2018

What’s Coming Up For RLI in 2018?

Happy New Year! We here at RLI hope you have a safe and successful 2018! The first few days of the New Year are a great time to work on your New Year’s resolutions and plan for the future. In the spirit of the holiday, we wanted to give you a sneak preview about what the REALTORS® Land Institute has in store for 2018.

One thing to look forward to in 2018 is a new and improved LANDU Education Program. After a conducting a deep dive review of all the LANDU courses, RLI hired an expert instructional designer to update the LANDU Education Program material. “The updated courses will begin being taught in 2018, with the goal of rolling out six updated courses at LANDU Education Week in June 2018,” said Amanda Jenkins, RLI’s Education Manager.  “RLI recognizes that in order to continue being industry leaders in the land real estate education arena an entire revamp of the LANDU curriculum is necessary. We’re excited to be working on this project with our subject matter experts and a knowledgeable instructional designer. We will be introducing new and improved courses in 2018 – keep an eye out!”

The 2018 LANDU Education Week, which will be held in Arlington, TX, from June 3-11, is a great way for agents aspiring to be ALCs to finish all the ALC education requirements in one week. The three required courses for the ALC Designation and three elective will be held at the event.

The countdown for the 2018 National Land Conference has begun with only 60 days to go! On March 12-14, ALCs from across America will gather in Nashville, TN, to share ideas and learn from the best in the land real estate business. In addition to the annual Cowboy Auction, expert guest speakers, and Let’s Make Deal$ LIVE, there are also some great new additions to the NLC18 line-up. There will even be new sessions, including the Land Tech Accelerator Program and a pre-conference tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. NLC18 is bound to be a conference you don’t want to miss!

NLC18 will also include the first ever RLI APEX Awards. Sponsored by The Land Report, this awards program will celebrate the best of the best land real estate professionals. Prizes will be awarded for top sales, performance, and highest dollar volume in closed land transactions. Here’s a full list of the APEX Awards. Interested in applying? If you meet the qualifications (more about them here), you can submit your completed application to Aubrie Kobernus, CEO at akobernus@realtors.org by the Friday, January 26 deadline.

If your New Year’s Resolution is to get more involved with the REALTORS® Land Institute, there is an easy way that also gets your recognized as an industry expert! We’re always looking for expert ALCs and RLI Members to share their wisdom through guest posts. If you want to have your writing featured on the industry’s leading land real estate blog, please contact Jessa Friedrich, Marketing Manager, to submit your article.

We have a lot of great things lined up for 2018, and hope you do too! Happy 2018, from all of us here at the REALTORS® Land Institute.

 

 

Ten Lessons for Land Agents from a Decade in the Dirt

This January marks 10 years that I have been in the land brokerage business. Most of the lessons for land agents I have learned came by trial and error, and some have been impressed upon me deeply. That is what happens when you are clueless about what you are getting into, as I was when jumping into this business.

After closing nearly 200 separate land transactions, you see a lot of different scenarios in our line of work. I have had some deals that were whoppers: clients dying, fraud, exhuming a deceased person to prove paternity, a murder on a listing, vandalism to a house, equipment stolen, FBI involved, lawsuits, you name it, I have seen a bunch. That is what makes this business so fun. Below are 10 of the nuggets pertaining to our business that I have plucked from the dirt and carry with me daily.

The land business is about people. About 20% of what we do is about land, and the other 80% is dealing with people. To succeed in the long term as a land broker, you need to be good at the land part, and exceptional at the people part.

The time to do business is when people are ready to do business.

Don’t let your lows be too low or your highs be too high. The land business, as with all sales and service industries, has natural cycles and potentially sharp peaks and deep valleys. Understanding these trends helps you develop an even keel emotionally, and allows you to weather storms and take success with a measure of humility.

“Want to” is the glue that holds deals together. When I am evaluating the likelihood that a deal will come together, I try to measure the motivation. If there is a strong “want to” by both parties, the better the odds that the deal will happen. No “want to” almost always equals “no deal”.

Marketing does not equal selling. No amount of marketing a property to the general public can replace your being able to hand deliver a packet of information directly to the person most likely to buy it. Having those contacts and the strong relationships to make that happen takes time to cultivate. Be intentional about building relationships.

They don’t give out big commission checks as participation trophies.

Always be honest.

