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.

ALC Shadow over dirt

Why Use an Accredited Land Consultant?

When it comes time to buy or sell a property, having the best in the business representation is invaluable. Using an Accredited Land Consultant guarantees clients that they are represented by the most knowledgeable, experienced, well-connected, and trustworthy land professionals in the country.

What is in ALC?
An Accredited Land Consultant, or ALC, is a land real estate broker or agent who has completed a rigorous Land University (LANDU) Education Program through the REALTORS® Land Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS®. All ALCs have met a high level of experience and transaction volume requirements ensuring their expertise when it comes to conducting and closing real estate deals. On top of having a proven and unparalleled level of expertise and experience, ALCs are required to adhere to the ALC Code of Conduct, which assures high ethical standards, in order to maintain their elite status as an ALC and ensure their clients best interest take priority.

Accredited Land ConsultantsExpertise
ALCs understand the value of being the expert on all matters pertaining to a client’s transaction. Land transactions, in particular, require specialized knowledge and familiarity with the industry to competently ensure the client’s best interests are met.  From understanding the various legal aspects of a transaction to applying knowledge of soil types, investment analysis, timberland valuation, recreational or agricultural land management, acquiring land for residential development, and more, ALCs are certified to have the expertise needed to represent their clients.

Experience
As the old saying goes, “there is no teacher like experience.” Which is why to become an ALC, applicants must submit a resume that demonstrates a minimum of two years of experience in land sales or brokerage or a minimum of three years of comparable real estate experience. They must also prove experience in at least five closed land transactions totaling $10,000,000, or a total of twenty-five separate land transactions.

Networking
One key to success that many clients overlook is having a broker or agent that is well connected with other brokers / agents across the country. Whether it is to tap their pool of buyers seeking to purchase a property or to gain additional insights into best practices or specialized knowledge, having a large network of other highly qualified ALCs and best in the business land brokers through the REALTORS® Land Institute is invaluable.

Ethical Integrity
Accredited Land Consultants are honorable land professionals who recognize the importance of land to life. ALCs share in the responsibility to conduct themselves with high morals following the ALC Code of Conduct and the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®.

  1. Protect and promote the best interest of clients
  2. Display high moral and professional standards
  3. Avoid exaggeration and misrepresentation of relevant facts
  4. Treat all with honesty and respect
  5. Stay current in industry knowledge and trends
  6. Enhance the integrity and professionalism of the industry
  7. Cooperate with fellow real estate professionals
  8. Follow local, state, and national laws regarding disclosure
  9. Will not condone or participate in discriminatory practices
  10. Support, understand, and champion RLI policies

The ALC Designation gives clients and their brokers the confidence to competently buy and sell land. To find an Accredited Land Consultant, visit rliland.com/find-a-land-consultant. For more information on becoming an ALC, visit rliland.com/accredited-land-consultant-designation.

Jessa Friedrich, MBA, Marketing ManagerAbout the Author: Jessa Friedrich, MBA, is the Marketing Manager for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has an Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing as well as her MBA in Marketing with a specialization in Social Media.

drone with camera for real estate commercial use

Drones for Commercial Use: Taking Real Estate Businesses to New Heights

As I was browsing the internet today, I came upon a humorous article entitled Santa Delivered the Drone. But not the safety and skill to fly it. The article contained a number of “drone laments”, speaking of the excitement of getting a new drone for Christmas followed by the agony of crashing it on the first day or even the first flight. One Tweet read: “A holiday story: Give nephew drone. Nephew flies drone for like five seconds. Drone falls, breaks. Christmas ruined. Drones are stupid. The end.” This one gave me a good laugh.

It’s true that drones have become a very hot item in recent years. And as the technology has become more widespread and less expensive, drone sales have gone through the roof. The majority of the drones sold cost less than $200 and are best classified as toys. And most people who fly them lack a good understanding of flight principles, wind, and spatial awareness. Thus, the yuletide drone woes come as no surprise.

“The use of drones across all sectors has exploded in the past three years. The FAA estimates that over 600,000 drones will be flying commercially in the US in 2017.”

