Upgrade Your Land Listings

There’s nothing more frustrating than having an incredible land real estate property and watching it just sit on the market. To figure out the secret to creating a listing that will get attention, we looked at the listings of successful ALCs to figure out what made those listings stand out from the crowd.

1. Put The Important Stuff First

In the age of social media, people’s attention spans are shorter than ever. Many listings only get a few seconds to make an impression. Make sure to put the most important information at the very front of your listing so that it catches the buyer’s eye.

2. Have A Checklist

Recently, a broker we knew contacted us because he’d found the perfect property. It had the acreage, price range, and structures he’d been looking for.

There was only one problem.

The listing didn’t include the location or any contact information.

Even the most experienced brokers can sometimes forget to add important information to their listings. Having a checklist can prevent these slips from happening. As a general rule, be sure to include:

  • Land type
  • Acreage
  • Price
  • Property features/type
  • Water availability and utilities
  • Location
  • Contact information

3. Get Social

There are lots of great and free tools to monitor which of your social media channels gets the most engagement. Each social media platform has a different target audience and finding out where your buyers are can be a huge time saver. Instead of spreading yourself thin, figure out which platforms work the best for you and focus your energy on that. Be careful though, you should only be doing about 20% selling on social and 80% providing educational, informative, and entertaining content, or you’ll scare aware your audience and there will be no one left to see those listings.

4. The Perfect Length

Similar to our first point, people don’t have a long attention span. If a description goes on and on (and on and on and… you get the point), people might lose interest. On the flip side, you don’t want a description to be so short that you cut out vital information.

There is no one “perfect length”, but looking at successful listings on The Land Connections, we found anywhere between eight to fifteen sentences was a length where you could fit in all the necessary information without going on too much. This listing from Bob Regester, ALC is a great example.

Slash J Slash Ranch at Lake Granby

Grand County| 920 Acres| $9,900,000| Granby CO

Slash J Slash at Lake Granby Huge Price Reduction Was $10,900,000 Now $9,900,000.
This exceptionally beautiful and rare 920-acre historic ranch is located in the resort community of Grand Lake. If you have been searching for the quintessential family legacy ranch, “Slash J Slash” ticks all the boxes. Multiple living quarters for friends and family located at the headquarters. Currently equipped for an equestrian and cattle operations with numerous outbuildings and a hay barn. There are several building sites hidden in the aspen and pine groves that offer spectacular snow-cap and lake views. Senior water rights are included with the ranch and add significant value for development potential. Elk, Moose, deer and antelope call this spread home.

This listing gives you all the information you need about the property: the price, the acreage, water rights, local wildlife, location, and more. This listing also comes with a property map and plenty of photos of the land.

Here’s another great example from Bart Miller, ALC. While it is shorter, the listing still contains all the information you need.

Golden West Equestrian Center

Jefferson County| 5 Acres| $1,995,000| Golden CO

The 4.88 acres of Golden West Equestrian Center is a profitable & well-established boarding, riding & training center. The facility maintains approximately 90 percent plus occupancy. The center boasts a 90 x 160 indoor arena, a 160 x 220 outdoor arena and a barn that contains 25 indoor stalls (16 with runs). In addition, there are 52 outdoor pens with shelters, two round pens (50 and 60), numerous turnouts, hydroponic fodder system, clubhouse and trailer parking. There is also an on-site veterinary clinic. An added bonus is a 164-acre open space park, available for riding, just across the road from the center.

5. Great Photos

You already know that great photos are a must. While many people focus on the quality of the photos, they sometimes forget to include pictures of things buyers would want to see. Here are some photo ideas to keep in mind for your next listing:

  • Pictures of structures of the land
  • Long distance shots
  • Pictures of water sources on the property
  • Video or drone tours of the property
  • 360 virtual tours
  • Pictures of unique aspects of the land (vineyards, bee boxes, etc.)

There’s no one perfect way to do a listing. Some people like to bullet point the factors of their property while others like a more structured layout. No matter how you like to create your unique listings, we hope this article can help make your listings more appealing.

if you even more tips on how to create a winning listing, check out this post by our partners at Lands of America on maximizing your listings.

For more posts that help land experts take their career to the next level, check The Voices of Land Blog.

