Wind Farms and Solar Panels: The (Near) Future of Green Energy and Land Real Estate

Many people talk about “green energy,” such as wind farms and solar panels, like it’s as futuristic as flying cars. What these people don’t realize is that wind and solar energy is already taking the world of energy by storm. Companies like Disney and Google are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on wind farms and solar panels. Farmers are also turning to green energy sources to cut back on their energy bills and make extra money off of their land. Let’s take a look at how the land industry is being shaped by green energy.

Even the biggest fans of green energy will admit that wind farms look kind of creepy; like an alien colony landed on Earth. While they can be strange looking, their ability to convert wind into energy is impressive. The average 10-kilowatt wind turbine produces around 16,000 kilowatts annually. In comparison, the average U.S. household consumes about 10,000 kilowatts of electricity each year.

Not only can you power your house (and then some) with a single wind turbine, you can also get a pretty sweet tax break. The federal renewable electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC) is a per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for the electricity generated by your wind turbine that is sold to an unrelated person. This tax credit flies under the radar because so few individuals own wind turbines on their land. In 2016, wind farms produced a tiny amount of American energy (only around 5.6 percent), but if more people knew about this tax break, those numbers might skyrocket.

Another benefit to having a wind turbine on your property is kissing energy bills goodbye. Once the wind turbine has been paid for and installed, you can use the energy it generates instead of buying it. Imagine never paying an energy bill for the rest of your life!

While wind turbines have yet to reach their full potential, solar panels have become the stars of the green energy scene. Did you know Disney is planning to build a solar farm? It will lower the theme parks greenhouse gas emissions by 57,000 metric tons, the equivalent of taking over 9,000 cars off the road. China has invested $86.5 billion in solar. Even small farmers are getting into it. In 2017, nearly a quarter of all California farms generated onsite solar energy

Solar panels can be a great way to cut down on costs long term. Many people balk at the high prices of installing solar panels, but over time they make money. Every kilowatt your panels produce will offset whatever you would normally have had to buy from an outside company.

So, should you invest in wind turbines or solar panels for your land? While green energy is great, it’s not always the best option for everyone. Here are some things to consider:

  • Is your state supportive of green energy? Some states are pushing green energy by offering huge tax breaks and rewarding bigger companies for using solar energy. For example, in Illinois, the Future Energy Jobs Act requires Illinois utilities to get at least 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. If you live in Illinois, you could make serious money selling green energy to companies.
  • Will green energy make more money than your current crops? While the values of crops and livestock fluctuate, the value of green energy is strong and there is a growing demand for it. However, if solar panels and wind turbines would make less money than your current land use, it might not be worth it.
  • Do you have the money for the down payment? Wind turbines and solar panels will save you money in the long term, but they do cost a fair amount to install.

Wind turbines and solar panels are the future of the energy business, and that future is not as far away as you might think. Green energy has a lot to offer landowners, from tax credits to additional income. As the cost of installing green energy sources becomes more and more affordable, we will see the full range of benefits green energy has to offer the land industry.

The Most (and Least) Expensive Land Real Estate in America

The price of land varies wildly across this great nation. In some areas, land real estate can cost millions of dollars per acre. In other areas, land is being given away for free. What’s truly baffling is that in many cases, the two types of land are only miles apart. What makes some land worth millions and other land worth next to nothing? Let’s take a look at the most and least expensive land real estate in America.

Most Expensive Residential Land Real: Atherton, CA

This town has the most expensive land real estate in the entire country. An empty lot in Atherton costs more than a home in San Francisco. According to curbed.com, vacant and residential land can go anywhere from $6,750,000 to $6.9 million, and that’s not even counting the price of a house. A 1.43-acre property was recently sold for a whopping $6.9 million.

A great location and a scarcity of available land are the main reasons Atherton land is so pricey. The town is located forty-five minutes south of San Francisco and less than twenty minutes away from major tech companies in Silicon Valley. Add in the fact that there is only a limited amount of land available in the area, and you’ve got properties that will continue to skyrocket in price.

Most Expensive Farmland: Rhode Island

The smallest state has the biggest prices when it comes to farmland. The U.S. Department of Ag reports that farmland in Rhode Island is priced at an average $13,8000 per acre. New England states tend to have more expensive land real estate, but why does Rhode Island have land prices almost triple some other states?