In real estate and many other businesses, drones for commercial use are definitely not toys. They are valuable and, I might add, critical tools for marketing and selling property. I have personally been using drones for over two years – thanks to my FAA Section 333 exemption. I can personally attest to their value in my business, BUT here’s the latest: my exemption doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, ZERO Section 333 exemptions exist. That’s because in August of 2016, the FAA enacted a new rule enabling people to become licensed specifically as drone operators. Previously, the only way to legally fly a drone for commercial purposes was to hold a pilots license and go through a lengthy approval process to get an exemption. Now, after taking online education and passing a written exam, individuals become licensed as drone operators and can fly completely legally, subject to certain regulations.

drone for commercial real estate use with camera

Due to this new rule, I have been encouraging every land broker I know to become licensed and start flying. You can buy a drone for less than $1,000 that has all the capabilities needed, and you don’t have to be a Navy fighter pilot to safely and efficiently fly your drone for maximum effectiveness. A little practice goes a long way and the more you fly, the more comfortable you will become. I often tell people that I could teach a ten year old to fly my drone in under thirty minutes – and I mean it. With the right equipment, the drone basically flies itself. This small investment of money and time has the potential to have huge impacts on your business.

An overhead view provided by a drone shows how a property fits together, how it is accessed, and the surrounding land and uses. On a large property, you can showcase more about a property in a sixty-second video than an entire morning of driving. Additionally, in the same way that digital photography and online mapping are considered standard today, drone video and photography are becoming just as commonplace. As land professionals, it is important to keep in step with emerging trends to bring the best service and value to our clients.

At the 2017 National Land Conference, I will be leading a breakout session on the use of drones in land real estate. We will briefly discuss how to become licensed as a drone operator but will focus primarily on how to best use this tool to increase value for your clients and increase business for yourself. If you have no experience or interest in drones, I invite you to attend and see if I can change your mind. If you have been flying drones for years as I have, I invite you to come and share your stories, as well as what works for you and what doesn’t. The format will be very interactive and I think everyone will come away having learned something new – including myself!

I hope to see you at the 2017 National Land Conference in Charlotte, NC, from March 31-April 2. In the meantime, if you have any questions about drones that I can answer, please give me a call or drop me an email.

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

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.

Recruiting and Developing Our Most Valuable Asset

This piece originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Summer 2016 Terra Firma magazine.

You know it isn’t very difficult for an agent to shine in the real estate profession.  In some cases all they have to do is return a phone call or follow through on something they promised.  I think it is pretty sad that the bar is set that low….

whitetail2You can have a beautiful building and offices, state of the art website and office equipment and you can spend a fortune on PR, social media and marketing.  However, at the end of the day, if your company is not represented by professional real estate agents you are hurting your business, your brand and the real estate profession as a whole.

Make no mistake, when a real estate agent, regardless of who he or she is licensed with, represents himself in less than a professional manner due to his or her poor work ethic, lack of skill or dishonesty, every single one of us in the real estate profession pays the price.

One very common real estate business model is to hire as many agents as possible, offer them a large split and let them beat it out.  Meanwhile, whether those agents know what they are doing or not, they may acquire a listing or two simply because a friend or family member feels obligated to list with them.  This approach is strongly why over seventy percent of the real estate agents will quit this profession within two years.  I feel this business model is extremely unfair to the agents; unfair to the public; and catastrophically harmful to the image of our industry.

Forget the representation of your company for the moment and consider the amount of money that exchanges hands along with legalities, complexities and the consequences associated with the sale and purchase of land.  I believe our objective as brokers and leaders should be to hire the best people and support them through training, marketing and structure.  In essence, we pour everything we can into them to ensure they are successful and in turn we will be successful because our relationship will be bilaterally equitable.

Recruiting

Our primary recruiting resources are online companies like, Monster, Indeed and Zip Recruiter to name a few. We target the nearest major metropolitans to the areas we wish to populate. These companies cast pretty large nets in that they often have sub-chapters/boards and communities that extend their radius. Our collateral resources include: our own career page on our website; social media; LinkedIn careers; The Outdoorwire; outdoorindustryjobs.com; AGcareers.com and AgHires.com to name a few.

What we do not do at Whitetail Properties is try to recruit/steal-away other broker’s agents. When you consider that we work in an industry where we work together through co-brokers and referrals, trying to recruit agents away from other brokers does not feel anymore ethical to me than calling another broker’s client. If agents from other companies call us, we are more than happy to talk to them; however, we will never call them first.

