Do These Old Land Rules Hold Up?

The business of buying and selling land is one of the oldest known to man. Over time, certain rules and sayings were established as the keys to success in the land industry. Some of those rules about land have stood the test of time, and some have not. For all the new land agents in the industry, we’re going to look at some of the most popular rules in the land industry to see if they still hold up years later.

1. Land Is Always A Good Investment

Yes – But Only For Smart Investors  

Investing in land has always been a great way to diversify your portfolio. Plots of land are often passed down generation to generation as a reliable investment. There are lots of great investment options depending on your level of risk and timeline, such as the “buy and hold” method or . Vacant land can give huge returns if held onto for the right period of time or improved.

However, investing in land is not risk-free, especially for people that aren’t land experts. There are more factors impacting land value (such as international trade, , and new land laws) than ever before. Unlike other investment options, land is not guaranteed to earn interest. If the land isn’t transitioned to its highest and best use or is not in high demand when it comes time to sell, you will lose money.

Many old rules about land investing, such as the importance of timing and being familiar with the market, still apply. There is a lot to take into consideration with investing in land, such as zoning, topography, taxes, etc. If you are not a land expert, be sure to work with a land professional before investing.

2. In-Person Networking Is Key To Success

Yes – But It Doesn’t Always Have to Be In-Person  

Nothing can replace in-person contact. As Jonathan Goode, ALC, with Southeastern Land Group said in his article Ten Lessons For Land Agents From A Decade In The Dirt, “20% of what we do is about land, and the other 80% is dealing with people.” In an industry where trust and people skills are the backbone of success, networking remains as important as ever.

However, for the first time in history, technology allows us to network, socialize, and promote ourselves without leaving the house. Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people from the comfort of your couch. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter let you meet other professionals, advertise to potential and current clients, and learn about the latest land news. In-person networking might still be essential to success in the land industry, but social media allows us to stay connected as well.

 3. Timber Is A Good Option for Retirement

Yes and No

While many people generally agree on the benefits and drawbacks of investing in land in general, the rules of land surrounding investing in timberland have been much less sure. A Washington Post article called “Thousands of Southerners Planted Trees for Retirement. It Didn’t Work” sparked a debate within the land industry. The article follows a farm owner who diversifies his family farm by planting pine trees. He lost millions when the 2009 housing crash hit and resulted in the decline in pine prices.

Some read this article as a declaration of the death of timberland investing. Others argued that the article ignored the fact that the recovery of the economy resulted in lumber prices returning to their pre-crash values.

In his article “Is Pine Timberland Still A Good Investment?”, Jonathan Goode, ALC, wrote that both sides had good points. He notes the glut of timber in parts of the Southeast and that people did lose significant money, but that no investment is foolproof. People that invested in the stock market around the housing crash would have also lost a ton of money. He mentioned that even in the worst market, there is room to make money off of timber.

“The good news for small to medium-sized investors is that you can avoid some of the problems that have plagued institutional buyers,” says Goode. “Timberland Investment Management Organizations (TIMO’s) are given the difficult task of going and Finding a large package of timberland to Purchase on behalf of their client, Manage the fund for 10-15 years, and then sell with guaranteed returns.”

The meat of the Washington Post story is less about the history of timber and more about the unpredictability of the market. There are things you can do to make sure your land is safe, such as and , but there is little you can do about the market. With any investment in land or other asset, there will always be risk.

 4. Working With An ALC Is The Best Way To Buy And Sell Land 

Yes!

A lot of things change in the land industry, but some things never do. Working with an Accredited Land Consultant ensures that you are working with the best in the industry. They are land experts with an incredible network of other professionals, years of experience, top-notch education, and some of the hardest working people you’ll ever meet.  The ALC Designation has been around for decades (under several different names) and has served generations of land experts with the tools for success in the land industry.

As years pass, even the most trusted rules about land can crumble and be replaced by new ones. However, some other land rules have stayed the same for centuries. Only time will tell which rules about land from today will still hold up tomorrow.

Interested in becoming an Accredited Land Consultant? Sign up for LANDU Education Week in Denver, CO, for the chance to complete the Education Requirement portion of the designation.

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.

New Farm Bill Legalizes Hemp in Land Real Estate Industry

By now, most people know that hemp became legal in America after the 2018 Farm Bill was signed on December 20th, 2018. However, there’s a lot more to the new law and legal hemp itself than meets the eye. Let’s take a look at hemp, its benefits, and the details of its current legal status under the 2018 Farm Bill.