You always reap more than you sow. Everything you do in this business has the potential to come back to you in spades; good and bad. Momentum breeds momentum, and inactivity breeds inactivity.

Your reputation gets to the room before you do. How you treat people, how you conduct business, and how hard you work will be talked about in a room before you ever come through the door. One of my favorite principles for this come from ancient King Solomon, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”-Proverbs 22:1

The team you work with will make or break your business.

The land brokerage business has opened many doors for me that I never anticipated. I am grateful for the opportunities and income it has afforded my family. Joining the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) has been one of the best parts of the journey so far. I value the relationships and knowledge that have been a part of being associated with this great group of land professionals. Earning the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation has been a source of pride, and has made me better at what we do. I would encourage everyone that wants to make a career out of being a land broker to join RLI and work toward the elite ALC Designation. The benefits are well worth the time and money invested in the process.

Many of you reading this article have been at this far longer than I, and have many more insights into what it means to be a true land professional. I look forward to learning more and getting better if the good Lord gives me more time. Thanks to all of you who have invested in and helped us “youngsters” get started in the land brokerage business. We are standing on the shoulders of good men and women that gave us an example and an opportunity.

Jonathan Goode, ALCJonathan Good, ALC, is a licensed land broker and partner with Southeastern Land Group serving Alabama and Mississippi. He co-hosts the weekly radio program and podcast “The Land Show” to share his love of the land with people across the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does the Decline in Hunting Mean for Recreational Land Real Estate?

There’s nothing quite like hunting; the rush of adrenaline when you hit your target, teaching little ones how to spot a deer, and spending time in the great outdoors. Hunting also has surprising benefits for the environment. Hunting licenses and fees are the main source of income for wildlife agencies, and hunting can prevent overpopulation.

However, there has been a significant decrease in hunting over the years. Over the last five years, the number of hunters has decreased by 15 percent. What does this mean for recreational real estate and the future of hunting?

One of the biggest reasons for the decline in hunting is our country’s changing landscape. With the human population growing every day, prime land real estate started going towards building homes and stores instead of hunting grounds. Many old hunting spots that families have loved for generations have closed and been replaced by a mall.

 

http://longilbert.com/blog-and-updates/2017/4/14/what-is-the-cost-of-a-hunting-license

Another reason that less people are hunting is the cost. The rising price of ammunition, licenses, and permits are driving away hunters who can’t afford the price hike. As you can see from this chart from longilbert.com, the cost of hunting licenses is massive for non-residents. $250 license fees are pricing some people out of the sport. Even local license costs are skyrocketing. The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission has proposed a fee increase that will raise resident license prices from $7 to a whopping $27. That’s a 26 percent increase!

Millennials haven’t been picking up the sport as much as other generations have. The biggest deterrent is that they don’t have anyone to teach them. “You don’t just get up and go hunting one day- your father or father-type figure has to have hunted,” says Mark Damian Duda, an executive director of the research firm Responsive Management. Hunting is a sport which requires a lot of teaching and expertise. With a growing number of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers hanging up their hunting vests, Millennials are left without anyone to introduce them to the sport.

There are a lot of downsides to the decrease in hunting. The group that suffers most from the lack of hunting is, surprisingly, the environment. Hunting can prevent over-population, which can wreck an ecosystem and leave animals starving as they compete for food. Hunting fees and licenses are the main source of income for many wildlife preserves and recreational land real estate. This income pays the employees, maintains the grounds, and funds projects to help the wildlife. Without this income, many parks are struggling to pay their bills.

Does the decreasing number of hunters mean the end for the sport? Not at all. There is still a very active hunting community and positive trends that show hunting increases in certain states. The same study that showed overall hunters decreasing also showed a 9 percent increase in hunting participation from 2006 to 2011. The number of paid hunting license holders has actually increased in certain states. In Texas, the number has jumped from 1,060,455 license holders in 2015 to 1,148,765 in 2017.

The local food movement has also helped the hunting community. With a focus on shopping local and knowing where your food comes from, this movement has introduced people to hunting as a fun and sustainable way to get your dinner.

Recreational land real estate is still going. In last year’s RLI survey, sales of recreational land actually increased. Recreational and residential land real estate sales accounted for 50 percent. While interest in the sport may waver, prices per acre of land real estate remain high. The average price for hunting land real estate in the Midwest is $2,975 per acre.