The prospective agent’s initial phone interview is with our HR executive (we provide her with the qualifying criteria).  If the prospective agent makes the cut, HR then sets up a second phone interview with our three-person interview panel. We then rate the candidate on a scale of one through ten on a ten-line score sheet.  If the candidate makes the second cut, we then setup an in person interview.  If the candidate gives a good personal interview we sign them up for the next orientation after they’ve obtained their real estate license.  It’s important that they attend orientation before we allow them to represent our company and our brand.

Basic Foundation

There are a lot of real estate companies that will hire anyone who has a pulse and the ability to acquire a real estate license.  I believe that this, along with a lack of training, is why many people stereotype real estate agents as a bunch of incompetent crooks.

We have four basic cornerstones when considering a new agent:  First and foremost, the prospective agent has to be an honorable person; the prospective agent has to be passionate about land and every aspect of land; the prospective agent has to have a strong work ethic; and the prospective agent has to be professional.

We can teach real estate, but in my opinion by the time human beings reach adulthood we can’t make them love land or teach them to be honorable!

Additional Prerequisites:

  • Financially Stable
  • Ability to work full time
  • Self-motivated
  • Accountable
  • Trainable

Developing Superstars

whitetailOrientation

We are accountable for and to our agents.  For this reason, we do not allow our agents to represent our company until they have attended orientation.  At Whitetail Properties’ three-day orientation, our goal is to give our agents everything they need to start their career on a successful path.

Weekly Webinars

Our weekly webinars provide our agents with solid career building knowledge. The topics cover everything from utilizing your sphere of influence to recognizing a property’s highest and best use.  Training is not something that you do once in a while.  Training has to be scheduled and repeated on a regular basis.  The key is to keep it fresh, informative, relative, productive and entertaining.

Maintaining Pro-active Contact

It’s important to maintain regularly scheduled calls with agents in order to review, mentor and coach them.  You see, the agents who contact their brokers for assistance are generally the ones working deals.  However, the agents who typically need help the most are the ones we don’t hear from because they are not working anything so it’s very important that we reach out to them and explore what they are doing and how we can help them

Support

Every member of our staff is employed for the sole purpose of helping our agents become successful and continue to grow their businesses.  In addition to the office and administrative staff, the following employees are at our agents disposal: we employ our own graphic designer, marketing director, advertising team, creative director, production department, IT department, compliance officer, accounting department, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer as well as team leaders and brokers.  Of course we did not start off with such an extensive staff.  We realized early on that in order to grow our business and our agents’ businesses, we had to develop a formula where we employed key staff members for every X number of agents.

Experience

The most important thing we teach our agents is that our client’s experience is the single most important part of their jobs. None of us will sell every tract of land we list, but when our ultimate goal is not necessarily to sell the listing but rather to provide our clients with the ultimate land buying or selling experience, we will sell more land.  In addition, we will receive more referrals and elevate the image of our company and of the industry.

There are too many real estate companies who feel making the sale is more important than working in their client’s best interest; more important than building a relationship; more important than being a professional and even more important than being honest.  This has to change.

Our Most Valuable Asset

Our agents are unquestionably our most valuable assets.  However, we can’t just wind them up and turn them loose. Through explanation and repetition we have to instill our company’s core values in our agents.  Our company’s ideology is the foundation from which we’ve grown our business.  Without a solid foundation based on integrity you are not developing or nourishing your most valuable assets.

As I mentioned before, we have to provide a consistent training program.  We have to take every opportunity to mentor and guide our agents and we have to teach our staff how to best assist our agents to ensure their success.  Along with this, we don’t allow agents to simply “hang their licenses” with us.  If we teach, train and mentor our licensees they become our most valuable assets.  However, if we do not teach, train and mentor an agent, that agent becomes our biggest liability!

