The Value of Finding a Mentor in the Land Industry

This article was originally posted to the National Land Realty blog

Getting started in the land industry can be daunting. From knowing about the latest land laws to networking to juggling a work/life balance, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Having a mentor in the land industry can help you succeed as a land agent in more ways than one.

Wisdom You Can’t Learn In A Classroom

Although land education is extremely important, to the point of being necessary for agents that want to maximize their earning potential, there are some things you can only learn from experience — such as how to deal with difficult clients or learning how to balance your time as a land agent. These are things you can learn from mentors. A mentor can also guide you away from mistakes they’ve made in the past and learned from, saving you from making those same mistakes as a newer agent.

The benefits of mentorship can go beyond knowledge in the land industry.  A mentor can also guide you towards success beyond a dollar sign.

“‘Successful’ to me was an individual who worked with integrity, spent time away from work with friends and family, was healthy, financially very well off, and had a process and system to their business,” wrote land expert Jacob Hart in a guest post for RLI. “I have learned you can make more money than you can count. However, if you do not have a passion or dreams to go after with that money, more is actually less.”

A mentor can do more than just help you succeed in the land industry. They can help you define and thrive for success in life as well.

Networking

The land industry is a people-driven business, so networking is essential for a successful career. However, meeting new people can be hard, especially if you live in a remote location or are networking when new to the industryFinding a mentor in the land industry opens the door to meeting their partners, colleagues, and clients, which could grow your own client base. Your mentor will know what events are best to meet clients and other land experts. They can also connect you to people on social media or add you to their social media groups.

Your Field of Expertise

Mentors are especially important if you specialize in a unique type of land or service.
If your specialty is in land auctionsvineyardstimberland investment, or mineral rights, not just anyone can be a mentor.

vineyard

There are so many benefits of having a mentor that we couldn’t list them all in one article. We hope this article has inspired you to seek out a mentor to help carve out a path for a successful career in the land industry.

Interested in finding a mentor near you? You can use RLI’s Find a Land Consultant tool or get in contact with one of our RLI Chapters to get started finding land experts who have expertise in the same field you’d like to be involved in or who are in your area. We may be biased but we also recommend becoming a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute. The biggest membership benefit we hear about from our members is the networking and camaraderie that their RLI membership continues to bring them year after year which basically makes the membership pay for itself because of the referral and knowledge sharing opportunities.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

What RLI Is All About – A Personal Story

Our daughter, Jess, and her husband, Brian, are Air Force and were being transferred from Maryland to Texas for a brief six to nine month period. Her husband was stationed in Alabama for three months prior to that and our daughter and 19-month old grandson lived with us during that time period. Jess was responsible for finding a rental home in Texas.  She had planned on making a two to three day trip for house-hunting, signing a lease, etc.

Just like everyone else, we started with online searches for rentals.  No sooner would we find something that looked ok, we would call and find out it was already rented.  Consequently, I recommended she not make a trip and save the $1000+ for a house-hunting trip that would probably end up being wasted time.

So, next steps – Mom to the rescue, as I am an ALC and can network with other land REALTORS® all over the country.  A search through RLI’s Find a Land Consultant tool helped me to find someone in the area that Jess and Brian were being transferred to, and a call was made to RLI Member Michelle Rushing, an agent with United County/M & M Ranch Land Investments.

Michelle was super to work with! From providing information on available rentals and information on rentals we asked her about to even answering texts and emails when she was away from the office at a class! Then, Jess finally found a rental that looked promising and was available; completed the lease application, etc., but the leasing company wouldn’t finalize the lease until she walked through the house.  Creativity again by Mom, I called the leasing company and asked if a proxy could walk through the house on our daughter and son-in-law’s behalf. The company said yes. So, I placed yet another call to Michelle, who graciously agreed to do this for us. She provided great information on the home, the neighborhood and surrounding area, and Jess and Brian were able to move forward with the lease!

I cannot say enough about the willingness of Michelle as an RLI member. I later discovered Michelle had just joined RLI two weeks prior to my call, and she was impressed that she had already received a referral call from the Find A Land Consultant on the RLI website, just because she had invested in being an RLI Member! This to me is part of what RLI is all about – networking, helping each other, and trust in each other… even when members may not have met each other before.

Special thanks to Michelle and I hope to meet her at an upcoming RLI class or event!

About the Author: Terri Jensen, ALC, served as the 2015 RLI National President and is currently a Broker with National Land Realty based out of Minnesota. Of 18,000+ REALTORS® in Minnesota, Terri is one of only 14 to have earned the elite ALC Designation (Accredited Land Consultant).  This designation, through the REALTORS® Land Institute, requires rigorous experience, education, and expertise in the areas of real estate, auction, appraisal, 1031 exchange.

land real estate

Land Brokerage Relationships You Need

Land and decisions about its ownership or stewardship of it, have been a defining factor in the history of the United States. The promise of having a stake in the land brought so many to our shores. LAND, that one asset, is highly diverse, uniquely fixed, and limited in supply… 

“Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything, for ‘tis the only thing that lasts, and don’t you be forgetting it! ‘Tis the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for…”  –  Gerald O’Hara to Katie Scarlet, GONE WITH THE WIND

RELATIONSHIPS ARE KEY IN LAND BROKERAGE

As you establish yourself as a Land Broker, one of a select group of people who are willing to brave the elements and ford the streams, my best advice to you centers around RELATIONSHIPS. These important associations will help you today and over the years in your career of land brokerage. The depth they will provide to your practice will help you establish yourself as a Land Expert. Build this team and be loyal to them, and demand loyalty back! If you cannot call them when it may be inconvenient to them from time to time, find someone else to work with. As with most businesses, team effort is essential.

