WRITTEN BY DAN PEREZ, RLI MEMBER
COURTESY OF REALTORS® LAND INSTITUTE AND WHITETAIL PROPERTIES REAL ESTATE
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY LAND MAGAZINES
At one time the value of land was primarily based on the fertility of the soil, maturity of the timber or the minerals beneath the surface. But today there is another asset that will not show up on a property appraisal sheet, yet represents a huge value to many outdoorsman. I’m talking about the quality of the wildlife that inhabits a particular tract of land.
There is one animal in particular that generates more revenue than all God’s wild creatures on earth put together and that is the whitetail deer. When you consider the billions of dollars hunters pump into the economy every year by purchasing licenses and tags, lodging, fuel, hunting equipment, food plot equipment, recreation and utility vehicles, seed, fertilizer, camouflage clothing, attractants, and land for the single purpose of hunting the allusive whitetail deer it is absolutely astonishing! There are many businesses in the US and even entire towns in the Midwest that would go bankrupt and blown away if this majestic beast were gone.
Just as there are farmers who pour their lives into the land in order to grow corn and beans, today there is a new generation of farmer that pours his life into the land to hold, grow and harvest the largest whitetail bucks producible in his region. I’m not referring to holding and growing big mature whitetail bucks behind a high fence. I’m talking about holding and growing wild, free ranging whitetail deer by providing premium habitat as well as an abundance of year-round high-quality food. Make no mistake, this process is time consuming and requires a lot of hard work. But when you’re passionate about whitetail deer and passionate about land it becomes the most enjoyable and rewarding work you’ll ever do.
Very often a savvy investor might purchase the least desirable home in a very up scale neighborhood. He does this because he figures, even after he spends money on improving the property he will still have far less invested in the purchase than what that property will be worth after improvements. This is a great way to purchase equity. By comparison, if you research areas that have historically produced record book bucks then employ the services of a licensed real estate land specialist to help you narrow your search, you can apply the same principals. You see, by finding a tract of land with the least desirable whitetail habitat (an example would be an old cattle ranch) in an area where big bucks are common and then by transforming that land to prime whitetail habitat you will accelerate appreciation and grow equity.
These are the steps I take after purchasing that perfect property: First I start by strategically laying out the property on an aerial. I like to identify where it makes the most sense wind wise to put in food plots, bedding areas and watering holes or banks, Wild Water systems, as well as access roads, gates, and fences. As it relates to food plots, my rule of thumb is to put in at least 10 percent of the farm in food plots: Two-thirds of the plots in perennials and one-third in annuals. Next, my goal is to build cover: In the timber areas my plan is to thicken the understory as well as create densely obscure edges. I do this by feather cutting the timber along the edges of the fields and selectively hinge cutting some of the less desirable trees in the interior. This allows sunlight to reach the forest floor thus allowing new growth to sprout. Not to mention, the trees that are hinged over are still alive so now every limb grows on the sun facing side of the trunk thus creating much more dense cover at eye level. From there I work on converting cool season grassy areas into early successional plants by spraying the grassy areas with an herbicide then control burning these areas. This is a great way to provide more cover and food at same time. It is often amazing how many seeds/plants have been lying dormant for years under the thatch. If you’re not familiar with burning, spraying or cutting, don’t worry there are plenty of experts out there that you can hire. A great way to learn is to hire an expert then serve as his apprentice. You will learn far more from that experience than attending a seminar. There is an excellent book on the market right now called “A Guide to Wildlife Food Plots and Early Successional Plants.” This book is written by Craig Harper and it is the single most comprehensive book on the subject that I have ever read.
You’ve heard it before, “build it and they will come” and indeed they will. The improvements alone have already increased the value of your property, but now the key is to build a prospectus by documenting the quality of whitetails that inhabit your farm. It is amazing how in three or four short years you can really make a difference. The best way I know to build a prospectus is with trail camera pictures and by keeping an album of mature animals that have been harvested on your farm.
I’ve been involved with many farms that have sold for twice as much per acre than similar farms in the same county simply because they had documented history of producing big bucks. But at the end of the day the true value of purchasing a farm and building a quality whitetail paradise are the memories you build with your family and friends on your slice of God’s creation.
About the Author: Dan Perez is the CEO, Chief Broker, and one of the Founding Owners of Whitetail Properties Real Estate as well as the host of the ever-popular Whitetail Properties television show. The Whitetail Properties team has grown this business to over a half a billion in sales in less than nine years. Dan is passionate about the land business and driven by hiring and developing real estate agents to become multi-million-dollar land specialist. He is also a proud member of the REALTORS® Land Institute.