Similar to Atherton, the main draw to Rhode Island farmland is location. It is close to many big cities, which allows farmers to save thousands on transporting their produce. Thanks to this, farmers are also able to sell their produce to stores for a lower price than far-away farmers.

Least Expensive Residential Land Real Estate: Marquette, Kansas

This land goes beyond cheap. It’s free! According to the town’s official website, “The community of Marquette, Kansas, is offering free building lots to interested families who are looking for an extraordinary small town.” The only requirements are building a real home on the land and living there for at least a year. It’s like a modern-day Homestead Act.

The reason for the free land? The 2008 real estate crash stunted the town’s real estate business. No one had the resources to buy or build a new home. The town hopes the offer of free land will bring more people, businesses, and cash flow back to Kansas.

Marquette boasts a low crime rate and a low cost of living. However, the town does lack what makes Atherton and Rhode Island so desirable. The town is very remote, which can lead to problems finding a job.

Interested in applying for free land in Marquette? You can apply for land here (http://www.freelandks.com/availableland).

Least Expensive Farmland: New Mexico

You might be surprised to learn that this state has the cheapest farmland in America. New Mexico has a sunny, warm climate that would seem perfect for growing crops or raising livestock. However, it’s the desert heat and dryness that drives the prices down. The U.S. Department of Ag reports that farmland in New Mexico is priced at an average $530 per acre, a fraction of what Rhode Island farmland is priced at per acre.

The Land of Enchantment state can be perfect if you are growing foods that flourish in heat and dry weather, such as asparagus, cantaloupe, snap beans, and many spices. If your crops require lots of water, you might want to look elsewhere. The cost of irrigating some properties could be more expensive than the land itself.

Scarcity of land and location are the two most important factors when it comes to the price of land. Two properties in the same states can be priced at wildly different figures depending on how much land there is, how much demand there is, and the location of the land. To make sure you are getting the best price for the land you are selling or buying, be sure to use an expert land real estate agent.

Looking for land? Check out properties on the market from the industry’s top land real estate agents using RLI’s Land Connections property search tool.

 

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant Intern for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

How To Start Your Own Land Blog

Have you ever wanted to start your own land blog, but never knew how? We here at REALTORS® Land Institute have got you covered! Blogging about land real estate is a great way to attract new clients, establish yourself as an industry expert, and share your knowledge with other land professionals in the industry. We’ve  put together some tips that will help you create and maintain a memorable land blog.

What Are You Great At?

Everyone has their own area of expertise. What’s yours? Is it residential land real estate, selling land, buying land, helping investors, 1031s, mineral rights, hunting, or something else? Whatever your specialty is, there are people out there that want to learn more about it.

Tailoring your blog to feature what you are best at is a great way to help it stand out. There are a lot of land blogs out there, so the more specific you can make your content, the more unique and valuable your blog will be.

Post Regularly On Your Land Blog

Nothing kills a great blog more than irregular posts. If a blog doesn’t post for months at a time, people will lose interest and stop coming back. Over-posting is also a problem. A blog that posts multiple times a day can be overwhelming for some readers.

Consider posting on a weekly or monthly schedule. This way, readers know when to expect new content from you. Then, make sure to share out your new posts on social media to increase your blog audience.

Pick Your Tone

You might think that tone would be the least of your worries when creating your blog,but tone is actually one of the most important things to consider. The tone of your blog is set by the topics you choose, your unique writing style, and the layout of your blog. Do you want your blog to be informative? Funny? Casual? These are all things to consider while making your blog. Whatever tone you take, make sure to keep it professional and watch for grammatical errors. Nothing can hurt more than a typo or misspelled word when trying to gain respect and position yourself as an expert.

Have Back-Up Articles

Posting an article every week doesn’t sound like too much work, right? Easy peasy. But when you get to a week where you have a huge to-do list for work, you are sick, your car broke down, and you’ve got to take your dog to the vet again, writing a blog post is the last thing on your mind. For these weeks, be prepared by writing a few back-up articles during weeks where you have a little extra free time.

