farmland for sale

COVID-19 Land Real Estate Trends: Update

A panel of Accredited Land Consultants and seasoned land professionals of the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) shed light on the impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on land values and land market trends across the country in a recent Virtual Round Table session. The panel, which consisted of expert land agents from across the country, mostly pointed towards a positive outlook for the land market despite volatility in other areas. 

COVID-19 land real estate trends are continually evolving. For the most up-to-date information on the land market in your area, contact a land agent near you. Opinions and advice expressed in this session are not necessarily endorsed by the REALTORS® Land Institute and information should not be construed as recommendations for any course of action regarding financial, legal, investment, real estate, or accounting matters without further consultation about your unique circumstances by a land expert in your market.

Rural & Suburban Residential Trends

Demand has been strong for housing in both the suburban and rural markets, which is impacting the vacant residential land currently on the market. Small-acreage parcels are being absorbed quickly across the country for custom homes, and large-acreage parcels being bought by builders and developers.

“With home builders still ramping back up after hitting the brakes earlier in the pandemic, and existing home inventory at just three months of supply, demand is far outpacing supply, putting upward pressure on pricing across the board.” -Matt Davis, ALC

Buyers are purchasing properties with record-low lending packages thanks to extremely low interest rates, and many banks are now offering excellent financing terms on vacant land. These conditions are creating a strong seller’s market on most land purchases priced under $1 million.

Regional Market Trends

The recreational market in the Rocky Mountains is the strongest it’s been in years.  Warm-weather states such as Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and California are huge feeder markets for high-country mountain properties. Since the majority of the occupants in these warm-weather states can now work from home, they’re choosing to leave these states and move to cooler climates.

COVID-19 land real estate trends show buyers in warm-weather climates seeking real estate in cooler-weather climates such as the Rocky Mountains.

COVID-19 land real estate trends show buyers in warm-weather climates seeking real estate in cooler-weather climates such as the Rocky Mountains.

In general, buyers are looking to relocate from the more populated cities across the U.S. into more rural areas of the country, such as Oklahoma. RLI agents in Oklahoma are currently experiencing delays in closings due to the appraisal industry being in high demand for new purchases across the state.

“The greatest impact in Montana has been on the high-end residential market in listings with more space and privacy.” -Trent Lister

The high-end real estate market ($2 million+) is in high demand in rural mountain towns such as Bozeman, MT. Buyers are looking to purchase quality homes on large-acreage parcels in search of the elbow room and privacy less often afforded by an urban lifestyle.

Navigate COVID-19 Land Real Estate Trends with an Accredited Land Consultant

If you are planning to buy or sell land, make sure to find an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) to ensure you are working with an agent that has the expertise and experience to best handle your transaction. ALCs aren’t just land sales professionals: they are the most prestigious, the most experienced, and the highest performing land sales experts in their area. Achieving the ALC designation is not an easy feat. It can take years to complete the rigorous education program and establish a proven track record of transaction performance in land before an agent can qualify. It also requires a commitment to professional growth and conducting business with integrity.

Thank you to our panelists for offering their expertise in identifying COVID-19 land real estate trends:

Moderator | Eric Zellers, Ary Land Co | KW Advantage Land | Tulsa, OK
Development/Commercial Land | Matt Davis, ALC | Cushman & Wakefield | San Diego, CA
Agricultural Ranch Land | Clayton Pilgrim, ALC | Century 21 Harvey Properties | Paris, TX
Agricultural (Tillable) Farmland | Kyle Hansen, ALC, RLI 2020 National President | with Hertz Real Estate Services | Nevada, IA
Recreational Land | Justin Osborn, ALC, 2020 Future Leaders Committee Chair | The Wells Group Real Estate Brokerage | Durango, Colorado
Rural Residential Hobby Farm Land | Drew Ary, ALC | Ary Land Co / KW Advantage Land | Coweta, OK
Ranch and Rural Residential Land | Trent Lister | PureWest Real Estate | Bozeman, MT

The REALTORS® Land Institute Announces 2021 National Leadership

September 16, 2020 (Chicago, Ill.) – The REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI), a commercial affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS®, proudly announces its 2021 national leadership. Luke Worrell, ALC, was elected by membership as their 2021 RLI National Vice President. Luke joins the 2021 RLI National Board of Directors as a member of the Executive Committee alongside 2021 President Renee Harvey, ALC, of Century 21 Harvey Properties in Texas; 2021 President-Elect Dean Saunders, ALC, of SVN Saunders Ralston Dantzler in Florida; and 2021 Immediate Past President Kyle Hansen, ALC, of Hertz Real Estate Services in Iowa.

As Vice President, Luke will serve a four-year term on RLI’s Executive Committee, making him the Institute’s 2023 National President. Luke has an extensive record of service to RLI, having served as Chair of both the Education and Budget and Finance committees, and most recently serving on the 2020 Board of Directors as Treasurer. Additionally, Luke has served as the President of the RLI Illinois Chapter. He has been a member of RLI since 2009 and earned the elite Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation shortly after in 2012.

Luke brings a wealth of industry and community leadership experience to his new position with RLI. Among his many accomplishments, he has twice served as President of the Jacksonville Area Association of Realtors; is the current President Elect of the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club; is the 2021 Chair of the Illinois Farmland Values and Lease Trends Conference; and served a six-year term on the board of directors for the Morgan County Fair Board. Luke was the winner of RLI’s 2018 Rising Star Award, an annual honor conferred on an aspiring leader.

