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!

Accredited Land Consultant land transaction expert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 Important Questions to Ask Before Buying Land Real Estate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Steps to Take After You Purchase a Land Property

Purchasing a land property can be a wise investment. Whether you are looking to build a home on the property, cultivate farmland, or want the land developed for any other purposes, it is important to take the right steps after purchase to ensure your plans for the property can be carried out smoothly. After finalizing the purchase, you will need to carefully survey your land, get all documents in order, and get the property into a good condition to fulfill your plans for it.

1. Study the Topographic Map
Before finalizing the sale, you should obtain a topographic map of the property from the seller and check to be sure you know exactly what you are buying. After the sale is finalized, a good first step is to carefully study the map to get the lay of the land. If you are intending to build a home on the property, identify flat areas that may be good to lay a foundation, as well as areas that will need to be cleared of rocks or debris. If you are planning to raise livestock, you can also plan out where they can graze and how best to keep your animals penned in. This map will also show you the exact boundaries of the property you purchased.

2. Establish Boundaries
If the land you just purchased does not already have fencing or natural barriers running along the edges of the property, you will want to establish boundaries. There are many reasons for doing this. If you are preparing farmland, you will want to keep wild animals out, and if you intend to build a home, boundaries will prevent hunters or other trespassers from walking around the property. Be sure to create your boundaries based on the specifications of the topographic map, which will show you exactly how far the property stretches, and choose the material for your boundary wisely. Wooden fencing is the most visually attractive option, but if you are looking to keep livestock in or predators out, barbed wire is usually best.

3. Have Your Land Evaluated
If you intend to build a home, or other structures such as a barn or garage, you will want to have your land professionally evaluated after purchase. Hire a local builder to survey the land; they can take into account topographic conditions, drainage, sun direction, privacy, and other factors that will help determine where on the property you decide to build. Many companies offer free on-site evaluations for customers intending to build.

4. Pick Up Trash
You would be surprised at how much garbage can be accumulated on large plots of land, particularly if it was unowned or unused before your purchase. Whatever your intentions for the property, you will want to clear your land of trash. This will improve its visual appeal, get it ready for development, and keep livestock from coming in contact with garbage. Some trash will be obvious, but keep in mind that items like glass and rusted metal often rest just below the top layer of soil, which can cause them to blend in with the ground. Check the entire property carefully; occasionally, you may even find something interesting or useful among the waste.

5. Clear the Land
After trash has been removed, you will need to clear the land of obstructing boulders, fallen trees, or other debris that can cause problems for land development. You will likely need to hire professionals to help dig out large rocks or clear massive trees; although if you own a reliable chainsaw, you can often cut trees up yourself and then remove them or use the pieces for firewood. Do not complete this step until you have carefully surveyed your property and chosen where you will be building, as you will likely need to more thoroughly clear the site of the foundation for your home, barn, or other building.

6. Meet the Neighbors
One of the most important steps after purchasing land has nothing to do with building or finances. By introducing yourself to your neighbors, you not only gain potential friends, but if the neighbors have lived on their property for a long time, they may be able to offer advice on clearing and developing the land. In addition, being on good terms with your neighbors can be a lifesaver if you ever have a medical emergency or other crisis situation.

By carefully following these six steps, you will ensure that you are ready to work or live on the land you just purchased. The most important thing is to have a plan for what you will do with the land; while these steps will always need to be taken in some capacity, exactly how you go about it will depend on your intentions for the land. As long as you take stock of the property after purchase and hire professionals when necessary, you will have the land ready for farming, building a home, or other property development in no time

About the Author: Alex Briggs is a contributing writer for Lone Eagle Land Brokerage, Inc. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with his family.

Five Must-Know Land Real Estate Apps for 2018

With the New Year just around the corner, we wanted to share with you some land real estate apps that can help you take your real estate business to the next level in 2018. Whether your resolution is to be more efficient, effective, or productive, we’ve compiled a list with the down-low on the top apps for land real estate professionals to download. How do we know these apps are so great? We’ve pulled them from the RLI Technology & Resource Center created by agents for agents as a member benefit.