While hunting is experiencing a dip in popularity, there are still many loyal fans of hunting who want to bring it back into popularity. There have been efforts by local governments to make hunting affordable and accessible again. Ryan Zinke, the United States Secretary of Interior issued orders to overturn a ban of lead ammunition and issued an order to increase hunters’ access to public land. In the community, many youth groups are teaching young people about hunting and nature. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission launched the Youth Hunting Program of Florida to teach young people how to hunt safety.

Hunting is going through some changes. Most of them are positive. A new movement and generation are learning about the benefits of hunting and how it can help the environment. Local government are now realizing the effects of price hikes on hunting and are taking steps to change it. With a new focus on sustainability and teaching the next generation, hunting is sure to remain a classic American pastime.

Accredited Land Consultant land transaction expert

Why You Need an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) for Your Next Land Transaction

If you are buying land real estate, you’ve probably heard of Accredited Land Consultants, commonly known as ALCs, before (and if you haven’t, then you definitely need to keep reading!). You might know them from their little gold pins or the three letters after their name. But do you know what actually separates ALCs from the thousands of other land consultants? Can they help you get a better property for a better price? Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to become an ALC and how working with one can help you buy land better.

If you are new to buying land real estate, here’s a quick summary of what an ALC is. An ALC is a land professional who has gone through a rigorous process of earning the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation through the REALTORS® Land Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS®. Becoming an ALC is hard work: you need to complete 104 hours at of intense Land University (LANDU) courses through the REALTORS® Land Institute, have extensive experience and a history of successfully closed sales, as well as have your portfolio approved by the Accredited Land Consultant Designation Committee and RLI Board of Directors before you can wear that little gold pin. This may seem like a lot of work just to add three letters to the end of your name, but the experience and resources an agent gains from becoming an ALC is incredibly helpful to you as you go through the process of buying land real estate. Especially since land transactions require expertise outside of what a residential or commercial agent usually has under their belt.

One of the hardest parts about buying land real estate is dealing with the complex rules and regulations that are attached to the land. Titles attached to properties can be decades old and so complicated that people have to hire attorneys to sort them out. The boundaries of properties can change without the buyer even knowing. Between mineral rights, conservation easements, and deeded accesses, even the most experienced land buyer can be overwhelmed by it all – check out these tips for buying land.

That’s where an ALC comes in to ensure you have the whole picture before buying or selling a land property. Many of the courses required for the ALC Designation are about the most difficult aspects of buying land real estate (for example, Tax Deferred 1031 Exchanges, Basics of Eminent Domain Law, and Mineral, Oil, and Property Rights). ALCs spent hours studying the details of these laws so that their clients are as informed as possible about the property they are buying or selling and the transaction as a whole.

Another common issue with buying land real estate is how rapidly things can change. Tax and property laws vary across the nation, while advancements in technology are coming out faster than ever before. Trying to stay up-to-date of the latest laws and technology can be exhausting and time consuming.

ALCs can help. ALCs are connected to a network of other ALCs across the country with specializations in a wide variety of fields. This access to hundreds of other experienced ALCs will ensure that you have the most up-to-date information about the laws surrounding the property you want to buy. It also gives them a wider network of possible buyers for their clients’ properties.

Buying land real estate is a complicated process that requires years of training and a sharp eye for detail. Working with an ALC saves you time and energy while also giving you the experience, know-how, and network of other professionals that will help you get the best land for the best price.

To find an ALC near you, check out the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Find A Land Consultant tool.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Natural Disasters on Land?

California has been under attack by wildfire. The North California fires in October destroyed over 245,000 acres of land and caused more than $1 billion in damages. The fires were so devastating that they have their own Wikipedia page. At the time this article is being written, the Southern California fires are still raging on. Currently, the fires have burned through almost 150,000 acres of land and counting. The losses are devastating, and the looming long-term effects from these wildfires are almost as bad as the fires themselves.  Many people assume that the worst of the damage is over when the natural disaster leaves. However, for those in the land real estate business, the trouble may just be starting.

The long-term effects of a natural disaster are tragic for everyone involved, especially those in the land real estate business. Wildfire does more than just burn down houses. It destroys crops, kills livestock, and scares wildlife away from hunting grounds. Wildfire can also cripple a property permanently, leaving ash and debris from the fire that can taint the produce and soil and render huge plots of land unusable.