There follows a list of members you would do well to identify for your team in the land brokerage business. Try to find three folks you can work with in each category, but be sure to find at least one. These contacts will help you to know your market and the players in it.

LAND APPRAISER. Identify and meet with and interview this important member of your team. Talk with him or her about the average sales prices of lots and acreages. Keep track of this as you continue to keep in touch with this individual and chart it.  This information is all-important as you evaluate land in your market. This information can support that you obtain from your local MLS system (if you have one). Be sure to use the MLS to chart the land currently on the market, too. Also ask your land bankers, they know about deals that didn’t go on the market!

LAND BANK. The land bank is very important in the land business. Here’s why: Down payments and interest rates. Any property over five (5) acres (with or without a home on it) is considered “non-conforming”. Conventional lending services will make a loan on vacant land, however they want 20 to 50% down. On the other hand, the Land Bank asks 15% down on a 20-year program. (This program is based upon demographics, so your market area may not apply.) Note: Most Land Banks have in-house Appraisers. Check with your local Farm Credit and get to know those loan officers. They are a wealth of knowledge.

investment

ATTORNEY. Who can do business without a good attorney these days? Interview as many as you can find who specialize in land transactions. Talk with them about land, what they think about it, what brought them to specialize in land transactions, and how available they can be for you and your clients.

Try to identify at least three (3) attorneys you can work with and recommend to your clients. Remember, a land attorney should be very knowledgeable in subdivision laws, easements, timber contracts, mineral rights, extensive title searches, and land financing. There are definite nuances in the land business and your attorney needs to know about them and be available for consultation, even at night.

CPA/ TAX ACCOUNTANT/FINANCIAL PLANNER.   There may be tax consequences in all land contracts. These professionals can help you identify them and can be a valuable resource to you and your clients especially if they specialize in 1031 Like-Kind Exchange work. They can explain how to figure the “tax basis” in your transactions.

SURVEYOR. A surveyor is a big help in determining the “highest and best use” of a property. Do the same thing with surveyors as you did with other team members. Take the time to interview and select as those you enjoy working with and can recommend to your clients.

Be sure the surveyor is up-to-date on zoning and subdivision laws in your market area. Find at least one who not only is available, but will work with you. That is important. I call my surveyor at night if I need to.

land surveyor

ENVIRONMENTAL PROFESSIONALS. Take the time to get to know your environmental health department professionals. Be sure to meet and spend time with the Health Department Director and Staff. At a minimum, learn from them:

  1. How to set up a septic system
  2. How to fill out septic applications; and
  3. How to understand and fill out well permits.

In addition, 1) learn how to do your own soil analysis, 2) know how to get a water sample if a property has existing well or wells, and 3) get copies of soil maps and system application forms so you will have them handy when needed. In a rural land transaction, the septic permit is all you need to close. Remember, the septic permit may take 2 to 4 (or sometimes more) weeks to obtain, so be sure to start the process as soon as you are under contract.

SOIL SCIENTIST. Soil scientists are an invaluable asset to your team because they can approve sites that a Health Department cannot. They can suggest alternative systems (probably considerably more expensive) and even override a Health Department decision.  Most counties do NOT have a soil scientist on staff, so you will need to do some detective work to find and establish a relationship with at least one. A soil scientist can teach you how to evaluate soil, a lesson well worth learning.

ALC Shadow over dirt

SEPTIC SYSTEM INSTALLER. In the land business, where septic systems are common, what would your team be without at least one reliable septic system installer on board? Identify and interview several and select those you can work with and refer to clients.  From your contacts, learn the different types of systems, their costs and how they are laid out. Go to an installation site and observe for yourself first-hand how the system is installed. Support your own research with a collection of information and brochures from various manufacturers whom your installer can recommend.

WELL DRILLER/CONTRACTOR. A poorly built or maintained well can allow pollutants to enter water directly. The closer the well is to sources of pollution, the more likely the well will become polluted. For instance, if the well casing is cracked and pesticides that are being mixed near the well are spilled, the pesticides can easily leak into the well and pollute your drinking water, so it is essential to take the time to get to know a certified well-driller in your area. A good place to start to look for a well driller is your State Division of Water Quality.  Once you locate reliable resources, and identify those you will want to work with, find out about their pricing structure (most charge by the foot) and get basic knowledge like the typical depth of a well in your area, and now to chlorinate a well.