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

 

October 2018 Land Sales Summary

Based on data shared through the Lands of America Comparable Sales Program, there were 153 properties listed as sold by REALTORS© Land Institute Members in October 2018. This represents approximately $84 million and 23,000 acres of land and rural real estate sold across 114 U.S. counties and 21 states. October 2018 sales activity by REALTORS© Land Institute Members participating in the program decreased by 5 percent over the previous month and 19 percent compared to sales volume from the same period in 2017.

The Land Guys’ Scott Whittington recorded the most individual sales during the month, followed by Raborn Taylor III, Pat Karst, and the team at United Country Real Estate and Auction.

Listed as sold on October 1, Dave Banzhaf, broker/owner of Englewood, Colorado-based Beacon Mountain Farm & Ranch, registered the month’s biggest land deal with his sale of 7,000-acre Reyher Farm. The farm, straddling portions of Bent and Prowess counties in southeast Colorado’s agricultural belt, is set up for cattle grazing, alfalfa pellet production and farming of crops including corn. The well-irrigated acreage includes a cattle-feeding facility with a 22,000-head capacity plus alfalfa pellet mill capable of producing six tons of pellets per hour.

The month’s biggest sale by value was that of Hidden Lakes Farm in northwestern Illinois. Offered through the Land Guys’ Scott Whittington, the sprawling tract features a mix of hardwood timber, thick regrowth, and brushy cover, and beautiful, grassy upland habitat. It also includes some 150 acres of lakes and ponds stocked with a variety of popular fish species.

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The Lands of America Comparable Sales Program includes almost 260,000 individual sales records dating back to March 2000. The program was put together to offer one centralized, nationwide location to assist in valuating properties. Sales information is shared on a voluntary basis by individual program participants. Please click here to learn more about participating in the Lands of America Comparable Sales Program.

RLI Members Benefit From Increased Exposure

With so many business buzzwords flying around, it can be hard to pin down what associations are doing day-to-day to best serve you – the members. Here at RLI National, we want to give an inside look into what we’re doing to promote our ALCs and RLI Members.

If you had a peek at the RLI 2017-2020 Strategic Plan Update, you probably noticed most of the points revolve around increasing awareness of our members and adding value to membership. At first glance, “awareness” and “adding value” can seem like two more buzzwords, but each priority is broken down into a series of steps that are currently in motion.

One of the ways we added value to membership was by creating the RLI APEX Awards Program. Sponsored by The Land Report, this awards program was designed to recognize the industry’s top national producers– truly the crème de la crème. The APEX Awards Program caught the attention of the media, getting coverage everywhere from the Business Insider to the Chicago Tribune and Market Watch. All the media attention got free publicity for all our applicants and their companies. Applicants that attended the APEX Awards Ceremony at our 2018 National Land Conference were even featured on a billboard in Times Square!

Another way we are creating awareness of RLI, is by having ads in every major industry publication and digital ads on all their websites, including:

These ads help us stay top of mind for people in every sector of the land industry. The RLI Brand is omnipresent in print and in person. in 2018, so far we‘ve had booths promoting RLI at the CCIM Conference, NAR REALTORS® Conference & Expo, and NAFB (National Association of Farm Broadcasting) Conference to help us maintain a strong voice in the land industry and spread awareness of our organization and designation. We are also working closely with NAR State and Local associations to help create awareness about RLI.

Our promotions resulted in an incredible 814% (yes, you read that right!) increase in people using the Find a Land Consultant search tool! This jump in Find a Land Consultant use means that land buyers and sellers are turning to REALTORS® Land Institute to find a land expert for their transaction – to find you, the RLI Member! In addition, with the help of Facebook ads, bringing on top-notch industry keynote speakers, and growing the number of partners in the exhibit hall by 60%, we’ve seen a 44% increase in attendees to 2018’s National Land Conference!

With more industry partners, we’re able to invest more into promoting our members and can offer more discounts to help members grow their businesses and close more deals.  For example, we also have formed partnerships to get our members great discounts and services as part of our Member Advantage Program (MAP).

 

RLI also created my role as Membership & Communications Specialist to assist with content generation, in addition to assisting members, to increase the quantity of posts we are able to put out. This has allowed us to now create valuable content for both land real estate agents like our members as well as content valuable to landowners. And even the content for landowners benefits you, the member, because you are able to share these pieces from our YOUR Land Blog to position yourself as the expert in your market by providing relevant, valuable content to your clients and potential clients. Our blog posts (like the one you are reading right now) keep our members in the know and to cement our role as The Voice of Land by showcasing timely, relevant content that is valuable to both land agents and landowners.