Adobe Acrobat
As a land agent, we know you’re always on the go, which means so is your office. The Adobe Acrobat app is an all in one tool which allows you to easily and quickly access PDF documents no matter where they are downloaded from online. This intuitive tool makes reading documents on your phone or tablet easy with search, zoom, and scrolling functionality. Plus, you can review PDFs and add your own comments or mark-ups which you can easily pass along to staff or clients. And the fun doesn’t stop there, this app allows you to fill out forms on the go as well as e-sign any PDF doc. Finally, you have to check out its easy scan functionality which can turn a picture of anything into a shareable PDF.

CamCard
Keeping track of paper files, and especially small ones like business cards, can be a hassle. This next app proves a great way to turn your paper business cards digital to make them easier to keep track of and to use the information off of. All you have to do is snap a pic of a business card and the app keeps track of the information in a database like format. You can easily add notes, exchange e- cards, and access your contacts from anywhere!

EverNote
There’s a good reason EverNote calls themselves “your second brain.” This app has is great for agents trying to remember a lot of different things at once when they are being pulled in a million different directions. It’s not just an app for taking notes but also offers a way to declutter and work smarter by creating notes with checklists, tables, links, and even audio-snips all in a searchable central location. Plus, it also has a helpful business version of the app for purchase that allows sharing and collaboration—great for working with your team or clients.

FarmLogs
Okay so this app isn’t necessarily for your business — though you could use it that way, too! — but if you own farmland or have clients who do, it should definitely be on your radar. This app is designed to help you manage your property by giving insights into field conditions, soil maps, crop heat accumulation, yield threats, real-time futures prices, and more! You can even use for everything from taking and sharing notes while out on a property or managing a budget.

Sumo
Looking to grow your prospect list and capture leads from your website? Sumo helps agents to increase inbound traffic to their website and capture leads. From adding share buttons that make it easier for visitors to share your content to creating pop-ups that capture emails of hot leads, this app is designed to be a powerful way to grow your business.

For a full list of apps and more technology and service recommendations from the best land real estate agents in the business, check out RLI’s new Technology & Resource Center member benefit. Know of any apps we can add to this list? Fill out the form in the RLI Technology & Resource Center so we can add it to the collection! Until next time, here’s to a productive New Year!

Top Eleven Reasons Not To Miss NLC18!

We couldn’t be more excited for the 2018 National Land Conference! It’s an amazing time of year when the best of the best in land real estate come together to share knowledge, network, and have a ton of fun together. Since we did the Top Ten Reasons to Attend the 2017 National Land Conference last year, this year we are counting down the Top Eleven Reasons to Attend the NLC18 on March 12-14 in Nashville, TN.

  1. Nashville, TN – The Music City!

This year’s location is none other than Music City, USA. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Nashville, so you’ll be within walking distance of landmarks such as the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bridgestone Arena (home of the Nashville Predators), and plenty of honky-tonks. We’ll also be hosting our Welcome Reception at The Valentine — aka “Broadway’s Biggest Party!”

  1. The Variety of the Sessions — FIVE Breakout Sessions!

Even the most seasoned land professional can learn something new in our line-up of breakout sessions. The Breakout Sessions include topics like timberland, social media, the 2018 Farm Bill, title issues, investing in land, hunting land, and so much more.

  1. Our Partners

Drop by the exhibit hall to meet some of our partners and explore the variety of services and products they have to offer. NLC18 wouldn’t be possible without partners like United Country Real Estate, The Land Report, Keller Williams Realty, Land Broker Co-op, and so many more!

  1. The Cowboy Auction: Pony Up!

Bid on hunting trips, autographed memorabilia, vacation packages, and more! We’ll have a more detailed list of items to bid on as the event draws closer. This lively event raises money for the LANDU Education Program through the Land Education Foundation (LEF). Last year United Country helped RLI raise a record amount of funds at this event. Help us break that record in 2018! Place your bids on exclusive items like hunting trips, handmade items, vacation packages and more!