Your regional DENR Groundwater Section office, county health department or local Cooperative Extension Center can be a valuable source of information on the following topics: New well or spring construction and site selection,  well inspection and maintenance, Certified well drillers, Unused well abandonment, Construction records for existing wells ,Well water testing including— – Advice on appropriate tests to run, – List of certified testing laboratories, – Assistance interpreting test results, – Health risks. Your local Cooperative Extension Center can also provide information on:  Backflow prevention, Water pollution and health risks, Water treatment devices, Groundwater.

COUNTY/CITY PLANNING BOARDS.  Attend meetings of your local board. You will gain invaluable knowledge and insight which you can share with your clients. Get current copies of zoning laws, subdivision laws, zoning maps, flood plain maps, and other information that will be of help to you. Know of plans for the future including zoning changes and annexations, as this will help you anticipate the market. Learn how to establish a new street name and address.

MAPPING STAFF. Get to know the mapping staff in your county. They can help you to identify property, property owners, provide tax maps, topographical (topo) maps, and aerials of property. (Most counties now have GIS systems.) The mapping staff can teach you how to use these tools if you take the time to establish a relationship with them.

REGISTRAR OF DEEDS STAFF. Get to know the folks at the Registrar of Deeds Office. They will help you do your own title search and do the research to discover anything that may affect the title or value of the property including: any type of easement, encumbrances, mineral rights, timber rights, and so forth. Remember: ALWAYS get a copy of the Deed or deeds involved as you do your research. Do not rely on the attorney to do this for you. You are the expert and responsible.

TAX ASSESSMENT OFFICER.  Take time to go to meet the tax assessment officer. Such individuals are helpful in understanding what has sold and trends in sales beyond MLS date.  My agent furnishes me leads from time to time. This member of your team can be an excellent resource and most Realtors do not use them, so you can stand apart if you do.

TIMBER EXPERT. Professional Forestry services can help you as you identify the “highest and best use of the land” and a timber expert is an excellent addition to your team. That person can help you remember which tree is which, learn how to identify prized trees, learn how to “cruise” timber, provide a “certified cruise” and basically learn how the timber market works. You need to know about or how to figure board feet, how a timber contract works, and how to auction timber. TIMBER IS CASH. Your client actually can buy land with a timber contract, cut the timber, and still own the land with no out-of-pocket money. Being able to evaluate timber will help you price land.

timberland real estate

ROAD BUILDER. The construction business has become a more complicated one as environmental and safety rules proliferate and methods and equipment become more sophisticated. The increased complexity of the field makes planning jobs even tougher than before Road construction, grading, concrete work, retaining wall construction and taking preventative measures, which are cheaper than curative ones, can reduce the risks of landslides and increased soil and water erosion. Your road builder can tell you about the importance of aligning a road along a ridge, especially with a south-west aspect, and how it helps to avoid water drainage problems, avoids exposure to excess moisture and frost, and uses sunlight to keep roads dry. Ask him or her about phased construction, such as gradually increasing the width of the track, avoids having to manage large amounts of excavated material and allows for the natural compaction of earthwork by rain.  Road building is a complicated effort and you will want to add a seasoned road builder (or more) to your team. They can let you know the cost of putting in basic access roads to state-specified built roads. This will also help you on a break-up evaluation.

CORPS OF ENGINEERS/SOIL & WATER/ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCIES. All these government agencies are resources for you and may well be involved in any land development project in which you are involved. Get to know them and what services they provide.

LAND CONSERVATORY. Identify the local Land Conservatory decision-makers. They may be aware of purchase programs and incentives that may purchase your listing or a part of it. Tax benefits at the Federal and State level may aid in your sale.

UTILITIES PROVIDERS. Contact the utilities providers in your area including telephone, power and cable. Know who they are, what their service area is, how they work in terms of applications and so forth, what their charges are (if any) for new service, or moving a pole or poles and possibly create a hand-out with this information you can supply to your clients.

utilities

LAND BROKERAGE TOOL KIT

These are must items to help you become a LAND EXPERT if you use them.

  • 300’ tape
  • Surveyor’s flagging tape
  • 4’ surveyor’s stakes
  • Small hand sledgehammer
  • A handful of 10-penny nail (Who is holding the dumb end of the tape?)
  • Machete
  • Really good walking/hiking shoes
  • Beverage container you can wear
  • Insect repellant
  • Professional compass
  • Hand auger
  • Scale ruler
  • Digital camera w/ extra disc
  • GPS locator
  • Calculator
  • Area maps
  • Topographical maps/ aerial maps of subject and adjoining properties
  • Septic/well permits application forms
  • Think about what else you may want to add to this list!

You also may want to contact Ted Turner.  He is the true lover of land. He now is the largest private owner of land in the United States.  He owns over 2,000,000 acres of land.  Does he know something we should know?

Now you are ready.  Happy land brokerage and good luck!

© Lou Jewell, Accredited Land Consultant 2004

Lou Jewell, ALCAbout the Author: Lou Jewell, ALC, has for over twenty-five years has provided expert experience in rural markets in Western Piedmont North Carolina and Southern Virginia. He has over 1,000 successful transactions and has developed over sixty rural subdivisions. A member of the Realtors® Land Institute since 1998, he achieved the prestigious Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation in 2004 and is one of less than 500 ALCs in the United States.