What Is Hemp?

For those of you that are green (no pun intended!), hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Hemp gets confused frequently with marijuana. The biggest difference is that hemp has a very low THC (0.3% or less) while marijuana contains concentrations between 15%-40%, a much more potent dose that lets users have that “high” feeling.

What Makes Hemp Stand Out?

Hemp is used for fuel, fabrics, oil, plastics, animals feed, building materials, paper, and more. You can even eat it, although the taste is unpleasant. In fact, there are over 25,000 known uses for hemp!

Hemp is a fast growing, low maintenance crop. The plant requires less water, fertilizer, and herbicides than many common crops, making it a great option for farmers looking to save a little money or reduce their carbon footprint.

Hemp is green in more than one way. Hemp takes in more CO2 as it grows and naturally rids the soil of toxins, making it an excellent crop for bioremediation. After the harvest, the remains break down into rich nutrients for the soil.

What is the current ruling?

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (whose provisions were included in the 2018 Farm Bill) let hemp farmers apply for federal agricultural grants, own crop insurance for the plant, and have access to the national banking system (an issue for marijuana in states even where it is legal). The 2018 Farm Bill removed a lot of hoops that hemp growers used to need to jump through. Removing the gray areas surrounding the plant and allowing hemp farmers access to the same tools as other farmers will make it easier and more profitable for people to grow hemp. 

Just because hemp is legal doesn’t mean everything is cut and dried surrounding the plant. While the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and products made from hemp from the Schedule 1 Drug List, the FDA still has regulatory authority over all CDB in food and drugs. Testing protocols surrounding how much THC and CBD is in each plant is still up for debate, as different testing methods can sometimes produce different results.

A recent report from the Brightfield Group expects that the United States CBD market will be worth $22 billion by 2022. If you’re considering branching out into new crops, hemp might be a great option for you.

Be sure to tune in to the Industrial Hemp- Impacts to Real Estate non-LANDU course being held by the RLI Oklahoma Chapter on May 9th with facilitator Kirk Goble, ALC.

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.

ALCs from 2018 LANDU Week at NLC19 receiving their pins

LANDU Education Week Attendees Awarded ALC Pins At NLC19

Once a year, the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) offers land professionals the opportunity to greatly enhance their expertise by taking all six courses needed to earn RLI’s elite Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation in one place, at one time: LANDU Education Week. Every year, a dedicated group of agents attend that take full advantage of this opportunity, complete all the courses, and go on to proudly receive their ALC pin. Many of those who received their pin after attending LANDU Week were also named top-producing agents as award recipients as part of RLI’s esteemed APEX Awards Program.

ALCs from 2018 LANDU Week at NLC19 receiving their pins

Left to right: Geoff Hurdle, ALC; Walter Hatchett, ALC; Eric Frickle, ALC; Clayton Pilgrim, ALC; Michael Murphy, ALC; Clay McCullar, ALC; Justin Osborn, ALC; Dan Murphy, ALC; Brent Lyday, ALC; and Joey Burns, ALC.

The coveted ALC Designation pin is awarded each year in March at RLI’s National Land Conference. This year’s recipients received their pins from 2018-19 RLI National President Jeramy Stephens, ALC, on March 5th in Albuquerque, NM. Of those in attendance who were invited to the stage to accept their pin, ten of them had attended the 2018 LANDU Education Week that took place in Arlington, TX, the previous June. RLI is proud to recognize these professionals and all of the elite agents that dedicated themselves to the earning the designation in 2018.

Eric Frickle, ALC

Eric Frickle, ALC, receiving his ALC pin from RLI National President Jeramy Stephens, ALC, at the 2019 National Land Conference.

Of those receiving their pin at conference was Eric C. Frickle, ALC, CCIM, with Eric Conrad Frickle Commercial Realty in California who was also awarded the RLI APEX 2018 Broker of the Year in Commercial Land Sales. When later asked about the value that the week provided, he stated “RLI’s LANDU Education Week was a great experience. It afforded me the opportunity to complete all of the courses I needed for designation in a classroom environment. This provided a great opportunity for building relationships with fellow classmates… and it was great to see them all again at NLC!”

Michael Murphy, ALC, receiving his ALC pin from RLI National President Jeramy Stephens, ALC, at the 2019 National Land Conference.

