beach house coastal land

Selling And Buying Coastal Land By The Sea Shore

According to research by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coastal counties of the US are home to over 126 million people, or 40 percent of the nation’s total population. However, the coastal land accounts for less than 10 percent of the nation’s land mass (excluding Alaska). As an Accredited Land Consultant in coastal North Carolina, I’ve experienced the unique challenges of land transactions near the water, and I’d like to share with you four main areas of consideration for anyone selling, buying, or investing in coastal properties.

1) Waterfront Property Considerations

Whether you are talking about ocean front, sound side, mainland water front, or on a river, you should know about the riparian rights and where exactly the title shows the property’s boundaries fall. This differs in each state, so double check your state laws for exact definitions and restrictions.

Verify that the water is indeed navigable, whether that’s by boat, kayak, canoe, or yacht. There is no such thing as deep water, what is deep to me, may not be deep to you, so there is room for misinterpretation. Determine the depth needed for its intended use(s) and, if possible, the owner should take the boat/vessel to the property as a test to make certain it will serve its purpose.

It’s common along the ocean for there to be an easement recorded for public enjoyment, public use, or for local governmental authorities to perform activities like beach re-nourishment, sand pushing, etc. Since you may own the section of the beach in front of your home to the high tide mark, the public and municipality probably still has the right to use and enjoy that space.  Any homes or buildings that are waterfront may NOT be re-buildable. If a storm damages the structure to a certain extent (determined by local codes and ordinances), you may not be able to rebuild that structure to its original state. You also may find, especially with older buildings, that new setback requirements could affect your buildable space on the land. Always check with local governmental authorities to determine the local rules and requirements.

beach house coastal land

2) Wetlands and Areas of Environmental Concern (AEC)

Due to the sensitivity of coastal watershed areas and wetlands, any proposed development should give consideration to any designated wetlands and how storm water flow and erosion may impact them. There are many types of flora, fauna, and animals that only thrive in wetlands, therefore, regulations exist to protect them. Find ways your plans can incorporate these areas into your design and you’ll probably score some brownie points with the planning department.

If there are wetlands on your survey or plans, you’ll likely need to get the Army Corps of Engineers to come on site for an evaluation to determine exactly where and what kind of wetlands you have. This can take some time, so plan for that during your due diligence examination of the property. There will likely be restrictions on development near wetlands such as additional setback requirements, erosion control measures, and storm water runoff plans. Knowing a good coastal engineer and surveyor will greatly help you get a plan together more efficiently that can be easily approved. If you must disturb wetlands, mitigation banks and conservation easements may be an alternative to achieve your goals. Your engineer should have contacts at a local mitigation bank to work through those challenges.

sunset coastal land

3) Insurance Considerations

Investigate if the county/city/municipality/town is part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. Participation in this program provides discounts to flood insurance policy holders because their community is working to reduce flooding damage to properties, strengthening and supporting the insurance aspects of the NFIP, and encouraging a comprehensive approach to floodplain management.

Not all communities are part of the NFIP, therefore, property owners won’t be able to purchase Federal Emergency Management Agency backed flood insurance. The only option otherwise is a private flood policy for your structures, which can actually be more affordable and provide better coverage. Compare both types of policies anyway and make sure the coverage works for your intended use, you may be surprised at the extras a private policy offers. This is a great reason to use a local insurance company near your property who understands flood insurance.  Most people forget about the other insurance policy you will probably need, which is wind and hail. Wind driven rain and hail can create damage that isn’t always apparent, but can create a lot of problems. Mortgage companies will likely require it, and proximity to the ocean is a factor, so be prepared. Properties that are 30 miles inland can still be in a wind zone, requiring the additional coverage.

beach coastal property

4) Highest and Best Use 

People love to live near the water, but a land practitioner must remember that not all land is meant to be a housing development. With all of the challenges we’ve covered, you can imagine there are tracts of land that some think are just unusable, which is not the case. Alternative options such as solar, wind, and organic farming are showing up near the water on properties without suitable soils for septic. Depending on your seller’s financial goals, maybe conservation easements or putting land into a mitigation bank would bring a higher sales price. Think outside the box, there’s a buyer for every parcel. Affordable housing options are limited in coastal communities because the higher land prices won’t support a lower-priced product. Zoning restrictions controlling density near Areas of Environment Concern could further limit a developer. Talk to your local planning or zoning office to find creative ways to be able to offer affordable, workforce housing options in your community.  Approximately 446 people per square mile live in coastal counties, and they need goods, services, and retail options. Getting the right mix between tourism in coastal areas creating a short term economic boost and providing year-round jobs and industry is the key to having a robust, year-round economy.

Christina Asbury, ALCAbout The Author: Christina Asbury, ALC, is with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Sneads Ferry, NC. She serves has been a member of RLI since 2007 and earned her ALC Designation shortly after in 2008. She has served on RLI’s Future Leaders, Education and Government Affairs Committees over the years and is active in her local RLI Carolinas Chapter.

New Data and Market Analysis for Land Brokerage Site Selection and Feasibility

Today, technology and data are changing more rapidly than ever before, transforming the commercial real estate practice at every iteration. Far removed are the days of fold-out discounted cash flow analysis reports, maps plastered with rub-off decals, and microfilm-powered due diligence. Likewise, disruptive companies such as Amazon, WeWork, and Airbnb are changing the way we use, analyze, and value property.

Due to unprecedented advances in data and technology, the tools, devices, techniques, and resources we relied upon decades ago – or even last year – can quickly become obsolete. Whether you’ve been in the business three years or 30, a tune-up may be necessary to stay abreast of the latest data sets and metrics available to commercial real estate land professionals for analyses and site selection.

New Economic Metrics and Resources for Site Selection

We have been conditioned in our training that job growth drives demand for commercial real estate and that the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the resource to consult. Due to dated methods, the BLS often struggles to accurately estimate employment growth. For more reliable data, look no further than ADP’s National Employment Report (NER), produced jointly with Moody’s Analytics, and LinkedIn’s Workforce Report with Skills-Gap Analysis.

ADP processes the payrolls for approximately one-fifth of the nation’s private payroll employment, and its monthly employ- ment data is a credible estimate of private employment activity.

LinkedIn’s Workforce Report is a powerful supplement to ADP’s National Employment Report. The report draws on employment data from the more than 190 million workers in the U.S. who have LinkedIn accounts. LinkedIn’s monthly jobs report also includes invaluable skills-gap analyses at an MSA level stratified across 50,000 employment sectors, from brokers to welders. If you are engaged in land brokerage site selection or advise companies on site selection decisions, LinkedIn Workforce Reports are a must- have in your toolkit. Had Amazon utilized the LinkedIn Workforce Report with Skill-Gap Analysis before making its HQ2 split decision, it would have known that New York ranked worst for available skilled workforce – below even Seattle or San Francisco.

It’s also prudent to seek out non-government sources for critical economic measures like gross domestic product and small business activity. These will come in handy during a government shutdown or natural disaster. The government does not produce data during a shutdown, and the data it produces during times of emergency, like hurricanes or wildfires, is often delayed. As a result, you may need to supplement with additional sources of on-demand data.

So where should commercial real estate professionals turn for this business intelligence? A good global resource is Trading Economics. Leveraging official sources, the site offers verifiable data from 196 countries including “historical data for more than 20 million economic indicators, exchange rates, stock market indexes, government bond yields, and commodity prices.”

train tracks commercial real estate

In addition, a great proxy for GDP is the rail traffic data produced by the Association of American Railroads. The Rail Time Indicators report is an invaluable economic resource that anyone engaged in industrial real estate should have – and never leave home without. Weekly and monthly rail traffic data and the more comprehensive RTI report tell us what commodities and goods are moving, where they’re headed, and at what volumes – solid, reliable data to ascertain a true measure of economic growth.