The Layout Of The Blog

Tons of pop-ups adds, white font on a white background, and blurry pictures are just a few things that can make a land blog look unprofessional. You can get some great blog site templates from a website like WordPress for free. Use a simple, easy-to-navigate site design. Some of the design options are really eye-catching and fun, but they can be an eyesore if not done correctly. Remember, your readers are coming to your blog for your content, not for the colors of your blog.

SEO, OMG!

If you have a land blog, you will run into SEO. SEO (search engine optimization) helps improve an article’s search engine ratings.

When it comes to using SEO, you want to make sure your SEO keyword is specific, but not so obscure that no one else will have heard of it. For example, a good SEO title for this article about starting your own land blog could be ‘starting land blog’. Using an SEO keyword like ‘land’ would be too general. There are thousands of articles with the word ‘land’. A SEO keyword of ‘starting a land blog 2018 RLI posting monthly’ is too specific.Think about what people would type into Google when they are searching for your blog, and tailor your SEO to that. If you want to learn more about SEO, here’s a great article to get you started. If you are using WordPress for your blog, we highly recommend the free SEO by Yoast plugin.

Follow Other Land Blogs

The best way to learn how to make a great land blog is by learning from other great land blogs. Kent Morris, ALC recently posted an article about his recommendations for top blogs to follow on his blog, Land Blog… Get The Dirt!. Check it out!

Another great ALC blog is the Southeastern Land Group’s blog. Jonathan Goode, ALC writes great articles about the latest news in the land industry. Great Southern Land also features the writing of ALC members.

Here are a few great land blogs to help you get started:

REALTORS® Land Institute’s blog. We post a mix of expert guest posts, land news, and informative articles about the land industry.

Land.com. This blog is focused on the art of buying and selling land. The layout is also very clean and easy to use.

LandThink blog. This informative blog has a lot of no-nonsense articles that answer common questions about land real estate.

Land Blog… Get The Dirt! Kent Morris, ALC, is an expert in all things timber.

Whitetail. Any hunting enthusiasts out there? This is the blog for you!

National Land Realty blog. This blog covers a wide variety of topics from hunting to owning land, but it’s the industry news section we always go to first!

Starting a land blog is an excellent way to get connected with other professionals in the business and show off your knowledge and experience to clients. We hope these tips will help you create the land blog of your dreams.

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant Intern for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

Top Five Reasons You Need An ALC When Selling Land

We all know the old saying ‘the customer is always right’. Usually, it’s applied to restaurants and retail stores, but at the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI), we think customer service is just as important in the land industry. Land sellers can expect an unprecedented level of expertise from any Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) that can help ensure you get the best deal when you sell land. Here are the top five benefits a landowner gets when using an ALC to sell their property.

1.ALCs Have An Unprecedented Number Of Connections

You meet a lot of great people on the road to completing the elite ALC Designation. These people include clients, other ALCs from classes and networking events, and industry experts from RLI’s annual National Land Conference.

Having these connections is a two-part benefit to land sellers. The first benefit is a larger client base. Since ALCs have so many connections with other expert land agents in the industry, they’ll have no problem connecting you with people interested in buying your land. ALCs have a national network of land professionals and industry experts at their fingertips through a directory of trusted land professionals called the Find A Land Consultant search tool offered by RLI.

The second benefit is that they have an endless wealth of knowledge from all their contacts. ALCs share their knowledge and experience through teleconferences, attending courses, and at the National Land Conference. When you hire an ALC to help sell a property, you’ve got the knowledge of hundreds of ALCs behind you.

2.ALCs Are Up-To-Date On Land Industry News

Knowing the latest in the land industry is a given for ALCs. Not only do they have an extensive knowledge of land from their courses, they are also able to stay up-to-date through a combination of e-mail newsletters, social media, and blog posts provided by the REALTORS® Land Institute. You can be confident that your ALC knows the latest legislative changes, market trends, and other news affecting the land real estate industry and will use this knowledge to your advantage in your land sale.

3. ALCs Are Proven Hard Workers

Getting the ALC Designation isn’t easy. To get the designation they must:

  • complete 104 LANDU education hours
  • meet strict volume/experience requirements
  • pass a summary exam
  • submit a portfolio that documents their experience, education, and volume of sales
  • be approved by RLI’s ALC Designation Committee and Board of Directors
  • agree to abide by high ethical standards, known as the ALC Code of Conduct, as well as the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics

Did you get tired just reading that list? So did we. Completing the ALC Designation requires immense dedication and hard work. You know they will put the same amount of hard work into selling land.