Also receiving their pins in Albuquerque were Dan Murphy, ALC, and Michael Murphy, ALC, Broker/Owners of the M4 Ranch Group in Colorado. If their names sound familiar it’s likely because they tied to be named the RLI APEX 2017 Top National Producer, the program’s most coveted and prestigious award, at NLC17. When discussing his experience at the 2018 LANDU Education Week, he recalled “We attended LANDU Week in 2018 and this is by far the best way to complete a majority of the ALC classes and make connections for life. Great classes and great instructors but the friendships created were a perfect bonus!”

Dan Murphy, ALC

Dan Murphy, ALC, receiving his ALC pin from RLI National President Jeramy Stephens, ALC, at the 2019 National Land Conference.

His brother Dan also raved about the week saying “LANDU is the best way to accomplish the goal of attaining the highly coveted ALC Designation. The best part is surrounding yourself with the true professionals in our industry. While the education and convenience of LANDU is outstanding on its own, the contacts and friendships greatly outweigh the learning.”

Geoff Hurdle, ALC

Geoff Hurdle, ALC, receiving his ALC pin from RLI National President Jeramy Stephens, ALC, at the 2019 National Land Conference.

The star-studded line up of ALCs that were handed their pins in Albuquerque doesn’t end there. The RLI 2018 APEX Wrangler Award winner also spoke about what an honor it was to receive his pin after having completed the courses at the 2018 LANDU Education Week. Geoff Hurdle, ALC, of Hurdle Land & Realty in Tennessee with the APEX 2018 Wrangler Award for largest number of transactions closed in 2018; Geoff had over 181 closed transaction sides in 2018! Reflecting on the experience he mentioned “I knew that LANDU Week was the only way I was going to get in the education requirements for my ALC without it taking me years to complete. To have done that all at once sounds like a time-suck but, in actuality, it was a time-saver! LANDU Week also saved me money from a lot of travel. I am so, so thankful for LANDU and how it all worked out! I highly recommend LANDU Education Week. Besides, you meet a bunch of people after the same thing that become great friends!”

Walter Hatchett, ALC

Walter Hatchett, ALC, receiving his ALC pin from RLI National President Jeramy Stephens, ALC, at the 2019 National Land Conference.

On connecting with one other 2018 LANDU Education Week attendee that went on to get his pin at the 2019 National Land Conference, Walter Hatchett, ALC, of Kohler & Associates in Georgia said “Having the opportunity to attend the 2018 LANDU Week in Dallas and listen to and learn from top land real estate professionals was a great experience for me. The networking and knowledge gained was priceless, as well as making friendships that will last a lifetime. It was truly worth the investment, to me, to have all the classes needed in one location and timeframe to assist in obtaining my ALC Designation.” Walter was also recognized as part of the RLI APEX Awards Program as a RLI 2018 APEX Top Twenty Producer.

If you are thinking about earning the elite Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation, make sure to check out the 2019 LANDU Education Week taking place in Denver, CO, from June 2-10. We hope to see you receiving your ALC pin at the 2020 National Land Conference (NLC20) in San Antonio, TX, from March 29 – April 1 — and maybe even receiving one of our esteemed RLI APEX Awards after all that expertise makes you a top producer!

Jessa Friedrich, Marketing Manager, REALTORS Land InstituteAbout the Author: Jessa Friedrich, MBA, is the Marketing Manager for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has served in her current role in the land real estate industry since March 2015 overseeing all matters pertaining to the organization’s marketing and communications.

What Does the Future of Agriculture Look Like?

What will the farms of 2100 look like? Will they be completely unrecognizable from the farms of today? Will they be autonomous? Will the type of crops farmers grow be similar to those we grow in 2019 or can we expect brand-new grains and vegetables to feed the ever-growing population? There’s no way to know for certain, but in this article, we take a look at current trends in farming and technology to hazard a guess about the future of agriculture.

Wired in

Technology already plays a huge part in agriculture and its role on the farm will only continue to grow. Drones, telematics, crop sensors, and precision agriculture technologies all help farmers increase productivity on their land while cutting back on physical labor. Although it seems like these land technologies are already a staple on many farms, the technology is still relatively new. Much like the computer or telephone, we can expect to see better, faster, and more affordable versions of these technologies in the future.