One business that is already predicted to suffer long-term from the fires are the wineries and vineyards; a huge part of the California land real estate market. While 90 percent of the grapes have already been harvested, farmers are worried about next year. The ash and debris from the wildfires could cause next year’s grapes to have an unpleasant smoky flavor at best, and could ruin the crops completely at worst.

If we want to take a closer look at what the future long-term effects of this natural disaster are, we first need to look back at past disasters and their impact.

In 2003, the Cedar Fire burned over 280,000 acres of land in San Diego. It caused over $1.3 billion in damages and resulted in 15 deaths. The already fire-prone climate of California (the Santa Ana winds make fire travel faster, while the dry, warm climate is prime for disaster) was made worse by an overstretched fire department and policies that prevented them from taking steps to end the fire sooner. This devastating loss took a long-term toll on land real estate sales (wildfires reduces both land and residential real estate by 10 percent, while a second fire knocks the prices down by nearly 23 percent) and the soil. Fire sucks necessary nutrients out of the soil. Bad soil can lead to withered crops, less wildlife returning to your property, and a plummeting value for the land.

However, some good did come out of the tragedy. Advancements in firefighting and new technology (including this 747 “SuperTanker” equipped with powerful firefighting equipment) were created to prevent future disasters like the Cedar Fire. New laws and policies were created to help firefighters to stop forest fires before they spread.

Other natural disasters can also be just as harmful to a land real estate agent’s business and for landowners alike. Like wildfires, floods can force sellers to lower their property’s prices due to decreased property values and drown crops, while hurricanes can cause timberland prices to plunge.

One example is Hurricane Andrew’s effects on Florida. The hurricane was so strong that scientists retired the name forever. In 1992, this category five hurricane tore through Florida, causing $25.3 billion in damages and 44 deaths. The storm ripped apart land real estate and changed the environment forever. Hurricane Irma, the 2017 hurricane that resulted in at least 134 deaths, caused over $66.77 billion in damages. These numbers could have been much higher if Floridians hadn’t used what they learned from Hurricane Andrew to prepare for the storm. Emergency crews were trained in dealing with massive storms, residents installed hurricane shutters and other protective gear on their property, and tolls were suspended to promote evacuations. While the damage and death toll left in the wake of the storm was still horrific, people used what they’d learned from the last disaster to keep their loved ones and property safe.

Again, we see laws put in place to prevent future damage. A new law required supermarkets, gas stations, and hospitals to have generators on hand so that they could open faster in a storm. Emergency management became faster and more efficient. Florida became the example for the rest of America in how to prepare your land real estate and your home for a natural disaster. Here are a few tips you can take from previous natural disasters:

-Be aware of potential disasters. No one can predict all natural disasters, but there are some that are more likely than others. For example, California is a hotbed for wildfires (dry, warm climate + the powerful Santa Ana winds = trouble) and earthquakes. Property near mountainous regions are prone to landslides. Middle America is most likely to get hit by a tornado. Stay aware of what you and your land property are most likely to be hit by so you can be prepared.

-Have an emergency kit. If you or your property is in an area of land that is high risk for a natural disaster, be sure to have the necessities ready. FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has an emergency list they recommend (check it out here). The most important things to remember are a three-day’s supply of clean water, non-perishable foods (granola bars, dried fruit, canned vegetables), a flashlight, and copies of important documents like your will and passport that could get destroyed in a natural disaster.

So, what can be expected after the smoke clears and the waters recede? What are the long-term effects from these disasters? There are two things we know about how California will do after the fires, one good and one bad. The bad news is that the long-term effects on the land and environment can be serious and long lasting. The effect of ash in the soil and water can be devastating for the land, and the prices of land real estate will most likely be impacted for years to come.

However, the good news is that the lessons learned from this wildfire will help prepare people to protect their properties before the next disaster strikes. After each disaster, new laws, regulations, and technology are developed to fix the problems that caused the natural disaster. Even though the short and long-term effects of the wildfire are disheartening, each disaster offers a chance to learn something new and get even closer to learning how to control natural disasters.