The election also adds two At-Large Directors to the RLI Board for a two-year term. In an effort to give members a stronger voice into the direction of the organization, three elected At-Large Director seats were added in 2017. RLI is proud to announce the election of Drew Ary, ALC, of Keller Williams Advantage in Oklahoma and Geoff Hurdle, ALC, of Hurdle Land and Realty in Tennessee, onto the 2021 RLI Board of Directors. Drew Ary served as Vice Chair of the 2020 Future Leaders Committee and has served on the ALC Accreditation Committee since 2018. Geoff Hurdle has served the past two years as President of the RLI Tennessee Chapter.

RLI Chief Executive Officer Aubrie Kobernus, MBA, RCE, released the following statement upon the election announcement: “Alongside the RLI Board of Directors, I congratulate Luke Worrell, Drew Ary and Geoff Hurdle on their new leadership roles. I look forward to collaborating with them as we solidify RLI’s vision of becoming The Voice of Land and further our mission of offering all land professionals the expertise and camaraderie that are the foundation for becoming the best in the business.”

Click here to download the press release (PDF).

Hay bales on late summer farm land

Why Late Summer is the Best Time for Buying Farm Land

Farmers used to say, “If you are going to buy a farm, do it at the end of summer.” That simple country wisdom comes from years of dependence on the rhythms of Mother Nature. Experience had taught them that a farm–or any kind of land, really–will give you a better picture of its potential and the opportunities and challenges it poses at the end of the growing season but before frost. If you’re looking at buying farm land, here are some things to look out for as the seasons change.

What to Look for in Late Summer and Early Fall

In late summer, the density of the foliage will show where the soil is rich as well as where it is thin and marginal. Whether it’s a stream, stock pond, spring or irrigation well, in most years you can get a true picture of what kind of water supply you can count on at that critical time between the end of a long hot summer and when the fall rains begin.

autumn meado

You will be able to see if there are overgrown areas that you want to reclaim or bring back into production, and the crisp cool days between the first frost of the fall and the last frost in spring are the best time for that kind of work. As fall progresses, foliage will thin and visibility will improve, allowing you to do more work in less time and prepare those areas for the next season.

“The years teach much which the days never knew.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

If soil needs to be tilled in the fall to prepare for the next crop year, you’ll have plenty of time. You’ll also have good visibility into areas where you may want to maintain or create wildlife habitat. In most areas of the country you can plant late-season food plots and get a good start on a long term wildlife plan.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The years teach much which the days never knew”, and so it is with buying farm land late in the annual cycle.  You see the whole picture then: it’s the sum of the good days and bad, the rain and the sun. The way the land reacted to the previous growing season is a great indication of how it will respond to your efforts in the future.

About the Author

Richard ThompsonRichard Thompson is Executive Vice President of Sales at United Country Real Estate. He  began his career as a United Country sales associate in 1975. He later owned and operated an award winning franchise for another national franchise company before joining the United Country management team in 1988. As Executive Vice President of Sales, Richard utilizes the broad range of experience he has acquired in his 38 years in the industry to develop and execute the company’s growth plan.

vacant land real estate

Why You Should Invest in Vacant Land

“The wise young man or wage earner of today invests his money in real estate.” -Andrew Carnegie

Investors looking for relatively secure opportunities should consider devoting some of their money to invest in vacant land. Vacant land investing can give you several ways to profit. Some people purchase land, wait for the value to increase, and sell the property at a higher price at a later date. Others who invest in vacant land generate revenue and seek enjoyment from the property while they wait for the property’s value to increase. There are also many different ways to invest in land.

No matter how you decide to invest in vacant land, you should consider the details before you spend money on any property. Developing a plan with the help of a qualified land professional will make it easier for you to generate higher profits.

The Value of Vacant Land Can Grow Quickly

“Don’t wait to buy land. Buy land and wait.” – Will Rogers.

People have been moving from urban to suburban areas for generations. As families accumulate more wealth or move into retirement, they often want to get away from crowded urban areas so they can enjoy the privacy of suburban and, even better, rural homes. As more people move to the cities, the boundaries of suburbs will continue to reach out further causing a demand for vacant land to build homes on in the future near the outskirts of large metropolitan areas. Even with the recent pandemic there has been an increase in the demand for rural residential land and hobby farms.

The COVID-19 pandemic may accelerate the trend away from urban lifestyles. Anyone living in New York City during the pandemic, for example, has seen the challenges of surviving in a crowded city. As resources become increasingly scarce and increasing numbers of contagious people make going out in public unsafe, more and more people are wanting to get out of urban centers.

The sudden interest in rural land should increase property values. If you already own vacant land, you can profit from the growing interest in hobby farms and recreational land.

Not everyone will want to live in rural areas exclusively. Those who can afford to purchase rural retreats are more likely to do so now that they’ve seen the difficulty of living in cities during a pandemic.

Developing Vacant Land Can Increase Its Value

“Landlords grow rich in their sleep without working…” -John Stuart Mill

Undeveloped, vacant land becomes an undeniable investment opportunity when you’re willing to spend time and money adding buildings, infrastructure, and other features. For example, you can increase the value of vacant land by installing the utilities that most people look for when buying homes. A piece of land that no one wants becomes much more desirable once you add electrical lines, water, and sewage.

Other features that may increase the value of vacant land include:

  • Houses and cottages.
  • Barns and sheds.
  • Ponds and lakes.
  • Meadows and trees that attract wildlife.
  • Tree Stands.

Vacant Land Can Generate Revenue Before You Sell

“The best investment on earth is earth.” – Louis Glickman.