Precision agriculture technology has been extremely popular in the past few years. This technology can do everything from monitoring, giving each plant in a crop individualized care, and efficiently dispensing water and fertilizer. Precision agriculture technology is key to reducing food waste, which may be why the industry is expected to grow to $2.42 billion by 2020. You can expect precision agriculture technologies to play a huge part in the farms of tomorrow.

Another technology we can expect in the farms of the future is swarms of tiny robots. The University of Applied Sciences in Germany is already exploring a concept called MARS, which stands for Mobile Agricultural Robot Swarms. Groups of anywhere from five to one hundred bots would plant and tend each seed’s need. This specialized care can cut down on food waste and create healthier crops.

More Mouths to Feed

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the world population is expected to boom to 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. This means that food production is going to need to increase dramatically. With demand high, we might see an increase in people joining agriculture or large investments in farm technology to help make enough food to feed the masses.

The Changing Consumer

The American diet is evolving. Compared to the 1970s, people in modern day eat much more grains, oils, and sugars, and have cut back on dairy products, vegetables, and eggs. Just as the farmers of today had to adjust their crops for the changing times, the farmers of tomorrow will do the same.

graph pulled from the Pew Research Center

We can predict what the consumers of tomorrow will want based off the consumers of today. The demand for organic food has steadily risen for the past decade, as well as the demand for farm to table. The consumers of today are more health-conscious than ever before and the farms of tomorrow will have to accommodate for that.

Better Fake Meat

A few years ago, fake meat looked like limp tofu “hot-dogs” that no one touched at the barbeque. Nowadays, fake meat like the Impossible Burger are similar to meat in texture and taste. As more companies compete to create a more realistic plant-based burger, we can expect more and better-tasting fake meat products.

This could create a huge shift not only in raising real meat, but also in corn and soybean production (much of which is used to feed crops).

Don’t panic, beef farmers – the number of vegetarians and vegans actually hasn’t increased much over the past few decades. This means that at least in the near future, there is still a market for real meat. The current legal battle surrounding what can and cannot be called meat could help preserve a consumer base that demands real meat.

A New Kind of Farm

Vertical farms, a type of farm where crops are grown on vertically stacked structures, may be a staple for the future of agriculture. With the population expected to boom, the ability for vertical farms to take up less room than a traditional farm could make them more popular.

They also used a tiny amount of water compared to the great outdoors.

There is no surefire way to predict the future of agriculture. We have no idea what laws, natural disasters, cultural shifts, and new technology are waiting just around the corner. However, there are plenty of clues in the farms of today that can help us predict the future of agriculture.

No matter what decade you are in, land education is key for knowing the ins and outs of the land industry. Check out RLI’s upcoming courses to stay educated and ahead of the curve when it comes to future land trends you need to know.

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.

How and Why To Invest in Farmland

OVERVIEW: INVEST IN FARMLAND

From the beginning of time, farmers have been an integral part of feeding the public. Many technological changes have impacted the farming industry, from the invention of the plow to more modern advances, such as GPS technology, irrigation, and drought-tolerant seed varieties. Many facets have changed but one has not, the dirt. Investing in land is a “simple” process of purchasing property and creating value through: revenue, appreciation, or tax benefits. Although it sounds that many “simple” investors don’t understand the difficulty in selecting properties that make sense for their investment goals when they invest in farmland, for example investing in farmland for retirement.  Listed below are a few short items to look at before investing in farmland.

FIND A PROFESSIONAL

 

Many investors both large and small make the mistake of not employing a professional that has the knowledge of the industry/market and can care for their money. Many times, throughout my real estate career, investment experience and as a farmer myself, I have seen investors not use the correct professional with knowledge of the land. When looking to diversify with farmland, seek a real estate professional with historical and proven confidence in the area.

Accredited Land Consultant land transaction expert farmland

Typically, land professionals are part of organizations like The Realtors® Land Institute where land is the single most asset class, they deal in. To go further, Accredited Land Consultants are trained and accomplished in the industry, of which only a few hundred agents have acquired the designation worldwide.  I use the quote, “I will not go to a heart doctor to get my hip replaced.” A Realtor® who sells homes in an urban area would not have the specific expertise to know the farm and ranch industry and understand the investment quality of a property. A farm and ranch real estate agent would not know about condominium prices in downtown. Use the Find A Land Consultant tool and look for an ALC Designated agent (see why) to make sure you are using a qualified land professional.

