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Agricultural Land Marketing Basics

We as agricultural professionals know how hard we work to find buyers and sellers of land. We spend years of hard work to build our clientele and our reputation. Marketing a property correctly and in a timely manner is paramount to selling the property. Getting the listing is just the first step in the process of selling the property. There is still much work to do. I am sure that most of us are already marketing our properties in an informative, professional manner, but we can all improve our marketing efforts.

Most medium to large brokerage firms have an in-house marketing department which handles flyers, mailers, websites, etc. Other smaller firms may use an outside marketing company. The first step as the listing agent is to get all the pertinent information to the marketing team in a timely manner. This information should include: The full address of the property, GPS coordinates, acreage, photos, aerials, the property description, property highlights, improvements, soils and topo maps, production records / yields, well information, location maps, zoning, permitting, future land use, and demographics. Multiple location maps should be used, as many buyers may live out of state or out of the country and need detailed information to understand the property location.

The completed flyer or brochure and any other pertinent information should then be posted on the company website. After this, the flyer is emailed to recipients in the company database. The recipients should be filtered based on his or her property interests. For example, if the subject property is a citrus grove, the email blast should be sent only to people interested in citrus groves. People tend to trash these emails or even block a sender who constantly sends information that is not relevant to his or her wants and needs.

The next step is to post the flyer and all pertinent information on the various real estate marketing websites. These may include MLS, LoopNet, Land Flip, Total Commercial, and Lands of America, just to name a few. You should make sure to have any additional pertinent information posted on these websites. There is plenty of room to add additional information such as detailed soils map, location maps, demographics, etc. The greater the amount of information, the better. In many cases, we are dealing with very sophisticated buyers. They need all the information they can get to make an informed decision. It is very frustrating when the only information provided is a plat map and a brief description of the property. We are professionals and should market our properties in a professional manner.

Sometimes, you have to get creative with property marketing. There are a few other methods which could prove effective or even critical. Some people, believe it or not, don’t have an email address. In this case, direct mail might be called upon to reach the buyer, whether through personal letters or postcards. There are various trade magazines and newspapers in which to advertise as well. Lastly, let’s not forget the old phone, whether a cell phone or land line. We must keep in touch with our buyers and alert them when we have new listings that might interest them.

I hope this article was helpful and informative. Good luck marketing your properties!

Fortenberry, ChipChip Fortenberry, ALC, MBA

When A Crop Kicks You in the Gut

I went to work on August 12th with a lengthy to-do list. I knew it was going to be a busy day and an especially interesting lunch hour. Like most of us involved in farm management and agricultural real estate, I was eager to hear the USDA Crop Report. In today’s fast-moving world, that report can affect the market strongly and swiftly.

All bets are off with USDA reports; I have been around long enough to know that. That said, I was trending towards the camp that was expecting bullish news. I am not sure where you sit while reading this, but in Central Illinois, I don’t see an enormous crop. I see a crop that struggled with record rainfall in June and in some instances, never even got off the ground. With that in mind, I had gone through every farm management account the previous day and gotten figures and delivery dates all lined up for some additional crop sales. I was ready! I just needed the report to be released. Then, the report came out…
The USDA raised the corn yield 2 bushels per acre and beans 1.5 bushels per acre. Immediately, corn was down 20 and beans down 60. In an instant, it sent producers and managers scrambling for answers and looking for “next steps”. It should be said that the USDA doesn’t necessarily do a thorough inspection of the crop, and in their defense that is probably an impossible task. Regardless, they put large projections–and in some cases, historic projections–on the states in the Western Corn Belt that have supposedly had more favorable weather. Whether ag experts think the USDA projection is off-base or not, the fact remains that the market trades off of these numbers and until there is new data or an unforeseen outside influence, this is what we have to work with.
cornfield
It is uncertain whether anything can spark substantial movement until farmers hit the fields. Only when grain crosses the scales will we know what crop we have. Until then, estimates are just educated and calculated “guesses”. Some theorized that FSA preventive planting numbers released on August 17th could’ve provided a bounce. Although there were over 2 million acres prevented from being planted in Missouri and Illinois, the 17th came and went without much movement. Extenuating circumstances abroad could move the pre-harvest market, but that is often harder to project than the crop itself. China’s currency devaluation was the buzz during the week of August 10th. Oil hitting a six-year low on Monday, August 17th is the chatter right now. What remains to be seen is whether any of these outside factors can substantially alter commodities in the interim. If we had gotten a hot dry-spell in August, that could’ve swung the pendulum…but that was a big if.
Perhaps the Pro Farmer crop tour will enlighten traders on what to expect. This annual tour encompasses teams from Pro Farmer scouring the entire Corn Belt with in-depth analysis. The USDA fails to get up close and personal. This crop tour has legitimate boots on the ground with plant population numbers, ear size measurements and ultimately provides yield checks on a multi-state level.
At the end of the day, the report came out and kicked the “Bulls” and optimists in the gut. We very well could be in line for some choppy trading during the next month. Perhaps an outside event or development could form, but I personally wouldn’t bet on it. Treading water until harvest is well-underway is our most likely immediate future. Harvest season is always exciting and often provides a few surprises. Until then, we can wish together that we pulled the trigger on sales the days leading up to August 12th.
Luke Worrell, ALCContributor Luke Worrell, ALC, Worrell Land Services
Luke Worrell is a Broker, Accredited Land Consultant and Accredited Farm Manager 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 son Kale.