Ten Lessons for Land Agents from a Decade in the Dirt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always be honest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Determination.

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

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

Grit.

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

Adaptability to Tech.

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

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

Expertise.

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

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

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

Top Tips For Land Agents to Beat Holiday Stress

Few people understand how tough it is to be in the land real estate business during the holidays. You don’t just have a nine-to-five job, you’re working around the clock. You have to work around the schedules of the clients, which in many cases means early mornings, late nights, and weekends where you are barely home. And while December is notorious for being one of the worst months to sell land real estate, many people use the holiday free-time to look around for properties. Putting all this together can make the most wonderful time of the year into a nightmare.

So, with an increase in work and the holidays right around the corner, how is a successful land real estate agent supposed to stay on top of their work and also enjoy time with their friends and family? Below, we’ve rounded up some great ways to handle the holiday craziness.

Want to learn more about how to stay sane during the crazy holiday times? Be sure to check out RLI’s ALC-to-ALC teleconference ‘Being Your Best-Reduce Stress, Maximize Productivity, Stay Healthy’. A recording will be made available to everyone after the event. In the meantime, here are some quick tips to get you started:

1. Focus on your target audience.

You don’t want to spread yourself too thin during the holiday season. So instead of reaching out to every type of client that comes your way and running yourself ragged, try to focus on serious potential buyers and the projects you already have. This way, you can focus all your energy into projects that will have the best payout for you.

2. Budget

The holidays can be a stressful time on anybody’s wallet, but it can be especially hard on those in the land real estate business. Since income is tied to sales instead of a 9-to-5 paycheck, it can be hard to figure out how much money you’ll have to spend on presents and other holiday fun. If you haven’t tried budgeting before, now is a great time to start. Once you figure out how much you usually spend a month, you can get a conservative estimate about how much you’ll have leftover for the holidays. Here’s a link to learn more about budgeting.

3. Take Control of Your Time

Anyone who tells you “It must be great to be able to pick which hours you work!” has never worked in land real estate. You might not have to clock in from 9-5 Monday through Friday, but the hours can be grueling. Add on top of that family events, mass, pageants, shopping, and you’ve got a tight schedule.

While a huge part of working in land real estate revolves around the clients, there are some things you can do to reclaim your time. Scheduling meetings with clients as early in advance as possible will let you plan other things around it. And if you aren’t typically the most organized, now’s the time to change that (at least for the holiday season). You can use a physical planner or an online one, like Google Calendar. Seeing your time laid out in a planner is a great way to stay updated on what needs to be done and when.

4. Sleep

Sleep is the one thing that everyone thinks they can skimp on. Some people carry their lack of sleep like a badge of honor. Even though it might make you feel good to say “I’ve been working so hard, I only slept two hours last night!” getting no sleep can take a serious toll on your work and your health, which will hurt your career. Also, skimping on sleep is a guaranteed way to make your body more prone to catching a cold, which is the last thing you need during the holiday season.

5. Limit Time on Tech.

Do you ever feel like you spend all day answering texts and e-mails, but never actually get anything checked off of your to-do list? Even though it’s a necessary part of any job, technology can be a huge time waster. The real time-suckers are those e-mails that don’t require an instant reply. Try putting those aside to focus on projects that need your full attention and see how much extra time you have at the end of the day.

6. Eat Well.

We know this is tough to hear during the season of roast turkey, gingerbread cookies, and eggnog, but you’re going to need all the energy you have to make the most out of this time of year. Sugary treats can keep you up at night, limitng the time you have for the all-important sleep, and fatty foods can zap your energy. Does this mean you can only eat salads during the most delicious time of the year? Of course not! Making a few changes each day (switching soda for water, getting a side salad instead of fries, keeping healthy snacks with you) can make a huge difference. You’ll notice an increase in your energy and focus (and maybe even how your favorite pair of pants fit) in no time.

7. Remember What It’s All For.

Between all the stress, hard work, and tension that comes with the holidays, sometimes it’s easy to just want them to be over. But it’s important to keep in mind what makes the holidays so special. Think about your favorite part of the holidays. Is it eating a good meal with your family? Going to church Christmas morning? Unwrapping presents first thing in the morning? Whatever it is, remind yourself of those special moments whenever you can. Putting some pictures of good family times from previous Christmases around your work space can help bring holiday cheer into your day.

8. Cut yourself some slack.

Everyone has to make sacrifices during the holidays, especially people who work in land real estate. Maybe that means spending less time at work or having to skip a Christmas party with your friends. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do everything that everyone wants you to do. Remind yourself that no one is able to “do it all” during the holiday season.