BENEFITS

One of the best benefits known to investors is the ability to have land as a tangible asset when you invest in farmland. This is especially important when a portfolio is heavily invested in the stock market.  Another benefit we see in farmland is the tax deduction in relation to depreciation.  Many farms contain improvements that depreciate such as grain storage, irrigation pivots, shops, barns and etc.  An owner can depreciate some of these assets each year to offset yearly taxes.  Always ask your favorite CPA for more information.

invest in farmland

“The United States has some of the best potential farmland for investment…”

Another great benefit to owning farmland is the ability to lease, farm, or share crop your property, to make money.  The value of farmland has increased over the last several years due to an increase in demand for food and fiber globally.  The United States has some of the best potential farmland for investment because of our democratic government and the infrastructure it possesses; ie, railroads, rivers and highways. Other countries have very fertile soil but have no roads to deliver products to a port, and it makes for a hard harvest.  Also, some foreign countries have great land to grow crops but have a corrupt government and/or the state owns all the ports of exchange.  Not all international investments are bad, they just can be more volatile than the U.S.

SELECTION

When selecting a farm to purchase an investor needs to keep three simple points in their process.  Do I have the capital to make the investment? Do I feel comfortable in a long-term project? Can I leave emotions aside when purchasing/selling?

  1. Knowing your buying potential, aka how much can you spend, is key when purchasing farmland. Some investors move capital into property with no debt and many move some capital and acquire debt through lenders.  Lenders are everywhere and, in my opinion, choose a lender that understands farmland and its characteristics.  There are options for government loans through the USDA and other government entities as well.  Consult your land professional to direct you to lenders that can help.
  2. Farmland investing for the most part is a long-term project. Many investors buy land and hold it for extended periods of time to get the most return.  Many large investors may hold land for as long as 10+ years to see the returns.  The farm economy goes in cycles much like the economy, which as a whole goes up and down.  To see real potential in farmland, one must be ready to hold on through at least 5+ years.
  3. Emotion is always on the table when it comes to tracts of land. Throughout my career I have fallen victim to getting emotional towards a piece of property.  This is a definite thing to remember when it comes to you and your family’s financial future.  Leave emotions at the door.  The phrase, “time is money”, can go both ways. Waiting two years to purchase because it makes more sense financially or selling now because you have a willing buyer, may factor into your decision. Remember, “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush”.

“To see real potential in farmland, one must be ready to hold on through at least 5+ years.”

DIVESTING

After the asset has reached potential or maybe you are ready to buy a new investment, it is time to liquidate. When you invest in farmland, selling the property is as important as the day you purchase. I cannot express the importance using a qualified professional. Visit the Realtors® Land Institute to find a qualified agent when it comes time to sell your investment. The right professional can elevate your sales price, alleviate hassle, and supply you with confidence to the day of closing. When selling farmland, a land professional must qualify buyers and must advertise to the masses. This requires a tailored marketing program and someone with whom has the skill set to vet buyers and make sure qualified candidates can meet or exceed the requirements to get to the closing table.

CONCLUSION

Investing in farmland is very rewarding, if done correctly. The key to remember is to surround yourself with qualified people to help you make decisions. This is your money and your future, happy hunting!

About The Author: Clayton Pilgrim, ALC, is a licensed real estate agent with Century 21 Harvey Properties in Paris, Texas.  Throughout his career he has been in production agriculture from on the ground operations to large scale management.  Pilgrim is involved in private investing in farms, ranches, and recreational tracts throughout East Texas and Southern Oklahoma.  He is a member of the Realtors® Land Institute, an Accredited Land Consultant and on the board of the Future Leaders Committee.  He resides in Paris, Texas, with his wife, Kristy, and daughter, Caroline.

2018 Land Markets Survey

Top Four Takeaways from The 2018 Land Market Survey

The highly-anticipated Land Market Survey is out! Every year, REALTORS® Land Institute and the National Association of REALTORS® Research Group conduct this survey for land professionals across America to use as an informational resource. The land industry faced many challenges (such as natural disasters and uncertainty on the long-term effects of the current trade war) and many victories (such as the WOTUS ruling and an overall strong economy). Let’s take a look at some of the biggest takeaways from the 2018 Land Market Survey.