4.ALCs Raise The Bar When It Comes To Experience

Selling land is such a complex process that you need someone on your team with years of experience. Having years of successful land sales experience is a required part of becoming an ALC. This experience helps them navigate every part of the sale, from mineral rights and soil types to how the land transaction could be impacted by 1031s or WOTUS. They know all the tricks of the trade from their years in the industry and can use it to help you sell your land.

5. Top-Notch Education Equals Expertise

When conducting one of the most important transactions a landowner can come across in their lifetime, there is a lot riding on having it done right. Why accept anything less than the best? Using an ALC guarantees that the agent representing you will have the knowledge and expertise to do what is in your best interest. All ALCs have completed rigorous courses through RLI’s LANDU Education Program, which is equivalent to having a master’s degree in land real estate transactions.

Selling land is so much more complex and requires specialized expertise of a trustworthy agent with connections, knowledge, and experience. Having an ALC at your side can help guarantee that you will sell your land for the best possible price. Find an ALC or reputable land professional in your area using RLI’s Find A Land Consultant tool.

The Realtors® Land Institute, “The Voice of Land,” continually strives to maintain its status as the acknowledged leader for all matters pertaining to the land real estate profession. RLI endeavors to remain the essential membership organization for the extraordinary real estate professionals who broker, lease, sell, develop, and manage our most precious resource: the land. The Realtors® Land Institute, provides the expertise, camaraderie, and valuable resources that are the foundation for all land real estate professionals to become the best in the business.

What To Know Before Buying Raw Land

Raw land has become the rising star of the land industry. People used to ignore raw land, thinking the lack of development made the land worthless, and would invest instead of developed land. However, in the past few years, landowners have realized that raw land is a low-maintenance way to save for retirement. Today, we’re going to explore this land type and how you can make the most money off of buying raw land.

The Basics

Raw land is a property in its most natural state. The land has not been cultivated for any sort of crop or livestock. There are no improvements such as walking paths, homes, or fences.

For years, people didn’t invest much time or thought into raw land. It was dismissed as a poor money maker since it didn’t have any man-made improvements on it and didn’t generate any income. What many people didn’t realize is that even though raw land wasn’t making an income, it was increasing in value. As raw land becomes rarer over time, the value of the land goes up, making it a great investment to save for retirement. Improving the land by getting rid of any environmental hazards or removing invasive plants also helps to increase the value.

Buying Raw Land Vs Developed Land

There are two main differences between raw and developed land. The first is price. Raw land is almost always cheaper than developed land. This is because developed land includes improvements that make it a lot easier for the buyer to make money off of the land. If you want to save some cash and do improvements to the land yourself, raw land could be an excellent choice for you.

The other main difference between the two land types is the flexible uses of raw land compared to developed land. You are often limited to what you can do with developed land. Since developed land has already been cultivated by previous owners, the land is perfect for whatever they used the land for (hunting, crops, etc.). However, if you want to use the land for something different, that might not be possible or could be costly. For example, if you find a property that you think would be excellent for hunting, but it’s already been developed as farmland, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change the land.

With raw land, you can typically do whatever you want with the land as long as it meets the requirements of the soil type and zoning laws. This is a huge benefit for landowners who want to sell to a wide variety of buyers. Raw land can usually be used for recreational, residential, farming, pastures for livestock, or whatever else you can think of. It is a blank canvas for the owner to do whatever they want with.

Turning A Profit From Buying Raw Land

Raw land was passed over for many years, but in recently, people are viewing it as a viable option to save money for retirement. As we’ve covered in previous articles, land is a great option for saving for retirement. Raw land has been a popular choice for retirement savings thanks to the low-maintenance, 1031 exchanges, and the gradual increase in value over time.

Another bonus to investing in raw land for retirement are the tax benefits. Raw land tax benefits are designed to prevent you from losing money off of your land. In his November 2017 article for RLI, Bill Humphrey, CEO of New Direction IRA, described the surprise benefits of investing in raw land for retirement:

“Some investors may not realize that property is a permissible retirement asset, but tax-advantaged savings vehicles like IRAs and 401(k)s can own a house, commercial building, or vacant land the same way they can own stocks,” says Humphrey. “These accounts feature tax benefits that can help offset any tax-related concerns that may otherwise deter a potential real estate investor. Pre-developed land has flown under the radar as a viable option for real estate IRAs, but that has changed rapidly over the last several years.