 

young professional

Young Professionals: Earning The Elite ALC Designation

Starting out as a young agent in the land real estate business is usually an intimidating challenge. When I obtained my real estate license five years ago, I started researching ways to gain knowledge and experience in land sales. I quickly found there are plenty of places to learn about the real estate business in general but very few opportunities to learn specifically about the land aspect of real estate. I found the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) and learned about their Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation. I soon figured out this was an organization I needed to be a part of and the ALC was a designation I sought to obtain. Having the ALC Designation is an honor for anyone and it can really set you apart from your competition.

“Receiving my ALC Designation took my career as a land broker to a whole other level!”

Here is why…

  • Education: The knowledge I gathered from taking LANDU courses offered through RLI helped me greatly. The course content is second to none and the instructors offer “real life” situations where you can put this knowledge to work in the field. The lessons you learn and the people you meet can help you many times over and many years down the road.
  • Networking: Networking with other RLI members and ALCs has led to several opportunities in my real estate career. I have had numerous referrals and joint listings that I can directly tie back to the connections I made at either State RLI Events or at the National Land Conference. I believe meeting another agent at one of these events and getting to know them better on a personal level makes it much easier to be able to put a deal together with them down the road.
  • Credibility: Being an ALC sets you apart from the rest of the “pack” of real estate agents. It gives you credibility when talking with clients and prospective clients. For instance, where I work in Alabama there are over 26,0000 real estate licensees and brokers and of those real estate licensees only 19 are ALCs. This gives a young agent who holds their ALC a real advantage over most of the real estate agents in our state. In 2015, I got the chance to interview with a prominent family for a listing on a ±380 acre timberland listing in Central Alabama. While in the interview, they asked what made me different from the rest of the agents that they had spoken with. I explained to them that I had recently received my ALC Designation and that the work and education that it took to get there gave me the specialized expertise needed to conduct their transaction. A few days went by and they called me and told me I had the listing. Since then, I sold that tract, along with several other properties for the family, and helped with a couple of consulting and appraisal jobs.

“I honestly believe the ALC Designation helped me land what could very well be a career-long client.”

I owe much of my success in my real estate career to the education, networking, and credibility I received through RLI while obtaining my ALC. I truly believe that ALCs are the “Best of the Best” in the land business and the ALC Designation is something that everyone in the business should work towards.

About the author: Calvin Perryman, ALC, is an Associate Broker and Appraiser with Great Southern Land. Calvin is an active member of RLI, serving on the 2017 Future Leaders Committee. He graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelors Degree in Agricultural Business and Economics in May of 2011. Shortly after graduating from Auburn he obtained his real estate license and has been in the real estate business since 2011.

land real estate

Uncovering Motivations to Buy or Sell Land Real Estate

“I want to sell, but I don’t need the money.” This is a common refrain uttered by people who are contemplating the sale of a piece of real estate. If they do not need the money, then why are they selling? Finding the “Why”, the “What”, the “When”, the “Who” is an essential part of making a real estate deal come together.

Several years ago I helped some seller clients sell about 800 acres of beautiful hardwood and pine timberland that had been in the same family for over 70 years. There were simultaneous offers to purchase the land, one came from a hardwood timber company and the other from a small group of land investors. My clients looked at both offers, and immediately rejected the one that had “timber” in the name of their organization. One of the family members told me, “These other people may cut the timber also, but at least it isn’t in my face.” I believe the timber company would have ultimately paid a higher price than the investors did, but the sellers preferred to deal with individuals instead of the timber company. Their motivation was not only money, but also seeing that the land ended up in good hands.

Here are a few considerations regarding motivation that I have seen influence the decision of buyers and sellers.