1. Land Prices Are On The Rise, But Slowly

Average land prices across America rose, but at a slower rate than previous years. Land prices rose 2% in 2018, compared to 3% in 2017. This slower gain could be a result of rising interest rates and depressed commodity prices.

2. The Price of Land Bought and Sold Went Down

Across all land types, the median price per acre decreased to $4,500. The amount of land being bought and sold also decreased to a median of 53 acres. However, some land types actually saw higher sizes and prices in 2018. Agricultural irrigated land, timber, recreational, and ranch land all increased in price per acre over the year, while agricultural non-irrigated, timber, residential, and ranch land increased in property size.

3. Financing Was The Number One Issue Facing The Land Industry

49% of respondents said that financing was an issue affecting the land industry. Local zoning, federal zoning, state regulations, and tariffs were also mentioned as top issues.

4. Land Is Being Sold Faster.

While some land types struggled in 2018, the median number of days a property would sit on the market decreased from 95 in 2017 to 90 in 2018.

As with any year, 2018 was a year of many ups and downs for the land industry. It’s impossible to predict what will happen next, especially in this industry. However, the data from the Land Market Survey can help us plan for whatever 2019 has in store for us and help make it the best year yet.

Want to learn more about the current state of the land market? On January 23, Scholastica (Gay) Cororaton, a research economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, hosted a survey going into the nuts and bolts of the Land Market Survey. The live webinar quickly sold out, but don’t panic! You can still watch the recording for free on our webinar archive page. The recording will be posted the week of January 28th.

We wanted to give a big thank you to everyone that participated in this year’s survey. We had the highest participation rate ever!

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

What does RLI Have In Store For 2019?

The start of a new year is a time for fresh ideas, getting motivated, and setting new goals. If your New Year’s Resolutions include growing your career, networking with other land professionals, and learning more about land, check out what the REALTORS® Land Institute has in store for 2019.

2019 National Land Conference

The biggest networking event in the land industry is right around the corner! Join hundreds of other land professionals in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on March 3-6, for four days of networking, amazing speakers, Break Out Sessions, and more!

This year’s opening keynote speaker will be Dr. Mark G. Dotzour, a real estate economist who worked as the Chief Economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. His research has been used in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today, and more. He will be informing attendees about how current economic conditions are impacting the land industry. You’ll also hear from expert industry speakers like Steve Apfelbaum, Amber Hurdle, John Newton, and Russell Riggs on topics such as the ecological value of your land, personal branding, the New Farm Bill, and the latest on land laws.

In addition to gaining expertise from these amazing speakers, you’ll be able to:

You can reserve your spot for NLC19 here. We hope to see you there!

Updated Classes

Our classes have been upgraded to include the most up-to-date information and the latest industry best practices. In addition, our new VILT (Virtual Instructor Led Training) courses foster engagement with and hands-on participation in the course content as well as networking with fellow participants. We are still rolling out these new classes, so if you don’t see a class you’d like to take, check back later in the year on our  , and we’ll most likely have it scheduled.

LANDU Education Week

LANDU Education Week is an amazing opportunity to finish all six required courses for the Education Requirement towards earning the Accredited Land Consultant Designation in one week.  This year’s LANDU Education Week will take place in Denver, CO, from June 2-11. We sold out quickly last year, so be sure to register early! We’re still polishing the final details, but will be opening registration in early April.

Great New Webinars

Want to dive deeper into the Land Market Survey? We have two free webinars coming up that go into the nuts and bolts of the survey’s results. Scholastica (Gay) Cororaton, a research economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, will lead the Digging Into the Land Survey: Top Market Trends webinar on January 23. Then, Jay Wittistock will take a closer look at land surveys in general with The Dirt on Land Surveys on April 10.

Didn’t get to watch a webinar live? No problem! You can watch recordings of them here.

With all these great events, classes, and webinars coming up, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the REALTORS® Land Institute. We hope it is for you, too!

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

Dealing with Holiday Stress As A Land Agent

The holidays are a stressful time for everyone, but especially for land agents. Many clients have a tight deadline to get deals closed before the end of the year or even before tax season. With tensions running high and a seemingly endless to-do list, it can be easy to give in to the stress of the holidays. However, there are a few things you can do to deal with holiday stress.

Communicate

Strong communication is always key in the land industry. With so much happening around the holidays, one of the best ways to reduce stress is clear and constant communication to make sure all projects are headed in the right direction.