If vacant land already has some desirable features, you can use it to generate revenue while waiting for the property’s value to increase. You could earn money from land with fertile soil and a water source by renting or leasing your land to farmers. You can also make money from transitional land by:

Pay careful attention to a property’s features before you buy it. Without trees, water, and other desirable features, you probably can’t make much money from it while you wait for the value to increase.

vacant land

Use a Qualified Land Agent When Investing in Vacant Land

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain.

It’s often challenging to determine which pieces of vacant land make suitable investments. Ideally, you want to get a return on your investment as quickly as possible, but with land you usually make more when you play the long-game. At the same time, you don’t want to sell too early and miss the opportunity to boost your profit.

You can make money from vacant land while you wait for the value to increase, but that depends on whether people find the property attractive. Without fertile soil, water, electricity, trails, and other features, you might not earn enough money to cover property taxes and additional costs. You can also enjoy the land while you own.

You can significantly improve your chances of success by working with an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC).

Don’t make the mistake of assuming any real estate agent can provide the same services as an ALC. ALCs don’t get their credentials until they have an exceptional level of experience in the land industry doing land transactions. They also need to complete a rigorous education program and pass exams to hold the designation.

Before you start investing vacant land, find a land consultant in your area who can help you focus on finding properties that match your needs. Your ALC may already know about a few properties that you can purchase within the next few weeks.

recreational land fishing

What First-Time Recreational Land Buyers Need To Know

The idea of owning your own rural property is an appealing one, and can seem like the process can be fairly simple. But if you’re buying land, especially as first-time recreational land buyers, there are several conditions and circumstances you’ll want to be aware of so that you can make an informed decision and avoid costly mistakes.

Considerations Before Purchasing Land

What Are Your Needs From The Property?

The first thing you want to decide as first-time recreational land buyers is what type of property you want and how you intend to use it. There are big differences between purchasing land for hunting deer or fishing versus purchasing land for camping or hiking on the property.

hiking recreational land

What Is Your Budget?

Another important consideration is determining how you will pay for your land. If you have the cash, great! Experts recommended paying cash for land if you have the ability. That’s because a traditional land loan is more difficult to obtain than a mortgage. Additionally, land loans almost always have higher interest rates, require a higher down payment, and are typically required to be paid off in 3 to 5 years.

Most Importantly, What Land Professional Will You Use?

Before anything else, you must find someone to help you with your land purchase. A traditional real estate agent likely will not have the experience required to help you with a land purchase. An agent that specializes in recreational land purchases will have the experience and knowledge needed to help you find the right piece of land. Using a qualified land broker can also benefit you when it comes to considering zoning laws and other legalities as well. With a good land agent, they will be able to help with everything else in this article to ensure your transaction goes smoothly and you end up with the right property to meet your needs.

recreational land dirt bike

The Land-Buying Process — Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t Expect to Make a Purchase Too Quickly

Buying land for the first time will likely take longer than you think. But that’s okay, because it isn’t a transaction you should rush into. You’ll want to take the time to work with a qualified land agent to thoroughly research each parcel of recreational land you are interested in and compare them.

It may take several months or longer before you find the perfect piece of land that checks all the boxes for what you really want. Lenders will also want appraisals, surveys, and environmental evaluations, adding to the length of time the process takes.

hunting blind

Don’t Pay More Than the Land is Worth

This may seem like an obvious one but there is more to it than meets the eye. You don’t want to pay much more than a particular piece of land is worth, right? Make sure to research what other parcels of land in the area are selling for and determine what the property’s appreciation potential is for both the short and long term. A qualified land agent can also help you with this.

Check Legal Access

In some cases, legal access to the property might not actually come with the deed — referred to as an easement, it is important that you are aware of what easements exist for the property you are interested in. Easements are common when the land you are interested in lies between two other pieces of property.

There might also be situations in which you would need to add a road, infrastructure, and utilities. Obviously, this can be extremely costly, and will need to be considered when formulating your budget to help you decide whether the property is a fit.

hunting bling recreational land

Check for Liens

If any liens have been taken out against the property you could be liable for the outstanding property taxes if they weren’t completely paid off by the previous owner. You’ll want a record that the property is clear of any liens before you decide to go through with a purchase.

Additionally, be aware of what your property taxes will be. Take a look at the property tax records for the last few years. This will give you a good idea of how much the taxes are raised each year so that you know what to expect to pay and how much they may increase in future years. High property taxes might have you changing your mind if the return on investment isn’t worth it.

Research

If you’ve narrowed your decision down to a few particular parcels of land, research them more thoroughly and visit them more than once. Have surveys and environmental testing performed. Check the zoning requirements to ensure that you can do what you intend to do on the land. Even if you only plan on building a house, not all areas are zone for houses that fall below a specific square footage.

You’ll also want to check for land drainage and soil quality. A parcel of land that is prone to flooding is not a good investment, and if you intend to do any hobby farming, you’ll want soil of good quality as well.

Use a Title Company for Closing

When it comes to closing the deal, title insurance is also important. When it comes to a land purchase as first-time recreational land buyers, the title company will typically have more experience than a real estate attorney who traditionally only does mortgages. Both your realtor and the title insurance company will take care of a lot of the paperwork for you and ensure that everything is completed properly.

Ready to buy your first recreational property? Start by finding a land consultant in your area!

Diving into Water Rights: A Primer for Land Agents

“Water is the ultimate zero-sum game; the volume of water used by one right holder sourced from our common pool of water ultimately diminishes, to some degree or other, the volume of water available to other water right holders.”

– Dr. Charles Porter, 2014

Nothing is more basic to successful human congregate settlement than the management and sharing of freshwater resources; the way in which Americans manage their freshwater resources defines the overall quality of life. Today’s REALTORS® must gain a working knowledge of water rights in their geographic area of practice.