  1. Amazing Expert Speakers

The best of the best come out for the National Land Conference, and 2018 is no different. Dr. Mark Dotzour, the Chief Economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, has had his research featured in Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Business Week. We’ll also have on site expert speaker is Edsel Charles, the Founder and Chairman of the Board for MarketGraphics Research Group, INC. These two men are coming to NLC18 to share their knowledge and answer questions from the audience. Where else could you get such an opportunity but at NLC18?

  1. Have Your Voice Heard

With chapters in eighteen states and over a thousand members, you might think that it would be hard to have an input with such a big organization. However, with sessions like the RLI Town Hall and RLI Chapter Workshop Meeting, you can have a chance to make a difference and have your voice heard by (and hear from) hundreds of other RLI members.

  1. The Land Tech Accelerator Program

This new addition to the conference is a look into the future of land real estate. The 2018 New Technology Partners will showcase the latest technologies for land real estate and showcase how they can improve your business. Hear from our winners, Terva, LandHub.com, and REALSTACK, about their new technologies available to the industry!

  1. Pre-Conference Tour of Jack Daniel’s Distillery | Update: SOLD OUT!

Kick off the week the Nashville Way! Take a tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and learn the history behind this famous whisky. Afterwards, sip five different types of whisky and liqueur at Barrel House 1-14. There are a limited number of spots for this event and registration is first-come-first-serve—so get your tickets today!

  1. The Return of Let’s Make Deal$ LIVE

It’s back by popular demand! This fan favorite event is a live Haves & Wants session where you can showcase your client’s property to over 250 other brokers/agents and their clients. It is the largest opportunity to market and buy land in the industry, so don’t miss out on this amazing business opportunity to make deals. We already have $200M worth of land being presented, don’t miss this two-hour property marketing session at NLC18.

  1. The Chance to Network

With texting, social media, and LinkedIn, it seems as if there are fewer and fewer opportunities to network with people offline. At NLC18, not only do you get to meet fellow professionals from all over the country, but you will be interacting with the best of the best. Make sure to check out the NLC18 official event app to enhance your networking.

  1. The 2018 RLI APEX Awards

Topping off our list is a new addition to the NLC rotation. NLC18 will include the first-ever APEX Awards Program. The APEX Awards Program celebrates outstanding RLI members and their accomplishments. Awards will be given to the top twenty producers, as well as top brokers in the categories of Crops, Ranches, Recreational Land, Timber Land, Commercial Land, Residential Land, and Auction Sales. Will you be recognized as one of the nation’s top producers? Attend to find out!

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.

 

wind energy

Does Wind Cool a Hot Housing Market, or are Wind Farm Worries Overblown?

For most of us, buying a home is the most financially consequential decision we make. So it makes sense to protect that investment—and find out how major developments in the neighborhood will affect our most valuable asset.

Traditionally, three factors have an outsized impact on home values: strength of the local economy, low taxes, and access to good schools. For rural communities that may go years between major investments, the arrival of a wind farm has large benefits in all three areas.

Over 99 percent of wind power projects are built in rural America and on private land. That means project owners lease small segments of property from large landowners—usually farmers and ranchers. The concrete pads on which they build wind turbines, and the gravel lanes to reach them, typically leave 98 percent of the land undisturbed and available for other uses, such as crops, livestock, hunting, and off-road vehicles.

And the checks start arriving for thousands of dollars per turbine per year.

Those lease payments can really add up: in 2016 alone they totaled $245 million across America, a figure that is steadily rising. That creates a steady source of income for landowners, as well as a new tax base that agricultural communities can count on. It’s especially meaningful during years of drought, poor harvests, or crashes in commodity prices. In fact, many farmers call wind their new drought-proof cash crop.