We’ve already had incredible results! RLI had a record number of partners for NLC, a 60% increase in industry partners that offer services to land professionals, and, for the first time in recent RLI history, sold out LANDU Education Week with record attendance.

We only listed a fraction of the steps that we’re taking to better serve our members (we’d need a lot more room to cover all that! You can read our full 2017-2020 Strategic Plan here). We always want to keep members updated on what we are doing so that we can work together to be The Voice of Land.

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

Put the Power of the RLI or ALC Brand Behind Your Name

Being a part of REALTORS® Land Institute comes with a lot of benefits that you probably already use: amazing networking opportunities, deep discounts, and our property marketing tools The Land Connections and e-Properties. But there is one benefit that isn’t as obvious: the power of the RLI or ALC brand. In this article, we’re going to explore how you can put the power of the RLI or ALC brand behind your name.

How can you, the RLI Member or ALC, make the most of our brand power? We asked Terri Jensen, ALC, a land broker with National Land Realty and 2015 Past President of RLI, what the ALC Designation means to her. Of 18,000+ REALTORS® in Minnesota, Terri is one of only 14 to have earned the elite ALC Designation, so we knew she’d be a good person to ask. Here’s what she said having the RLI and ALC brands means to her:

  • “Provided the education, experience, and expertise needed to better assist my clients
  • Continued education on hot topics to stay current in the marketplace
  • Ability to lobby for legislation on behalf of landowners, as well as real estate practitioners
  • Always having someone to call on with a question
  • The ability to better market my services given the very small number of ALCs in my state vs. the total number of REALTORS®
  • Networking and a sense of family with those who know land
  • The opportunity to participate in, and be part of an organization that strives to be The Voice of Land and make its members the best in the business!”

So, what can you do to make the most out of your ALC and RLI Membership? Here are five ways:

1. Use The Logo

Use the RLI Member or ALC Logos* on all your property listings, business cards, email footers, and other marketing materials. You can even visit the RLI or ALC Logo Brand Shops (access them from your RLI Member profile page) to order clothes, office supplies and more branded with our logos! Plus, RLI Chapter Members can take advantage of using the new RLI Chapter Member Logo if you’re an active member of an RLI Chapter. The more you promote the ALC logo and RLI Member Logo, the more brand recognition there will be in the industry – which means the more valuable holding the designation or being a member becomes for you!

Need marketing materials? We’ve got you covered. You can order ALC Brochures online, and we also have press release templates for new ALCs and RLI members in our Member Resources page.

2. Keep Your Find a Land Consultant profile Up To Date

With the boom in use, you’ll want to make sure your most current information is on your FALC profile. This includes your specialties, contact information, where you are licensed, a headshot, and more. Check out our article Top Six Find A Land Consultant Profiles article for tips on how to improve yours.

3. Continuing Education

There’s always something new to learn, and sometimes it costs nothing! ALCs and RLI Members get discounted member rates on classes and even get a few free webinars each year.

Now is the perfect time to check out our course schedule, since we just finished up an education update to make the courses even better. The content in all of our classes has been updated to provide you with the most relevant industry trends and best practices. The format of the classes has also been updated to enhance engagement with both the content and other students. You can view all of our upcoming classes here.

4. Attend the Annual National Land Conference (NLC)

This is a great event to see and be seen. RLI Members and ALCs get discounted member rate registrations. Plus, you can be sure to get an even deeper discount on the networking event of the year with early bird registration rates by registering before December. And if you are a new member of RLI that has a join date after January 1, 2018 you’ll automatically get an additional 25% off registration. How does attending NLC help your brand?

“Anything you do to develop yourself professionally is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to landowners, lenders, attorneys and others with whom we all share the agribusiness space, that you embrace the notion of lifelong learning within your craft,” says Allison Worrell of Worrell Land Services, LLC.

5. Keep Us In The Loop!

We love promoting members who have won an award or gotten an article published. Contact us at rli@realtors.org so we can extend the reach of your industry success.

Now that you know how to make the most out of your RLI Membership and ALC, are you curious as to how RLI promotes its members? Tune in next week for a look into what we do every day to promote our amazing members!

*Reminder: RLI Members and ALCs – please be sure to use the logo in accordance with the RLI Visual Standards Manual.