  1. Past Experiences- Past experiences, positive or negative, can play a significant role in the outcome of a real estate deal. I have seen sellers refuse to sell to an adjoining land owner because of some long-running family feud. I have seen buyers refuse to make an offer on a listed property because they had a bad experience with the listing agent in the past. Those little details can mean all the difference between getting your deal done or not. 
  1. Time is of the Essence- Timing can be the most crucial part of a real estate transaction. A buyer may need to identify and make an offer on a replacement property because they are doing a 1031 exchange. On day 45 of their identification period, a buyer may be extremely motivated to try to work something out to avoid paying 15% to 20% in capital gains tax. Sellers may be faced with an immediate expense for a home repair or the loss of a job. If you wait a month to make a decision, they may find alternate sources of funding, and no longer be highly motivated to sale. I learned a long time ago, “The time to business is when someone is ready to do business.” The whole world can change for someone in a day, so don’t miss out on an opportunity because you dragged your feet. 
  1. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)- If you’ve ever seen the look in a buyer’s eye when they missed out on a property they really wanted, you know what I am talking about. They missed one, but By George, they will not let that happen again. In 2015, I watched a professional athlete miss out on buying a property that would have been an ideal tract for him. Instead of paying the asking price and buying a tract he would have enjoyed for decades, he tried to make a lower offer and he missed out on the deal. He was trying to save about $150/acre and did not offer full-price. Another buyer came in one hour after the ball player made his offer, he offered full price, and bought the property. Two years later, the athlete found another property, across the river from the tract I sold, for about $750/acre MORE than the one he had the opportunity to buy before. He overpaid for a property of lesser quality because he did not want to miss out again. 
  1. Feel Goods- Emotions play a big part in many real estate deals. About 2/3 of the properties I sell are related to estate transition, and these farms and land have often been owned by the same family for generations. When it comes time to sell a property, they want to know that it is going to be to someone who will be a good steward of the property that their family has enjoyed for so long. I saw this exact thing happen several years ago when a family hired me to help them sell a property to a board member of The Nature Conservancy. They were convinced that this beautiful hardwood property along a pristine river would be protected in perpetuity if they sold to this type of buyer. Often, older farmers will offer owner financing or will sell at a reduced rate to help a younger farmer get started on their land.

Finding the motivations to buy or sell land real estate from the individuals in your real estate transaction will go a long way to helping you get your deal closed. It is important to ask questions of your customers and clients that will give you the answers you need to find out what really matters to them. Money is not the only motivation for many buyers or sellers, and I have seen a seller be offended by a buyer “showing off” with how much money he has. Your odds of a successful real estate transaction increase when the parties are able to each get what they want, and sometimes it takes more than just money to make the deal come together.

Jonathan Goode, ALCAbout the Author: Jonathan Goode is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) with Southeastern Land Groupand is a licensed real estate broker in Alabama and Mississippi. Jonathan is also a co-host of the weekly radio program, The Land Showand loves to serve people buying and selling land.

Teaming Up To Transform Your Real Estate Business

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – unkown

What is the best way to achieve the highest level of success in your land brokerage career? The answer to that question varies greatly depending on your definition of success. Many brokers would like to see an increase in income earned, number of transactions closed, quality agents hired or retained, or any combination of other metrics used to define success. There are many definitions of success that do not have their own column in your firm’s P&L sheet, such as: spending more time with family, creating a steady stream of income, or dominating your local market. Figuring out the best way to achieve those goals is a real challenge for real estate salespeople.

“If you want to succeed, buckle down and work harder. You need to make more calls, set more appointments, and spend more time in front of decision makers.” This is good advice, but at a certain point in your career it becomes unproductive to pour yourself into more of the same. You can reach a plateau where spending more hours at work does not yield the desired results. In economic terms, this concept is called “The Law of Diminishing Returns.”

In 2013, my co-worker, Robert King, ALC, and I candidly discussed our goals for the year and how our numbers were tracking to date. Robert shared how his goal for the coming year was to increase the size of his average transaction to raise his total commissions earned. At the time, Robert was closing forty land transactions per year and was one of the top producers for Southeastern Land Group. The next year, he and Randall Upchurch teamed up and formulated a plan to increase their business and target a market segment that was largely under-served in Alabama. They focused on marketing and selling poultry farms across the state.

Poultry is the leading agricultural product in our state, and both Robert and Randall had previous experience with poultry operations and real estate brokerage. In 2014, they formed PoultrySouth to focus on marketing poultry farms. It took only two years for Robert to not only increase his commissions, but he was also able to more than double them as a result of teaming up with Randall. This is a perfect example of how two REALTORS® Land Institute members can partner to totally transform their business.

Randall is grateful the partnership has worked so well and, as he recounts their success, he does not take it for granted. “By working together the past three years, Robert and I have helped our clients close twenty-five poultry farms for a total of about fifty-five million dollars in sales. We currently have six pending farm deals, and are working on others.” Robert explains the upside of their partnership this way, “The benefit of two minds working through the issues of real estate transactions is a multiplying effect, not merely additive.” King continues, “Having slightly different perspectives focused on the same goal is a win-win for agents and clients. Additionally, we have seen the unexpected benefit of being able to multiply our effective handling of listings. Randall and I could probably only manage twenty-five or thirty listings apiece. Together we are able to handle one-hundred or more listings, while providing good service to our clients.”