 

 

Dealing with Holiday Stress As A Land Agent

The holidays are a stressful time for everyone, but especially for land agents. Many clients have a tight deadline to get deals closed before the end of the year or even before tax season. With tensions running high and a seemingly endless to-do list, it can be easy to give in to the stress of the holidays. However, there are a few things you can do to deal with holiday stress.

Communicate

Strong communication is always key in the land industry. With so much happening around the holidays, one of the best ways to reduce stress is clear and constant communication to make sure all projects are headed in the right direction.

“As always communication is key, staying in contact with everyone involved in a transaction especially during this busy time of the year can make for a less stressful transaction,” said Calvin Perryman, ALC, with Great Southern Land.

Know Your Calendar and Everyone Else’s

It can be hard enough to keep track of what’s going on in your life, let alone everyone else’s. Keeping your calendar updated with the schedule of those you work with and for is the best way to make sure you don’t miss an all-important meeting or double book yourself.

“When closing a land deal around the holidays it is always best to make sure everyone is on the same page with their schedules,” said Perryman. “Make sure everyone knows when the parties will be out of town, when the attorneys’ offices will closed, and let everyone know your holiday schedule as well.”

 

Turn Your Ride Into Fun

Long car rides can drain you of your energy. To make them more enjoyable, try listening to some great land podcasts to learn on the go. Let’s Talk Land by Lou Jewel, ALC, features great guests and explores a wide variety of topics. Another great land podcast is The Land Show, co-hosted by Jonathan Goode, ALC.

Make Health A Priority

While trying to juggle everything else, people tend to think their health is the first thing they can let slide. Actually, a lack of sleep and poor diet lead to weaker concentration, poor memory, and can cause your stress levels to skyrocket. Be sure to use plenty of hand sanitizer, eat leafy greens, and squeeze in at least six to seven hours of sleep whenever you can. We know that a good night’s sleep can be rarer than spotting Santa Claus around Christmas, but sleep is always a good investment, especially around the holidays!

 

While trying to juggle work, family, friends, and everything else that comes along with Christmas, you can be left feeling exhausted and miserable at what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. We hope these tips help you get organized and healthy for the upcoming holidays.

Is your New Year’s Resolution to learn more about land? Once the holiday stress settles, be sure to check out our upcoming LANDU Education courses.

About the Author: Laura Barker is the Membership and Communications Specialist for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

 

Tips From Land Experts on Closing Year-End Deals

With stress running high and people busier than ever, closing deals in December can be difficult. To find out how some agents flourish during the holidays, we reached out to some of our elite Accredited Land Consultants to find out their top tips for closing land deals in December.

Be Where The Buyers Are

Did you know that 78% of people do their holiday shopping online? Every year, more and more people go online to make purchases. With such an increase in screen time, sharing your properties on social media and in targeted ads is a great way to get your properties in front of potential buyers this time of year.

“The holidays are one of the better times to market your properties as families get together, shop on their phones, and flip back and forth on Facebook,” said Drew Ary, ALC, with Ary Land & Home/ Keller Williams Advantage. “In fact, 78% of people do most of their holiday shopping online and 54% of purchases will come from smart phones and tablets. Share your property listings and do some live videos about purchasing the ultimate Christmas present! Tell them to plan for tax season and use that extra money to make the most memorable investment there is to make!”

Communicate

Communication is always important in the land industry, but it is especially important around the holidays. As the calendar fills up, you run the risk of double booking a showing, client meeting, or other events. Clear communication is important with your staff, clients, and friends and family.

“Elevated communication is key. Each day matters when it comes to deadlines, so putting together a closing schedule early and keeping everyone in the loop at each step is essential,” said Kenny Schum, ALC, from Murray Wise Associates, LLC. “Make sure you know each stakeholders holiday travel schedules and business hours early and plan accordingly.”

Know Why They Buy (Or Sell)

While the popular misconception is that December is the slowest month for real estate sales, the looming tax season and the natural desire to get things done before the end of the year creates a whole new client base. Knowing who and why people buy will help you in closing land deals in December.

“Year end is busy for real estate brokers, buyers, sellers, and investors because it is a natural deadline for decisions,” said Ben Crosby, ALC, from Crosby & Associates, Inc. “Taxes are a major reason for these decisions. Buyers either want a purchase on their books before year end or after the new year. Sellers make the same decisions based on their best tax strategy.”

Be Prepared

Knowing that this time of year is hectic can actually be your secret weapon. Use the months beforehand to plan, schedule meetings, and layout what needs to be done before the holiday mayhem hits.

“Scheduling closings during the holiday season can be tricky,” said Phil McGinnis, ALC, of McGinnis Commercial Real Estate Co.  “I prepare all year to be able to call in favors at holiday time to get my closings fit in. Lawyers, paralegals, and the whole team of surveyors and appraisers usually don’t mind helping out if they have been helped out throughout the year.

De-Stress

Holidays have a way of packing on the stress. Working around the clock while trying to juggle all your other Christmas activities can drain even the toughest agent quickly. Make sure to take some time for yourself.