For a powerful one-two punch of construction data and insights, check out the Association of General Contractors (AGC) and the Engineering News-Record (ENR). AGC produces a monthly survey that provides a thorough understanding of what general contractors are experiencing and forecasting, including construction materials, spending, and employment.

A perfect pairing with AGC, ENR offers a monthly periodical with a construction economics section and a 20-city index that details current and historical data on actual material and labor costs.

Rethinking Development for the Modern E-Commerce Supply

The following section of the report contains adapted excerpts from the Alabama Center for Real Estate’s report, “Logistics Infrastructure: Transformational Opportunities.”

The horseless-carriage supply chain from the 1950s cannot support a modern e-commerce supply chain that is growing at a rate of 25 to 30 percent per year. The state of the country’s aging infrastructure is not only inhibiting future economic and real estate development, it also forces existing industry to relocate to destinations that have modern logistics infrastructures. In 2019, logistics infrastructure adequacy is as important a consideration in site selection as workforce.

Take a look at the locations of new fulfillment centers for Amazon, Walmart, Target, and home improvement retailers. They are all near intermodal hubs – places like Bessemer and Mobile, Ala.; Columbus, Ohio; Polk County, Fla.; Greenville, S.C.; Atlanta; Dallas; Denver; and even Tucson, Ariz. One can also look to the locations for new aircraft, auto, and machinery manufacturing plants in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas. Logistics infrastructure analysis – roads, rail, intermodal, port connectivity, utility costs, and workforce – is now integral to site selection studies and investment analyses.

Commercial Real Estate warehouse industrial

E-commerce also continues to drive demand for industrial warehouse space, with another 800 million to 1 billion square feet of new development expected across the U.S. over the next three years. Are your logistics site selection and investment analysis skills up to speed to aid in this explosion? Are you familiar with modern design specifications that call for higher clear ceiling heights or expanded truck courtyards to accommodate more double-trailer trucks as a result of the implementation of electronic logs for truck drivers?

And what about the feasibility of tent warehouses, which Amazon is testing in Memphis, Tenn.? These innovative warehouse designs have no columns, cost one-third of conventional masonry warehouses, and can provide clear ceiling heights of 30 feet or more.

What’s more, the ongoing innovation in traditional construction design and materials for all property types challenges our cost estimation and market feasibility skills, much like modular did in housing decades ago.

Are price or rent per square foot and traffic counts no longer the appropriate units of measure for determining price or market feasibility? Should cubic volume be a consideration, particularly in industrial? What about traffic and online versus in- store sales allocation in retail, especially with the pervasiveness of e-commerce? Consider the changes in retail real estate.

Same-store comparable sales and percentage rent clauses are nearly as extinct as branch banks.

Parking ratios also are changing. While they may be declining for office due to ride-sharing and the promise of autonomous vehicles, they are rising for retail as more space is repurposed from transactional to experiential, where parking demand is higher for restaurant and service uses (gyms, spas, etc.).

People stay longer at an experiential-use site compared to a traditional store, where people run in and out to purchase goods. In the industrial space, warehouses require larger sites and more parking to accommodate double-trailer truck hauls as well as employee parking in the fulfillment portions of these locations. The opposite trend is occurring for hotels and many types of multifamily, such as student housing. Universities – and the towns in which they are located – are realizing that fewer students own and use cars like previous generations. They use scooters and ride-sharing, or they rent electronic vehicles available on campus. Hotels are realizing a 25- to 40-percent reduction in patrons requiring overnight parking as they pivot from rental cars to ride-sharing.

The point is, traditional measures are changing. If historical data sources fail to adapt, then those measures will become be less relevant as users move toward new metrics. This adaptation is critical in that it allows commercial real estate practitioners to translate these historical measures into meaningful current data for analysis and valuation.

Moreover, the new tools and data resources developed to meet these challenges are coming from unlikely sources. Instead of using car traffic counts as a proxy for retail sales at a shopping center, telecom companies like Verizon have developed their own index to analyze online shopping traffic and patterns.

There’s clear value in looking at mobile phone traffic for retail and comparing same-store online and in-store sales. With the current ever-evolving landscape, it’s hard to separate technology from the retail industry; sources like Verizon are helping bridge that gap to provide a more accurate picture for commercial real estate analysis.

Recently, Develop LLC, an opportunity zone REIT, created the first opportunity zone index that evaluates each of the 8,700 opportunity zones based on a variety of metrics, including population density, employment, and infrastructure.

Which traditional property measures require rethinking? The short answer: all of them.

A Way Forward

For all these advances to translate into vibrant economic growth, local governments need to recalibrate, but it will take a joint effort by government and industry professionals. To this day, for example, many municipalities have yet to adopt adaptive reuse ordinances to support the repurposing of existing vacant retail buildings while preparing for the new opportunity zone program. Local governments are behind in understanding changing parking trends, revenue loss from online retail growth, and how tax assessments are impacted for real estate that is increasingly a going concern.

phone screen

The secret to enduring success in commercial real estate is simple – never stop learning, never become complacent. Proactively adapting to the latest data sources and technology in valuation and financial and market analyses is vital. It’s a matter of keeping your career engine purring or being left behind by your competitors, stalled roadside.

KC ConwayAbout the author: K.C. Conway, MAI, CRE, is the Chief Economist for CCIM. Conway is also the Director of Research and Corporate Engagement at the Alabama Center for Real Estate. With more than 30 years of experience in commercial real estate, Conway is a nationally recognized expert and speaker in the industry.

A New Development Matrix for Today’s CRE Industry

By Mark Van Ark, CCIM, SIOR

CRE industrial commercial building

Many commercial real estate land professionals may be familiar with James Graaskamp, Ph.D., SREA, CRE, and his early work on real estate development, “The Fundamentals of Real Estate Development,” published nearly 40 years ago. In it, he created a rather intricate workflow and description of the development process outlining the political, social and enterprise components. The process was so involved, however, that most needed classroom guidance from Dr.

Graaskamp to fully understand the process and its many nuances.

Fast forward to 2012. Daniel Kohlhepp, Ph.D., MAI, with Johns Hopkins Carey Business School’s Edward St. John Real Estate Program decided to take Graaskamp’s work one step further and make the whole process more accessible. Kohlhepp incorporated his own personal development experience to create a new, more comprehensive real estate development matrix, expanding Graaskamp’s three stages to seven. As a result, the new development matrix provides a clear roadmap of the entire real estate development process from the land banking stage to the redevelopment stage: land banking, land packaging, land development, building development, building operation, building renovation, and site redevelopment. It’s a new matrix for today’s commercial real estate professional. Much like employment data and the other metrics and data sets discussed in the article, a new matrix was needed to reflect the advances and sophistication of today’s development process.

Three years ago, CCIM Institute leveraged Kohlhepp’s matrix as the linchpin in the CCIM Development Specialty Track series, which takes a deep dive into all seven stages – from the land banking stage to the redevelopment stage – and incorporates real-world application every step along the way. There are four stages of Kohlhepp’s matrix that are of particular interest to the land brokerage practice – Land Banking, Land Packaging, Land Development and Building Development. Gaining clarity and a greater understanding of the language, workflow, goals and hurdles of developers helps create value and deepens relationships with the development community.