“As always communication is key, staying in contact with everyone involved in a transaction especially during this busy time of the year can make for a less stressful transaction,” said Calvin Perryman, ALC, with Great Southern Land.

Know Your Calendar and Everyone Else’s

It can be hard enough to keep track of what’s going on in your life, let alone everyone else’s. Keeping your calendar updated with the schedule of those you work with and for is the best way to make sure you don’t miss an all-important meeting or double book yourself.

“When closing a land deal around the holidays it is always best to make sure everyone is on the same page with their schedules,” said Perryman. “Make sure everyone knows when the parties will be out of town, when the attorneys’ offices will closed, and let everyone know your holiday schedule as well.”

 

Turn Your Ride Into Fun

Long car rides can drain you of your energy. To make them more enjoyable, try listening to some great land podcasts to learn on the go. Let’s Talk Land by Lou Jewel, ALC, features great guests and explores a wide variety of topics. Another great land podcast is The Land Show, co-hosted by Jonathan Goode, ALC.

Make Health A Priority

While trying to juggle everything else, people tend to think their health is the first thing they can let slide. Actually, a lack of sleep and poor diet lead to weaker concentration, poor memory, and can cause your stress levels to skyrocket. Be sure to use plenty of hand sanitizer, eat leafy greens, and squeeze in at least six to seven hours of sleep whenever you can. We know that a good night’s sleep can be rarer than spotting Santa Claus around Christmas, but sleep is always a good investment, especially around the holidays!

 

While trying to juggle work, family, friends, and everything else that comes along with Christmas, you can be left feeling exhausted and miserable at what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. We hope these tips help you get organized and healthy for the upcoming holidays.

Is your New Year’s Resolution to learn more about land? Once the holiday stress settles, be sure to check out our upcoming LANDU Education courses.

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

 

Tips From Land Experts on Closing Year-End Deals

With stress running high and people busier than ever, closing deals in December can be difficult. To find out how some agents flourish during the holidays, we reached out to some of our elite Accredited Land Consultants to find out their top tips for closing land deals in December.

Be Where The Buyers Are

Did you know that 78% of people do their holiday shopping online? Every year, more and more people go online to make purchases. With such an increase in screen time, sharing your properties on social media and in targeted ads is a great way to get your properties in front of potential buyers this time of year.

“The holidays are one of the better times to market your properties as families get together, shop on their phones, and flip back and forth on Facebook,” said Drew Ary, ALC, with Ary Land & Home/ Keller Williams Advantage. “In fact, 78% of people do most of their holiday shopping online and 54% of purchases will come from smart phones and tablets. Share your property listings and do some live videos about purchasing the ultimate Christmas present! Tell them to plan for tax season and use that extra money to make the most memorable investment there is to make!”

Communicate

Communication is always important in the land industry, but it is especially important around the holidays. As the calendar fills up, you run the risk of double booking a showing, client meeting, or other events. Clear communication is important with your staff, clients, and friends and family.

“Elevated communication is key. Each day matters when it comes to deadlines, so putting together a closing schedule early and keeping everyone in the loop at each step is essential,” said Kenny Schum, ALC, from Murray Wise Associates, LLC. “Make sure you know each stakeholders holiday travel schedules and business hours early and plan accordingly.”

Know Why They Buy (Or Sell)

While the popular misconception is that December is the slowest month for real estate sales, the looming tax season and the natural desire to get things done before the end of the year creates a whole new client base. Knowing who and why people buy will help you in closing land deals in December.

“Year end is busy for real estate brokers, buyers, sellers, and investors because it is a natural deadline for decisions,” said Ben Crosby, ALC, from Crosby & Associates, Inc. “Taxes are a major reason for these decisions. Buyers either want a purchase on their books before year end or after the new year. Sellers make the same decisions based on their best tax strategy.”

Be Prepared

Knowing that this time of year is hectic can actually be your secret weapon. Use the months beforehand to plan, schedule meetings, and layout what needs to be done before the holiday mayhem hits.

“Scheduling closings during the holiday season can be tricky,” said Phil McGinnis, ALC, of McGinnis Commercial Real Estate Co.  “I prepare all year to be able to call in favors at holiday time to get my closings fit in. Lawyers, paralegals, and the whole team of surveyors and appraisers usually don’t mind helping out if they have been helped out throughout the year.

