining Pro-active Contact

It’s important to maintain regularly scheduled calls with agents in order to review, mentor and coach them.  You see, the agents who contact their brokers for assistance are generally the ones working deals.  However, the agents who typically need help the most are the ones we don’t hear from because they are not working anything so it’s very important that we reach out to them and explore what they are doing and how we can help them

Support

Every member of our staff is employed for the sole purpose of helping our agents become successful and continue to grow their businesses.  In addition to the office and administrative staff, the following employees are at our agents disposal: we employ our own graphic designer, marketing director, advertising team, creative director, production department, IT department, compliance officer, accounting department, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer as well as team leaders and brokers.  Of course we did not start off with such an extensive staff.  We realized early on that in order to grow our business and our agents’ businesses, we had to develop a formula where we employed key staff members for every X number of agents.

Experience

The most important thing we teach our agents is that our client’s experience is the single most important part of their jobs. None of us will sell every tract of land we list, but when our ultimate goal is not necessarily to sell the listing but rather to provide our clients with the ultimate land buying or selling experience, we will sell more land.  In addition, we will receive more referrals and elevate the image of our company and of the industry.

There are too many real estate companies who feel making the sale is more important than working in their client’s best interest; more important than building a relationship; more important than being a professional and even more important than being honest.  This has to change.

Our Most Valuable Asset

Our agents are unquestionably our most valuable assets.  However, we can’t just wind them up and turn them loose. Through explanation and repetition we have to instill our company’s core values in our agents.  Our company’s ideology is the foundation from which we’ve grown our business.  Without a solid foundation based on integrity you are not developing or nourishing your most valuable assets.

As I mentioned before, we have to provide a consistent training program.  We have to take every opportunity to mentor and guide our agents and we have to teach our staff how to best assist our agents to ensure their success.  Along with this, we don’t allow agents to simply “hang their licenses” with us.  If we teach, train and mentor our licensees they become our most valuable assets.  However, if we do not teach, train and mentor an agent, that agent becomes our biggest liability!

We take our obligation to our agents; to our clients; to the public; to the States where we are licensed; and to all of our fellow brokers and agents in the industry very seriously.   Although as brokers we are held responsible and accountable for every one of our agents, there is no possible way that we can be present every single time our agents interact with buyers, sellers, customers or clients.  However, we can pour into our agents on a regular basis to ensure they conduct themselves, knowledgably, honestly, professionally and responsibly.  After all, they are our most valuable assets.

perez-danAbout the author: Dan Perez, RLI Member, 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. Dan is passionate about the land business and driven by hiring and developing real estate agents to become multi-million-dollar land specialists.