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

 

Unleashing Your Social Media Strategy

Before I get started talking about social media strategy, I want to make it clear that I can’t give you advice on using social media in a vacuum — because that’s not how social media for business works. Your social media efforts need to be part of an integrated marketing strategy mixed with your other marketing efforts — both digital and offline. In a minute, I will get into what exactly that means for a land professional, but first we need to talk strategy.

So, let’s talk marketing plan. We are going to assume that you have already done a SWOT Analysis identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (if not, this is a good exercise to do at least once a year). We are also going to assume you have already identified your target market and done some research about them. And now you are looking to identify the main objectives, set your strategic goals, and define and implement the strategies of your overall marketing plan—including figuring out how social media fits in.

Social Media Marketing Objectives + Your Marketing Funnel

Below I’ve pulled together some common social media objectives that land pros often have (or should have) to get us started:

  1. Position Yourself As The Expert in Your Market
  2. Create Top of Mind Brand Awareness
  3. Build Relationships and Trust with your Core Target Audience
  4. CLOSE MORE DEALS!

You’ll notice ‘close more deals’ was last on the list, and not just to save the best for last, but because by doing the first three, it makes achieving the fourth goal much easier.

 

Now before we jump into using social media, first I want to start with the foundation – your marketing funnel.

When you are creating awareness in your marketplace, by using things like social media, placing paper or digital ads, sending email blasts, guest blogging on industry sites, pitching properties at haves and wants sessions, etc., it all needs to drive traffic back to your website.

website traffic | digital marketing strategy

Why drive people to your website? 

Your website is (or should be) the place that hosts anything and everything a prospect needs to turn them into a loyal client who can later become an advocate in the marketplace of your services. Which therefore means your website will be the place to make reaching your goals happen.

In other words, your website is where you start turning prospects into leads and leads into clients and clients into advocates. We all know word of mouth is one of – if not the most – powerful referral sources. So if we can achieve having advocates touting your services, this will hopefully then drive more prospects to your website – prospects who will then start at the consideration stage. Now, keep in mind that since they skipped the awareness stage, this saves you marketing dollars in getting them to the consideration stage. That doesn’t mean they won’t interact with you on social media or that they won’t see your social media and advertising though, it just means that when they do, it will be during the consideration phase. During this consideration stage, you will still need to have that in place to continue nurturing and building these newly budding relationships.

marketing funnel

But you need to start building that relationship and nurturing it somewhere, and your website is the perfect place to do that! In order for your website to help you achieve the goals we outlined earlier, you need something that pulls people in and keeps them coming back – something you can put out on social media or your other channels that brings them to your website. Once they are on your website, you’ll want to find a way to capture their contact information, for example an email pop up, so you can continue to connect with them via email or targeted ads.

How do you get people from social to your website?

The best way I have found to do this is using blogging. Now before you tune me out, I know, blogging is time consuming and just like social, it can be counterproductive to have a presence and then let it fall flat by not posting for weeks on end. However, I am going to ask you to reconsider committing time to creating a blog. Thanks to SEO and social media, blogging is not only the best (and possibly cheapest) way to get people back to your website, but it is also the best (and possibly cheapest) way to achieve the first three objectives, which we defined as:

  1. Positioning Yourself as The Expert in Your Market
    The Social Strategy here is that by writing pieces both for your own blog as well as for other industry blogs (and sharing them on social) you are not just telling people you are an expert but you’re proving you are an expert! For example, keeping your audience updated on the latest legislation or land market trends affecting them as landowners or even just the hot new ice cream shop being built on that old vacant lot at the crossroads, will position you as the expert on all things land in your market – making you the go-to agent. Don’t have time to write up a post and just looking for great content to share that landowners would find valuable? Check out RLI’s THIS IS YOUR LAND Blog with content specifically written for landowners/potential landowners and share away!

blogging also helps you achieve goal number:

  1. Creating Top of Mind Brand Awareness
    The Social Strategy here is that by posting regularly on your blog and then on your social sites, you get your audience in the habit of seeing your content on certain days at certain times in certain places — so that soon you’ll have them coming to you!

and, finally, blogging will help with goal number:

  1. Building Relationships and Trust with Your Core Target Audience
    The Social Strategy here? What builds trust and goodwill more than someone giving you something (like expertise) for free!? By giving out small bits of free, useful advice, on social media through your blog posts you’re serving your clients and potential clients without asking for anything in return and showing that you care about letting them know the things that they find valuable. So when they do need to list or buy a property, you’re the first one to pop into their mind.

and by achieving all of these three goals, as we mentioned earlier, it leads to achieving the fourth goal of:

  1. CLOSING MORE DEALS!

Even if you are posting about a listing on your social sites, you need to be driving anyone who is interested back to your website to learn more about the property and how you can help.