Raw land’s rise to popularity in the land industry is well-deserved. Buying raw land is an excellent option for anyone who want a low-maintenance way to save for retirement or a blank slate to do whatever they want with it. To make sure you get the best raw land at the best price for you, be sure to use our Find A Land Consultant tool to find a land expert near you.

Are You Able To Change With The Times?

As Bob Dylan would say, “The times, they are a-changin’.” Being able to change with the times is more important now than ever before. With new technology coming out every week and an ever-changing market, you need to be able to adapt in order to keep up with the industry. Here’s a checklist to see if you are able to change with the times.

1. Take A Look At Your Website

The first thing you need to take a look at is what your clients see. Your website is likely the first thing your clients will see and it is the first impression they will get of you. When you are looking at everything on your website, the three letters to keep in mind to make sure you give a great first impression are PIN.

Presentation (does everything look professional, uncluttered, and not dated?)

Information (is your contact information and the information about the properties up to date?)

Navigation (Is the website easy to use?)

By using PIN, you can be sure that your website is a reflection of your hard work and ability to change with the times.

2. Keep An Open Mind To New Ideas

Being able to keep an open mind about new ideas is a great way to stay ahead of the curve. When self-driving cars first came out, very few people took them seriously. Now, self-driving cars are advanced enough to take to the streets.  Bitcoin was another confusing thing that many of us (yours truly included) brushed off as a fad. While many of us are still confused by the concept, Bitcoin has skyrocketed in popularity. There are Bitcoin cafes and, in some parts of the country, you can even buy a house with Bitcoin. People who took an interest in these ideas while everyone else was laughing at them are now themselves laughing all the way to the bank.

Always be willing to try, or at least learn, about new things in the land industry. Keeping an open mind to ideas that sound bizarre can help you stay ahead of the curve.

3. Ask Your Clients for Feedback To See If It Can Change With The Times

Your clients and network are a great way to gauge what needs to be fixed. You can send out a poll that asks clients what they like about your work and what could use improvement. You can also ask if they would work with you again and why.  This feedback can help you target what needs the most time and attention from you.

One question you should always ask is how the client found out about you. When you find out how most of your clients hear about you, you can spend more time and money in that venue. This prevents you from flushing money away on ad venues that no one was seeing and can streamline your marketing strategies.

4. Check Your Social Media

DO YOU WRITE IN ALL CAPS? R their a lot of speeeeling errors? Little problems like this might not seem like they matter, but as more and more people join social media, the way you present yourself on social media will reflect how potential clients see you. Here are some tips for updating your social media if you want to be able to change with the times.

5. Stay Up to Date With What’s Going On In the Media

Land itself doesn’t change much, but the way we use, buy, and sell land is always changing. Keeping up to date with what’s happening in the industry is essential if you want to be on top of the land industry.

One great way to keep up with industry news is by following land real estate blogs and social media accounts (if you are interested in starting your own successful land blog, we have an article coming out next week about that. Stay tuned!). There are a ton of great land blogs out there. If you are looking for a place to start, Kent Morris, ALC  wrote an article about some of his favorite blogs.

6. Always Be Willing to Learn

After years in the industry, it can be easy to feel like you already know there is to know about land. Land itself doesn’t go through dramatic changes. What does change is land laws, politics, and how we sell and buy land. Taking courses through RLI can help you answer any question a potential client might have.

Being able to change with the times isn’t easy. However, the most successful people are the ones who are constantly adapting and bettering themselves to keep up with the ever-changing land industry. If you are able to change with the times, that means you are ready for whatever the future holds for the land market.

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant Intern for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

Five Questions To Help You Find The Perfect Hunting Land

Hunting for game is fun, hunting for the perfect hunting property can be less fun. Buying a hunting property requires an extensive knowledge of land, wildlife, and what is necessary for a great hunt. Here are five questions you should always ask before buying hunting land.

1.Does The Land Provide Food Sources That Will Attract Game?