The holidays can be a tough time to close deals. However, with the right mindset, preparedness, and open communication with those in your office and in your life, closing land deals in December will be a breeze!

Don’t have your Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation yet? Learn about the requirements for and benefits of earning this prestigious designation!

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

Call The Neighbors And Other Prospecting Tips

Early in my land career, I learned a valuable lesson. I got a call one day from a broker who works in my market area saying he had a prospect for one of my listings. They toured the property, submitted an offer, and we negotiated to an executed contract. About a week later I was gathering some information for the closing attorney via the property assessor website. It was then that I discovered that the buyer was the landowner immediately adjacent to my listing. The broker that submitted the offer had seen the property marketed online and was friends with the eventual buyer. He made one phone call to his friend and became the buyer’s broker in the deal. By failing to contact that individual myself, I gave up half of my commission – over $100,000.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I have no issues cooperating with other brokers. Our land broker community is a small one and pretty tight. I have done plenty of deals that would not have happened without the cooperation of fellow brokers and I welcome their involvement. But in the case above, this buyer was someone I could easily have gone to directly.

It seems like a simple thing – get in touch with the adjacent landowners to gauge their interest in your listing. But I screwed it up. So, maybe by pointing it out, I can help someone out there avoid the same mistake. Certainly, we all have go-to buyers who we contact the moment we have a property that fits in their wheelhouse. But it’s always possible the simplest solution is literally right next door.

Since entering the land brokerage industry 5 years ago, I’ve made a few (a lot of?) other mistakes or simply failed to do some (MANY!) important things. So, I’d like to offer some tips on prospecting to help you get more deals and maintain a more consistent pipeline.

When on the phone, if they will keep talking, let them talk!

When I first started cold calling, many of my calls lasted less than 20 seconds. I would get someone on the phone and ask if they wanted to sell. If they said “no”, conversation over. Move on to the next call. Over time, I realized I was doing it wrong. I began engaging people in conversation – even if I knew they weren’t sellers. I learned about people. I built relationships. And pretty frequently, I got a tip on a family member or friend nearby who owned land as well. By making the phone call less about a “yes” or “no” and more about gathering information, I was able to make my calls more productive and, frankly, more enjoyable. It was also a great way to set myself up for doing what I recommend in the next tip.

When prospects tell you “no”, call them back later

At this very moment, I am working on a rather large deal that is the result of consistently calling back a “no”. I’ve been following up with this guy for over 3 years and he is finally ready to sell. In fact, on my most recent follow up with him, he told me he still wasn’t a seller. Then he contacted me a week later and wanted to move forward. The point here is that people change. Regular follow up is VITAL to make sure you get to them when they are ready. Many things can make a landowner change their mind: a bad crop year, a death in the family, birth of grandkids, or whatever. The answer may be “no” today, but is likely to change to a “yes” at some point in the future. You want to make sure that when “yes” arrives, you are the only person that owner will think of.

Flag down the tractor

This tip falls a bit more under the heading of canvassing than prospecting. But when done well, it leads to more effective prospecting. Have you ever been out looking at land (in my case row crop farms) and seen someone plowing or spreading fertilizer? Next time you do, park your truck on the side of the road and see if you can get his attention. He might be a contractor, or a farmhand, or maybe even the owner himself. But no matter what his role or position, you’re bound to get some great information from him if you simply engage him in conversation. Using this technique, I’ve gotten names, addresses, and even cell phone numbers of quality prospects. It may sound a bit weird or make you uncomfortable, but the tractor driver generally welcomes the company. He likely spends most of his day alone in that tractor cab. Give him the opportunity to talk, ask the right questions, and before you know it you’ll be listing that $10MM property that you got from the guy on the tractor.

There are millions of different tips and tricks to effective prospecting. I’ve written in the past on outsourcing your time and using good software to boost your prospecting efforts. But there is no substitute for getting on the phone or talking in person with people who own property. In my opinion, this is far and away the most directly effective method for listing and selling property. First, call the neighbors. Then, call EVERYBODY ELSE.

This post is part of the 2018 Future Leaders Committee content generation initiative. The initiative is directed at further establishing RLI as “The Voice of Land” in the land real estate industry for land professionals and landowners. For more posts like this, click here.

mcdow, calebAbout the author: Caleb McDow, ALC, is a land specialist and vice president with Crosby & Associates, Inc. in Winter Haven, FL, with a Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) and is a licensed private pilot and drone operator. McDow joined the institute in 2014 as a Military Transition Program (MTP) member.  He serves on the Institute’s Future Leaders Committee and regularly blogs on real estate issues. Caleb McDow can be reached at 352-665-6648 or caleb@crosbydirt.com

Checklist for Success

How many of you are the backbone of your Company’s entire operation? In fact, you are probably your entire operation: a solo agent prospecting for new leads, writing offers, conducting listing appointments and buyer consultations, negotiating contracts, giving sellers marketing updates, ordering surveys, determining utility locations, marketing your listings, handling your social media and overall, handling the entire transaction from listing to closing. In fact, you probably have to make your own coffee and try to manage a database and a family. WHEW, it’s a lot!