The Big Social Media Don’t

While we are talking about listings, I want to mention the biggest downfall most businesses make when trying to use social media for business. If you are a land pro looking to use social media to achieve your marketing and business goals, do not make your social channels solely sales channels. Do not only post listings or company news. Social media needs to be social in that you create a community and network of sharing valuable and engaging content. If your posts are strictly promotional, you will lose your audience before they have a chance to get to know how amazing your company and your listings are.

Only talking about your business and promoting listings on your social channels is to your audience the same as turning on the TV and finding out the only thing ever on is commercials – even if they are super bowl-level-awesome commercials. You’ve all heard of the 80:20 rule? You need to be doing at least 80% engaging and informational content that is valuable to your audience and that positions you as the expert in your market and then 20% sharing property listings or company news.

Now, you may be thinking – but this is a company page and I need to get my clients’ properties out in front of as many eyeballs as possible. But think about this, if you’ve driven your audience on social media away or don’t have an audience – or worse have an audience that isn’t engaged and has become trained to tune out your posts – is that really helping you get eyeballs on your clients’ listings?

I’m not saying don’t post listings, absolutely do! Facebook and Instagram are wonderful places to showcase all those high res property pics and drone videos. Just makes sure you are doing a mix of posting listings and showcasing yourself as an expert – and always do both of these in a way that drives your audience on social media back to your website where you can guide them through the rest of the marketing funnel you’ve (hopefully) put in place.

Now that we’ve talked about the big Don’t, let’s look at a few Dos of social media:

Do Tell A Story
You may need to put a little PR spin on it but every piece of land has a history – and even if that isn’t known, it has a future. Find an angle and try to create a story around your latest listing that people will want to read. This is a great way to still get eyeballs on your clients’ properties without coming across as like you’re trying to sell, sell, sell. Write that story up in a blog post on your website, link to the listing from in the post, and share the link to the blog post all over social.

Tell A Story

Do Keep It Local
The best way to create share-worthy content is to make it relatable to your audience. Write (or at the very least share) pieces that inform your audience about what’s going on in your local market. Whether it’s telling them the top places to enjoy the land while hiking locally or new legislation that affects local landowners – be the source of all things land in your market. If you can add your expert take on that post as well – even better!

local social posts

Do Use Video
In case you’ve been living in a closet the last few years, social media sites and users love video. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth ten thousand. Whether it’s you touring a property, sharing expertise on a topic, or a listing promo video clip, get it on social. To extend your videos reach on Facebook, keep in mind they are more likely to show your video to people if you upload it directly to their site or ‘Go Live on Facebook’ (versus say uploading it to YouTube first and sharing the link to the video).

drew ary video social

Be consistent
One of the best ways to build trust and keep yourself top of mind is to post regularly. Give your audience something to look forward to and a reason to stop by your page every day. There are some great tools out there to help you schedule posts – hootsuite is a personal favorite and its free — but nowadays most social sites including Facebook and Twitter, have ways to schedule your posts through their site directly. Set aside 30 minutes a week to schedule all your posts for that week. Now, that doesn’t mean you should set it and forget it though. Check back and engage with those commenting on or sharing your posts. Pro tip, check out Canva for creating graphics and Pixabay to get free stock photos to use in your social posts.

social clock

Also, be consistent in your voice. The tone and voice you use in your communications is as much a part of your brand as your logo. You know better than anyone your clients, what tone would they relate to, what voice do they want to hear?

Be genuine
Finally, the most trustworthy people are those you know are being genuine. Help people get to know you and your company’s values and personality through your posts. Be yourself, have fun, and do what you do best – help people!

genuine social post

To wrap it up, being on social media is not as simple as starting an account and putting up a few posts. For your social efforts to be effective, they need to be strategic and integrated into your overall marketing plan (which should be integrated into your over all company strategic plan). Make sure to check out the full Unleashing Your Social Media Strategy webinar recording for some great tips from my co-hosts Drew Ary, ALC, and Wendy Johnson, ALC. If you guys ever have any questions for me, you can also find my contact info on the staff page.