Food sources are key for attracting prey to your land. Providing animals with a reliable food source is a promise that animals will come to your land again and again. Depending on the type of animal you are trying to attract, you’ll need to adjust the food sources. Here are a few suggestions, by animal, that can help:

Deer: Deer love chestnuts, acorns, apples, clover, cow peas, and wheat. They have also been known to munch on marijuana plants.

Ducks: These birds aren’t picky, but you can lure them to your property with greens, oats, peas, and seeds.

Rabbits: Wild rabbits prefer fresh foliage over anything dry. Their diet is mostly clover, grass, and wildflowers.

Wild boar: These omnivorous beats will eat pretty much anything, but have been known to love acorns.

If the land you are looking to purchase doesn’t have these plants growing there currently, don’t abandon this property just yet. You can grow almost all of these crops on the property as long as the soil type is right for it (If the soil type isn’t conducive for growing what your game needs to eat, it’s a great time to consult with a land professional about whether or not this property would be right for you

2. Do Hunters Have Easy Access To The Land?

Some hunting spots can be a real pain to get to. Long drives or unmarked land can force hunters to spend all their time hunting for the land instead of hunting game. Hunting is supposed to be a recreational, fun activity, and if getting to the hunting land is too much of a hassle, people will go elsewhere. So, if possible, avoid land that would be difficult to get access to for hunters.

If you do purchase a property that can be difficult to access, there are steps you can take to make access easier for hunters. Clearly marked signs, directions on your website, and keeping boats by the water instead of in a shed are all great ways to make hunting on your land smoother.

3. Does The Land Generate Income Outside Of Hunting?

With a national decline hunting and uncertain land values, very few landowners are able to make all their money off of hunting fees alone. If you are looking to seek returns on your land, you’ll need to find multi-purpose land. Timber is a great export, if you can spare the trees from your hunting land.

4. Will The Neighbors Help or Hurt My Hunting?

As a land owner, your neighbors can be the biggest asset or biggest threat to your hunting land. Neighbors that are conscious about which bucks they harvest and the impact each kill has on the genetic pool are the best neighbors. Watch out for neighbors that shoot at anything that moves. Not only is that selfish, it also weakens the future generations of game. Try to meet some nearby landowners to get a sense of how they handle wildlife management.

5. Will Animals Want To Live Here?

The key to buying hunting land is to have an environment where animals want to live. Having food sources, as we mentioned in the first point, is a great start, but you need more than that . To attract the best game, you need to think like them. What do they need to feel safe? What do they need to settle down and start a family on your property? There needs to be coverage where deer or other game can feel safe, sleep, and start a family. They also need spots they can hide. Look for properties with shrub thickets or grass fields that will help the critters feel at home.

Open space in hunting land can look beautiful, but it is a deterrent to game. Animals are smarter than we give them credit for. They know how venerable they are in open spaces.

If your land has too much open space, this can be fixed. Plant shrubs and trees on your property to give your game more coverage. Here’s a great tip from Bow Hunting on how to create cover for deer:

“To start, locate a few areas that are situated on top of a rise with a view, or level areas with relatively open views that point away from the prevailing winds. Hinge-cut a tree by cutting halfway through it and letting it topple. The tree will continue to grow for a few years from the downed tops, creating thick growth. Deer, and bucks in particular, will often bed right at the base of these trees looking out into the open areas. That way they can smell predators from behind them and see anything in front.”

The perfect hunting land can be a huge boon to you and your kids. Great hunting land can be passed down through generations, providing a source of income and fun for years. Using an ALC can answer the above questions and make buying hunting land a much smoother task. Happy hunting!

 

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.

In What Ways Do Soil Types Affect Land Use?

Soil deserves a lot more attention than it gets. Few people talk about how much soil types affect land use The right kind of soil can help a land owner grow great crops or build houses that last a long time. The wrong kind of soil can result in stunted crops or houses being swept away during floods. While soil types might not seem important at first glance, they just might be the factor that makes or breaks your land property.

Because of the unique chemical make-ups of each soil type, the practices used on a plot of land must be matched to the land’s soil type. Each soil type is unique and has its own benefits and drawbacks. Some are best suited for crops, while others are better for buildings houses and barns on.