Who Owns the Water?

The first question that arises – who owns water in the United States, the public or the individual citizen? The answer is an eternal favorite – it depends – on the geological container in which the water resides. Ownership of water varies from state to state but is always categorized in three geological containers in which water resides, surface water, diffused surface water, and groundwater.

Surface water is water that exists naturally in a river, creek, or stream. Most states own their surface water and describe it as water in a “watercourse” that is generally defined as:

…a channel, comprising well-defined bed and banks, a current of water, and a permanent source of supply. The flow of water need not be continuous, and the channel may be dry for long periods of time.

There are two state-by-state variations of surface water rights in the United States, riparian rights and appropriative rights. Riparian water rights are based upon ownership of land appurtenant to surface water; riparian rights tend to be the basic water law in states east of the Mississippi River. Riparian rights are usufructs only, or rights that allow use of the water but not ownership of the water. Appropriative rights are based upon a grant or license from the state to use the water for a certain purpose. Appropriative rights tend to apply to those states west of the Mississippi River. In most western states, appropriative rights are further permitted based upon first-in- time, first-in-right, a concept referred to as prior appropriation.

The United States “Americanized” the traditional English Common law riparian concept in 1826. According to Professor of Law T. E. Lauer the origin of the American riparian doctrine was rendered by a United States District Court in Tyler v. Wilkinson:

The origin of the American riparian doctrine of water use, whereby each owner of land upon the banks of a watercourse has the right to make a reasonable [emphasis added] use of the water, is customarily placed shortly after the year 1825. Traditionally, the creation of the riparian doctrine has been ascribed to two of the greatest early American jurists, Joseph Story and James Kent.

water rights

The introduction of the reasonable use idea is the driving concept in the permitting of surface water in most states and in some states, even applies to legal uses of privately owned groundwater. As opined by Jurist James Kent in 1828, the American definition of the reasonable use of water is:

All that the law requires of the party, by or over whose land a stream passes, is, that he should use the water in a reasonable manner, and so as not to destroy, or render useless, or materially diminish, or affect the application of the water by the proprietors below on the stream.

What constitutes a reasonable use of water is regularly a matter of hot debate between up-streamers and down- streamers. The situational aspect of reasonable use is subjective and determined in the eyes of the beholder; the same specific use can be usually be argued for or against easily and credibly. Most states broadly define reasonable use of water as water used for irrigation, municipal, domestic and livestock, and industrial purposes.

“Today’s REALTORS® must understand the human-water interface and the foundational role water plays in the quality of life of their communities.”

The second geological container is “diffused” surface water, or water that runs across the surface of the land either from rainfall, snow melt, condensation, or caused by other atmospheric conditions. Diffused surface water is owned by the private landowner in some states such as Texas, but not so in other states.

Private ownership of diffused surface water ends when the water enters a surface water watercourse or in some states, when it disappears into the ground and becomes groundwater.

The third geological container is groundwater. Groundwater is “water that exists underground in saturated zones beneath the land surface.” Groundwater rights are owned by the public in many states but owned by the private overlying landowner in other states. Private and absolute ownership of groundwater is recognized in Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and Texas.

ground water well

In other states with no comprehensive groundwater regulations, ownership is ill- defined in their statutes or in their state constitution. Some states may claim to own the groundwater yet allow unlimited withdrawals without any liability to neighbors, making the practical matter of ownership in those states moot. The geological containers of water exist conjunctive in the hydrologic cycle.

Surface water, diffused surface, and groundwater are, have been, or will ultimately be in union with one another. Diffused surface water feeds both surface water and groundwater.

Groundwater feeds surface water both in the underflow and via natural springs. As water flows downhill above or below ground, the containers feed and deplete each other visibly and invisibly. A single molecule of water is like a chameleon as to its ownership, changing legal status as it flows through the hydrologic cycle.

Another fact of water is that it ignores political boundaries. Setting workable public water policy based upon surface political boundaries and not upon the natural boundaries of the water itself is problematic. A shared common pool water existing in several political boundaries risks conflicts between regulatory agencies weakening prudent management of the resource.

Yet another fundamental concept in water rights is ‘beneficial use’ which is generally accepted to be the use of:

… the amount of water which is economically necessary for a purpose authorized by this chapter when reasonable intelligence and reasonable diligence [emphasis added] are used in applying the water to that purpose and shall include conserved water.

A vexing question arises – what is reasonable intelligence and reasonable diligence? Of course, my use of water, and yours likely as well, is always based on reasonable intelligence and reasonable diligence, right? Beneficial use varies from state to state, clearly defined in some but loosely defined in others. The California legislature so clearly defined beneficial uses of water that their list is five pages long!

water fall

Why Land Agents Should Know Water Rights Basics

Why is it so important that real estate licensees in the United States have a working knowledge of water rights in their practice area? First, land with water is more valuable than land without water. The sales price we recommend to our clients to ask and offer is significantly impacted by water rights and water availability.

Second, it is our duty to assist our clients in determining the characteristics of any given tract they are selling or are interested in buying. We, of course, cannot provide legal advice, engineering advice, or hydrologic advice to our clients unless we hold licenses in those professions. A prudent REALTOR®, though, assists clients in finding the professional help they need.