Editor’s Note: This article is an adapted excerpt from CCIM Institute’s 1Q2019 Commercial Real Estate Insights report titled “Long May You Run: An Essential Commercial Real Estate Tuneup.” For the full report, visit www.ccim.com/insights.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 Terra Firma magazine.

hiking recreational land

Need To Knows For Buying Recreational Land Right Now

America is a land of wide-open spaces and with all its natural wonders how can you ever decide where to buy? What do you need to take into consideration?

My first consideration is made when considering the recreational opportunities desired. it sounds basic but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget at the start that you need to have an end in mind. For example, for whitewater rafting you have got to have a river or if trophy whitetails make you heart race, let’s talk about deer habitat. You can’t have hiking trails without land anymore than you will have trophy bass without water.

bass fishing recreational property

Now that you have a idea of what you want to do with your time lets talk about how you get there.

I would recommend you start your search by talking with a Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) – find a land consultant. These are men and women that have spent years in the land business, completed education to enhance their ability to handle land transactions, and are masters of all facets of land sales. Most are outdoors man who live the lifestyle as well, hunting, fishing, etc.

If you decide that you want a property that can be managed for trophy deer your ALC will help you determine if the property you are looking at has the qualities it will need. Perhaps you will need a private wildlife biologist, or maybe you’ll need a heavy equipment operator that can clear travel lanes or create a pond for year-round water.

If you are considering buying a parcel that is in a national forest, have you considered all the recreational opportunities that just outside your door? Most national forests allow hunting and fishing on their lands as well as ATV trails.

If you are a fly fisherman, there are thousands of miles of private land with trout streams running through them. Imagine what a legacy you will leave behind if three or more generations all grew up fishing the same stream at grandpa’s place.

This just a drop in the bucket of all the different exciting opportunities that exist beyond the sidewalks and streetlights. Happy hunting!

About the Author: Tim Hadley, ALC, is an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Gladstone, MO. He joined the REALTORS® Land Institute in 2017 and is currently a member of their Future Leaders Committee.

 

kasey mock

About the Author: Kasey Mock is the Director of KW LAND Division at Keller Williams Realty International. Mock is a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute now serving on their Future Leaders Committee. Make sure to check out his break out session diving further into this topic at the 2018 National Land Conference in Nashville, TN, in March.

blockchain real estate

Blockchains in Land Real Estate

Blockchain in land real estate has not quite yet been accepted by business leaders. Misconceptions and misinformation have created an environment that is delaying adoption. While no technology is a universal perfect fit, we should look for situations that benefit from blockchain’s best features. We should take the time to understand blockchains in order to maximize their potential as an asset that can have positive impacts on business.

Understanding Blockchain

Think of blockchain technology as a ledger that is distributed to many parties. Just like a published book, the information recorded in the ledger is permanent, cannot be altered, and everyone who needs a copy of the ledger has one. If you want to change the information that has been published, you have to ensure changes are made to every copy of the book. In terms of a blockchain, the information is across the internet on various computers. The difficulty only increases as the number of books in circulation increase. Another point to note here is that high circulation publications are difficult to completely erase from history.

Just like any new technology, there is a vocabulary associated with blockchains. Breaking down the word blockchain, block being a log of stored data and chain referring to how the data links together, is a good place to start. Then you start hearing words like cryptocurrency, token, coins, and smart contracts, all of this can be overwhelming. For now though, the most important technical term to remember is the overall synonym for blockchain: distributed ledger. As a business leader, keep reminding yourself that blockchains are tamper-proof records with many copies.

ledger

Each party operates a copy of the blockchain. The blockchain is simply a reserved part of your computer disk. There are two competing ways information is distributed.

Method 1 – This one is called Byzantine Fault. When you record a new transaction, it is first sent out to all computers to make sure they have a copy that can receive the change. If a majority of the computers agree, your local copy is then changed and all others are alerted to the change.

Method 2 – This one is called Mining. When you record a new transaction, thousands of “miners” are notified. Each one tries to come up with mathematically unique representation of the transaction. The first person to come up with the solution earns part of the fee (every transaction requires a token). This is a tremendously wasteful exercise (from an electricity standpoint) and has been heavily criticized. It has resulted in mining farms operated by folks looking to create revenue.

I have been asked, “If blockchains are a record-keeping mechanism, what is wrong with using databases the way we do today?” My answer is that there is nothing wrong with what we do today. The industry has an enormous investment in documents so any suggestion that we should move millions of them into a blockchain is unrealistic. The effort would be a needless waste of time and storage capacity. However, using the book example, a better approach would be to record the location of a book and then to document any changes that have been made since its publication as new events are added.

The difference between a database and a blockchain is like the difference between a driver’s license and a driving record. Information on your driver’s license is subject to change over time. Your weight, address, and appearance (photo) are best stored in a database because they change over time. Now consider your driving record. It is a series of events that are not subject to change. In a database, the information stored there is subject to change. With a blockchain, the information is a permanent track record of events.

Blockchain in Real Estate

Short, time-based events are easy to record with a blockchain. Asset management activities generate excellent examples of events in commercial and residential real estate. Some of the activities that create events are:

  • inventory
  • maintenance activities
  • tax payments
  • improvements

Using blockchains, builders and developers can quickly identify who supplied materials, where they were used, and how they were handled. This is why many supply chain companies (especially food handlers) are adopting blockchains. Blockchains are good at asset management because they create trustworthy records. They create tamper- proof records and no special software, services, or procedures are needed to recover from catastrophic outages. Damaged computers simply reconnect to the network and recreate the lost information from other copies.

The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) has created a workgroup that thinks events are applicable beyond real estate brokerage. Events allow real estate professionals to easily exchange information between lending, public records, and insurance companies. The workgroup is not facilitating the exchange of underlying documents, simply a ledger of events (think of a timeline).

Caution Ahead

We should consider the impact of legislative and regulatory efforts to protect privacy on blockchains since they contain tamper-proof, permanent records. If information written to a blockchain can never be erased, personal information like account numbers, passwords, or contact information should not be recorded. The security community calls this kind of information Personally Identifying Information (PII) which has “the right to be forgotten,” according to GDPR. We can expect to see continued legislative and regulatory efforts to protect privacy, so it is important to keep this in mind when implementing blockchain technology in the industry.

Legislative and regulatory actions intended to help consumers can actually end up hurting adoption. A review of actions at the state level published last year showed that blockchain definitions used in legislative language varied significantly between states. We should think about one of the main points in The High Cost of Good Intentions by John F. Cogan; government strives to act in the best interest of the citizens but ends up stopping innovation that is designed to help them. We should be working with local, state, and federal governments to make sure they understand the impacts of their actions.

blockchain

Still Learning

Earlier this year, I attended the 2019 National Land Conference hosted by the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) in Albuquerque, NM, to discuss blockchain technology. One of the challenges I noted was implementing blockchain technology at the county level. The decision-making process at over 3,000 counties slows down adoption significantly since millions of records would have to be transposed.

I was pleasantly surprised to find blockchain uses I had not yet considered. Possible uses for blockchains in land real estate include:

When they were first mentioned, I assumed the issues were similar to those faced in the County Recorder’s office. I came to realize the value of RLI.

We have established that blockchains are good at capturing small events. When a property changes owners, what is purchased can be the result of subdividing or combining tracts. Many county recording systems have difficulty combining properties. Blockchains are good at tracking splits and combinations because they are optimized to record event history.

