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.

RLI Inducts 2017 National President with Plans for a Year of Change

December 1, 2016 (Chicago) –The REALTORS® Land Institute is proud to announce that Louisiana REALTOR® Brandon Rogillio, ALC, of Rogillio Real Estate in Baton Rouge, LA, was officially inducted as the 2017 RLI National President in Orlando last week alongside the 2016 NAR Convention & Expo.

Rogillio will be taking over after a year of big changes under 2017 President Bob Turner, ALC. Brandon is determined to continue increasing the value of an RLI membership, ensuring the Accredited Land Consultant designation remains the most elite and prestigious in the industry, and reinvigorating RLI as a member-centric organization.

Rogillio is the owner/broker of Rogillio Real Estate in Baton Rouge, LA, and began practicing real estate as a profession while studying economics at Southeastern Louisiana University. In the spring of 2009, he earned the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designation, an indication of the most accomplished, experienced, educated, and highest performing land expert in the country. He has completed the rigorous LANDU education program and has a proven track record of strong transaction performance.

Among the marketplace, Rogillio is one of the most respected and trusted land experts. He is extremely involved in his community and has played a large role in the recovery of the affected parts of Louisiana after devastating floods swept through the area earlier this year.

Upon being inducted as the 2017 RLI National President, Brandon expressed his positive outlook for the organization’s future saying, “We’ve made a lot of changes over the past year to set us up for success in 2017 and beyond. I plan to continue building upon that foundation to enhance member benefits and value for our land professionals. I look forward to serving our membership and watching it grow as we welcome new members into our community of the best land real estate professionals in the business.”

Over the past eight years, Rogillio held several RLI leadership roles including serving as the Representative to the National Association of REALTORS® Commercial Committee, an active member of the RLI Government Affairs Committee, the 2011 Co-Chair of RLI’s annual National Land Conference, and serving on the RLI Board of Directors for the past three years. Brandon is currently the only REALTOR® in Louisiana to hold both the esteemed ALC and CCIM designations.

National REALTORS Land Institute LogoAbout the Realtors® Land Institute
The Realtors® Land Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors®, is the prestigious, higher learning professional membership organization for practitioners who specialize in land real estate transactions. Established in 1944, the Institute provides a wide range of programs and services that build knowledge, relationships, and business opportunities for the best in the land business. The REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) provides the education, tools, services, advice and networking opportunities that are the foundation for all land professionals to become the best in the business—to become an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC). For more information, visit rliland.com or call 800.441.5263.

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.

2016 Election Impacts on Land Real Estate

NAR hosted a REALTOR® Party Post-Election Live Webcast today featuring NAR Senior Vice President Jerry Giovaniello and NAR Political Consultant Doug Sosnik discussing the impacts of the election results on the real estate industry. During the webcast, the two fielded questions about impacts on land real estate and Tax Deferred 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges.

While they believe “it remains to be seen what impacts the election results will have on land real estate,” Sosnik explained that “1031s are still in trouble.” He believes this is “because for the last three years, Congress has been trying to limit or eliminate these deferrals. There is a belief that if we get rid of these tax deferrals, people will buy and sell at the same rate. That’s just not the case.” The REALTORS® Land Institute has been a strong opponent to 1031 Like-Kind Exchange Tax Reform and plans to continue to advocate to save it in the future alongside NAR.

For more information about the REALTOR® Party, click here.

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.

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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.

Wildfire Webinar

Learn what you need to know about wildfire risk to homes and real property from Michele Steinberg of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). She will share information and knowledge on how homes ignite and simple steps that homeowners can take to prevent wildfires in their communities.

Find out about the voluntary Firewise Communities program and learn how neighborhoods and subdivisions are working to improve safety for all residents.

Click here to view additional information.

Time: Thursday, October 27, 2016 2:00 pm, Central Daylight Time (Chicago, GMT-05:00)
Host: Russell Riggs
Event number: 928 567 555
Event password: wildfires

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.