Third, often overlooked but of high importance to our overall civic duty, is the significance that water has on the fair market value of land and its resulting impact on the ad valorem tax base that is so important to the quality of life of any community. In most of the United States public school education through the 12th grade is the most cherished social value, and most often is funded by ad valorem taxation. Some hospitals and other critical public services derive their funding from ad valorem taxation as well. As the water resources in a rural city are sold or leased to an urban area, now more than ever a battleground of conflict nationwide, the ad valorem tax base in the rural city inevitably declines leading to a decline in public school funding and other public services. This, in turn, creates a downward spiral of quality of life in the community.

underground water

Frustratingly, there is no “one size fits all” water law or policy that can be applied to a country with such wide geographic diversity as ours. The federal, state, and local governments all have and/or claim some jurisdiction over water, with policies and jurisdictions that exist in open conflict. The route to understanding water rights is challenging, but essential to the value REALTORS® add to their clients’ transactions.

REALTORS® should begin their search by reviewing their state’s constitution and seeking help from the state and local agencies responsible for water use permitting. Some states have county agriculture extension agents that are a great source for water rights information as well.

Many states such as Texas recently created statutory duties requiring real estate license holders to become “geographically competent” in the region or area in which they work; competence in water rights therefore is now the law. Today’s REALTORS® must understand the human-water interface and the foundational role water plays in the quality of life of their communities.

This article was originally published in the REALTORS® Land Institute Summer 2020 Terra Firma Magazine.

Charles Porter NLC20 SpeakerAbout the author: Charles Porter, Ph.D. is an award-winning author, speaker, testifying real estate expert in over 600 cases nationwide, and has served in various faculty teaching roles at St. Edward’s University since 2008. In 2016 he earned a Ph.D. in Economics and Business from the Universitat Jaume I in Spain with “Cum Laude” distinction. He is also a well- recognized water rights expert. He was recently appointed to the Education Standards Committee of the Texas Real Estate Commission. If you have any questions related to the content in this article, Charles can be reached at crporter@sbcglobal.net

This article was originally published in the REALTORS® Land Institute Summer 2020 Terra Firma Magazine.

hunting lease

Eight Tips for Taking Advantage of a Hunting Lease

As the overpopulation of public hunting land continues, an ever-increasing number of people are looking to hunt on private ground. This can be a lucrative way of earning income for landowners and gives renters access to premium hunting real estate.

For lessors and lessees alike, there are several things to consider before signing one of these leases. Eight tips have been listed below, along with explanations of how they apply to both sides of the equation (property owners and renters) in each case.

  1. Liaise with Trusted Local Agencies

Landowners might not know exactly how to go about finding the right tenants, and would-be tenants might not be able to find the right land to rent. While you should check local websites for available properties in your desired area, local authorities are also valuable resources of information.

For hunters, these offices will have up-to-date lists of the kind of game and terrain that all active lessees are offering. For lessees themselves, the district conservationists and county Extension agents with the NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) are a convenient contact.

These conservationists and agents will be frequently liaising with property owners anyway and can be trusted to prioritize the best interests of the land – so all parties should feel comfortable with the contacts they provide.

  1. Do a Thorough Background Check

Both renters and owners should check out the other party as thoroughly as possible. As a lessor, you can ask your prospective clients for a list of references. Potential lessees can do the same thing – ask for the names of previous renters and get in contact with them.

In either case, find out what the prior tenants and landlords have to say before you commit to any agreements of your own. If you’re looking at renting the land, make sure you take a walkthrough first and see it for yourself.

You should also try to speak to any hunters or owners of properties that surround the perimeter of the grounds you’re interested in. That way, you’ll get a first-hand account of what the hunting season is like, and what kind of species diversity and size you can expect.

  1. Decide What Kind of Lease You Want

There are long and short-term hunting leases, each with pros and cons for both landowners and renters. Long-term agreements can be seasonal, annual, or multi-year, while short-term can be daily, weekly, multi-day, or related to special seasonal conditions.

Special seasonal conditions usually refer to hunting for the season, but with a very specific type of weapon (like a muzzle-loader, rifle or bow) only. Whatever the particulars are, long-term leases usually cost more at the time, but work out as less expensive per diem.

Long-term contracts are also less work for property owners, who might have to offer or find food and lodging for short-term customers. Everyone benefits from short-term agreements if they run into issues with the other party since the contract is concluded fairly timeously.

Landowners need to decide if the extra profits of short-term leases are worth the additional effort that will be expended, and renters have to be sure that they’ll get enough use out of the long-term lease for the savings to be worthwhile.

hunting tower on hunting land

  1. Negotiate Fees Based on Hunting Requirements

If you’re the owner, you need to consider what activities and specific types of vehicles will be allowed and for what prices very carefully. You want your rates to be competitive, but you also want to get the most lucrative deal for yourself.

For instance, if camping, fishing and swimming are also possible on your land, can you charge extra for each of them, or will that put potential hunters off? In which case, you could charge a single extra amount to permit all of these additional activities.

As a prospective renter, take a close look at your requirements. If you strictly want to hunt and are not interested in fishing or swimming, you might want to pay a lower fee for camping permission only. You could also pay less if you’re only interested in hunting certain species.

  1. Make Sure Availability is Transparent

Often, lessors retain the use of the hunting grounds themselves or to rent the land out to several different groups. Lessees need to decide if they’re happy with the dates they will have access to the area, and with the number of other parties that will have access to it at the same time.

To avoid ugly and potentially costly disputes later, the availability of the acreage should be very clearly set down. How large can each group be, for example, and which members of the owner’s family will be able to come onto the property?

  1. Outline Shared Duties on the Land

Once again, the shared duties should be clearly described and agreed upon to avoid any later disagreements. Shared duties here pertain to anti-poaching, conservation, habitat management, and herd management.

Having responsible renters to carry out some of these duties can be a huge boon for landowners, and for clients, these activities can be a way of negotiating a better price. As long as both sides are fair and respectful of each other, it can be extremely mutually beneficial.