 

 

Jessa Friedrich, Marketing Manager, REALTORS Land InstituteAbout the Author: Jessa Friedrich, MBA, is the Marketing Manager for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has served in her current role in the land real estate industry since March 2015 and has since fully rebranded the organization, developed and optimized their new website, and created and implemented a new strategic marketing plan that has a heavy focus on social media and content generation. Jessa has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a specialization in Social Media Marketing from Lewis University. She has seven years of experience developing and implementing digital and social media marketing strategies for small to medium sized businesses and a proven track record of success. As Marketing Manager for RLI, she has seen the power of using both paid and organic social media growth strategies as a part of the organization’s bigger picture strategic plan to help grow their annual National Land Conference by 44% and to help sell out its annual LANDU Education Week for the first time in history. Since 2015, the marketing strategies being implemented have increased the organization’s organic website traffic by over 145%, which includes a 941% increase in social traffic to the site. As Marketing Manager, she has also played a large role as part of the team that has led the organization to see over an almost 40% increase in new members so far this year.

Is Pine Timberland Still a Good Investment? Thoughts on the WSJ Timberland Article

The Wall Street Journal published an article last week that has caught the attention of many landowners or those who are considering making a timberland investment. This week I have been tagged by friends and followers in posts and comments on Facebook to ask my thoughts about it. The article is entitled “Thousands of Southerners Planted Trees for Retirement. It Didn’t Work.”

Ryan Dezember, the author of the article, makes some very insightful observations and reports on broad trends in the Southeastern pine timberland markets. I tend to agree with many of his statements in a broad sense, and am glad to know he has ties to Alabama when he was previously a writer for the Mobile Press Register. You should read his article in full before going any farther in this post. Also from the outset let me disclose that I am not a forester, economist, accountant, or attorney.  Everything below is solely my opinion based on years of observation as a broker of Alabama timberland, and is not legal, forestry, accounting, or other professional advice.

Mr. Dezember makes three points that are virtually indisputable on a large scale across the Southeast.

  • In many places in the Southeast the supply of standing pine timber far exceeds the demand or capacity of the local mills.
  • This “glut of timber” has caused the price for timber to go down in many parts of the Southeast.
  • Some institutional investors and individual landowners have lost money, significant money, in their timberland investments in recent years.

That all sounds like bad news. However, what if someone told you “Go invest your money in the stock market.” That is a broad and daunting task for the novice investor. Are there still any stocks that are winners in a declining market? Sure there are. You just have to know what to look for. The same is true for investing in timberland. Here are some elementary things you can do to increase your chances of making a good pine timberland investment.

  • Find land with quality soils. The better the soils, the better and faster that you will generally be able to grow timber. Look for soils with a high site index for loblolly pines. Soils that will grow genetically superior loblolly to 90′ to 100′ in 25 years are highly desirable.
  • Locate close to several mills. Loggers generally tell me that you cannot haul timber more than 75 miles and the landowner or loggers make any money. Locating land close to one or more mills, along good roads, increases your potential to make a good investment. The closer you are to the mill, the less money the loggers spend on hauling, and the more money goes into the landowners pocket. The money paid to the landowner for their cut timber is called“stumpage”. Locating close to more than one mill means that you have several mills competing for your wood, and you are likely to be able to get a higher price when it is time to sell your land
  • Find sites that can be logged in wet weather. Locating an upland property that can be logged during the winter months is a great way to increase your chances of making a good timber investment. Timber harvesting equipment is heavy and will bog down in the mud during the wet season. Having well-drained soils that can be navigated during rainy weather is a real plus. Mills tend to pay the most during the wet season because that is when they have the most difficult time getting wood to their yards. Look for tracts that are loggable (suitable for logging) during winter and have access to good dirt roads or paved roads.
  • Invest for the Long Haul. Pine trees have been genetically enhanced to grow to maturity faster than ever before. You can now reach a full growing cycle in 25-30 years. But trees still take a long time to reach maturity compared to a stock or mutual fund. Allowing yourself some flexibility on the length of the investment can pay big dividends if you can time the harvest of your timber sale to correspond with higher market prices. Some institutional investors have a fixed window of time in which they must generate a given rate of return. If your fund length is 10-12 years, but your timber needs 15 years to reach maturity, then your fund is likely to suffer. Give yourself plenty of time to take full advantage of the biological growth of the trees and the corresponding higher prices in the timber markets. Giving a tree another year or two of growth may allow the tree to move up into another age class, meaning it can be sold at a higher price because it can be used for a product that requires a larger tree.