Recording water rights are more complex because both surface water and groundwater need to be considered. However, as the population increases, simple first-in-time and first-in-right historical surface water rights are being challenged by legislation and regulation. These complexities make recording surface water rights with blockchains an ideal solution.

Groundwater record keeping can be more complex than a simple rule of capture situation. Drilling, natural erosion, and abuse of the aquifer are all conditions that can be detected with periodic testing.

Blockchains can be used to reference test results creating a tamper-proof, time- based record. Indigenous land rights are another area of land transfer that can impact development plans. Blockchain technology is ideally suited to create records that survive multiple transfers and do not need to be routinely researched.

I saved mineral rights for last because they are more complex than the aforementioned items. With water, there are two facets to consider: surface and groundwater. The courts still see disputes over the definition of what constitutes a mineral. Royalty agreements routinely include many parties and need to be researched before the transaction is closed. These complexities can be captured using blockchains.

The effort to record mineral rights with blockchains should avoid capturing old records. Instead, new research should be recorded from this point forward. Many of the records are very old and are needed for historical backup. Scanning and digitizing historical documents do not help the process of documenting mineral rights. Recording mineral rights agreements and interpretations in blockchains create tamper-proof records that many parties can reference electronically.

blockchain bitcoin crytocurrency

Cryptocurrency and Smart Contracts

Due to the well documented volatility of cryptocurrency, it is unlikely that we will see wide scale purchasing of property using cryptocurrency. The banks are not ready to lend this form of currency yet and commissions will probably not be paid this way. The number of cryptocurrency property transactions will never exceed today’s volume of 100% cash transactions.

This is a good time to clarify some blockchain jargon. Cryptocurrency denominations are typically called tokens or coins. Tokens must be purchased before use and are not typically interchangeable between applications. Buying and selling tokens is still a complex process, but the community is trying to simplify it. There have also been improvements to token interoperability between blockchains.

Compensating work is a much better application of cryptocurrency. Instead of closing the entire transaction, you can order just those services you would like to be performed electronically. Services can have conditions such as “do not execute during business hours,” or more complex rules, such as, “on the fourth day, transfer $1,000 to this system.” The logic that controls these kinds of services is called a smart contract. Smart contracts are not the same as legal contracts. A traditional legal contract is the outcome of negotiations and often contains attachments, addenda, and amendments related to the transaction. Smart contracts are not unique to a specific transaction. They can operate on a transaction but are not unique to the transaction. Smart contracts only represent conditional logic.

A good example of a smart contract can be found in fund disbursement. The hard part of designing smart contracts is capturing all of the options within a request. Imagine a vending machine that you can use to order transaction services. If the right number and type of tokens are inserted, you can select an in-stock item. The machine releases the item (i.e., the smart contract is executed). If those conditions are not met, the item (if there is one) is not released. The options you want can affect the number of tokens required to select the item.

Final Thoughts and Application

Do not ignore blockchains. Pretending they will not emerge will not stop them. You do not have to understand them at a technical level. Look for blockchains to emerge within business practices that need improvement, especially in the record-keeping area.

The biggest factor that can stop the widespread adoption of blockchains is resistance to change. Business leaders have a fiduciary duty to manage the risk, which includes being wary of unintended consequences. Until the risks are known and at least partially mitigated, policies do not change. Business leaders still need more education about blockchains before they’ll be comfortable with adoption.

Thinking about how blockchain could benefit your real estate business? Practice looking for applications that need both permanent records and require access by many parties. Blockchains will probably enter the industry through applications in ways that most will not even know they are using them. For now, just stay aware and keep an eye out for potential uses in your business.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 Terra Firma magazine.

Mark Lesswing NLC19 speakerAbout the author: Mark Lesswing is a Blockchain Entrepreneur who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University. He started programming robots just out of college and, in 1988, began working with object-oriented programming. Mark has worked for large database vendors such as Sybase (as a startup) and Oracle spending a summer in Europe setting up international operations. In 1992, he launched his own consultancy and was involved in corporate turnarounds. Mark joined the National Association of REALTORS® in 2001 and as the Chief Technology Officer was a tenacious advocate for data standards and innovation. He is a frequent speaker at major trade conferences and is listed in the International Who‘s Who of Information Technology and the National Register of Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals.

Five Books All Land Agents Should Read

What’s better than settling down with a really good book? The only problem we can think of is that there are so many great books out there about the land industry that there’s not enough time to read them all. For this article, we’re sorted through hundreds of books to find the five best books that can help land agents learn more about the industry, learn new skills, and study the success of other great land agents.

The Land Flipper: Turning Land Into Dollars by E.B. Farmer

This book was at the top of Accredited Land Consultant Lou Jewell’s list of his favorite books about land. It is an excellent introduction to the land industry and includes step-by-step chapters following the entire land selling process. Some of the chapters include:

  • How to find, negotiate and buy land with very little money out of pocket
  • Dividing land in order to multiply your profit.
  • Techniques for improving the land in order to make it attractive to buyers
  • Cheap, easy ways to market and sell your land

If you know a new agent who just started selling land, this book could be a great “welcome to the industry” or “welcome to the brokerage” gift.

Buying and Investing in Land: A Guide for Land Purchase: How to Buy Land the Smart Way and Learn How to Avoid Land Scams — Even if You Are a Beginner by Dianne Ronnow

This book shares the secrets to success of the wealthiest land sellers and investors. It also exposes the biggest scams in the land industry that even the most experienced land agents have fallen for and teaches you how to avoid being tricked. Whether you’ve just started your career as a land agent or have decades of experience under your belt, this book can be a great addition to your land library.

How I Turned $50 into $5 Million in Country Property – Part Time: And How You Can Do the Same by B.K Haynes, ALC

When a book is written by an Accredited Land Consultant, you know it’s going to be a read worthy of your time! B.K. Haynes, ALC, channels what he’s learned from over fifty years of buying and selling land into a comprehensive look at buying, selling, and investing in rural land.

The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandino

This book, found in William Burruss, ALCsGoodReads, may not be about buying or selling rural land specifically, but the lessons about salesmanship, hard work, and success are essential for land agents. The book even comes with a suggested reading structure so that you have time between chapters to reflect on and think about the different books.

Buying Rural Land: Tips and How-Tos by Tom Brickman

Looking for a quick read? Tom Brickman’s e-book is a collection of short essays and articles about rural land. Brickman shares what he’s learned from 40 years in land. The book covers includes “to-do” lists for buying and selling land, what to look for when inspecting a property, and tips on developing people skills. The best part of all? It’s free!

We’ve only covered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great books for land agents. If you know of other books that helped your career in land, be sure to mention them in the comments section. Happy reading!

Want to learn about the land industry in a more hands-on way? Be sure to check out our upcoming LANDU courses to learn about everything from Transitional Land Real Estate to Land Investment Analysis.

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

land agent

RPR Offers RLI REALTOR® Members Valuable Resources

I had the pleasure of attending my first National Land Conference (NLC) in New Mexico in March 2019. I found RLI members to be engaged, knowledgeable, professional and truly focused on networking. Attendees seemed dedicated to learning from one another and determined to enhance their business and the industry as a whole. Those in my session were especially interested in seeing what RPR land data is available to them as REALTORS®.

The opportunity to represent REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR) at NLC19 was very gratifying. I personally helped educate RLI members about the value of the RPR platform and the tools it offers as a REALTOR® member benefit of the National Association of REALTORS®. It was also great to hear from members that already have discovered the value of RPR and how they are using RPR in their daily business.