De-Stress

Holidays have a way of packing on the stress. Working around the clock while trying to juggle all your other Christmas activities can drain even the toughest agent quickly. Make sure to take some time for yourself.

The holidays can be a tough time to close deals. However, with the right mindset, preparedness, and open communication with those in your office and in your life, closing land deals in December will be a breeze!

Don’t have your Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation yet? Learn about the requirements for and benefits of earning this prestigious designation!

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.

Selling Land in a Down Market

Selling rural land in a good market is fun. Lots of fun. Buyers are throwing money at you, sellers are happy with how quickly you sold their property, and you have some extra money in your pocket. You hope these days will never stop. But in the back of your mind you know that “all good things must come to an end.” Sales can be the best job in the world when it is good, and a very difficult career path when “no one is buying.”

I started my real estate career in January of 2008. Do you remember what was happening in real estate in 2008 and the years that followed? It was “the worst real estate market in 50 years.” I had the luxury of not knowing what a good market was. It was slow going for me to build a business from scratch, but I didn’t have to fight through the emotions of having a few great years, and then going into a deep slump.

Every year I was in business was my best year ever, up until 2016. In 2016, I made about 1/3 of what I earned in 2015. It was my first down year in my career. That year we welcomed a son into our family, and that involved a lot of time at home and kept me from being out in the field. I had some demands on my time because I served on several boards and was the president of the RLI Alabama Chapter. And it didn’t help that we had one of the most contentious presidential elections in recent history that year. My personal circumstances and the local market climate all added up to a big bust for me that year. But I learned a lot, and this article contains some of the lessons that were impressed upon me by my circumstances.

Here are some practical lessons that helped me get through some tough times, and I hope they are helpful for newer agents in the industry.

  1. Trim Debt- I don’t mean to sound like Dave Ramsey here, but there is a lot of freedom that comes from not being under the huge burden of large monthly payments. This isn’t always possible, especially for the business owner, but trim the debts where you can.
  2. Spend Money on the Things that Generate the MOST ROI. When you are flush, you will throw marketing dollars at anything that moves. When times get tough, it makes sense to invest those dollars in the places that will make you the most money. Revisit your online advertising plans, magazine ads, infrastructure, and business systems to see where you can squeeze more out of what you’re putting in.
  3. Be Diligent- When you get discouraged it is easy to slough off on work and go hunting or to the movies. Make the calls, send the emails, put in the face time that will generate the business you need. Down markets are not the time to take it easy.
  4. Be Active- The success of your business hinges, to a large degree, on how active you are. This principle is amplified when fewer people are buying. The activity also helps buoy your spirits, and makes you more productive and positive. Be proactive and do things that engage you spiritually, physically, socially, and mentally. I had to constantly fight the urge to withdraw and sit at home and mope. So much of the battle for making sales is fought between your ears. I am a fan of the concept of “What you think is what you become.” To a large degree, your thoughts shape your actions, and actions often shape outcomes.
  5. Be Generous- “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” is a famous quote from Jesus in the scriptures. Whether you are religious or not, this principle is true. Giving of your time, talents, or resources to others takes your mind off you and focuses on the needs of someone else. Trust me, it just works.
  6. Have Something Positive to Say- “How is the land business?” You will get asked this question 20 times a day. How you answer it will determine how much new business and what opportunities come your way. Don’t lie, and don’t manufacture stories to impress, but have something positive to say. Talk about a recent listing, showing, or offer if you don’t have recent sales to discuss. People want to do business with positive people.
  7. Always have 1 Property that is a DEAL. When someone asks you if have any deals, you need to have something to say. This is the chance to make a sale on something that is a really good buy or has some upside. Be ready to present a prospect with something that could make them some money.

I know this list is pretty elementary, but the lessons here helped me get through some difficult times. So much of selling is based on the vibes that people get from you. Find ways to be positive and better yourself. You need all the extra encouragement you can get to get it done. I have found Zig Ziglar to offer some helpful, time-tested perspective on sales topics like this.

There will be down markets ahead. No one knows exactly when, but markets are cyclical. I hope this article provides some ammunition to help you prepare and fight the war you’ll fight within.

Jonathan Goode, ALCJonathan Goode, ALC, is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) and broker with Southeastern Land Group. He is licensed in Alabama and Mississippi and was the 2018 Alabama Land Realtor of the Year. You can hear him on his weekly radio show and podcast, The Land Show.