We take our obligation to our agents; to our clients; to the public; to the States where we are licensed; and to all of our fellow brokers and agents in the industry very seriously.   Although as brokers we are held responsible and accountable for every one of our agents, there is no possible way that we can be present every single time our agents interact with buyers, sellers, customers or clients.  However, we can pour into our agents on a regular basis to ensure they conduct themselves, knowledgably, honestly, professionally and responsibly.  After all, they are our most valuable assets.

perez-danAbout the author: Dan Perez, RLI Member, is the CEO, Chief Broker, and one of the Founding Owners of Whitetail Properties Real Estate as well as the host of the ever-popular Whitetail Properties television show. Dan is passionate about the land business and driven by hiring and developing real estate agents to become multi-million-dollar land specialists.

vineyard

The Art of Selling a Vineyard

This is part 2 of 2 of an article that originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Summer 2017 Terra Firma magazine.

Although it is somewhat romantic to purchase a vineyard, it can be stressful, emotional or drudgery to sell one that you have put your life and soul into and worked at for years.  A buyer may not have the same passion as the seller.

Vineyards sell for a variety of reasons.  Perhaps the owner has improved it to the point of capacity and wants a new challenge.  Perhaps there is a death in the family and the succeeding generation does not have the desire or passion to continue. Possibly a vineyard has produced some exceptional grapes for wine or juice and a major player wants the label and juice bad enough to pay an exorbitant price for the vineyard.   Perhaps there is financial difficulty that dictates moving on.

Juice grapes hold very little, if any, additional value for the variety.  That land is considered similar to row crop land except that the vines need to be scraped off to make way for a higher and better use.  Unlike merely a few years ago, when grape cooperatives had shares and the shares in the co-op held some value, the co-op shares are nearly worthless in today’s market.  The returns are lower than most any other crop, especially in the western states, and growers are actually losing money in places.  There is approximately a $1,000 to $1,500 cost to pull the vines and remove the infrastructure from a site.  Sellers may take a hit in price for this reason unless the buyer has a higher use for the land.

Table grapes, on the other hand, tend to retain their longevity as a crop.  Disease and urban encroachment are the largest factors confronting sellers of this type of land.

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Wine vineyards have exponentially more hurdles in the selling process.  Much of it is emotional; however, location within a specific American Viticulture Appellation (AVA) lends higher or lower value to a vineyard.  One in demand can, and usually does, sell at a substantially higher value than the same plantings across the road if they do not sit within the desired AVA.  Red Mountain AVA in southeastern Washington, is one of the smallest AVA’s known. The prices for vineyards and vineyard potential land can command one and a half to two times the price as a similar land parcel merely across the road–simply because of where someone drew the line for the AVA!

When selling, there are specific disclosures required.  The disclosure most often overlooked is the five-year crop pesticide and chemical use records.  There are also production records, income and expense records, labor hour records and sales contracts to disclose.  Much of this type of information is disclosed only with ‘confidentiality agreements’ signed by potential buyers.  Plus, there are state mandated disclosures that vary from state to state.  In addition, some sellers may demand potential buyers to be registered and pre-qualified with a lender’s letter in hand before they will show or release any information about the property.  If there are homes, buildings, or commercial parts to the sale, then, separate disclosures may be required for each endeavor.

One of the most important aspects of selling a vineyard (or any property for that matter) is keeping it clean, weed-free and presentable to the buying public.  First impressions make a HUGE difference when buying a piece of property.  Remember, sellers… Buyers often rely as much on emotional connection to a property as they do on business sense.  A clean and showy place makes all the difference–especially if there is more than one property that a particular prospect is considering.

Vineyard sellers would also be wise to have in their possession (or at least make available or have access to) the weather data, seasonal harvest dates, freeze data and so forth in order for a buyer to make an informed decision about the property.  The varieties, number of acres planted, age of vines, type of root stock (if they are grafted cuttings), row spacing, plants per acre, type of trellis, type of irrigation system, etc. are all pertinent to the sale.  In addition, a recent soil analysis and pH analysis are very helpful to potential buyers and their brokers.  The most important part of disclosures is to BE HONEST!  If there has been a disease or problem in the vineyard, disclose it even if it has been corrected.  Detail any environmental concerns such as being downwind from a processing facility, excessive dust from a gravel crusher, dairy nearby (fly spots on berries), etc.  The more honest, complete and accurate the disclosure is, the less liability the seller shoulders in any transaction.