The financial success of the partnership at PoultrySouth has opened doors for Robert and Randall to add cattle to their personal herds and each have purchased additional acreage for their family farms. The benefits from their business have overflowed into achieving goals for their families and farms. They are the perfect example of how real estate teams are supposed to function.

How do we achieve the positive outcomes we desire in our careers? One way is to align yourself with like-minded people. The power that comes from working together to achieve a common goal cannot be overstated. Fletcher Majors, an ALC from Alabama, has done a great job fostering an atmosphere of cooperation at Great Southern Land, both internally and with outside agents. In early 2015, Fletcher and three of his agents worked tirelessly to help one of their clients sell 6,477 acres in forty-five different tracts to thirteen different buyers in a single bid sale. Calvin Perryman, an ALC who works with Fletcher, explains why they believe in the team approach, saying “We often use a teamwork approach on special projects as well as everyday listings and appraisals. We believe having multiple opinions and ideas along with additional boots on the ground helps us better serve our clients.”

Each winter, nature demonstrates the power of teamwork when we see the V-shaped formations of geese as they fly south from Canada to warmer climates. The flock is able to survive by travelling great distances with maximum efficiency because of the cooperation of all the individuals. Each member of the flock benefits from the cooperative efforts of the group. This collaborative effort only works because each individual is clear on the objective, their responsibility, and they expend the effort to achieve the desired result.

There are many ingredients to creating a great team, but there are three essential elements that this article seeks to address. In order to form a great partnership, you must ACT like a team.

Agreement- “Can two walk together unless they are in agreement?” This question was posed by Amos, a shepherd turned prophet, that lived about 750 B.C. This question is still relevant millennia later. For a partnership to be effective, the partners must hold a common vision and agree on implementation of their strategy. The objectives must be clear so that everyone knows what they are working toward and how they will achieve the desired result.

Communication- Operation without communication leads to frustration. Sharing frequent updates, addressing problems jointly, and asking accountability questions helps ensure that the partnership stays on track. No member of the team should blindly assume that everyone has the most recent information or is acting on it. There will be hiccups in every partnership, but as a mentor often told me, “Communication covers a multitude of sins.” Receiving information makes people feel important and in the loop, so, be sure to share all that is appropriate with your teammate to increase the chances of mutual success.

Trust- The single most important ingredient to a well-functioning team is trust. Working with people that you know unquestionably have your best interest at heart frees you to focus on the challenge before you, and not on defending yourself from the people around you. Trust is very difficult to manufacture or bestow, and is generally built gradually and methodically through shared experiences. Trust breeds loyalty. Loyalty begets a willingness to work hard and take risks together. Working hard and taking calculated risks together is the formula most successful entrepreneurs use to achieve their goals.

RLI’s 2016 ALC-to-ALC Networking Award was recently presented to three ALCs from Hertz Real Estate Services in Iowa. ALCs Kirk Weih, Troy Louwagle, and Kyle Hansen teamed up to close a $12,263,100 transaction on 998 acres. This size and type of transaction requires that teammates have a lot of trust. Kyle’s advice for creating this type of success is, “Remember why you are working with another broker. It isn’t because they provide the highest referral or pay the best commission; it is because they can provide the best service to you and your client. We are in business to provide the best product and experience possible. To do that, you need to work with the best brokers possible. That’s why I like to work with Accredited Land Consultants and agents that I trust. That is what our clients deserve.”

A quick search in the “Book” category on Amazon.com for “Team” returns about 310,000 entries. With that much written on the topic, the best this article can hope to do is highlight a few essentials to creating positive teamwork for land brokers. There are dozens of free resources on teamwork available at the National Association of REALTORS® website. We face a challenge when we take a competitive vocation and ask individual agents to work together; however, good brokers know this is the formula for long term success.

“Our industry is unique in that it helps to have salespeople that are fiercely competitive, and yet be able to work well as a team. In many land brokerage companies, the agents are independent contractors and not traditional employees. In that type of relationship, you mandate only what is necessary and encourage your group as much as you can,” says Dave Milton, ALC and President of Southeastern Land Group. Dave adds, “For agents to succeed in this business, brokers have to do all you can to create an atmosphere of trust that leads to a strong team. The best way to help new agents launch their career is for them to team up with someone more experienced. Hiring the right kind of people is the best way to ensure buy-in from existing employees and protect the continuity of your team.”