13 Important Questions to Ask Before Buying Land Real Estate

Even if a piece of property seems perfect, there are a lot of questions you should ask before you take out that checkbook. There’s so much you need to know about a property that a seller might not tell you right away. These twelve questions cover the most important topics for land owners to know about so that you can make sure the land is worth your hard-earned cash.

1. Is the Land Under Any Conservation Easements?
Conservation easements prevent land owners from planting, clearing, or hunting on certain areas of land to protect the natural resources. While the easements are good for the environment, it can be bad for you. Ask your seller if there are any conservation easements on the property, and if so, how they affect how much of the land you can use. Be sure to ask about how the bodies of water on the property could be affected by the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS). While it is currently being proposed that the rule be delayed to allow for proper review of the definition of what constitutes ‘Waters of the US’, it still remains uncertain what the future will bring (learn more about WOTUS here: http://www.rliland.com/two-year-delay-wotus-rule-proposed). Also, make sure to take into consideration that flooding or contaminated water can prevent you from using huge sections of land.

2. What Will the Taxes on This Property Look Like?
If the property is already in land-use before you buy it, your property could qualify for serious tax breaks . Different states and counties have different rules about what types of land qualifies for a tax break program. For example, in the Albemarle county in Virginia, agricultural land must consist a “minimum of five acres and must meet prescribed standards for a bona fide production for sale of crops and/or livestock or be in an approved soil conservation program”. Check with the local Commissioner of Revenue to learn about what tax breaks your land qualifies for.

3. What Rights and Titles Are Included with This Property?
Rights are the benefits you get from a property as its owner (road access rights, mineral rights, development rights, etc.). Titles are a bit trickier (check out these The Top Three Title Issues). A title is a bundle of rights in a piece of property, such as exclusive possession and access easement. Since many titles are passed down from owner to owner, they may be out of date or overly complicated. If there are titles included with your property, consider hiring a title attorney.

4. Do I Have Access to Electricity/Wi-Fi Everywhere on This Property?
It’s very common for properties to have large ‘dead’ zones with no electricity or Wi-Fi because the owner didn’t ask about it beforehand. Just because the property has access to a powerline does not mean you can use it.

5. Are There Any Environmental Hazards I Should Be Aware Of?
You might think that you would be able to spot any deadly environmental hazards just by walking around a property. However, many environmental hazards can’t be seen by the naked eye. They can range from toxic runoff in the water, leaking underground pipes contaminating the soil, and improperly stored chemicals from previous owners. Having an environmental hazard on your property can be bad for your land at best, and put you at risk for serious health issues at worst. Remember, the seller is not obligated under law to volunteer any information about environmental issues unless you ask in most states.

6. Has the Soil Been Tested for Percolation Rate?
The soil percolation rate lets you know if the land can absorb water from a septic system. If the land hasn’t been tested, it is important to hire a soil scientist to study the topography, types of soil, and the soil’s ability to absorb water.

7. How Is the Property Reached?
There are two main ways to access a property – do you know which your property has? A frontage road is a local road that provides access to private properties. These add to the value of a property. A deeded access is a two-party system where the landowner (who doesn’t have reasonable access to his property) and a nearby neighbor (who does have a means of access) reach an agreement about right of way. If your property is accessed by a deeded access, you need to find out as soon as possible what the agreement is and if necessary, sit down with your neighbor to see if anything about the deeded access has changed.

8. Are the Boundaries of the Property Clearly Marked?
This is one of the most important questions to ask. If you plant on land that is not yours, even if you didn’t know about it, you could face lawsuits. If there is any uncertainty about the boundaries of your property, ask if a survey of the land has been done recently. A recent survey will be able to show you clear and up to date boundaries on your property.

9. How Does the Water Drain from the Property?
Water drainage can impact what you grow. Some properties dry quickly, while others stay wet most of the year. If you don’t know about the drainage and plant the wrong crop, it could drown or dry up your produce. Also, poor drainage around buildings can cause permanent damage and mold.

10. Is More Than 70% of The Property Sloped Suitably for Growing and Harvesting Timber?
This tip comes from Accredited Land Consultant Jonathan Goode, ALC. If you are looking to buy timberland, this question should be at the top of your list. Why more than 70% of the land? Timber requires a lot of land, so by having the majority of the land suited for growing timber, you’ll be making the best investment for your future timber business.

