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.

RPR land data

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.

The Most Difficult Crops to Grow and Why

Some crops are low-maintenance. Other crops require so much upkeep, planning, and patience that they become the divas of your land. These five crops are some of the most challenging to grow, but the rewards might be worth the work.

Cauliflower

To grow thriving cauliflower crops, you need to pay special attention to when you plant. Although cauliflower is a cool-weather crop, it does poorly in weather that is too hot or too cold, so you have to plant the seeds before the first fall frost, but not before the weather has dropped below seventy-five degrees. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for cabbage worms, small bugs that are attracted to cauliflowers and will gobble up your plants.

Cauliflower is also very picky about the soil it grows in, so be sure to plant the crop in soil with a PH between 6.5 and 6.8. If your soil is within this PH range and has access to plenty of sunlight, however, this crop could bloom on your land. Cauliflower does best in sunny places with cool temperatures, such as Northern California.

Keeping the head of the cauliflower nice and white requires a lot of upkeep. Exposure to the sun can ruin the color and flavor. You’ll need to keep the head shielded from sunlight to protect it from sun damage. One popular way to do this is to bend the stalks in a way that allows the outer leaves to cover the head.

Celery

Celery has an extremely long maturing period (anywhere from 120-180 days), so farmers looking for a crop that regenerates quickly should look elsewhere.

To get that signature crunch, celery requires a lot of moisture. It needs consistent watering and even minor changes to its watering schedule can result in wilted, tough stalks that no one will want to eat. It is also important to make sure it is planted in a soil type that holds water well. Celery does not handle dry spells or hot weather well, so only plant this crop if you live in a cooler region.

Melons

Melons require lots of room to flourish. The vines can take up tons of usable land, limiting what else you can grow on your property. The sheer amount of space melons take up causes many farmers to shy away from growing them.

Besides hogging up all the land, there are many things that can go wrong when growing melons. A common complaint from growers is that melon vines will produce lots of flowers, but only a few full-grown melons. This can be the result of too much rain or not enough pollinators. A swing in temperature can result in bitter fruit. Uneven watering during the early growing stages can result in misshapen fruits that won’t sell.

Melons do best in hot, dry climates with sandy soil types, so a property in the Southwest could be perfect to grow melons.

Wasabi

This Japanese horseradish is notorious for being hard to grow. It grows naturally in rocky riverbeds and attempts to replicate wasabi’s natural habitat haven’t found much success.

There are dozens of reasons why farmers consider wasabi the most difficult crop to grow of all time. The wrong nutrient composition or too much humidity will kill wasabi. It is extremely susceptible to diseases and bugs when grown in large scales. Wasabi also has an extremely slow growth cycle, taking between one to two years to reach full maturity.

If you live in the right parts of the Pacific Northwest and have a property with a lot of wet, wooded areas that have well-draining soil and moisture in the air, wasabi might be the right crop for you to cash-in on.

However, if you look beyond these drawbacks, you might have a serious moneymaker on your hands. Wasabi goes for around $160 per kilogram at wholesale.

Head Lettuce

If you want an attractive head of lettuce, uniform watering is key. Uneven watering can result in misshapen heads that won’t sell at the market.

Head lettuce is also extremely sensitive to changes in temperature. A change in temperature can result in bolting, the premature flowering of the plant that makes it taste awful. Planting head lettuce in the shade of taller plants can help reduce the risk of bolting during the summer. Arizona is one of the top states to grow lettuce thanks to its mild winters and soil type.

These five crops are some of the most difficult crops out there to grow. However, if you think you can tackle the challenges that come along with these difficult crops, you may have found the perfect niche crop.

To stay up to date with everything agriculture, land, and real estate, be sure to follow the REALTORS® Land Institute on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you are thinking about purchasing land to grow one of these high-maintenance crops, be sure to use our Find A Land Consultant search tool to find a qualified agent in your area with the expertise needed to provide you proper guidance on your land purchase.

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.

What You Need To Know Before Buying Waterfront Property

Everyone has fantasized about owning their own little slice of land by the water. While living next to an ocean or lake is appealing, buying waterfront property comes with complications that other land types don’t have. Here is what you need to know before buying waterfront property.

Buying Waterfront Property: Know The Rules and Regulations

One of the most important things to know about buying waterfront property is knowing the rules and regulations that control what you can (and can’t) do with the land.