If you are new to soil types, here’s a quick Soil 101 on the different soil types you could find on your land real estate:

  1. Clay. Clay soil has excellent water storage. Thanks to this, it holds onto plant nutrients and is great for roses, leafy vegetables, peas, and tomatoes.
  2. Chalky. This low moisture soil is typically found over limestone beds and chalk deposits. This soil type is not ideal for planting crops, as it can result in stunted or yellow plants. However, finding this soil type on your land doesn’t mean you can’t use it at all. Adding acid-rich materials (such as peat or manure) can help balance out the more destructive elements of this soil type.
  3. Loamy. Loamy soil is a combination of sand, silt, and clay. It’s a favorite among farmers, thanks to its high calcium and PH levels. You can grow just about anything in this soil type.
  4. Peaty. Dark brown or black in color, this soil type has a high water content that is great for crops that require a lot of moisture. However, it does dry up quickly in the summer, so Southern farmers might want to be careful with this soil type.
  5. Saline soil. You’ll probably find this soil type if you are living in an extremely dry region. Its high salt content makes it a poor choice for growing most crops.
  6. Sandy. This free-draining soil dries out faster than any other soil type on this list. Any nutrients that crops may need can be washed through the soil during wet weather.
  7. Silty. Silty land has small particles and is smooth to the touch. It has great moisture retention, but drains poorly. Similar to peaty soil, this soil type can be great for crops that need a lot of water, but crops that don’t will likely drown.

With all these soil types, how on earth is anyone supposed to know what soil type is right for their land?

There are three options for finding out what soil type your land has. One is to get a soil map. You can go to the USDA’s Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS) page. They have soil maps and data for more than ninety-five percent of the nation’s counties. All you have to do is click on the link and zoom into your zip code (like you would in Google Maps) or type in your address. Click on the ‘Soil Survey Area’ tab on the left-hand side and you will be given a record of what types of land are in your area.

You can also ask local soil experts who are familiar with the soil types in your area. Soil experts, also referred to as extension agents, can help you figure out what type of soil you have on your land and what sort of improvements can be done to your soil. This personalized help is great for land owners who have multiple soil types on their land property.

Soil testing gives you an exact breakdown of what is in your soil. In the fall 2015 edition of Terra Firma, Kirk Goble, ALC, explains the benefits of soil testing on page twenty nine.

“The soil test lab report provides valuable information on the makeup of the soil, its pH (acidity or alkalinity), and cation exchange capacity (CEC),” says Goble. “CEC is a determination of the ability of the soil components (primarily clay and humus) to allow for the absorption and transport of soil nutrients from the soil to the plant roots. It is essentially a measure of the soil’s ability to hold nutrients and feed the plants.”

After testing, you’ll be given advice on what crops are best suited for your soil type and recommendations on how to improve your land. “Fertilizer recommendations are based on the results of a proper soil test,” says Goble.

Soil types are incredibly important to land real estate and are far too often overlooked. Soil types affect land use more than most people think. With all these tools at your disposal, you’ll be able to figure out the soil types on your land and use them to your advantage.

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.

How NLR GIS Helps Land Professionals

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are all around us in daily life. From searching and getting directions for the nearest gas station on your Apple Maps to checking into a restaurant to share with your friends on social media, we are consistently using GIS technology. GIS is used in many industries by many different types of professionals, but in the land industry, GIS serves as a tool to better help land agents find that perfect property for a client.

Today’s land buyers know exactly what they want. They have specific requirements and goals they want to achieve with their property. Whether you have a client looking for a recreational tract over 100 acres or you have someone searching for a smaller property with a pond and a field to build a dove field on, the GIS team at National Land Realty (NLR) has the ability to match them with a tract that fits their specific needs.

NLR GIS helps land professionals in many other ways. It can help you drive business growth, enhance performance in existing markets or streamline/update operations. NLR Land Broker, Greg Greer, who recently used NLR’s GIS technology to help a land buyer achieve his goals, shared his experience.

“When I had a large client searching for a statewide conservation project, the GIS team quickly provided the sites that met the parameters like no other land brokerage had been able to do. They couldn’t believe what we were able to produce and on such short notice when the timing was crucial for their funding approval. The GIS team is a tremendous asset and tool to our agents. The support and turnaround time on projects they provide are essential when it comes to meeting our clients’ specific needs. We truly have a capability and competitive advantage no other land brokerage can provide to buyers and sellers. It’s what really distinguishes NLR from the competition.”