11. Where Are the Nearest Wood Mills?
This is an often-overlooked issue for timberland buyers. There are some properties that are so far away from wool mills that the cost and time it would take to get your wood there would be a huge drain on your budget, lowering your ROI.

12. What’s Going on With the Other Properties Near Me?
It’s a good idea to be in the know of what’s happening on the land near you. Are properties near you in the process of development? Have there been environmental issues or hazards with your neighbors? This will help you get an idea of what to expect from your own land.

13. What Is The Property’s Highest and Best Use?
The Appraisal Institute defines highest and best use as follows: “The reasonably probable and legal use of vacant land or an improved property that is physically possible, appropriately supported, financially feasible, and that results in the highest value.” Considering the highest and best use of the property is a must before making a purchase because it can impact the value of the land based on different uses of it.

If you are satisfied with the answers to these twelve questions, there’s a good chance you’ve just found the perfect property.

Is December Really the Worst Month to Sell Land Real Estate?

Many people think December is the worst month for selling land real estate. There is some truth to that: families tend to want to let their kids finish the school year before moving, the holidays mean people will have less free time to tour land real estate properties, and bitter weather might keep potential clients from making the drive out to available properties. Don’t let this assumption make you think that your sales will be at an all-time low this December though. Depending on what type of land real estate you sell, this could actually be one of your best months! Let’s take a look inside the rumor of December being the worst time to sell land real estate and what it means for your business.

The idea that December is the worst month to sell land real estate originally comes from the world of residential real estate. Urban, suburban, and rural residential REALTORS® noticed a sharp drop in sales in December, especially closer to the holidays. These residential REALTORS® accredited this seasonal slowdown to a few different factors: potential clients were waiting until the New Year to make a big purchase, people didn’t want to be constantly showing their house on top of all the holiday stress, and the people that did want to buy a house in December usually had very specific needs. It’s become such a popular saying that many land agents believe it applies to their business as well.

While there are some similarities between land and residential real estate, the two fields have very different needs from their clients. Residential real estate is more focused on the client’s personal connection with the property, while land real estate tends to focus on how profitable the property can be for the client. This is a huge factor into why December can be difficult for residential real estate agents while land agents might not notice any dent in their sales. Instead of being tied to the individual needs of a client, land real estate sales are more impacted by the trends and needs of the market.

The good news for land agents is that if you have an eye on the market or have been in the business for a long time, you’ll already know what your clients want before they do. The need for timberland land rises significantly in autumn, and the sell for big game land real estate goes up as hunting season draws near.

So, is there a best and worst time to sell land real estate? While rural land real estate is less restricted by monthly ups and downs than residential real estate, there are some factors that can impact the sales. There are natural dips and rises due to what the market needs. So, while there are better and worse months for the land real estate market, the difference between them is much less severe than many people think.

If you are still conflicted about selling your land property in December, here are a few surprising benefits to consider:

Less Competition. Since many people believe that December is the worst month to sell, land real estate agents might prefer to dedicate more time to holiday festivities instead of reaching out to new clients. This means there are more potential clients and sales for you!

Making the Drive Can Make The Sale. Bad weather, snow, and ice can tempt many land agents to stay home instead of making the long, difficult drive out to properties. Being willing to drive in rough weather can lead you to a greater pool of clients. Before you hit the road, be sure your car is fitted with the proper tires for rough roads.

The Psychological Appeal of Christmas. What lowers the residential REALTOR®’s sales might actually work to your advantage. With the holidays and New Year’s Eve on their minds, people’s thoughts naturally turn towards the future and their families. People in urban areas can consider moving to the countryside to raise a family, and rural land owners might invest in more land real estate when looking at diversifying their portfolios for the New Year.

There are many factors that play into how successful a month is for selling a property. Success depends more on the needs of your clients than what month it is. If you keep up-to-date on the needs in your community and your market, December can be a great month for you.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Surprising The Land Lover In Your Life

Some people will love any gift you give them: others are a bit pickier. Then there are those people you will have absolutely no idea for what to get them. Below, we’ve found great gifts for the land lover in your life that is impossible to shop for (or even to treat yourself).

That One Person You Don’t Know in Secret Santa

There’s always that one person in Secret Santa who no one knows that well. And this year, you picked their name. Luckily you do know that they love land and everything related to it. So what do you get someone who you know almost nothing about other than that?