  1. Put Liability Insurance in Place

In hunting, liability insurance refers to the coverage for both lessors and lessees and protects them from paying for damages when accidents occur. Policies can be purchased at very reasonable prices, and you should never enter into an agreement with anyone who doesn’t have it.

If you’re actively looking for hunting grounds to rent, take the time to get your insurance up to date – you’ll demonstrate your reliability, and many landowners won’t take you seriously or even consider signing a lease with you if you don’t.

  1. Discuss and Finalize Written Rules

The lease terms, conditions of renewal, rates, property description, shared duties, availability, and liability insurance should all be included in the contract that you sign. As should other written rules, including whether permanent structures can be erected, and accident protocols.

Written rules should also stipulate that local, state, and/or federal wildlife laws must be observed, and, importantly, the arbitration measures that should be carried out in the event of any disputes.

Essentially, you need to make sure that you get everything in writing, no matter which side of the table you’re sitting on. Just as anyone with large assets at stake who is getting married should get a prenuptial agreement, everyone signing a hunting lease should make sure their contract is iron-clad.

Author Bio: Ashley Wells is Editor at Hunting Locator. She is a passionate outdoors enthusiast and writer. With her trusty camper van, she’s on a mission to travel the remote corners and discover the hidden gems our world has to offer – one destination at a time.

Winning Large Land Listings

Having spent over 40 years in the land business, I am occasionally asked about the biggest change I’ve seen in those four decades. The answer is one we can all be proud of, and it’s an excellent starting point for this article on winning large land listings. It’s the change in the culture of our profession.

With RLI leading the way through offering the ALC Designation, LANDU Education Program, annual National Land Conference as well as regional and state chapter events, the level of knowledge and expertise of the average land professional has improved dramatically.

The expansion of knowledge and expertise have allowed us to keep pace with rising seller expectations. As land prices have increased, sellers have become increasingly particular in the process they use to select a listing agent. It’s assumed the agent will have the level of skill and knowledge needed. Land education that was once considered optional is now a must.

“Better is not Differentiation” – Shark Tank

A major shift in the thinking of the seller has changed the way we now present ourselves and our services to them. Not long ago a listing presentation was 75% about the agent and their company, and 25% about the seller’s property. Today its 25% about the agent and their company and 75% about the seller’s property. The person who is able to articulate differentiation more clearly will win the listing almost every time. This is especially true for large properties. As the price goes up, the need for differentiation becomes even more important.

As a rule, brokers and agents create differentiation one of two ways. They show value by putting together a strong detailed presentation illustrating how they are different and uniquely equipped to help the seller sell their property, or they cut their commission.

That’s the big picture but each presentation will involve finer points of differentiation, as well, that need to be emphasized or countered. For example, a competitor may have more experience than you, the seller wants to auction and you don’t do auctions, your competitor has the same marketing tools you do and you are not much different in any way. You need to be prepared to address these and other points that will arise.

Experience Helps Win Large Land Listings

Let’s look at experience first. After my presentation for RLI’s Virtual NLC20 event, someone asked “How do you get in front of the seller to present in the first place?” I get that question a lot. Some have the misconception that other REALTORS® are just invited to present. If they are invited, it is only after a lot of hard work. You must consistently communicate your message to those who own the kind of property you want to sell and use every opportunity you have to show that you are relevant in that market. If you are doing that and still being looked over it’s almost always about experience.

This is common, many agents skip an all important step and try to compete for prime listings before they are ready to do so. It sounds odd but the first step in getting large land listings is to get experience. It’s extremely hard to win this type listing until you are proven. So, how do you get experience when sellers won’t list with you because you don’t have experience? You find someone who has experience you can partner with; you borrow their experience.

The truth is you need an experienced partner for the same reason the seller wants experience. There’s a lot more likelihood you will get the property sold. Establish a network of people (RLI is an excellent place to start) you can work with on specific properties. Get a partner for each property type: farms, ranches, recreational, timberland, commercial, etc., and for separate geographical areas. In Texas, for example, selling property in West Texas is different than selling in East Texas so get someone who knows the territory. Often when you cross a state line things change, so having a partner in the state will be helpful. Also look for opportunities to gain experience. Work with other agents in your office on large Listings. Help them gather information and build a package or prepare a listing presentation. If your company does auctions, help show buyers around on inspection day. Your focus should be to do everything you can to add that deal as one you worked on as part of your experience.

Selling someone else’s land listing is a great way to get the credibility to win more listings. Get to know the players in your area, tour their listings when you have the opportunity, know the inventory in your market so you can work with buyers. It doesn’t take many sales at this level to make a big difference in your resume.

land listing ranch

Sometimes you will find yourself in a presentation where it appears you are not really much different than some of the others you know you will be presenting against. The level of experience is close to the same, they’ve had some nice sales of similar properties and you have too and you both use almost exactly the same marketing tools. If you know the competitor that well, you probably have an idea how they will present and how you can present differently. If you think they may just show a website or publication, you dig deeper. Know how many visitors the website has or how many subscribers the publication has. Know the kind of followers the source has and why they are the kind of people who might buy the seller’s property. Show examples of properties similar to the seller you’ve sold or that others have sold through that source. If nothing else, prove that you pay more attention to detail and are more thorough that your competitor.

Consider An Auction To Land Large Listings

There is no better example of differentiation than trying to convince a seller to give you a conventional listing when they have a reason they need to sell at auction. That scenario literally defines differentiation. Remember, differentiation is giving the seller something they want that your competitor can’t do for them. While every property is not right for auction, many of the deals that do go to auction are large properties with a motivated seller. When I had my brokerage, the biggest sale in my market almost every year would be an auction. I wanted that business but, even with auctioneers charging a significant upfront marketing fee, I was never able to win a single listing from an auctioneer. The seller simply had needs that could only be met by the auction method. For example, auction allows the seller to choose the day the property will sell.