Have you ever felt as if you’re juggling too much, perhaps, you’re even struggling to keep up? Ever wished that you were in a position to hire an assistant to support you with the never-ending stream of administrative tasks? Have you determined that you’re not quite ready for that next step but desperately need some help staying organized and efficient? I feel like this is an incredible place to start. Not only will it help you stay organized, it will create a workflow that can be duplicated and passed on. Now is a great time to consider implementing systems and processes that can later be handed off as you grow. In order to do so, you have to write down what has to be done before you can hire someone to do it.

In order to move from a solo agent to a team, you must build systems that will keep your company operational and functioning in a smooth, systematized and efficient manner. In addition, when you finally hit your breaking point and hire an admin, you can share these systems and train your team by simply going over your documented processes. If you’re a real champion and want to grow your business exponentially, I would personally recommend going through the utter discomfort of hiring a business coach. I would recommend someone like Mike Ferry Organization, Tom Hopkins International, or my personal favorite, Icenhower Coaching and Consulting.

A coach can help you organize your business, determine when to hire staff members and how to grow. It is uncomfortable; however, I want to illustrate the type of systems the discomfort introduces. Below you will find Ary Land and Home’s Listing to Contract Checklist. My team and I have developed this over time while working with our coach (Icenhower Coaching and Consulting). See below.

 

Date Completed Date Requested
Admin intro call to sellers – immediately after listing signed
Receive signed listing agreement
Create PROPERTY FILE CHECKLIST
Obtain all signed & completed sellers disclosures
Obtain showing instructions from agent/sellers, Gate Code? Combo?
Verify Aerial is accurate with salesperson
Put seller on MLS listing auto-alert email drip for LAND OR HOME to buy
Put seller on MLS auto-alert drip- MLS status changes 1 MILE RADIUS FROM LAND
Ask Seller for utility companies, call and get sizes of lines in front of prop
Order preliminary title report, HOA Documents & CCRs if HOME
Order Signs? Let Trish know what’s used for sign inventory
Add sellers to admin weekly update call list
Add sellers to agent’s weekly update call list
Ask to Enter listing into MLS as incomplete for agent to proof
Assign lock box to MLS listing
Add client to CRM database
Add new listing to Team Scoreboard
Submit listing contract/disclosures in to DotLoop for compliance
Get MLS listing edits/approval from Agent
Upload MLS Client Detail Report to property file
Email MLS Client Detail Report to all team members
Add/Enhance Listing on LandWatch LOA and LandBrokerMLS
Calendar Listing Expiration Date
Prepare property flyer
Create “Just Listed” Facebook & social media posts
“Just Listed” mailers/flyers created & ordered
Add clients as friends on Facebook/Social Media
Claim listing on Zillow/Trulia & set up reporting
Sign up at property
Flyers delivered to property
LISTING GOES LIVE ON MLS  
Send Thank You/Gift Card to Person who Referred Listing
“Just Listed” email to neighborhood & SOI
“Just Listed” posted on Facebook & social media
Call to sellers for PRICE REDUCTION APPOINTMENT?
Weekly Activity Report Call to sellers
Email Activity Report to sellers
ONCE OFFER(S) RECEIVED  
Prepare summary(s) of key offer terms to present to sellers
ONCE OFFER ACCEPTED – Start Property File Checklist  

 

*Please note that you need to go through the checklist, there are some things that will not apply to your situation.

Can you picture yourself using this checklist? Can you imagine what it would be like to know that all of your files are “where they need to be?” Fundamental organization and structure is essential.

The main goal in writing this Blog is to help novice agents understand that developing routines and establishing work flows is essential to running a successful real estate company. Even though you may feel like you are too far gone, YOU CAN turn chaos into order and whip things into shape. These processes will 1) make your life as an agent easier and less stressful, and 2) create and maintain seamless systems that can be duplicated to keep the business running so that you can focus on growing your business.

With that said, I urge you to sit down and go over the above Listing to Contract Checklist and make it yours. Don’t stop there, make a Contract to Close Checklist, a Seller Closing Checklist, and a Buyer Closing Checklist and just keep going. Don’t make the checklists just to make them, make sure you implement them and go over them weekly. Make a checklist of what needs to be done on every file and eventually you will be able to hire someone that can make sure the items are checked off for you. I know it will be painful and you will grow to the extent of pain you can handle!

On another note, if you are looking to hire someone and you are not sure exactly what they are supposed to do, keep reading. Below is a sample Listing Manager’s job description.