Yet, it’s so valuable to receive input on how we can make RPR even better for members and listen to how we can help you succeed. In addition, at every conference we attend, we speak with members that are very familiar with RPR, but also with both veterans and new members to the industry that are not familiar with RPR. We encourage members to explore and take advantage of the powerful tools that RPR has to offer REALTOR® members nationwide. And, we’re listening ~ we always want to hear how we can enhance RPR to help your business.

About RPR

Established in 2010, REALTORS® Property Resource provides access to a comprehensive property data platform exclusively for REALTOR® members. The data, reports and tools help agents do their job more efficiently, and helps them impress their clients with their industry knowledge and expertise.

When it comes to real estate, REALTORS® need access to accurate and reliable data quickly. Pulling together bits of market data here and there can be frustrating as well as time-consuming. Agents need it all in one place, at the touch of a button.

RPR land data

RPR Tools, Data, and Reports

RPR gives REALTORS® access to the nation’s largest property database. As a practitioner, all this data, and RPR’s tools and reports, offer a distinct edge when it comes to serving real estate business and investment clients.

The ability to reference reliable data that backs up your advice is critical to getting a deal done. At RPR, we work with the top data providers in the real estate space and are constantly researching new ones to ensure REALTORS® have the best data at their fingertips.

For example, in 2018 we partnered with SMR Research to provide tenant records, and a big focus for 2019 will be to expand our listing partners to some of the top national listing platforms. Below you can see a list of all our major data partners. This will hopefully give you a better understanding of how each partner plays an integral part in helping REALTORS® “piece” together their knowledge of the markets they work in.

RPR Data Resources

All of this data is available nationwide. This truly makes RPR one of the top research systems in the country!

  • Public Record Property Data – Black Knight – Over 154 million parcels of property, including residential, commercial and
  • Trade Area Data – ESRI 1 Billion data points highlighting key economic, demographic and spending indicators along with ESRI’s Tapestry
  • Employment Data – 3DL – Updated monthly down to the county level
  • Business Points – ESRI 12,487,119
  • Traffic Counts – Kalibrate Over 2,000,000 plus traffic points
  • Tenant Records – SMR Research – 8,531,568
  • FEMA Flood Maps – PolicyMap – Nationwide coverage

Let’s also review Listing and Sales data resources that RPR aggregates on the RPR platform. Listing data on the RPR platform is licensed with over 600 MLS (Multiple Listing Service), CIE (Commercial Information Exchanges) and other nationwide partners and represents over 700,000 total listings with 652,000 for sale and 118,000 for lease. As a user you can access the MLS/CIE listings that you are a subscriber to in addition to any listings that MLSs or CIEs share with all NAR REALTOR® members to view. If you are a member of one or more local MLSs or CIEs you can access this additional rich segment of data that is integrated within the public property record information.

A unique and powerful tool in RPR is the Trade Area report that can be useful to see community trends, demographic analysis and consumer spending data. ESRI, an RPR partner and leader in GIS software, provides a significant portion of the analysis tools to generate these comprehensive reports that can quickly give the agent and client insight into a market area.

Land transactions can take many directions, whether for Residential or Commercial development, Recreational, Ranch and more. RPR’s partnership with Valuate allows REALTORS® to ensure that a potential land development project makes sense before spending real money. This is done through Valuate’s® back of the envelope or BOTE calculators.

With this tool you can apply your knowledge of general construction costs, building time frames, market rents and much more to see if the stabilized NOI yield on cost makes sense to move forward under. This calculator is currently available for condominium, industrial, apartment and office developments with plans to expand into other property types in the near future.

RPR Mobile

RPR Mobile™ combines the power of your smartphone or tablet, with the data and reporting from RPR®. This allows REALTORS® to easily locate any property around them, create and send company branded reports, and even view local market statistics. If your “office” at the moment is out on a ranch or on a dirt road in your truck, RPR is still there with you!

Use the app and your location to easily search and analyze on-and-off market properties, valuations, tax and mortgage info, distressed data, flood zones, mapping, demographics, schools, neighborhoods, and market trends.

Get Started With RPR Today!

The desktop version of RPR and RPR Mobile make it easy for agents to “wow” their clients and close more deals.

Looking to get started? Create your RPR account today by visiting www.narrpr.com. And remember, RPR is an exclusive benefit for REALTORS® and there is absolutely NO extra charge to access this vast amount of data.

To help jump-start your RPR learning experience visit our training resource page which offers webinars and on-demand video-learning. You can also visit our blog for a collection of helpful articles and how- to’s by going to: blog.narrpr.com

UPDATE: Good news! RPR’s powerful new data layer will allow REALTORS® to use RPR’s map interface to analyze and search for properties within the 8,700 Opportunity Zones throughout the U.S.

Andrea Goodhart RPR NLC19 SpeakerAbout the author: Andrea Goodhart joined RPR in 2011, as an Industry Relations Director with over 25 years of experience in the real estate services industry. Andrea has had the opportunity to work with real estate agents, brokers, association staff and leadership across the country and loves to be able to introduce the power of the RPR tools to practitioners.

commission split handshake

Navigating Commission Splits – How, When, and Why

If you’re successful in the land business, you work hard. You put in the time, the miles, the blood, and the sweat that it takes fighting the elements Mother Nature throws at you along the way… but we do it because we love it. And when you’ve done what it takes to build a business like ours, you don’t want to give hard-earned money away when doing commission splits. When you share your commission with an outside broker or agent, you want it to be earned and you want to achieve a mutually beneficial goal: closing. And not just any closing, one that satisfied your client’s goals.

commission splits time money intersection

The 50/50 Split
One of the most contentious topics I encounter amongst real estate agents in the land industry is commission splits. When to split, when not to, how to, etc. In my experience and in my own business, there is rarely a default split. We strive to be fair and competitive in the splits we offer, but we do typically pay relative to how involved or uninvolved the other agent was. Speaking from a listing agent perspective, while there are exceptions, in a 50/50 split scenario, we expect agents to:

  • have procured our listing(s) for their client or customer;
  • when required, show the property to those prospects; and
  • handle any and all paperwork that follows.

The Referral
If an agent calls and requests us to locate a property for their buyer and also show it for them or assist them with the showing, that acts more like a referral and that is typically how it is paid. What’s a normal referral split? As with most things in the land business, it depends… but we typically see a rate of 20-25% of the referring side. The total percentage is typically scaled based on the size of the referral, work required, etc.

money commission split

The Key to Successful Commission Splits
The key to preventing problems when doing commission splits is clear communication right from the start. Don’t operate under assumptions. If you do, you may learn later that the split structure being paid by the listing agent is different than you imagined. If you’re the listing agent, don’t be surprised if the split expected is more than you envisioned paying… especially to an agent that needed an abnormal amount of help from day one.

So, as a listing agent, before showing or negotiating tracts with selling agents, be sure to communicate clearly with them how compensation is structured. If you’re the selling agent, understand the responsibilities required of you as a selling agent to earn a strong split and determine how you will be compensated appropriately for your efforts before you invest a lot of time, effort, and miles to avoid being disappointed or frustrated later.

“Situations with poor communication can put your clients’ best interest at risk and hurt professional relationships.”

By communicating clearly, you’ll end up with relationships that prove much more fruitful over time rather than ones that leave you both angry and jaded about doing future business with each other. Handled correctly, splitting commissions with other agents can be one of the most profitable investments you’ll ever make. It can create professional friendships that have potential to produce for you both throughout your entire careers and quickly ramp up the scale of your book of business. This invaluable return is something found regularly in the roster of the REALTORS® Land Institute. Like my Dad tells me to this day, “Don’t lose dollars counting pennies.”