Auction allows the seller of a prime property to get more than they might have listed it for conventionally because the seller does not have to disclose his asking price first. Auction allows the settlement of ownership dispute or estate liquidations with more transparency. Auction provides a cleaner “as is” sale without contingencies, and auction compresses the marketing period and accelerates the sale time.

“Don’t act like an amateur and expect to be paid like a professional” – Jared James

All those things are extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a conventional broker to do. The only way you can win part of that business is to find a good proven auctioneer to work with and offer auctions yourself. It’s unlikely that you will be able to recruit the kind of auctioneer you will need as an associate. You will probably have to work on a co-op basis, with you finding the auction and bringing them in to help negotiate the contract and do the sale. Experience is extremely important in the auction business. A failed auction can cost you credibility and take years to recover from. Do your homework.

Choose an auctioneer that has a history of success and fair dealing then work hard to hold up your end of the bargain and form a long and lasting partnership.

Nail The Presentation To Land The Listing

All these things should come together in a formal presentation. Remember, your presentation is the seller’s first glance at your work as it relates to their property. It’s hard to spend the time and resources preparing when there is a chance you might not win the listing, but you have to. It’s game day and not a time to hold anything back. Your goal should be to have the most professional presentation the seller is going to see put together in a way that highlights the seller’s property and your differentiation.

By now, I hope it’s evident that winning the best listings is a long-term commitment. It won’t happen by accident. Create a plan with a timeline for getting the training and education you will need to deliver the highest level of service. Form and maintain a strong network of professionals by specialty and geographical area, build an exceptional listing presentation and learn to express your value in terms of how you are different, and how and why that difference will help get the seller’s property sold. Aim for excellence every day. It’s hard work but, in the end it’s well worth it if you’re winning large land listings.

This article was originally published in the REALTORS® Land Institute Summer 2020 Terra Firma Magazine.

Richard Thompson, United CountryAbout the author: Richard Thompson began selling land in 1974 and joined the management team of United Country Real Estate where he now serves as Executive Vice President in 1988. He participated in hundreds of land transactions as an agent and broker and assisted with many others nationwide in his current role. His experience includes farming wheat, soybeans, cotton, milo, rice, hay and cattle which helps him connect with a broad range of sellers. His specialty is listing and seller representation.

The Future Of The Land Brokerage Industry

As nearly all businesses are forced to pivot quickly in order to meet consumer expectations amid the Coronavirus pandemic, a glimpse into the land brokerage industry — which has been evolving rapidly due to technological advancements and changing consumer behavior—is extremely relevant today.

Technology’s Disruption of the Land Brokerage Industry, and the Coronavirus Pandemic Acting as a Catalyst

Prior to COVID-19, technology was already making a noticeable impact on both our businesses and personal lives. Technology has forever changed communication, shopping, banking, education, entertainment, and, recently even how we visit with our doctors. But we didn’t fully understand how suddenly the benefits of technology would shift from being a convenience to an absolute necessity.

Most of the world came to a screeching halt a few months ago. Meanwhile, the innovative, forward-thinking businesses have proven they don’t need to stop their dribble to pivot; they’re going straight to the hoop for the score. Those effectively wielding technology are dominating the marketplace, whether we like it or not.

Before the pandemic, it had been predicted that 40% of both blue- and white-collar jobs would be lost to technology over the next 15 years. Since the onset of COVID-19 and the shutdown of our economy, it’s become clear that loss of American jobs to technology will occur more rapidly than originally predicted. And the real estate sector is no exception.

future of land brokerage industry

Long before Coronavirus had become a household name, massive disruption had been going on in the residential real estate sector. Companies effectively leveraging technology, data, google rankings, artificial intelligence, and social media were covering ground faster than Murder Hornets. That’s why we must learn from these residential companies.

They are changing the industry’s message with marketing slogans such as “Real Estate, Made Simple” and “Finally, the Way Real Estate Should Be.” Some of these businesses are demonstrating how the residential real estate industry has been ripe for disruption.

On a related note, businesses in general are seeing consumers demand more transparency. Consumers expect relevant, accurate, free-of-charge data to be at their fingertips to assist them with their decision-making process. If businesses are unable to meet their expectations, they’re on to the next vendor.

“…86% of real estate agents will be replaced by robots over the next 20 years.”

A recent Oxford University study predicted that 86% of real estate agents will be replaced by robots over the next 20 years. This statistic could be scary, but it’s not all doom and gloom. The real question is, will you be part of the 86% pushed aside, or will you be part of the elite 14% who are taking the time to learn how to stand out, stay relevant, and remain valuable? If real estate professionals can better serve clients by providing exactly what they need on a personal, emotional, and technological level, while saving them time and money, we become invaluable.

As real estate brokers, our path ahead may not be as easy as it has been in the past, but it’s important to seek opportunity in every challenge; do not sit victim to the changing circumstances. Be coachable and seek mentoring from others who can provide valuable tools and insight into changes and updates in the land brokerage industry.

As consumers take the lead in communicating what they want from land brokers, it’s important to go above and beyond to protect our brands and reputations, at all costs. Take caution: enabled by tools like Yelp, Google, and Facebook reviews, the service industry is being placed under a microscope more than ever before. Consumers will have access to how well or insufficiently we’ve performed, and they’ll base their buying decision on that information, and for many of them, that information alone.