  • Oversee all aspects of Seller’s transactions from initial contact to executed purchase agreement.
  • Prepare all listing materials: pre-listing presentation, Listing Agreement, sellers’ disclosures, comparative market analysis, pull online property profile, research old multiple listing service (MLS) listings and etc.
  • Consult & coordinate with Seller’s all property photos, surveys, repairs, cleaning, signage, lockbox, access requirements & marketing activities.
  • Obtain all necessary signatures on listing agreement, disclosures and other necessary documentation
  • Take property phone calls and monitor Agent emails.
  • Coordinate Buyer showings & obtain feedback.
  • Provide proactive weekly feedback to sellers regarding all showings and marketing activities.
  • Coordinate all agent meetings and remind Agent of important dates.
  • Input all listing information into MLS and marketing websites and update as needed.
  • Submit all necessary documentation to office broker for file compliance.
  • Input all necessary information into client database and transaction management systems

Again, when I got into real estate, I knew how to sell Farms. I did not understand how to run a business. None of this comes natural to me, however; it has changed the way our business operates. In fact, I no longer say “only I can do it” or “no one will do it as good as me.” That is a scarcity mindset and you have to realize that if you are saying that right now, it’s because “how to do it is not written down,” as our great leader, Gary Keller, would say. It took me a long time to realize this and if it weren’t for Kasey Mock taking the time to explain how important a business foundation is, I sure wouldn’t be where I am at today. With that said, my challenge to you is to start to document the things you do and create checklists to make sure they are done on every file. Make it a priority! Call me if I can help!

This post is part of the 2018 Future Leaders Committee content generation initiative. The initiative is directed at further establishing RLI as “The Voice of Land” in the land real estate industry for land professionals and landowners. For more posts like this, click here

About the Author: Drew Ary, ALC, is an agent with Keller Williams Advantage. Drew has a vast knowledge of raw land, land with improvements, and farm and ranch properties. Above all, he has a passion for selling land and farm and ranch properties by bringing buyers and sellers together through honesty and integrity. Drew spent 10 years in the real estate auction world with roles as a Closing Coordinator, Project Manager, and a large portion as the Director of Farm & Ranch Sales. Drew moved to traditional real estate with Keller Williams Advantage at the beginning of 2017.

Finding Your Niche

The word “niche” has several definitions, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll be using the definition from dictionary.com that means “a distinct segment of a market.”

At National Land Realty, we have land professionals across the country who have their own “niches” or specialize in certain areas of the land industry such as forestry, auctions and prescribed burns, among many others. This not only helps them serve their clients better but gives them the opportunity to help other agents help their clients in that particular area. It also helps them stand out amongst the competition!

If you’re a land professional who doesn’t already have a niche, don’t worry, there are many areas you can choose from. The list is truly endless, but what it’s really about is finding something you’re passionate about. As corny as that may sound, there is so much truth in it. Finding what you enjoy, what you see yourself still being passionate about five years from now will make all the difference.

Finding your niche also depends on the area you live and serve in. For example, timber properties are mostly found in the Southeast region of the U.S. Therefore, you probably wouldn’t want to specialize in forestry if you’re a land professional based out of Arizona.

Here are some other examples of areas to specialize in:

  • Pond management
  • Wildlife management
  • Farm management
  • Agriculture
  • Solar development
  • Commercial development

If you’re ready to find your niche, start by jotting down areas you’re experienced in or have had a close interaction with. Think about any subjects you’ve taken classes on in the past that you found interesting or feel knowledgeable in. It’s really just that easy to get started!

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.

Using Video to Close More Land Deals + Better Serve Clients

We’re living in the golden age of video. Video editing software is cheaper and more user-friendly than ever before, millions of people head to streaming sites like YouTube every day, and smartphones have basically become tiny video cameras you can take anywhere.

Land experts are (or should be!) making the most out of the advancements in video, too. Video is used for everything from taking stunning shots of properties to reaching clients on a more personal level. We reached out to a few expert Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs) to find out how they use video to close a deal.

Drones

Drones are taking the land industry by storm. They can do everything from watering crops to monitoring livestock. Drones also make excellent videos. You don’t have to worry about getting your thumb in the way of a shot or your hand shaking as you hold the camera. Drones also give you incredible birds-eye shots of properties that you can’t get anywhere else.

Drew Ary, ALC, with Keller Williams Advantage in Coweta, OK, likes how efficient and high-tech drone videos are.

“Taking multiple 5+ second Drone videos during a listing appointment and using the DJI app to patch them together to make a 30-45 second video of the property immediately after flying is the quickest route to getting a John Hancock… what a way to show a client you are on the cutting edge of technology,” says Ary.

The Personal Touch

Video allows clients to connect with you on a personal level. It’s one thing to read an article about an agent, it’s a completely different thing to see and hear them deliver the same message.  Wendy Johnson, ALC, with United Country Texas Landmark Properties in Royse City, TX, uses the personal touch of video marketing to connect with clients for long-lasting relationships.

“Video marketing is providing me a good return on investment. I receive leads that I have been able to convert to listings and buyers,” says Johnson.

Johnson’s video of a Texas ranch shows off the gift of personal touch. Everything from the instrumental music to the smooth shots of every corner of the ranch pulls you in and makes you want to learn more about the listing.

“I believe because of the content marketing that a video can offer. I am able to utilize it in selling my properties as well as to engage an audience which can facilitate long-term relationships, which builds trusts and confidence in both myself and clients,” says Johnson.

Beyond Properties

Videos showing off your properties are great, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. About Me videos on your website are a great way to let your clients know a little more about you and your business. A great example of this is a promotional video like the one Drew Ary, ALC, created. Ary talks a bit about his experience in the industry while you look at sweeping views of Oklahoma land.