The good news for small to medium-sized investors is that you can avoid some of the problems that have plagued institutional buyers. Timberland Investment Management Organizations (TIMO’s) are given the difficult task of going and Finding a large package of timberland to Purchase on behalf of their client, Manage the fund for 10-15 years, and then Sell with guaranteed returns. Often these packages are 10,000 acres up to 100,000 acres. It is difficult to pick the very best pieces of land when you take that approach. To some degree you have to take what is available on the market at the time. Smaller landowners can be much more surgical in their selection of prime pine timberland.

In my opinion, pine timberland can still be a good investment. Like every other investment, you need to educate yourself on the topic, research the options, and enlist the help of a team to help with your purchase. Southeastern Land Group has a Timber Sales Division with registered foresters that can assist you in making a sound timberland investment. Our team of brokers and agents helps people buy and sell thousands of acres of timberland around the Southeast every year. We will be happy to assist you in your search for a good timberland investment. Please let us know how we can be helpful to you with your land investment needs.

This article was originally posted on the Southeastern Land Group website.

Jonathan Goode is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) and a partner with Southeastern Land Group. He is a licensed broker in Alabama and Mississippi, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program and podcast “The Land Show.”

Recreational Land 101

Recreational land is different than other land types. Its success isn’t measured in crops, but on the quality of the time spent on the land. Whether you buy recreational land as a hideaway for generations to enjoy or to create a lucrative hunting spot, recreational land does have some unique barriers to achieving success. Since this land type isn’t talked about as much as residential or farmland, we wanted to dedicate a blog post to commonly asked questions about recreational land.

What is recreational land?

As the name suggests, recreational land is land that is used for recreation. The types of recreation can vary – hunting, fishing, camping, ATV-ing, and more. In the industry, hunting is one of the most popular and well-recognized uses for recreational land.

What should I look for when buying recreational land?

Knowing what zoning regulations and restrictions impact a property is one of the most important things to look for. These regulations can impact everything from buildability to what you are allowed to hunt. Work with a land expert in your area who can help you find a property zoned right for your intended use.

If you want to use the land for hunting, keep an eye out for animals and things animals like. Food plots, a good source of water, and cover for animals to feel safe in is key for attracting game to your land.

Good neighbors can also make or break a recreational property. If the property is part of a managed neighborhood, that’s a great sign that they are dedicated to helping everyone in that community and their land to thrive. Bad neighbors (for example, poachers, people who make noises that scare animals or disturb the natural peace, or people that dump waste into the river) can ruin an otherwise perfect property.

What are the benefits of buying recreational land?

How you benefit from the land is up to you. You could let other people enjoy the property and its amenities for a fee. You could improve the land and sell it for a profit down the road.

You can also use it for your friends and family as a retreat from the rest of the world. If kept in good shape, recreational land can be something passed down for generations that will only increase in value.

How can I add value to my recreational land?

There are dozens of ways to add value to your recreational land. In his guest post for RLI, Bob Stalberger, ALC, suggests adding trail cameras as a cheap and effective way to add value.

“Buyers are always asking me to see trail camera photos from the property for sale,” said Stalberger. “When we check the analytics of our listings, it is proven that a listing with good trail camera photos vastly outperforms a listing without them. In addition, I personally advise my new buyers to go buy a thumb drive and save trail camera photos from day one, even if they have no plans of ever selling. It is great to be able to show a buyer 2-10 years of trail camera photos and allow them to see the quality and quantities of deer using the property.”

Tommy Stroud, Jr, ALC, recommends creating habitats for animals to thrive in. He says, in his guest post for the RLI Blog, about a recent property he helped to add value to “This [property] required thinning the trees back to 35-50 trees per acre. A skid steer with a grinder ate up a lot of the long-abandoned understory before Garlon (Triclopyr) was sprayed to prevent hardwood growth. These fields were burned using prescriptive fire in late February.  Continuing to burn every one or two years will keep this stand clean and provide a great habitat for all wildlife.”

Recreational land is so much more than just another land type. It can be a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation, a profitable business, or just a place to get away from the rest of the world. Interested in owning a piece of your recreational land? Make sure to Find A Land Consultant that has the expertise required to conduct these types of transactions.