1. Travel Pro Power Bank. This compact phone charger is a thoughtful gift for a wide variety of personalities. You can charge your phone from 0% to 100% quickly, which is great for people who love long hiking trips, car rides, or people who just forgot to plug their phone in overnight.

2. Kelvin.23. Everyone can find a use for this tool. The Kelvin 23 is twenty-three tools in one. It includes a hammer, a six-foot tape measure, sixteen screw and socket bits, and more.

3. Batch Gift Box. Who wouldn’t love to open a box of Southern goodies? Choose from dozens of baskets based on food (coffee, barbeque, chocolate) or state/city (Austin, Nashville, Louisiana). If you know where your Secret Santa is from or what type of food your Secret Santa likes to snack on, you can get the perfect Christmas gift.

 

The Hard-To-Impress Hostess

She is the perfect hostess and gift giver, and now you want to return the favor. Even though her manners are perfect, maybe you’re a little bit intimidated by her. It feels like no matter what you get her, she won’t be impressed.

1. Beautiful copies of classic books. A beautiful copy of a classic book is sure to impress. Bonus points if you know her favorite author.

2. Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker. This coffee maker makes brewing after-dinner coffee easier. It brews tea, too!

3. Maggie Louise Chocolates. The All Is Bright Chocolate Box features jewel-colored chocolates in the shape of ornaments. They come in an assortment of white, dark, and milk chocolate. Who doesn’t love a little chocolate to sweeten up their holiday season?

 

The Guy Who Already Has Everything

The latest in technology, food, clothes – he has it. He’s always on top of the trends and has everything his heart desires. What do you get the man who already has everything?

1. Southern Bourbon Stout Beer Brewing Kit. Is he the type of guy who loves beer and is always on the hunt for a new favorite? Now he can make his own!

2. Dakine Party Bucket. This is perfect for barbeques or outdoor parties. The Dakine Party Bucket contains one insulated wine bottle bolter and eight built-in insulated Koozies for the drink of his choice. There’s also a built-in bottle opener and water-resistant snack pocket.

3. Monogrammed Leather Cocktail Shaker. Even the guy who seems to have everything doesn’t have a customized cocktail shaker.

 

In Laws

Stressing out about gifts for the in-laws is a holiday tradition. Would a gag gift be greeted with laughs or death stares? Here are some gifts that’ll please the parents.

1. Custom House Portrait Art. This unique artwork is a thoughtful gift. You can make a custom line drawing in the color of your choice of a place that is special to them, like the church they got married in or the family house. This is a gift that you know won’t end up gathering dust in the garage.

2. Custom Large Casserole Lasagna Pan. This will definitely get you in your in-laws’ good graces. You can customize this lasagna pan with a family recipe.

3. Homemade Pecan Pie. Want to make something a little more hands-on? Try a homemade pie. Here’s a recipe that only requires seven ingredients and has rave reviews. Gifts always mean more when the secret ingredient is love.

 

Your Teenage Niece

You want to get her something trendy, but the trends change so fast that by the time you get a gift, there’s a good chance that it’s no longer cool. Here are some gift ideas that’ll never go out of style.

1. Monogram Something Unique. She probably already has a monogramed necklace and sweatshirt, so why not think outside the box? You can monogram soaps , umbrellas, Christmas ornaments, stickers, beach towels, and more. Looking for more options? Sites like Etsy have an unlimited number of customizable gifts.

2. Home State Necklace. This is a simple piece that goes with everything and can remind them of home even if they are away for the holidays.

3. Lilly Pulitzer iPhone case. She’ll love this gorgeous watercolor case that adds a little personality to an otherwise standard item.

We hope these gift ideas help you kick-start your holiday shopping and give you inspiration for the perfect gift for even the most difficult people on your Christmas list. Happy Holidays!

How To Make More Money Off Of Your Christmas Tree Farm

It’s that time of year again. With Thanksgiving now behind us, people are in the holiday spirit, which means it is peak Christmas tree season.

However, Christmas trees come with a unique set of complications. It’s a crop that’s only sold once a year, the trees take a lot of money and effort to transport, and use up a ton of land. Christmas trees have one of the smallest time frames for buying and selling of any crop, even though they can take up to eight years to reach maturity.