A wise writer of antiquity once observed, “Two are better than one for they get a good return for their labor.” My hope is that by hearing other brokers involved with RLI share stories about the success they have had by teaming up, that you will find new ways to foster teamwork in your land brokerage business. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Here’s wishing you all the best as you “Go together!”

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Summer Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

Jonathan Goode, ALCAbout the author: Jonathan Goode, ALC, is an active member of the REALTORS® Land Institute. He is a Co-owner of Southeastern Land Group, LLC (SELG) and is the Responsible Broker for the company in Mississippi. He is passionate about helping people buy and sell land.

Top Four Considerations When Finding a Real Estate Mentor

I listened to Zig Ziglar say once “The fastest way to get what you want is to help other people get what they want.” I didn’t understand this until I had a real estate mentor for a couple years and realized what Zig said was true. Whether you are the mentor or mentee there are great benefits to the relationship that can be established.

When I was looking for a real estate mentor, four things came to mind when I started my search that I felt were important.

The first thing that was important to me was finding an individual who was successful. The success that I was after was not just in the finical category but rather a list that I constructed when planning who I wanted to surround myself with. 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. 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.

The second thing I looked for was someone who was not going to be a “card holder,” which also meant that this individual I was after probably was not going to be a direct competitor. When someone is a direct competitor, or sees you as a threat to their business or their current way of life, they most likely will not show all the cards and truly want to help you along your road to success. My mentor choice was a couple hours away and almost never worked in my area which also made it easy when it came to referral opportunities on both sides.

The third thing I looked for was time. How much time am I willing to give to my real estate mentor and how much time is he or she going to give to me. I have a very tight structure to mentor meetings. I want this person’s knowledge and friendship, and know I need to appreciate their attention like it is gold when they offer it to me. First, I list out all my sales numbers, transaction types, goals, and executions. Second, I listen to what they have to say or ask about whatever I have documented. I usually try to keep the time with them to one hour or less and write down three to four action items that I am going to do between the meeting and the next time we meet.

The fourth thing I found important was knowledge outside of my typical “sell more farms intentions.” Once I find the money, what can I do with it so I don’t have to go find it again? How do I make it find me? The mentor I was looking for needed to be an investor with lots of tax knowledge. If you are going to make money to waste it, you can skip the making step and save yourself lots of time. I was looking for someone that had answers to investment and savings questions as well.

If I was going to find another real estate mentor, I would use a simple set of questions for myself. What do I want? When do I want it by? Who do I know or can I meet that will help me to best help myself get it? and when am I going to set up and appointment with that person? In my experience, with the right mentor for you and documented goals, there is nothing the land business cannot provide.

About the Author: Jacob Hart, ALC, is a licensed real estate broker and auctioneer in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. His firm, High Point Realty & Auction, specializes in land sales and management of agricultural row crop and recreational ground.  He attended SDSU in Brookings, SD, then studied at the World Wide College of Auctioneering.

A Guide to Real Estate Mapping and Analysis Tools

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Winter Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

Smart land agents will embrace technology advances and use them not just to survive but to thrive. Others may cling to their brochures and rolodexes, hoping that they can continue to be successful because things were better in the old days and that’s how things have always been done. Unfortunately, history and my experience have shown that nostalgia and longing are rarely good business strategies, especially when it comes to real estate mapping.

Real estate technology innovation is booming. The first wave focused on residential real estate with companies producing solutions like Realtor.com, Zillow, RedFin and StreetEasy. The residential market was ripe for disruption because the Internet was a natural place to expand listing services, engage people through interactive digital marketing and differentiate the realtor’s business with better information, not just lawn signs.

Innovation in residential real estate led industry leaders in other markets to more broadly adopt technology. However, the uptake has been slower despite promises to make their businesses and the lives of their customers better. For many decades, there’s been no reason to change workflows or processes because immense wealth has been created without disrupting the status quo. However, in the past three years we’ve seen a sea change in technology.

It’s now far easier to use and delivers bigger benefits more quickly. Buyers expect an interactive, digital experience and marketing automation. How do you make sense of all the hype, especially if you are a small business owner who is not tech savvy? Above all, where do you start?

Drones: No Longer Just for Dramatic Video Shoots

The excitement around drones has increased immensely in the past year and with good reason. New Federal Aviation Administration rules have reduced uncertainty on who can fly and where and, more importantly, the technology is at a point where anyone can now use them for a small investment.