Also, sellers should think through the end of the transaction.  What are they going to do with the money?  Bank it and pay capital gains, convert the sale into an IRS 1031 Tax Deferred Like-Kind Exchange, split a partnership or family holdings?  Bring in a qualified Certified Public Accountant early in the process so there are no last minute surprises–and be prepared for a long ride.  Vineyard listings, especially wine vineyards, either sell very quickly or may take several years.  If the numbers fit the return profile, they may sell quickly.  If not, it may take a while.  Investors don’t usually jump into the buying process on smaller acreages unless they have other similar property in the area or the holding and profit margin are substantial.  As with most family-owned vineyards, that is not the case.  You may need to take an additional harvest or two before you find the right buyer.  Hang on for the ride!

Flo Sayre, ALCAbout the author: Florence “Flo” Sayre, ALC, has been active in the land business for over forty years and licensed in the real estate industry for over twenty. A member of RLI since 2008, she is the current RLI Pacific Northwest Chapter President and the Chair of the ALC Designation Committee and serves on the RLI Board of Directors.

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The Art of Buying Vineyards

This is part 1 of 2 from an article that originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Summer 2016 Terra Firma magazine.

So you think you want to own a vineyard, do you?!?  There is much romanticism in buying and/or owning a vineyard.  However, let’s take a look at the facts and attempt to put some sense into the process.

Vineyard land or vineyard potential land is not all the same.  First, one must get some questions answered.  What type of grapes is the buyer interested in growing: table grapes, juice grapes or wine grapes?  If it is wine grapes, of which variety?  Does it have irrigation water, and is there enough water for a sustainable crop?  Which way does the air drain?  By that, I mean, is there a slope or is it flat land?  If the land is flat, then one needs to do substantially more research before committing.  Land with a slope (even in any direction) allows for natural air drainage – either up or down the hillside.  If there are undulations in the land (hills and valleys) there could be cold pockets subjecting spring bloom to potential frost.  In the industry, these are referred to as “frost pockets”.

Juice grapes are hardier than wine grapes or table grapes.  Their growing season is short enough to allow them to be grown in nearly every northern state in the US.  Table grapes have both a longer growing season and a tender blossom.  They are grown a bit mid-line across the US to the more southern areas – usually in the foothills to valley floors in the eastern and western coastal inland areas of the US like California or the Carolinas and Georgia.  Both of these varieties strive for high production and quantity, needing substantial water for finishing.

grapesWine grapes, on the other hand, are much more temperamental.  They need some water, but not too much.  There is a very fine line between not enough and too much water for irrigation.  A smaller berry, starved slightly for water, produces a better quality wine in the end.  Slopes are nearly always preferred for wine grapes, regardless of variety.  Red varietals can take colder winters than the whites and are more susceptible to some diseases.

One should make note of the local weather patterns, spring and fall freeze dates and frost-free growing days.  Also, take note of the types of crops grown in the surrounding area.  Know the standards of practice for spray application to the neighboring lands.  Grapes are very much negatively affected by certain sprays, causing bloom drop and loss of production.  Bees are an important factor to consider as well.  Grapes do very well in areas where orchards and nut groves are prevalent for pollination.  The bees tend to linger longer where there is ample blossom time and fresh nectar.

Take a look at the soils.  Vines do not like to have wet feet, so, well drained soils are a major factor.  Have the soils tested for nutrients as a part of your ‘due diligence’ prior to closing the sale.  Know and understand the nutritional needs of your chosen varieties, and if the soils need amending to reach the plant requirements, find out what the cost will be to reach that goal.  You may determine that a nicer looking property may cost you more than your second choice if the cost to get the soils amended to optimum levels is cost prohibitive.  Find a crop consultant in the area who specializes in grape production to help you with your research.  You may also find a Land Grant University with agricultural specialties in the area that has a team or department with ties to the vineyard industry.  Always look for local, regional or state grower associations for advice and/or assistance.

Have a financial plan!  This is one of the most frequently miscalculated and misguided parts of the farming business in general.  Vineyards do not produce the first year, or the second year, and possibly not even the third year.  Know the cost of trellising, planting, pruning and training the vines before production.  Determine if hand picking or mechanical harvest will be done.  If you are not sure, plan for both.  Height, row spacing and end-row turnaround space are critical.