You can create:

  • How-To’s/Informative videos (Great content for social media. It shows off your expertise. For example, RLI has videos explaining our education program and member benefits.)
  • Promotional videos of your brokerage
  • Compilation videos (Show off your most successful sales!)
  • Videos that tour the neighborhood of the property
  • And much more! Don’t be afraid to get creative.

Video is king in 2018 and is looking to keep its throne in 2019. It’s easier than ever before to create videos, and thanks to social media and sites like YouTube, more people are tuning in. Making the most out of video is a great way to expand marketing and reach new clients like never before.

About the Author: Laura Barker is the Membership and Communications Specialist for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

Answering Common Questions About the ALC Designation

The Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation is one of the most prestigious and difficult to earn designations in the land industry, so it makes sense that those pursuing it have a lot of questions both leading up to and while going through the process. Every week, we get calls concerning how to earn the ALC, so we thought we’d dedicate a post to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What exactly is the ALC?

The Accredited Land Consultant Designation is given by REALTORS® Land Institute to those land experts who have completed RLI’s rigorous and strict education, experience, and ethical requirements.

Having that gold ALC pin shows clients that you have an unparalleled level of expertise and experience in the land industry.  In addition to their impressive resumes, ALCs are also highly respected for adhering to the ALC Code of Conduct and the NAR Code of Ethics.

Becoming an ALC doesn’t just mean bragging rights for your clients. It opens the doors for additional networking opportunities and discounts on everything from the National Land Conference to classes.

Your wallet will thank you in the long-term, too. Did you know that according to a recent RLI survey, the average ALC earned $373,925, which is approximately $100,000 more per year than the average earned by non-designee respondents? Knowledge is power, and in this case it’s the power to better serve your clients which in turn means more business and more clients.

What are the requirements to get the ALC?

Required Courses (56 hours — Must take all three):

Specialty Courses (32 Hours – Pick two courses):

Elective Courses (16 Hours – Pick one or pick another from Specialty Courses)

Other requirements include:

  • Experience. A minimum of 2 years of experience in land sales or brokerage or a minimum of three years of comparable real estate experience.
  • Volume. A minimum of 5 closed land transactions totaling $10,000,000 OR 25 separate land transactions of which no more than 20% involve residential parcel sales (more specific details on the different types of land sales here)
  • Knowledge. Pass the cumulative ALC Exam.
  • Application. Submit a comprehensive portfolio
  • Recommendation. Submit recommendation letters and approval by the RLI Board of Directors.

Who is the main contact for me during this process?
If you have any specific questions about the above requirements or your qualifications, please reach out to Aubrie Kobernus at akobernus@realtors.org or 1-312-329-8837.

There’s a final exam? Do I have to remember everything from every single class?

The final exam only covers the three required courses that you completed and will be using to apply towards the education requirement. These include the Land Investment Analysis, Land 101: Fundamentals of Land Brokerage and either the Tax Deferred 1031 or Transitional Land Course depending under which requirements you began your coursework.

If you took the 1031 Class before the education requirements changed, no need to panic. You can still take the cumulative exam that features the 1031 Tax Deferred Exchanges course instead of the Transitional Land Real Estate course.

Do I have to be a member of RLI to become an ALC?

You don’t need to be a member of RLI while you are working towards the education and transaction requirements (although you do get a discount on classes if you are!), but you do need to be an RLI Member when you submit your final portfolio and for as long as you hold the elite ALC Designation.

If you have more questions about RLI membership, we’ll be posting an article called ‘Answering Common Questions About RLI Membership’ in October. Keep an eye out for it! For now, make sure to check out our RLI Member Benefits.

I have another designation and/or prior education in the field, is there any way I can skip some classes?

There is! RLI has a Fast Track program where people with the following designations or education will qualify them to opt out of taking all courses under the education requirement other than the three required courses.

  • CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member)
  • SIOR (Industrial & Office REALTOR®)
  • CRE (Counselor of Real Estate)
  • AFM (Accredited Farm Manager of ASFMRA)
  • ARA (Accredited Rural Appraiser of ASFMRA)
  • RPRA (Real Property Review Appraiser of ASFMRA)
  • AAC (Accredited Agricultural Consultant of ASFMRA)
  • MAI (Member, Appraisal Institute)
  • CAI (Certified Auctioneer Institute)
  • CPL (Certified Professional Landman of AAPL)
  • SR/WA (Senior Right of Way Professional of IWRA)
  • AICP (American Institute of Certified Planners)
  • Those who hold either a bachelor’s or master’s degree, with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, with a major in real estate, development, forestry, or a program related to a land business specialization, may also apply for consideration for Fast Track to the ALC Designation Committee. Fast Track will only be granted to the applicant upon approval by the ALC Designation Committee.

You will need to provide proof of your designation before being approved for Fast Track option.

Achieving the ALC Designation isn’t easy, but nothing worth getting ever is. The ALC Designation is highly respected and sought after all across America. Our numbers are growing every day. Will you be the next one?

If you have more questions about the ALC, contact us at 1-800-441-5263 or rli@realtors.org.

About the Author: Laura Barker is the Membership and Communications Specialist for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.