The Bottom Line

There is no way to slow the pace of technology. We must embrace the impact it’s making in every industry, especially in new ways of connecting and presenting valuable information to our consumers in the land brokerage industry.

They are the ultimate shot caller, deciding who wins and who loses. Only those companies that can reach and provide the best consumer experience will win. Participation trophies in the land brokerage business are a relic of the past.

This article was originally published in the REALTORS® Land Institute Summer 2020 Terra Firma Magazine.

Aaron Graham, ALCAbout the author: Aaron Graham, ALC, is Partner and Chief Innovation Officer with National Land Realty. He’s a licensed real estate broker in Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. Since he entered the real estate business after retiring from a successful NFL career, he’s brokered over $300,000,000 of land transactions throughout the Midwest.

RLI 2019 APEX Award Winners

Getting To The Top: Tips From The Nation’s Top Producing Land Agents

The Realtors® Land Institute is excited to share top advice from the winners of our 2019 APEX Awards Program, sponsored by The Land Report, as the top producing land agents in the country for 2019. The APEX Awards Program is designed to recognize the excellence and performance of the best in the business by distinguishing agents with these prestigious production-based awards.

Andy Flack, ALC

“To be successful at anything one must become knowledgeable, whether by education, experience or both. At the same time, persevere, be consistent, and exhibit high integrity and a hard work ethic. Excellence in all facets of your profession. And also, successful people know that ‘no’ is a powerful word and a complete sentence.”

– Andy Flack, ALC, HomeLand Properties, Inc., Huntsville, TX, APEX 2019 Top National Producer and APEX 2019 Broker of the Year in Timberland Sales

Ryan Sampson, ALC

“Listen to what your client’s goals are and, once you truly understand them, work your behind off to make them a reality. You are only as good

as your client’s success.”

– Ryan Sampson, ALC, CCIM, Eshenbaugh Land Company, Tampa, FL, APEX 2019 Broker of the Year in Commercial Land Sales

Dean Saunders, ALC

“My best piece of advice is to stay client focused and help them accomplish their goals. In the words of the late Zig Ziglar ‘You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.’ So our job is to really understand our clients’ goals and objectives, and to help them meet those goals and objectives.”

–          Dean Saunders, ALC, CCIM, SVN Saunders Ralston Danzler, Lakeland, FL, APEX 2019 Broker of the Year in Ag Land Sales – Ranches

Steve Bruere

“Collaboration and abundance are two things that are a huge part of our culture at Peoples Company. There is no shortage of opportunities to pursue and, when you open up communication with others in the industry and within your own office, it creates more opportunities for everyone. This recognition is more about the collaborative culture at Peoples Company and a reflection on our team more so than an individual achievement. Most of our auctions have 10 to 15 of my colleagues involved. It’s truly a team effort and wouldn’t be possible without the abundant culture and collaborative efforts at Peoples Company and others in the industry.”

–          Steve Bruere, RLI Member, Peoples Company, Clive, IA, APEX 2019 Broker of the Year in Auction Land Sales

Marty Domres, ALC

“I personally don’t think there is one single piece of advice that I can give. There are several things that need to happen to be successful. The first piece of advice, is to learn everything you can learn about real estate, learning is a never ending process. The more you learn the better you get! Persistence definitely pays off! Don’t give up! Concentrate on building long term relationships. You have to be useful, by providing information, a product, or a service. I can’t tell you how many times property deals have come back to me. Last, always be honest! If you don’t know, tell the client you don’t know, but you will get back to him with an answer as soon as possible! These are the things that have worked for me. I hope this advice helps you!”

– Marty Domres, ALC, CCIM, Domres Real Estate Investments, Inc., APEX 2019 Broker of the Year in Residential Land Sales

Troy Louwagie, ALC

“Helping buyers and sellers acquire and sell farmland continues to be a people business. Buyers and sellers rely on their Land Broker to be their Trusted Advisor. We do this by providing professional services above and beyond what is asked. This is done by treating people with integrity and honesty. Also, by keeping up to date with what is going on in the land market and by communicating it with your clients at all times. Making this a top priority builds lifelong relationships. If you do these things, everything else will fall into place.”

– Troy Louwagie, ALC, Hertz Real Estate Services, Mt. Vernon, IA, APEX 2019 Broker of the Year in Ag Land Sales – Crops and APEX 2019 Wrangler

Joey Bellington

“I know this advice may sound very basic, but sometimes the basic things are the best things! It is this: always put the interests of your client before your own. As brokers, we have so many different ways we can handle our business – some ways are good, some are bad. Usually   the simplest way for me to stay on the right track is to do my business with integrity, and then simply put my clients’ interests first. When a broker learns to do this well, that is, when they are really building a career they can be proud of, instead of just closing one sale.”

– Joey Bellington, RLI Member, Whitetail Properties, San Antonio, TX, APEX 2019 Broker of the Year in Recreational Land Sales

The RLI APEX Awards Program, sponsored by The Land Report, celebrated its third year with a record 105 applicants totaling a combined $2.65+ billion in qualifying transaction volume and 3,535 sides represented. All land professionals recognized as part of the RLI APEX Awards Program are active members of RLI. The 2019 APEX Top Twenty Award winners were ranked by qualifying production volume. For more information on the award winners, make sure to get a copy of The Land Report, one of the industry’s leading magazines for landowners and land professionals, which will publicize the top winners in their upcoming Spring 2020 issue. All land real estate professionals are invited to join RLI and apply to the prestigious APEX Awards Program next year. Learn more at https://www.rliland.com/national-land-conference/rli-apex-awards-program

This article was originally published in the REALTORS® Land Institute Summer 2020 Terra Firma Magazine.