Our team of Geographic Information Systems and data professionals, database analysts, and web developers can generate GIS platforms using client driven criteria, statewide and national datasets, parcel data and market trends. With this technology, our team can quickly and efficiently sift through multiple data layers to see clear opportunities for your clients. We are revolutionizing the land brokerage industry and delivering amazing results to our clients every day!

National Land Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage company specializing in farm, ranch, plantation, timber and recreational land across the country. NLR currently represents land buyers and sellers in 20 states. To learn more, visit www.nationalland.com.

The Benefits of Land Real Estate Education

Some people think all they need to succeed in the land industry is a love of land and a few years of experience under their belt. Both of these are great to have, but once you start working, you’ll be faced with questions that even some of the most seasoned professionals might not know how to answer. Would you know what to say if a client asked:

  • In what ways do soil types affect land use?
  • Can I use a tax deferred 1031 exchange to my advantage?
  • How can I gain community support for land use projects?
  • What kind of returns can I expect from this property over the next ten years?
  • What are the tax results of my land real estate investment?
  • What is the highest and best use of this property?
  • What is the most efficient way to title real estate assets for a future wealth transfer?
  • What does the current US property rights system guarantee a landowner?

Gaining expertise through professional development and continuing education prepares agents to answer the tough questions before a client even asks them. But that’s not all. There are a lot of benefits of land real estate education.

The REALTORS® Land Institute is the gold standard when it comes to land education. No other provider offers as wide of a selection or as in-depth of courses as RLI’s LANDU Education Program. Here are the top four ways a LANDU Education can help you every day in your business to more confidently conduct transactions and close more deals as a land agent:

1: Expertise From The Best

If you look at RLI’s Instructor Center, you’ll see over thirty instructors with countless years of experience between them. You’ll truly be learning from the best in the business. These teachers have been handpicked and approved by RLI based on of their knowledge and expertise in their field of specialization.

2: Learn Your Way, At Your Pace

When you work with RLI, you choose the way you want to learn. There are online classes for folks on the go, independent study courses for those who to choose the pace they learn at, or traditional classroom classes for people who want to learn and network at the same time. If you want to get the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation quickly, you’re in luck. RLI’s 2018 LANDU Education Week is June 2-10 in Arlington, TX. Complete all of the course credits required to earn your ALC Designation in one place, including the three required courses and three elective courses which ensure attendees meet the ALC Education Requirements upon completion.

3: Stay Trendy

We aren’t talking about hitting the closest Cabela’s to check out their clothing line or buying the latest Yeti accessory (although they are trendy!). The land real estate industry and the technology tools available to agents are constantly changing, making it crucial to stay update on the latest trends so you have the strategies and knowledge needed to adapt. RLI offers Hot Topic Webinars throughout the year to make sure agents can stay ahead of the curve. Many of which are free for members to attend.

4: Increase Your Client Base and Referral Network

Getting the ALC Designation is a great way draw more and get referred more clients. Having the ALC shows your clients and other agents that you have the expertise and experience needed to successfully conduct land transactions. Plus, as part of a nation-wide network of ALCs, there is no shortage of referrals happening.

Even without earning the ALC, RLI’s Find a Land Consultant tool, which is an online public directory of RLI Members, is a popular way for potential clients to find you. In fact, if you Google ‘find a land consultant’, the very first thing that pops up is RLI’s Find a Land Consultant search tool. Even Google knows RLI Members are the best in the business!

To wrap up, there are more benefits to land education than just getting a gold pin or three letters after your name – although we highly encourage you take advantage of their added power as well. You can expand your client base and referral network and learn from the best in the business about the latest need-to-know information for land agents all in a way that’s customized to meet your needs.

About the Realtors® Land Institute                    

The Realtors® Land Institute, “The Voice of Land,” continually strives to maintain its status as the acknowledged leader for all matters pertaining to the land real estate profession. RLI endeavors to remain the essential membership organization for the extraordinary real estate professionals who broker, lease, sell, develop, and manage our most precious resource: the land. The Realtors Land Institute, provides the expertise, camaraderie, and valuable resources that are the foundation for all land real estate professionals to become the best in the business. For more information, visit rliland.com or call 800.441.5263. It’s the best time to join the best!