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What Does It Take to Be a Successful Land Real Estate Agent?

The land real estate business isn’t for everyone. It’s a field that requires enormous amounts of self-motivation, individuality, and hard work. It’s a field where working around the clock isn’t exceptional – it’s expected. That might seem overwhelming for some people, but all that work also has a lot of benefits. Meeting interesting people, the satisfaction of closing a big sale, and having the great outdoors as your office are just a few perks that come with the job.

To learn more about success in this field, we chatted with some of RLI’s top Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs) to learn about what it takes to be successful in the land real estate business.

One thing that all land real estate experts need to succeed is determination. Land real estate can be impacted by lots of different things, many of them (like natural disasters) are out of your control. You need determination to get through the bad days and make the most of the good days. “I believe our success has been more about investing in ourselves, our careers, and our professional practices and never giving up on an opportunity. It all starts with being involved and taking advantage of the education offered through organizations like RLI,” says Drew Ary, ALC, a land specialist with Keller Williams.

Having determination to make the most out of any situation is a gateway to another key to success: a strong moral code. Having a strong moral code will give you stability in the dynamic world of land real estate and help you end the day feeling good about what you’ve done. “The Real Estate business can bring many highs and many lows. It is the kind of job that can leave you feeling incredibly accomplished and fulfilled one day while lost and struggling the next.  At the end of the day, it is your moral compass and how you treat people.  I’ll never shoot 100% or close every sales pitch but if I can lay my head down at night knowing that I was honest, genuine, and gave people my best, I can sleep easy and find confidence in that,” says Luke Worrell, ALC, with Worrell Land Services, LLC. If you don’t have the ability to make it through the tough days, land real estate might not be for you.

Another factor that leads to success in land real estate is hard work and grit. Some people think that hard work means clocking in for a nine-to-five job, but land real estate experts are always working. Weekends, late nights, and holidays are all times that land real estate pros are still hard at work. They know that there is a direct correlation between the work you put into your job and what you get out of it. “The work you put in is directly related to the amount of money you earn, the freedom you have, and satisfaction you gain to
live your life your way,” summarizes Wendy Johnson, ALC, with Keller Williams Realty Rockwall.

For land real estate experts, technology can be a double-edged sword. Sure, it’s great for finding new clients and properties, but who hasn’t watched hours go down the drain because you are trying to keep up with e-mails, calls, and social media? The trick is balancing the benefits of technology with the benefits of in-person interactions.

“Technology has changed the real-estate landscape in a big way, making consumers far more independent than in the past. However, I still believe that buyers and sellers prefer a personal connection with a real-estate professional. This has essentially shifted the focus of our job from that of a sales person to that of a trusted counselor. Millennials generally prefer to text in the beginning, but given the vast array of real-estate professionals from which to choose, most buyers still want to hear the sound of a voice before they make a final decision on who to trust. I always prefer to get a buyer or seller on the phone—or better yet in person. Technology is an excellent way to view through a window, but face-to-face is what finally opens the door,” said REALTORS® Land Institute Member Kem Winternitz, ALC  of Timberline Realty in an interview with Lands of America. If you can make technology work for you instead of the other way around, you may just be able to make it as a land real estate expert.

An extensive knowledge of land real estate is key for success. Getting hands-on experience or working with people who have many successful years in land real estate under their belt is a great way to learn the ins and outs of the industry. And the more you know about the field, the more you know about your clients and their needs. “A really great land broker needs to be able to share his buyer’s vision in addition to truly understanding the highest and best use for all properties. The phrase “boots on the ground” never meant more than it does in land brokerage,” says Winternitz.

In addition to utilizing all the technologies that are available today such as mapping and marketing, a land broker must literally put his boots on the ground. He or she needs to be familiar not only with the property itself, (property corners, boundaries, utilities, rights, etc.) but also the general area, elevation, terrain, soil capabilities, animal-carrying capacity, water features, game management units, and so on in order to understand fully what they are marketing and to answer the buyer’s questions completely. Outstanding land brokers develop gut feelings and a natural instinct about land parcels that only comes only with experience,” says Winternitz.

If you have determination, a rock-solid work ethic, an ability to use technology wisely, and a good knowledge of land real estate (or the willingness to learn – check out the LANDU Education Program) , you might just have what it takes to succeed in land real estate!

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.