Drones used to be used exclusively in marketing real estate. A drone mounted camera can produce cost-effective shots of a property. For large, high-end homes or big expanses of land, dramatic videos let you immerse yourself and experience tree top flights. Today, that immersion comes in the form of virtual reality-like 3D interactive experiences that let you fly around and view the scene from any perspective. In the University of Oxford example, shown below, the drone flew multiple paths over the city. The raw video imagery is used to create a full 3D model of the buildings, including exquisite detail for the build frontages, rooflines, gargoyles and chimneypots. You can literally fly down the streets and lanes, and land in any courtyard to explore the buildings.

The same data feeds used to map Oxford can be used in land management to create terrain surfaces which show perspective and hillshading. This can be used to detect slopes, hollows, banks and hidden landscape features which are not obvious in aerial or satellite imagery. Low level drone flights also create very high resolution data which can show changes in vegetation and land development with high degrees of precision such as in this montage below where we not only can see where a new road has been laid but also changes to the height of vegetation and small hollows where water is ponding or eroding the land.

Immersive scenes are immensely valuable for supplementing existing online marketing. What’s more the video data can also provide new perspectives, often quite literally. I recently worked with a land broker who was selling a large tract of land along California’s Mendocino Coast.  She had a drone fly over the pasture and old growth forest, up fern filled gullies and fishing ponds. Only after did she realize that the views of the homestead from the private vineyard were missing. They had flown the house and grounds but had not flown towards the house over the vineyard. The great thing was that even though the drones had flown different routes, we could still recreate a full 3D model of the house and grounds. Rather than have a static video, our client created a virtual fly through along the rows of grapes glistening in late summer evening sun, and then up and over the house to show the full grandeur of the setting. Better still, her clients can take the same virtual tour or browse a set of interactive snapshots she has created. She didn’t need to organize another drone flight. Everything she needed to properly promote her ranch was in the data files the drone had collected, we just needed to process it.

Data in the Cloud – Everywhere for Everyone

We’ve all experienced Google Maps and Google Earth. They have changed how we find and view maps and land data. The revolution Google drove is for online data. Today, there are millions of map layers from every corner of the globe forming a Living Atlas of the World. Local, regional and national Governments, private companies and even crowdsourcing volunteers are publishing authoritative and personally collected data into open libraries which anyone can use.

In the United States we have Federal Government data on everything from cropland to wilderness areas, maps of geology, soils, landscape, forest, flood zones, wetlands and hundreds more. Every one of these is freely available to use for analysis and overlay. In many rural areas, the data is better and more useful than cities.

One of the most valuable data sets is satellite imagery. Every frame of Landsat data, which has been imaging our planet since 1972, is available online. This is a valuable source of land surface change information and provides insights into seasonal changes in vegetation, soil moisture, crop growth and much more.

Many satellites have collected data which has been used to collect a high-resolution terrain model of the world. Since this data is also open to everyone, land owners and consultants can use it to understand more about the property throughout the buying process. One common use is gaining an understanding of soil drainage, as it has an important impact on crop production together with water and fertilizer use. Terrain profiling tools, like those shown above, can provide detailed analysis on changes in topography, drainage direction and soil moisture variations. In the example, we can see how the land slopes across the mile-long profile. Even small features of a few feet can be understood by tracking the profile against the aerial imagery. It is possible to identify old stream beds and even the site of a small quarry and ditch.

Sketching, Markup and Marketing

Many land specialists just want simple tools to access land parcels and property data. Open map and data standards mean that many communities are sharing their parcel data as online map services or files. Desktop and online software allow you to upload and fuse these files, trace parcels lines and find out ownership details like those shown in this suburban example below. Map services are simple, syndicated data feeds which create layers for each one you open in free real estate mapping applications like Google Earth or ArcGIS Earth. These “services” are more than pictures. You can query them, see attributes and, in many cases, use them to draw property boundaries by sketching straight onto the map.

Map services also now support social media and online storage sites like Facebook, Photobucket and Flickr. Photos which have been captured with your GPS on your smart phone or tablet contain location data that these sites use, so that these photos can automatically be positioned with your map. Tools to change the color, transparency, outline and shape of any symbols allow you to create high quality digital and print materials with no additional software, as shown below.

You can drag and drop spreadsheets with property addresses or GPS coordinates onto a web browser automatically turn them into online maps. A few clicks, and no coding later, the same spreadsheet can become an interactive property promotion or marketing resource. Rather than creating and mailing out paper books, land specialist can now email links to their properties, so clients and prospects can browse them at their leisure. Since the real estate mapping services which underlie these apps are dynamic, they automatically change when new entries are added to the spreadsheet. Better yet, web analytics tools embedded on your website can tell you how many people are browsing your properties and which ones are the most popular. Having real time listings, web analytics and links to your CRM means you can better market your properties and keep your clients coming back for more.