Clint Flowers, ALCAbout The Author: Clint Flowers, ALC, is the top producer nationwide at National Land Realty, a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute, their RLI Alabama Chapter, and the Chair of their 2019 Future Leaders Committee. He was the NLR Top Producer Nationwide in 2016, 2017, and 2018. He also won the 2017 APEX National Broker of the Year award for Timberland and was in the 2018 APEX Producers Club.

Wildlife Management 101

This article on wildlife management was originally published in the Summer 2016 Terra Firma Magazine.

When learning that RLI had an interest in publishing an article on wildlife management, I have to admit, I was more than hesitant.  My reservations didn’t stem from a “lack of knowledge”, my reservations were derived from “the knowledge I have,” and the criticism I’m aware it may attract. Success doesn’t come easy, nor without trial and error or a failure or two, and sometimes it doesn’t fit within a traditionally accepted box.

Wildlife management consists of so many factors, that the series of books, videos and blogs about the subject are literally overwhelming.  Politics, legislation, social perceptions and opinions, environment, mathematics, chemistry, biology, regions, species, habitat and disease are all just a few on a lengthy list of complicated factors that affect managing wildlife.

In a nutshell, wildlife management is ultimately about conservation; the guardianship and best practices of safekeeping our greatest natural wild resources for future generations.

wildlife forest

It also provides an extraordinary enjoyment through a passionate relationship between land and property owners, and justifiably continues to be a motivating factor for folks who purchase land!

I’m extremely fortunate to own, manage and control a respectable tract of leased and deeded ground in the Pacific Northwest.  Taken with a laugh, my personal experience, hasn’t been learned easily, nor done inexpensively via traditional venues.  Private land wildlife management practices are commonly dominated by Whitetail deer, a little waterfowl and an occasional fish or upland bird topic.

To be candid, the folks in the Midwest and down South are hands down, far ahead of the curve in regards to wildlife management.  Whitetail deer are routinely the primary topic of choice.  Justifiably, the Whitetail deer geographically dominate North America by the location they reside.  Non-profit and traditional organizations such as the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) and Tecomate have done a fantastic job of promoting and making wildlife management materials available.  However, I humbly believe, the Whitetail species is a much easier species to manage than many others, and another reason why I chose to write on this subject.

I know, I know… I’m sure I’ll never live that comment down (laugh). Okay, how about this, because there’s more information available on Whitetail wildlife management, justifiably because it’s the dominate non-migratory game in North America, I feel they’re easier to manage and understand (and should be) than other species with less availability and a broader migration range… and they’re easier to harvest than blacktail deer… KIDDING!… sheez… relax! Just trying to keep ya’ll interested in reading!?

In the early 2000s, after reading an in depth QDMA book, frequenting blogs, watching videos and living the lifestyle we sell, I made the commitment to start managing wildlife on our family’s ground about forty minutes outside of town.  Easy right? Just install a few food plots and feeders, develop water sources (if they’re not already there) and voila, the wild game will come flocking in!  Yeah? Not so much!  As with many topics in life, a person can read all the books they can find, but real life experiences, both good and bad, are the world’s best teachers.  In general, the basics are the same: provide a superior food source, water, and lush habitat. Doing this, is without question, enticing to wildlife.  The primary difference between my management practices and traditional wildlife management practices are dictated by my region.

food plot wildlife management

The wildlife management industry started to flourish in the early 2000s. Game cameras were few and a new “hot item” and feeders were on hunting shows everywhere – plus, they were all over the internet.  Ever hear the saying, “Never test the depth of a river with both feet first”? That’s good advice! My original thought process was methodical, and focused on the generals; to enhance food, water and habitat within drainages that naturally lent themselves.  Logically, it made sense to research and purchase available products that have worked so well for others?  So I was off… Feeders! Cameras! Food plots! …and all the associated equipment!

Little did I know that I was in for a completely different education, and all the equipment would eventually be destroyed with minimal results of what I was trying to manage–big Blacktail deer, elk and turkey.  The failing factor wasn’t a lack of genetics, nor wildlife population.  It boiled down to my regional location, and the lack of experience managing wildlife in this location.  Our terrain isn’t flat to rolling like the South or Midwest, where flatter open plains and pockets of creek bottom thickets monopolize regions.  It’s the opposite where I manage wildlife.  We have timber covered mountains, drainages and ridges as far as one can see; small pockets of open meadows monopolizing the terrain in hopes to get a glimpse of something.  That situation also positions the ultimate unmanageable factor; multiple species of wildlife, including and not limited to, abundant predators!  Most importantly, learning how and where those species habituate throughout the year and how to best manage my terrain and climate was a game changer for me.

predator

Being new and few, the first few game cameras I purchased were “top of the line,” nothing but the best… HA! I’ve never been accused of catching on too quickly. After countless dollars in cameras being destroyed, no matter how well I concealed them, a light came on in my head: never set a trail camera after eating without washing and deodorizing your hands in Black Bear country! Their eyesight is poor in comparison to their smell and hearing. Regardless of what slight scent is on my hands when I set cameras, they’ll wind it–and evidently, bears think trail cams taste like chicken!

 

black bearTraditional feeders? UHG! My three-hundred pound metal feeders were knocked over, ripped open and crumpled up like cheap little tin cans. It’s unbelievable how strong Black Bear are! So, I improvised by designing and installing “Bear-proof feeders”. Ah-ha–Gotcha! Only to learn that feeders, if used too consistently, work like a dinner bell for our abundant mountain lion and predator populations.  Luckily, I check my cameras frequently, and DID catch on quickly BEFORE witnessing any lion kills on camera. Embarrassing as it is, at first, I was like, “hey, there’s another mountain lion on camera? I didn’t know they’d come into feeders also after they go off?” Then, a Wait!? Ruh-Row-Shaggy! light bulb came on.

So I now only use the feeders, installed in different drainages, sporadically throughout times of the day and week and primarily during the winter when natural feed and food plots sources are dormant from deep freezes and snow.

Late fall, winter and into the spring are the most crucial times of year for wildlife management in my opinion. The does are pregnant and bucks are either rutting or later shedding their antlers.  It’s truly the best time to provide a solid protein source, vitamins and minerals to the males for recovery, during the rut and horn growth before they migrate to higher elevations. While essential nutrients to impregnated momma’s throughout the birthing and nursing process is pertinent.

All that being said, the most productive source of wildlife management that I’ve consistently witnessed by all types of wildlife are my licks.  The food plots are nice, but there are a lot of natural competitive sources for deer and elk to browse in this area. Ours are primarily frequented by does and younger bucks while the mature ones are at a higher ground, only passing through.

My licks aren’t the blocked type purchased and shipped online.  Those don’t last long around here.  Bear will pick those up and even haul them off like little tennis balls in their mouths or sometimes eat them in one sitting like candy.  I use a formula I found online years ago, posted on a blog by a retired biology teacher out of Missouri, called “Mo’s Lick”.  I’d sure like to reconnect with that gentleman again to thank him and follow up.

He’d posted a detailed story about only being able to afford a five-acre tract of creek bottom ground to lease and hunt on.  He knew there were good genetics in that region, but relying on those deer to reside within his creek bottom without purpose was an unreasonable hope.  Similar to our mountainous country, his tillable food plot ground was limited by access and terrain.  So, in turn, he started his own biology project using licks.  His first deer harvested, and a common size in that thicket scored in the one-hundred and twenty inches, if I recall.  By the fifth year, he’d harvested a one-hundred and eighty-six inch Whitetail!  He never concluded whether he’d thought the original smaller deer were just young, underdeveloped and grew into mature bucks being under nourished prior to his lick supply or if the previously mentioned mature, good genetic bucks from the region frequented and resided his creek bottom more often because of the licks.  His only conclusion was, he’d leased the ground for several years prior, constantly scouting smaller bucks.