“It will not change how we operate, it will not change anything about our lives. But it will be an additional income stream that I suspect will be very handy,” said John Dudley, whose family has been ranching in Comanche, Texas, since the 1880’s. “It’ll allow [our] family to have that ranch for a long time.”

Dr. Sarah Mills of the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy recently examined the concrete benefits of wind income for Michigan farmers. Among her findings:

  • Farmers with turbines on their land have invested twice as much in their operations over the last five years as those without them.
  • Turbine-hosting farmers have purchased more farmland in the last five years than non-hosts.
  • Farmers with turbines are more likely to believe their property will be farmed in the future, and they’re more likely to have a succession plan in place for when they retire.

Crucially, Mills also found that landowners with wind turbines spent significantly more on improving their homes and farms.

Beyond income for farmers and ranchers, wind projects also create jobs in the local community. Wind turbine technicians, one of America’s two fastest growing jobs according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, are needed to operate and maintain projects. That offers new career opportunities for young people.

It also helps small businesses thrive, another key component in keeping local economies healthy. For example, Auxilius Heavy Industries, based in Fowler, Indiana, performs services for many of the area’s local wind farms. The company has been able to double in size each of the four years since its founding.

Community members don’t need to work in wind or host turbines on their land to realize its benefits, however. Because they are usually built in rural areas with low tax bases, wind farms often become a county’s largest taxpayer. That boosts local budgets and can help pay to fix roads or build new hospitals, without having to raise taxes. In fact, in some communities, wind revenue renders local taxes totally unnecessary. In Sheldon, New York, for example, the town abolished local taxes for eight years because wind revenue covered all of its budgetary needs.

Wind’s extra revenue also strengthens the third pillar of home valuation: access to a strong school system. New financial resources from wind allow rural school districts to offer services they otherwise would not be able to.

“Oh my gosh, it’s been a game changer for us,” said Jeff Synder, superintendent of the Lincolnview school district in Van Wert, Ohio. “Now we have the windmill money opportunity, we have $400,000 per year for 20 [years]. I didn’t have to pass one levy, ask [our taxpayers] for anything.”

The Lincolnview school district was able to provide every student grade K through 12 with a laptop, and fully fund the repair and replacement program. In New York, the Lowville school district used wind revenue to build a new athletic field and offer advanced placement courses, and it has a swim team called The Turbines. In fact, students from the Lowville district perform so well on standardized tests, compared to areas with similarly low average family income, that researchers from Syracuse University are now studying Lowville to see what makes it so successful. The added programs funded by wind surely play a role in the system’s success.

For those concerned about the impacts of wind farms on property values, the evidence shows there is no cause for concern — long-term, comprehensive studies show wind power doesn’t affect property values. In 2014, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) along with University of Connecticut examined 122,000 home sales near 26 wind facilities in densely populated Massachusetts between 1998 and 2012, comparing transactions within a half-mile (1,500 of the sales) to similar transactions up to five miles away. Based on a detailed analysis the researchers were unable to uncover any impacts to nearby home property values.

LBNL has conducted two other major studies on this topic (in 2009 and 2013), and in all cases, found no statistical evidence that operating wind turbines have had any measurable impact on home sales prices. As an author of the 2009 report stated “Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes.”

“Wind is a lucrative, sustainable ‘crop’ for our farmers and entire community,” said Susan Munroe, president and CEO of Van Wert County’s Chamber of Commerce. “We hope to continue to harvest wind to not only build economic success for our county but provide sustainable, renewable energy for our state.”

About the Author: Greg Alvarez is the Deputy Director, External Communications, for the American Wind Energy Association.

 

Is Virtual Reality in the Future for Land Real Estate?

Nowadays, the technology in land real estate is looking more and more like something out of a science fiction movie. First, drones flew into popularity among landowners to take aerial pictures and film videos of properties (read more about drones here). Now, virtual reality tours are popping up on the internet, offering 360 views of properties and a more in-depth look at farm life than ever before. We’re going to take a look at this new technology and the pros and cons of investing in your own virtual tours.