The Real Estate Digital Revolution

The full impact of the digital revolution in real estate is yet to be seen. The huge improvements in the simplicity of building web apps, promoting properties through interactive marketing tools and using different map layers, are producing a strong movement towards empowering the consumer and land specialist alike. Today, buyers expect to be able to access online information and experience the property without having to visit in person. They are more discerning buyers with many choices for who they do business with.

Real estate mapping, analytics and marketing in the real estate industry are moving on, and fast. Shouldn’t you be making the most of it?

About the Author: Helen Thompson is responsible for global marketing strategies in the commercial business development team at Esri. Her twenty years of experience in applied spatial analysis has helped advance the understanding and use of spatial technology in business and society. She is a graduate of spatial science and computing at the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology and geography at Plymouth University.

 

Be An Intentional Real Estate Networker

It happens to all of us!  We attend a conference and we are pumped to network — fully armed with a new box of business cards, excited about the all the like-minded business leaders we are about to meet.  We meet energetic people who are passionate about land transactions, and start to collect brilliant ideas – and business cards – to bring home like souvenirs.  Let’s be real, we are so blown away by the talented associates we meet along the way, we think that there is no way that we will forget that face and the incredible value they provided during the brief interactions.  When we get home, the face, value and promised follow-up morphs into a big stack of ambiguity.

land real estate professionals networking at the 2015 national land conferenceWe know that our biggest strengths are often our biggest weaknesses and too many outstanding connections is a problem I am happy to tackle!  I am taking steps to be more intentional about my networking and more importantly, my follow-up. Join me in my quest to be an intentional networker!

Have a Networking Mission and Goal
Is your mission to build your referral business or to attract talent? Be focused about this mission and then set a goal to achieve this mission. Networking is lead generation and you are already a pro. Determine how many people you want to meet and track this number each day. What we focus on expands!

Identify and Leverage a System
Before heading to any networking event, create your system for follow-up. If a connection is a brief encounter that involves a business card, write a quick note on the back of the card so that you have context for any follow-up or notes that should be added to your database. Leverage an assistant or technology to track your follow-up. Using Evernote or assigning yourself Outlook Tasks are great ways to ensure you do what you say you will do when you return home.

Digitize Your Business Card Collection
The dreaded stack of business cards does not have to be a dread.  Technology is your leverage! Check out these tips from PC World on how to digitize business cards. Transfer these contacts to your phone AND your database.

Use Your Database
Your database is not just for clients, it’s for your network too. Add a tag or bucket for RLI Referrals for all of your new connections. Create a monthly touch campaign for your fellow RLI members from afar that includes fun tips about your city, a recap of key takeaways from your last RLI Chapter training or updates about your business. You will be front of mind when one of your contacts has a client interested in your area.

land real estate professionals networking at the 2016 national land conferenceWork Your Calendar
If it’s not on our calendar, it doesn’t exist. This goes for networking too! Before attending any networking event, make a list of the people you want to meet. This could be an actual name or it could be that you wish to connect with someone from a certain state. Leverage the RLI Membership Portal to collect contact information. Then, reach out to these associates ahead of time to schedule a coffee break to connect one on one. Don’t forget, conference events are perfect for meeting new people.

Be Social
Keep in touch and stay front of mind by connecting with your new contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social channels. A “like,” retweet or comment will keep you in the networking game — even from afar. More importantly, engage with your connections through all the benefits being a member of RLI offers you.

There will always be a new opportunity to implement these best practices to help with more intentional networking.  Stay connected!

About the author: Holly Priestner, Director of Talent Acquisition at Keller Williams, has never met a stranger, literally. Her enthusiasm for people and their stories enables her to connect people to resources that can make both their professional and personal dreams come true. This is advantageous when recruiting top talent to KWRI, with recruits quickly recognizing that their goals matter to Holly and that she cares about their happiness and success. Attend Holly’s webinar Elevate Your Elevator Pitch hosted by the REALTORS® Land Institute on March 8.

Unlock the Door to Your NAR Member Benefits and Resources

This article originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Winter 2017 Terra Firma magazine.

In today’s world of rapid-fire technological shifts and constant email churn, it is often the case that you don’t have time to explore all of the wonderful benefits you can enjoy as a National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) member.  By virtue of being an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designee, you are a member of NAR and can benefit from a plethora of commercial resources and services, as well as partner offers with the REALTOR Benefits® program. Let’s take a quick look at all of the splendid services, educational opportunities, engaging networking, and more NAR is offering you.