After several years of consistently using the “Mo’s Lick” formula, the average buck’s antler size changed dramatically and more consistently within that thicket.  I have used Mo’s lick since, and found great results.  I have pictures of all species using Mo’s Lick: squirrel, fox, turkey, elk, deer and more.  However, once again, our regional terrain plays a big role in consistency.  We don’t routinely see the same bucks over and over like many Whitetail managers.  When fawns hit the ground and the weather starts warming, the Blacktail deer bachelor up and head for higher elevations where it’s cooler–typical males, right? Babies are still young and can’t travel the distances or terrain that mature bucks go each summer.

deer

In turn, I know what I call “my girls” by name when I see them on camera as spring progresses.  I keep a fawn count, who’s had how many, a buck to doe ratio and so forth, while watching them grow up, or disappear to predators–when Mama appears on camera at the lick or food plot alone later in the year.  By the time the babies are strong enough to make the migration to higher ground, fall is upon us again, days get cooler and the need to migrate higher becomes less and less desirable.

As winter storms blow in and the rut approaches, the mature bucks start heading to lower ground.  Depending on which direction the storms blow in and the amount of snow that falls on which facing slope, this can dictate the drainage taken by those mature bucks over previous years. (Bear in mind, our ground isn’t flat, a grid of one-hundred and sixty acres can be three-hundred and twenty plus acres of surface ground, it’s just not flattened out on grid view). The younger bucks stay local for a couple years. Then, start to migrate each spring with the other mature bucks as they mature.  Every year we get mature bucks on camera that we’ve never seen before, and likely may never see again.

Cattle have been known to do similar.  Oregon is an open range state.  We’ve often had cattle in our drainage, with tags belonging to a rancher whose range is three drainages over.  As feed thins, they start heading down the drainage they’re in.  Oregon is extremely diverse.  I’m aware of an area, ten miles away as the crow flies, that buddies of mine manage who find the same deer sheds every year…?  Those deer also migrate and only frequent the area in late fall and shed in winter.  The difference is that there’s really only one major drainage option, a highway and a river that I believe naturally funnel those deer back every year.

For me, the wildlife management learning curve has been an expensive and dedicated commitment worth every second and cent spent.  My advice is that there is no perfect solution or magic wand in managing wildlife.  If there was, the book would have been written and no more needed. Consider your terrain, species and the final results you’re seeking to obtain, before buying a bunch of things that have worked well in other regions and species.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used, continue to use and try new wildlife management products all the time–because they work! However, keep in mind that each area possesses different circumstances.  Talk to others in your region that have been successful. What’s worked for my region, may not work for your region.  Most of all get out and do it, enjoy the process. Management practices can change, but the goal should always stay the same.  Best practices of safekeeping for our greatest natural wild resources, for future generations.

Mo’s Lick Recipe

deer lick recipe

(1) 50lb bag of Di-calcium phosphate (21% or more)
(1) 50lb bag of Trace Mineral Lick (fine)
(1) 50lb bag of Rock Salt (fine)

Dig a hole near a year near a water source, pour and mix ingredients well. I’ve added Selenium to the mix in higher elevations and received a good response from Elk also.

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my article and best of luck!

About the author: Garrett Zoller, ALC, is the Managing Principal Broker of Record, and a founder of both LandAndWildlife.com and LandLeader. Garrett’s hands-on experience in the development of real estate, with strength in rural and commercial properties, administers an expert knowledge of recreational, agricultural and timber real estate.

 

The Surprising Benefits of Common Farmland Pests

There’s plenty of good reasons for landowners to have their guard up around pests. Pests can cause devastating losses to crops, can kill livestock, and generally wreak havoc on the health of your land. However, some creatures with reputations for being pests can actually do more good than harm for your land.

Snakes

Snakes are one of the most common fears in America. Not only do they look scary, snakes have the potential to be deadly. Poisonous snakes can cause serious damage to you and your livestock.

Even though they look creepy, snakes do have their benefits. Snakes eat rats and mice, which carry ticks. Timber rattlesnakes are especially fond of eating tick-carrying pests. A 2013 University of Maryland study showed timber rattlesnakes ate so many ticks that they removed 2,500-4,500 ticks from the site they lived on each year. Keeping the tick population down is important to reduce the spread of Lyme Disease (a bacterial disease carried by ticks), which can be especially important for recreational properties that host hikers or hunters.

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? If the snakes aren’t venomous and you don’t have a serious phobia, they can be a boon to your land.

Raccoons

Raccoons may look cute, but there’s nothing cute about the damage they can do to your property. Besides digging through trashcans, raccoons are also known for eating eggs, like those of our snake friends mentioned above, and other small animals. Worst of all, raccoons carry diseases such as parvovirus, fleas, and rabies. According to the Center for Disease Control, raccoons account for 30.2% of all animal rabies reports. Their feces also carry disease such as salmonella and racoon roundworm. None of this is good if you are trying to manage or attract wildlife to your property.

Having raccoons on a property does have a few upsides. They are one of the few animals that eat wasp larvae, which gets rid of the nest. They eat a wide variety of things, including harmful insects and small rodents that can also be considered pests on your land. However, these benefits don’t typically outweigh the drawbacks of having raccoons on your land so its best to find ways to deter them from making their home there.

 

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? A cute, furry face masks a host of nasty diseases and a bad temper. Consider bringing in a professional.

 

Opossum

Opossums have a bad reputation for their mangy looks and tendency to ‘play possum’. Their looks hide the fact that opossums are actually very well-groomed. While ticks may cling to opossum fur, only 3.5% of the ticks survive opossums’ grooming and feeding. Like snakes, their presence on your land can kill thousands of ticks every week.

Besides ticks, they also eat other pests that plagues your land like cockroaches, mice, snakes, and animal carcasses.

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? Opossums tend to be non-aggressive, eat ticks and other pests, and can even get rid of poisonous snakes. They may not be the prettiest creatures to look at, but they are good for the overall health of your land.

Foxes

Foxes are often viewed as sneaky, sickly creatures that will kill all of your chickens. That reputation isn’t entirely fair. These cat-sized creatures aren’t naturally aggressive and are easily scared off.

Foxes are also healthier than they are perceived. They can have rabies, but the strain they carry is much less common than raccoons (in 2017, foxes were the cause of 7% of all rabies cases).

If you have small household pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, kittens, and small dogs) or chickens, these could be at risk of a fox attack. It’s best to keep pets locked indoors and make sure the enclosures for any small livestock living outside are secure.

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? You probably don’t need to call pest control. In most cases, they are relatively harmless and hunt tick-carrying animals.

Ants

One of the worst things about warm weather is seeing a steady stream of ants trickle into your house. While they may be annoying in your living room, ants have a lot to offer your land. The leaves and fruits the ants bring into their tunnel eventually decompose, creating valuable nutrients for the soil. The tunnels that the ants go through also redistribute nutrients throughout the soil.

Call The Exterminator Or Let Them Be? Unless swarms of ants are causing serious damage to your crops, you can leave ants alone.

Some common farmland pests are just pests. Other creatures can benefit your land by getting rid of disease-carrying critters, eating tics, or improving the overall health of your land. If in doubt, contact your local animal control company. While some pests do nothing but cause trouble, other pests can provide a helpful service to your land.