I have been to Texas countless times. I always enjoy my time there, especially when visiting my sister and her family down in Harlingen. My most recent trip was to the REALTORS® Land Institute’s 2016 National Land Conference in Dallas. I have visited enough to where I playfully laugh off some of the “Texas-isms” I am so used to hearing, namely “Everything is bigger in Texas.” That one came up a lot during the advertising and early stages of this conference. It wasn’t just a cute saying however; this time they were serious. Barring an emergency or the birth of a child (the reason for my 2015 absence) I don’t miss the National Land Conference. I love my one year old but thank goodness he isn’t a big brother because the Dallas conference was a can’t miss event.
There are many reasons professionals across the country leave home for a few days in March to attend; I go for two mains reasons. First of all, the educational value is exceptional. It is easy to get lost in your own neighborhood sometimes. Traveling to hear world class speakers, national experts and legislative representatives is an invaluable experience. Just take a look at my Saturday schedule to capture a small sample: I started the day hearing from renowned economist Dr. Mark Dotzour and Senior Credit Risk Officer of SunTrust Bank, KC Conway. After participating in a 45 minute Q&A session with both distinguished speakers, the agenda then provided a wide variety of 45 minute breakout sessions throughout the day. I was able to get first-hand information on potential tax reform and how that could affect agriculture. I learned about “Delaware Statutory Trusts” becoming a more commonly used method of a 1031 exchange. I was able to spend some time focusing on our business and heard from a Public Relations professional and listened to a presentation on better utilizing technology to brand ourselves and serve our clientele. I also participated in breakout sessions centered on networking and collaboration with other firms. This was just one day! The conference was three days long. I haven’t even talked about the breakfast round tables, legislative updates straight from Washington or the presentations on new technology.
Where else can I glean that much knowledge in three days from that caliber of sources? I leave the National Land Conference every year a better land consultant, broker and farm manager. The quality and depth of the education keeps me coming back year after year.
The other main reason I attend is the people. The opportunity to gather with accomplished and trusted colleagues is an amazing experience. The chance to bounce ideas off one another, share stories and ideas is a monumental learning experience in itself. The REALTORS® Land Institute is like many organizations in that you get out what you put in. I have been fortunate to become involved with the Illinois chapter. I was honored to accept the “National Chapter of the Year” award on behalf of Illinois (shameless plug for my Illinois friends). The genuine friendships made and professional networking is immense within the REALTORS® Land Institute organization. It also is a valuable resource for my clients. I have a network of trusted and accredited professionals across the nation who would be happy to help and assist our clients should their scope expand beyond west central Illinois. Even if they don’t, I am more equipped than ever to handle tax reform, 1031 exchanges, legal issues, communication and collaborative marketing efforts on their behalf.
It was a memorable and valuable trip. Barring an unexpected third Worrell baby (my wife, and proofreader, panicked a little when she read that!), next year’s conference in Charlotte is on my schedule. I simply can’t afford to miss it…And neither can you.
Luke Worrell, ALC, is a Broker and Accredited Farm Manager at Worrell Land Services in Jacksonville, IL. He specializes in agricultural real estate and land management in west central IL. Luke enjoys all things sports and traveling. He resides in Springfield, IL, with his wife Allison and sons Kale and Benson.
April 13, 2016 (Chicago) – Land Professionals from across the country will gather in Little Rock, Ark., from June 5-13 to attend one of the land real estate industry’s biggest educational events. The annual LANDU Education Week plus, put on by the Realtors® Land Institute, is a unique opportunity for real estate agents to network and earn all of the education requirements towards the Accredited Land Consultant designation in one place.
LANDU approved, expert instructors will facilitate courses which count towards the ALC designation as well as most National Association of Realtors® State Association Continuing Education credits*. Registrants can choose to take between one and six courses during the event. This year’s LANDU Education Week plus is backed by the strength of the RLI Arkansas Chapter.
The Realtors® Land Institute is currently offering a free one-year membership with full member benefits to event registrants signing up for all six courses who are new to the Institute. Current members can save $100 off registration when registering to attend all six courses.
For more information or to take advantage of these offers, please contact RLI Staff at 800.441.5263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The REALTORS® Land Institute is not responsible for determining if a course is eligible for CE credit. Registrants may contact the Institute to request information which they may bring to their state association to verify the courses eligibility for CE Credit.