Advocacy

With nearly 1.2 million members, NAR is one of the largest advocacy groups in the United States and we put those numbers to work, fighting hard for real estate professionals & property rights at the Federal, State, and Local levels.  Staff works closely with elected officials in Washington to advocate public policy established in the annual Public Policy Priorities agenda, which is informed by members of NAR whose voices are heard across the country.  As a member, you can stay informed with the Federal Issues Tracker, which allows members to see how their businesses are being affected by shifts in policy, and the Commercial Issues & Actions Brief, regularly updating members on issues including 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges, Water Rights, and Flood Insurance that have an impact on your business. The Washington Report is a wonderful source of information on governmental matters touching on real estate. But the fight doesn’t stop at the national level as NAR also provides REALTOR® Party initiatives closer to home, lobbying at the state and local levels to ensure that someone is looking out for our members. RPAC works tirelessly to monitor and inform officials in your corner of the world so they know what their constituents need and can ensure that those needs are met. Members can become involved in our Broker Involvement Program to have an even louder voice in these policy conversations.  Put simply, REALTORS® are heard and respected by government officials everywhere.

Research

NAR has a world-class research arm, providing a slew of cutting-edge work designed to empower members through access to robust case studies and reports. Commercial Real Estate practitioners enjoy expert research and analysis through NAR’s annual Lending Trends Report, quarterly Marketing Trends and Outlook Reports, and the Expectations and Market Realities in Real Estate Report. NAR understands the complexity of all disciplines within the commercial real estate industry and prides itself on providing powerful tools to its members. You also benefit from local case studies, bringing a century of research know-how to your backyard to examine local issues and provide answers. This top-to-bottom research approach is a core commitment and something that will never change.

Education & Networking

NAR strongly believes that REALTORS® should be connected to the best educational tools and the most dynamic real estate practitioners in the world. You already know first-hand about the exceptional education from the REALTORS® Land Institute; you can also dive into resources from the other affiliate organizations (CCIM Institute, Counselors of Real Estate, IREM and SIOR), which offer a robust blend of educational opportunities designed to accommodate even the busiest practitioners. Members can take advantage of online and traditional courses designed to enhance their understanding of the industry, to provide vital continuing education credits, or to polish off a REALTOR® University Master’s Degree. Achieving additional discipline specific designations, including CCIM, CIPS, CPM, CRE, and SIOR, will boost your expertise, and potentially your income.

Publications & Resources

In addition to the superb Terra Firma magazine you already receive, NAR provides you with a host of other print and digital items bursting with valuable information. Commercial Connections, a NAR publication mailed directly to you, provides a treasure-trove of helpful articles and industry-specific coverage. Identifying your specific “Field of Business” in the National REALTOR® Database System (NRDS) automatically subscribes you for this excellent resource and also for the Commercial Digest monthly e-newsletter. Your NAR membership gives you access to ample legal and risk management resources as well as proprietary field guides, both of which can guide you through complicated changes and trends in Commercial Real Estate. NAR’s Library provides free eBooks, Journals, and Audiobooks, a perk for which many ALC designees might not know they qualify. NAR also provides a wide array of templates for business letters, official letter head, and commercial forms through REALTOR Benefits® Partner zipLogix™.

Technology & Data

NAR understands that many of its members strongly desire access to powerful databases with property information, demographics and listing information. The CommercialSearch™ platform is an invaluable access point for marketing available listings, with nearly 500,000 commercial properties to search – all at no charge. REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR), the parcel-centric property database, available as a free benefit to REALTOR® members, provides rich demographic data, property reports and more on all parcels in the United States.  Adding the rapidly expanding Xceligent® Research & Property Data Platform results in a trifecta of complimentary commercial technology that is right at your fingertips.  Our CRTLabs are always working to foresee emergent technologies and the NAR REach® Technology Accelerator Program Companies aligns members with forward thinking companies sure to be at the front of the next wave of commercial real estate technology.

One thing is certain: at the end of the day there is a mountain of member benefits that are yours for the taking. Realtor.org/Commercial is a great starting point on your journey to all of these amazing options. Open a new window in your browser to discover the value and of the array of benefits that you have access to as a NAR Member and begin taking advantage of them right away.

knabb-jacobAbout the author: Jacob S. Knabb is the Communications and Member Services Associate for NAR Commercial, editing Commercial Connections and running social media. Follow NAR Commercial on Twitter @commsource to see his tweets about the latest in the commercial real estate industry.