Now that you know what pests are beneficial for your land, you may be interested in other best practices for your managing your land or even looking at purchasing some additional land for yourself. If so, be sure to use our Find A Land Consultant tool to find a qualified land expert in your area.

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

Where are the Opportunities in Opportunity Zones?

What is an Opportunity Zone?

By now, most of you have probably heard about opportunity zones. For those that have not, the program was created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on December 22, 2017, to incentivize investment in economically distressed parts of the country through tax benefits. The mechanism provides reductions in capital gains tax liability for investors who make long-term investments into census tracts designated as opportunity zones. Opportunity zones will likely favor shovel-ready development projects, as well as capital intensive renovations of assets under certain conditions.

How it Works

There are several primary considerations for opportunity zone investment regarding timing, product type, and implementation. Below is a summary of what we believe will have the most impact on our clients:

  1. Capital gains realized after December 22, 2017 must

be invested into one or more Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOF) within 180 days of realizing gain through sale of appreciated assets.

  1. QOFs are required to have a minimum of 90% of their funds invested into designated opportunity zones. QOFs can invest directly into qualifying real estate and/or make equity investments into qualifying
  2. A QOF investment may be sold and the tax benefits protected so long as the funds are reinvested into a new QOF investment within 180 This is only for purposes of deferring initial capital gains. The holding period for purposes of deferred tax liability reduction and step-up in basis of opportunity zone investments restarts upon reinvestment.
  3. Unlike a 1031 Exchange, this program applies to gains from any investment and is not limited to gains from real estate investments. Additionally, this program only requires reinvestment of the gain from the original investment, which leaves the investor free to use the basis as they
  4. Property investment needs to meet one of two criteria: (1) real estate needs to be put to “original use” with the QOF, or (2) the fund needs to “substantially improve” the “Original use” means that the building was put into service for the first time at commencement of the QOF investment. Certificate of occupancy is assumed to be a reasonable measure for this determination. “Substantially improve” means that the QOF needs to more than double its basis in the property within 30 months of acquisition. These requirements only apply to the improvements and not to the land on which they are sited. Recently proposed regulation indicates that a QOF may be treated as the “original user” of a property that has been unused or vacant for at least five years.
  5. Land generally qualifies as opportunity zone business property when used in an active trade or business, excluding situations that are viewed as abusive (e.g. land banking strategies). This applies to both improved and unimproved
  6. Leased property may qualify as business property without substantially improving the property or the tenant being the original The tenant may also be a related party subject to additional restrictions.
  7. Certain debt-financed distributions to investors may be tax free and working capital held by a QOF may, in some cases, be allowed to extend beyond 30 months when the fund is awaiting approval of
  8. A partnership or corporation may self-identify as a QOF by filing Form 8996 with their tax
  9. The gain on the original investment shall be assessed no later than December 31, 2026, regardless of whether or not the QOF investment has been sold.

The Benefits

  • If the QOF investment is sold during the first 0 to 5 years – The original gain and any incremental gain on the QOF investment become taxable at that time.
  • If the QOF investment is sold during years 5 to 7 – The original gain is reduced by 10%. Not available for first QOF investments made after December 31, 2021.
  • If the QOF investment is sold during years 7 to 10 – The original gain is reduced by an additional 5% (15% in total). Not available for first QOF investments made after December 31, 2019.
  • If the QOF investment is sold after Year 10 – No gains are incurred on the QOF investment.

Bottom Line

According to David Bitner, Americas Head of Capital Markets Research for Cushman & Wakefield, analysis indicates that this program could add as much as 150-300 basis points to a project’s after- tax Internal Rate of Return.

Agriculture opportunity zone

Opportunity Zones and Agriculture

Many of our clients are interested to learn if this program applies to agricultural land. The most recent IRS guidance seemed to indicate it may be possible, while also providing an example of when an agricultural investment would NOT qualify. The proposed regulation states that, “a QOF’s acquisition of a parcel of land currently utilized entirely by a business for the production of an agricultural crop, whether active or fallow at that time, potentially could be treated as qualified opportunity zone business property without the QOF investing any new capital investment in, or increasing any economic activity or output of, that parcel [emphasis added]. In such instances, the Treasury Department and the IRS have determined that the purposes of section 1400Z-2 would not be realized, and therefore the tax incentives otherwise provided under section 1400Z-2 should not be available.”

We are optimistic that if the property is substantially improved, as described earlier, it may be possible to justify an investment in farmland as a qualified investment. For example, if the land purchased is unimproved, the basis would be zero dollars, and any substantial investment into the property that increases its economic activity or output (such as converting it from row crops to permanent plantings) would seem to qualify. This could have significant impact on regions with farmland suitable for development to permanent crops, such as fruit or tree nut orchards, or vineyards. Given the potential for the tax implications associated with this strategy, it is recommended that you consult with your tax attorney prior to making a QOF investment into farmland.

Finding Value Beyond a Qualified Opportunity Fund

According to data recently released by Zillow, homes sold within an opportunity zone saw an average increase in value of over 20% year over year, while values for homes not within an opportunity zone saw comparably modest increases. It is possible that this trend is a result of those properties selling at a premium to a QOF for redevelopment or renovation. However, it is more likely that buyers believe these economically distressed communities will see outsized capital investment due to this program and, therefore, will see positive change and generate greater value appreciation over time.

So what does this mean? Even if no qualifying projects are realized as part of this program, a community could see a substantial benefit through an increase in investment dollars from non-QOF investors hoping to take advantage of the community benefits the program may generate. This speculation and influx of capital is likely to be somewhat self- fulfilling, creating exactly the kind of investment and benefits the program was designed to foster. In some areas, these benefits aren’t likely to stop at the census tract boundary and it is easy to see how they could spill over into neighboring communities despite them not being within an opportunity zone.

Key Takeaways

 

  • Time is of the essence – The structure of the program is such that the earlier funds are invested and the longer they are held in a QOF, the greater the benefit. The table below summarizes how these benefits are impacted by time.

Opportunity Zones Chart

  • Engage professionals early on – Talk to your tax attorney to ensure you don’t inadvertently make a mistake that will disqualify you from taking advantage of these benefits in full.
  • Not all opportunity zones  are created equal – Like all investments, some will perform better than others. Engage a knowledgeable real estate team to ensure you fully understand the fundamentals of the specific market. Look for markets with strong employment, income, and population growth, as well as those already seeing signs of economic
  • No substitute for quality underwriting – The program will likely make a good investment better but is unlikely to salvage a poor
  • Time will tell – We won’t know if the program will yield the desired results for many years. If Zillow’s data is an early indicator, the program could be a value driver that generates above average returns for savvy investors and positive externalities for the communities.
  • Ongoing questions – The second round of proposed regulations has removed much of the uncertainty from the program and we should start to see increased transaction activity as a result. The most recent round of guidance is generally viewed as being favorable to the taxpayer, which should increase confidence that the ultimate implementation of this program will not be unnecessarily punitive. However, as is the case any regulation of this scale and impact, there are likely to be changes and growing pains as the final details are worked out and ultimately approved.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 Terra Firma magazine.

Matt DavisAbout the author: Matt Davis is a real estate broker with Cushman & Wakefield. He is based in San Diego, CA, and assists clients with the disposition and acquisition of investment grade agricultural and transitional land assets. He is also founding member of the company’s Land Advisory Group and Agribusiness Solutions Team. Matt is a member of RLI and serves the 2019 Future Leaders Committee.