Plan out plantings in phases so that you can optimize the land and the expense calendar.  Order the vines from a reputable nursery.  ALWAYS ask for the patent and copyright certificate for the vines you purchase!  If the nursery says they don’t have one or that you don’t need one, go elsewhere.  Permanent plants are patented and copyrighted just like photographs, parts and paintings, and there are substantial fines and penalties associated with ‘patent infringement’ in America.  It is also against the law to make cuttings of patented plants for expanding your own growing area.  Just be aware!  Most of all…plan for disaster years; they will happen in agriculture, regardless of the crop.  One cannot control Mother Nature!

Next, know the varieties and the demand.  Remember, the ‘sipping public’ changes flavor trends often and suddenly.  Reds are always popular; however, popular taste may vary from light to heavy, oaky to clear, and whatever other flavors can arise in the process of fermentation, or whatever the marketing ploy is at the time.  Whites can vary widely from dry to sweet; there are cooking varieties, sipping varieties, and dessert and aperitif whites.  It is important to know the market, the demand, and watch the industry trends before getting financially buried in the vineyard business.

Get to know the other growers and vintners in the area.  They will be your biggest resource and greatest fans.  Wine growers, unlike hop growers, are extremely generous with sharing information about practices, operations and what’s new.  Plus, they’ll give you advice–solicited or not!

You have done your research, completed your due diligence, developed a master plan, and found a circle of friends, consultants and advisers…now, you must have a passion in order for your plans to meld into your life and future.  If you don’t have passion, one can give up or give in and the project can easily fizzle at the first bump in the road.

Flo Sayre, ALCAbout the author: Florence “Flo” Sayre, ALC, has been active in the land business for over forty years and licensed in the real estate industry for over twenty. A member of RLI since 2008, she is the current RLI Pacific Northwest Chapter President and the Chair of the ALC Designation Committee and serves on the RLI Board of Directors.

Accredited Land Consultant Pin

Promoting Your ALC Real Estate Designation

No matter the industry, separating yourself from the competition is a critical component that can’t be overlooked. We RLI members know what an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) is, but does the public? I don’t believe they do. Isn’t our duty to educate the public? We are the elite members of the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) and we need to inform the public about WHO we are, not just WHAT we do.

I would like to share some ideas/thoughts that fellow ALCs have shared with us which are working well for them.

Don’t market specific properties, market yourself! Tell the public who you are, how you got to be an ALC. Let them know about the rigorous requirements you had to meet to obtain the designation and how you can use your expertise to assist a client with their current real estate needs.

Educate everyone around you. Let your colleagues, clients, friends and family know what RLI is and how this amazing group of land professionals have helped you in your career. Let clients know that you have a huge network of experts to assist you in meeting their needs. Let them know having your ALC designation, sets you apart from the other millions of real estate agents. Get them to ask themselves, why use anyone else?

Establish connections. Develop a sold group of bankers, accountants, attorneys and financial advisors that you trust. Help the client with full process of their land sale or purchase. It’s more than just buying and/or selling; it’s helping them understand each step and how it will affect them financially.

Write land articles, blogs, post videos etc. These are great ways to position yourself in the industry as the expert you are and share your knowledge and expertise. It helps build a brand with the public that you are the go to person for all their real estate needs. Be the star you are!

These are just a few things that you can do to promote your ALC designation and set yourself apart as being the one they will come to when they think about selling or buying real estate.

I will leave you with this thought. Another MN ALC gathered some data and found out these staggering facts. There are 23,565 licensed real estate agents in the state of Minnesota and of those agents, there are only 13 are ALCs–in the whole state of Minnesota! I am proud to say that I am 1 of those 13 ALCs and I need to educate the public to again get them to ask the question………WHY USE ANYONE ELSE?

Quick fact: According to a recent Nielsen study, only 33% of buyers trust what a brand says about itself; however, 92% believe what their peers say about a brand! What does that mean to you? If you are an ALC you are the best recruiting tool to motivate and promote your peers to grow and join RLI. As the old saying goes, there is strength in numbers. The more RLI members, the more networking, awareness about the ALC, and organizational growth there will be–which benefits all ALCs!

wendy forthun, ALCWendy Forthun, ALC, is an experienced broker and 1 Stop Realty’s Vice President. Wendy joined RLI in 2006 and earned her Accredited Land Consultant designation from RLI in 2013. She has successfully marketed her esteemed designation to help grow her business.