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

Checklist for Success

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Next Generation of 1031 Exchanges

I am a big fan of old western movies. Regardless of the movie, either a cowboy or the 7th Cavalry always came to the rescue at the last moment to save the day. Predictably, one of my favorite actors is John Wayne. Whether he was chasing the bad guys in the old west, defending the Alamo, winning the Civil War, fighting the Japanese at the Battle of Midway or fighting our enemies at D Day, he always seemed to come to the rescue. That’s what I loved about him and I always wished that in some way, I could do the same.

As a tax expert, now I can. I may not be saving Shinbone from Liberty Valance or Europe during WW2 but I can come to the rescue when a property owner is going to sell a property that will create a large tax liability. That works for me. And for you.

When selling a great property, you can either pay taxes on the gains or transact a 1031 exchange to defer taxes. The first isn’t a good option and the second is not always appropriate or has limitations to be completed.

But here is where a tax expert can come to the rescue. There are numerous ways to defer taxes using the next generation of 1031s. Our Section 453 tax deferral strategies have a 20-year track record of successfully deferring taxes between 2000-2500 times with the largest transaction being $120 million with a tax deferral of $50 million.

If someone wants to transact a 1031 exchange and can complete it that’s great. To be on the safe side, we can guarantee that if a 1031 fails, the sales proceeds will NOT be sent to the seller which now creates a large tax liability but rather that taxes will be deferred, and the client now has unlimited time to find a replacement property.

Consider the following examples.

One of the main limitations in an exchange are the 45 and 180-day time periods. Supply of real estate properties can be elastic.   Sometimes there is a great supply of replacement properties and sometimes there isn’t. What if there were no time constraints to have to deal with.

What if you could sell a property today, defer taxes today and have unlimited time to find a great replacement property. Would that work? Absolutely.

But let’s take that thought to the next level. When transacting a 1031, you buy low and sell high but because of the 45-day period, you may have to buy high when market conditions may be less than favorable to your buyers. What if after you sold high, you had unlimited time to buy again so you could wait until market conditions became more favorable to buyers. Would that work?  Absolutely. And even better, while your buyer is waiting for market conditions to become more favorable, we will pay him a cash flow of 5-6% while he waits. So, using the next generation of 1031 s, you can buy low, sell high and buy better.

Say you have 4 owners of a property and all the owners want you to list their property BUT 2 of the owners want to take their proceeds and run to Vegas…not necessarily a bad strategy and the other 2 want to defer their taxes. Until you get everyone on the same page, you can’t list the property. Get your paperwork ready. The 2 that want to take the money and run can do so and the 2 that want to defer taxes can use our proprietary trust to do so. You get the listing and you owe me lunch. Preferably in Vegas.

Say that there is a property owner that has had a property in the family for 50, 60, 70 years or longer. He would like to sell but almost the entire sale will be capital gains and depending on where he is domiciled, taxes can range from roughly 25-40% so instead of selling, he decides to keep the property until he passes on and then his kids get the property with the stepped basis.

That’s not a bad strategy for everyone but you because you now can’t sell the property. Instead, what if you could explain to the prospect that you can sell today, defer taxes today, move closer to the grandkids today and receive a higher retirement income than if he sells and pays taxes first. And he can do all of this while alive.

You have a client that has transacted 1031 exchanges for decades and now that he has accumulated wealth, he would like to sell and retire. Unfortunately, he now has to sell and use the basis of the first property to determine taxes and the tax bill will be a whopper.

What if you have a 1031 Exit Strategy. That’s right. By using our trust, he can sell his property and defer taxes for the rest of his life and into the next generation if he chooses to do so.  By deferring taxes, he can enjoy the fruits of his labor by receiving a larger retirement income than if he would have sold and paid taxes first. You are his new best friend.

One last idea. Say that you come across someone that has a high end primary residential property and they want to sell. However, the sale will create a large tax liability to the sellers. You can sell their residence, defer taxes using our trust and help them buy another property any time in the future. That’s a great deal for them and you made a new friend.

These are just a few of our tax deferral strategies so make sure to call an expert in conducting 1031s to come to your rescue. John Wayne would be proud. It shows True Grit. I can’t believe that I typed that. Until the next time, Happy Selling.

David Fisher is the managing partner for Creative Real Estate Strategies, a national firm that can defer taxes on highly appreciated real estate when a 1031 isn’t appropriate or can’t be completed. He has been an RLI sponsor since 2006 and has sponsored over 40 RLI events nationwide. He can be reached at 713-702-6401 or david@cresknowsrealestate.com.