“When searching for the right waterfront property, there are many things you should verify when doing your due diligence,” says Christina Asbury, ALC, with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. “The first is that the land is buildable, and that you can meet any additional setbacks, buffers, or zoning requirements from local, state, or federal agencies.”

Regulations surrounding waterfront properties can be very tight, and can impact everything from what you can do in the water to what sort of structures you can build on the land. Here are just a few questions you should ask before buying waterfront property:

  • Do I have access to the water?
  • Are there speed or height restrictions for boats?
  • Can I build out onto the water?
  • Are there permits required for fishing on the water or using it for recreational purposes?
  • What are the insurance requirements?
  • Are water vehicles (such as jet skis) allowed on the water?

fishing boat on lake

You should also find out if you would be responsible for maintaining the bulkhead. A bulkhead is a wall that separates a property from the water. In some areas, the property owners are responsible for maintaining the bulkheads. This can be an expensive hidden cost that some buyers can’t afford. If you are expected to pay for the bulkhead’s maintenance, be sure to have an expert inspect the bulkhead to see what sort of condition it is in.

Buying Waterfront Property: Flood Risk

“Always consider [the property’s] flood risk and plan accordingly,” recommends Asbury. Properties by water have a much higher chance of being impacted by flooding or other natural disasters. Land in high-risk flood areas can stand to take a serious toll on their long-term value if disaster strikes. Because waterfront property is at such a high-risk for water-related damages, the insurance for these properties can be so high, the cost alone often drives buyers away.

Buying Waterfront Property: Understand That Things Change

Over time, rising or falling water levels can alter the shape of property and change how much land you have access to. Changing rules surrounding water use and endangered animals could also impact how you use your land.

“Waterfront properties are some of our most important natural resources and conservation buffers, so plan ahead for endangered species, wetlands, or other mitigating factors that could influence your plans for the future,” says Asbury.

Identifying parts of the land that could qualify for restrictions down the line can help you plan the layout of your land accordingly. If you are worried about water swallowing up all the usable land on your property, researching the history of the shoreline might give you a clue as to what to expect from the property in the future.

lake house

Between beautiful views and the chance for outdoor recreational fun, waterfront properties will always be in high demand. Being aware of the costs and risks that come with buying waterfront property can help you make the best choice for your when you buy your next property. 

If you are thinking about buying waterfront property, be sure to use our Find A Land Consultant tool to find a qualified land expert in your area to get the best deal on the land and make sure you are considering all factors.

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.

Six Ways To Attract More Animals to Your Hunting Property

The most important part of any hunting property is something you can’t buy at a store: the wild animals. Attracting animals to your land (and keeping them there) can take hard work, but if you are able to provide the key things animals need (food, water, and shelter) they will make their home on your land. Taking these six steps can help attract animals to your hunting property.

1. Prescribed Burns

Setting fire to where you want animals to roam may sound counterintuitive, but prescribed burns are actually a great way to make your property a more attractive home for a wide variety of animals. Prescribed burns clear away dead plants and debris littering up your land so that new plants can grow. The burned plants also provide valuable nutrients for new crops to grow in. All this fresh, rich food will attract animals to your property.

2. Build a Food Plot

Giving animals a reliable source of food is a great way to encourage them to make a home on your property, as Tommy Stroud Jr, ALC, mentioned in his article Adding Recreational Value To Your Property.

“While it does take some time and money to prepare a food plot, the end result will benefit wildlife and keep them on your property,” said Stroud. “This requires cutting timber, removing the stumps, liming and fertilizing the soil, and figuring out what and when to plant. The majority of these food plots are on the edges of hardwoods.”

Plant accordingly to what the animals you want to hunt like to eat. Here are a few popular animal-favorites when it comes to snacks:

Deer: Red clover, orchard grass, chestnuts, acorns, and fruits

Duck: Grass, grain, berries,

Boar: Acorns, roots, bulbs, grass

When choosing what to plant, be sure to plant a diversity of foods in case some crops grow better than others. A variety of food is also important so that food will be blooming year-round, ensuring the animals will want to be on your property 365 days a year.

3. Build a Pond

Creating a water source is an excellent way to bring animals to your hunting property. Ponds and lakes create steady sources of drinking water for animals, and if you add fish to the pond, it can attract carnivores. To learn how to build a pond on your property, Kent Morris, ALC, has a great step-by-step article on his blog.

4. Create Cover

Many animals (especially deer) need to feel like they are protected in order to stay on a property.