Despite all of that, Christmas trees are still a lucrative crop and bring in steady holiday money to big and small farms alike. If you’re interested in learning how to make more money off of your Christmas tree land, read on.

  1. Make Low-Cost Adjustments to Get Better Trees

Just like how people will pay more for beautiful flowers or huge, juicy strawberries, you can make more money off of good-looking trees. There are some tricks you can use in the early stages of the tree’s life to increase its value. If you make adjustments in the soil that your trees are growing in to get the right PH balance and moisture level, your trees will be much heathier and better looking. Also, keep up the habit of shaping your Christmas trees. Cutting away at dead and gnarled branches every year helps to give the trees that beautiful conical shape that everyone loves. It might seem tedious, but the results will be worth it.

  1. Grow the Most Popular Types of Trees

Some varieties of Christmas trees sell better than others. The Fraser Fir is the most popular type of Christmas tree because of its wonderful scent and classic Christmas tree look. But some places prefer different types of trees. The Eastern Red Cedar is popular in the South because its natural cone-like shape doesn’t require much maintenance. The White Fir is popular in California for its needle retention. Look up the sales for your region in the last year and invest in the type of tree that is selling best to maximize your profit potential.

  1. Consider Pick Your Own/Cut Your Own

Pick-Your-Own sections have their pros and cons. On the pros side, it’s a great draw for a fun family day out, you can charge more for Pick-Your-Own trees than for regular trees, and people will stay on your property longer, which means they have more time to purchase your produce. However, having people linger on your property can also be a downside. People can wear down your land and cause damage to your crops. If your land is used to lots of visitors, then Pick-Your-Own could be an option for you. If not, consider having your Pick-Your-Own section far enough away from the rest of your crops so that customers don’t damage them. If it’s too late in the season to re-locate your Pick-Your-Own section, invest in plenty of fences and signs to keep people from wandering where they shouldn’t.

  1. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!

If you haven’t started advertising yet, you should start as soon as possible. Most people buy their Christmas tree shortly after Thanksgiving, so you want to get the word out about your trees soon. And with people shopping for Thanksgiving and getting a head-start on their Christmas shopping, this is the perfect time to invest in a billboard ad. Since there is a time frame around how long you can sell trees and how long people will want to buy them, you’ll want to use this time to get the word out to as many people in your area as possible. Get creative! Use flyers, radio ads, newspaper ads, whatever you can think of.

  1. Don’t Cut Down All Your Trees at Once

Even though they are famous for their ability to withstand droughts, Christmas trees dry out after being cut down faster than you’d think. The trees start to lose moisture as soon as they are chopped down. Dehydrated or dying Christmas trees lose their needles and turn brown, which can turn potential buyers away from your property. So, instead of having lots of pre-cut trees out for display, only have a few trees on display and replace them as they are bought. A great way of keeping track of when to cut down trees is by taking pre-orders. This way, you can cut down the tree the day the buyer gets there instead of leaving it out to dry.

  1. Market What Makes Your Trees Unique

What makes your tree lot stand out from everyone else’s? Are your trees organic? A popular or unique type of pine tree? Is it a family-run ranch? Pick-Your-Own? Each of these is a great selling point for your advertisements. Also, if your trees have been grown with specific traits (needle retention, doesn’t need much upkeep, beautiful smell, extra-large, etc.), be sure to mention those, too.

  1. Give Your Trees the Spotlight on Social Media

Does your farmland have a website, blog, Facebook page, or Instagram? Put up some pictures of your best Christmas trees. This is an easy, free way to show off your produce. You can also put up pictures of the trees growing and the harvesting process so that potential buyers can get an insight into how the trees are taken care of (for more about immersive online farm tours, check out this article). If you’re looking for inspiration, check out websites like Texas Christmas Tree Farms and Peltzer Pines Christmas Tree Farm.

  1. Have Other Goodies Out to Buy

When people come to your farm, it’s the perfect time to show off your produce. You can sell home baked goodies (gingerbread is a holiday favorite!), hot chocolate or cider, winter crops, holly, and mistletoe. But why stop at produce? People love to buy unique gifts for their loved ones during the holidays, so consider selling things like homemade jewelry, baked goods, wood carvings, and more next to your Christmas .

Christmas trees can be a tricky crop, but with plenty of preparation and a marketing plan, you can make more money off of your Christmas tree farm.