First of all, what exactly is a virtual reality tour? You might be thinking of something out of The Jetsons. It’s much simpler than that. A virtual tour uses a combination of photographs and videos to allow someone to explore a location using their phone or computer. Recently, technology has become so advanced that some videos have a 360-degree feature where you can use your mouse to explore every inch of a property. Other companies are using virtual reality headsets so advanced that you feel like you are walking in the middle of an apple orchard when you are actually just standing in the middle of your living room.

One example of this new technology is FarmFoods360, a virtual reality site that lets you explore Canadian farms. There are sixteen different types of farms to tour, ranging from the usual (egg farms and fruit farms) to the unique (ratite, a type of flightless bird originally from South America). Videos with 360-degree access allow you to learn everything from how the animals are kept to how cabbage is harvested. If you click on Dairy Cow Farms, you can view the milking stations, the different types of stalls, and calf barns. Each tour is chock-full with enough facts about the livestock and crops to satisfy even the nosiest customer.

Even though virtual reality tours sound great, every technology has its drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the upsides and downsides of this new technology.

UPSIDES

-Clients can view properties from their own home. You can save yourself and your clients time and money by replacing in-person tours with online ones. They can view your properties from the comfort of their own couch. Also, having a virtual tour expands your working hours with no extra effort to you. Your virtual tour will be open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It’s like a permanent open house!

-Food transparency. Have you noticed a new wave of customers who want to know exactly where their food came from and what is in it? More people than ever are interested in ‘food transparency’, where and how their food is raised.  In a 2015 Trace One survey, 91% of respondents said it’s important for them to know where their food comes from.Virtual tours let customers explore farms and see how their food is raised.

-Shareability. In the age of social media, it’s easier than ever to share information. With one click, you can share a link to your virtual tour to social media sites and high traffic blogs (like the REALTORS® Land Institute blog!). This is an easy way to reach out to new clients and keep current ones updated on your latest properties.

DOWNSIDES

-Virtual tours can be pricey. If you opt for more high-tech virtual reality equipment, it’s going to cost you. A VR computer can cost over $1,000, and high-end headsets can range from $50-$600. Even the cheaper options can end up being more expensive than you’d think. Matterport 3D Camera, a company that uses 3-D scanning to photograph properties, charges around $100 to $200 to capture a property. If you are selling multiple or large properties, this could get expensive fast.

-New tech glitches. Because virtual reality is so new, there are bound to be glitches. Some common glitches include blurry photos and broken links. Some people who use virtual reality headsets claim that the headsets gave them motion sickness if they kept them on for too long.

-The human touch. Some people prefer to walk around the properties they are considering buying and meeting the owners face-to-face. While virtual tours are better for convenience, there is something special about in person visits that can get lost online.   

Taking this all into consideration, are virtual reality tours worth it? Our answer is: yes. While it is a relatively new technology that can glitch and isn’t the cheapest option, virtual tours are simply the best marketing tool in our new world. Today’s customers value convenience and expertise, and virtual tours can give that to them.

Some people still don’t like the idea of virtual reality tours. Some people claim that they prefer the “authenticity” of a real visit instead of a virtual one, while other people are worried about the cost. There was a similar reluctance when drones were first introduced to the world of land real estate. Even though drones were able to get aerial shots of land that were previously impossible to get, almost no one bought a drone. The first commercial drones were outrageously expensive and required a license to fly them. Over time, the prices dropped and people discovered that drones could do more than just take great photos of land. Drones can track hurricanes, track wildlife, and take pictures of poachers.  Now, there are over 600,000 commercial drones in the air.

While some of the more high-end virtual reality equipment like headsets are out of the price range for the average land seller, there are simple and cheap ways to get on board with the newest wave of technology. Check out sites like YouVisit and Homes & Land  to learn about cost effective ways to incorporate virtual reality into your business.