Planting tall grasses and low-growing shrubs give deer cover from predators, making them feel safe, as they move around your property or seek places to rest.

5.Timber Stand Improvement

Timber stand improvement (also called TSI) is a method of creating cover on your land by hinge-cutting trees and letting different parts of the fallen tree grow. This creates excellent cover for animals to make a home in. Also, deer love to munch on the sprouts that pop up from the tree stumps.

6. Plant Trees For Winter.

Planting trees that thrive in winter (such as hemlock, spruce, and pine) can give the animals shelter from the worst winter winds and provide protection from other harsh elements like rainstorms and hail.

Since animals can be unpredictable, it’s not always easy to attract animals to your hunting property. However, with these six tips, you can make your land into a paradise for a wide variety of animals.

Interested in learning how to best put these tips into practice and seeing what other ways there are to attract more wildlife to your property? Find A Land Consultant near you for expert advice.

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.

The Best Advice Top Agents Ever Got

A few words can change your life. The advice you get from your mentor, friend, or family member can even change the course of your career forever. Accredited Land Consultants Geoff Hurdl, ALC,, Bill Burruss, ALC, and Terri Jensen, ALC, share the advice that helped shape their successful careers in land.

Know Yourself to Know Others

Understanding yourself is an important part to succeeding in the land industry. You need to know your own strengths and weaknesses in order to improve your weaknesses and play up your strengths.

“Doing the best that I can and to ‘know myself’ have been the underlying themes to my leadership skills,” says Bill Burruss, ALC, winner of RLI’s 2018 Land REALTOR® of America Award.

“These two pieces of advice were instilled by my parents and reiterated by my teachers in high school. Respect for others was also a strong value. It could be argued that I was taught to live The Great Commandment, to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’. I believe to be successful you have to know yourself. Both my parents and teachers would challenge me by having me evaluate myself regularly. This forced me to understand what I did well, and where I had problems, and ultimately make the needed changes to achieve my goals.”

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

There are lots of ways to make money in real estate. Instead of trying to excel in every single field, Geoff Hurdle, ALC,  winner of the 2018 APEX Wrangler Award, found success by focusing his time and energy on the things he knew the most about.

“My father taught me there were many ways to make money in real estate,” says Hurdle. “One of the most valuable things he taught me was to stick with what you know.  I learned the value of that advice when I strayed from it. It cost me, a lot. I went back to what I knew and I have not looked back again!”

Respect and Hard Work Are Everything

Land real estate is a people business at its core. Respect for your fellow man can help you go far. Burruss also learned that the land industry is one where hard work and a love of land speak louder than race or gender.

“Respect was all about my generation, growing up in the ‘60s. I went through integration in the 7th grade. Within four years, women were hitting the streets in waves wanting equal pay and better job opportunities. Before I became a REALTOR®, I was hired by a person who was gay and then one who was African American. When I started real estate, my broker was female. The reason I got into leadership on the national level was by invitation from the Virginia Association of REALTORS® President-Elect, Nathan Booth, who was the first black president of a REALTOR® state association. All of these people had a great love for their fellow neighbor that I want to replicate. All of them are great because they are great, not because they are female, African American, or gay.”

Terri Jensen, ALC, with National Land Realty also highlights the importance of the three R’s. “Respect for self; respect for others; responsibility for all that I do,” says Jensen.

Hard work is also essential for success in the land industry, as Dan Murphy, ALC, with M4 Ranch Group explained in his 2018 Terra Firma article Getting To The Top: Finding The Apex Of Success.

“Each of us in the industry knows that we only eat what we kill. This industry makes no payment for a second place finish,” says Murphy. “If the transaction does not close, we don’t get paid. Our success at M4 Ranch Group in 2017 is without fail directly tied to the strength, intelligence, and the never-quit attitude of Team.”

Communication Is Key

Making sure that you are not just heard, but understood ensures that you and your client are on the same page.

“If you don’t know the answer to a question, let the client know that,” says Terri Jensen, ALC,. “Do let them know, though, that because of your years of experience, education, and expertise, that you probably know someone who can answer the question.”

The land industry is so massive and there are so many roads to take that it can be easy to feel lost. Listening to advice from land agents with decades of experience can help guide you in the right direction.

Looking to find a mentor in the land industry that can give you the advice that will change your career forever? Becoming a member of the REALTORS ® Land Institute gives you access to a national network of over 1,300 land professionals to connect with and learn from.

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.