In What Ways Do Soil Types Affect Land Use?

Soil deserves a lot more attention than it gets. Few people talk about how much soil types affect land use The right kind of soil can help a land owner grow great crops or build houses that last a long time. The wrong kind of soil can result in stunted crops or houses being swept away during floods. While soil types might not seem important at first glance, they just might be the factor that makes or breaks your land property.

Because of the unique chemical make-ups of each soil type, the practices used on a plot of land must be matched to the land’s soil type. Each soil type is unique and has its own benefits and drawbacks. Some are best suited for crops, while others are better for buildings houses and barns on.

If you are new to soil types, here’s a quick Soil 101 on the different soil types you could find on your land real estate:

  1. Clay. Clay soil has excellent water storage. Thanks to this, it holds onto plant nutrients and is great for roses, leafy vegetables, peas, and tomatoes.
  2. Chalky. This low moisture soil is typically found over limestone beds and chalk deposits. This soil type is not ideal for planting crops, as it can result in stunted or yellow plants. However, finding this soil type on your land doesn’t mean you can’t use it at all. Adding acid-rich materials (such as peat or manure) can help balance out the more destructive elements of this soil type.
  3. Loamy. Loamy soil is a combination of sand, silt, and clay. It’s a favorite among farmers, thanks to its high calcium and PH levels. You can grow just about anything in this soil type.
  4. Peaty. Dark brown or black in color, this soil type has a high water content that is great for crops that require a lot of moisture. However, it does dry up quickly in the summer, so Southern farmers might want to be careful with this soil type.
  5. Saline soil. You’ll probably find this soil type if you are living in an extremely dry region. Its high salt content makes it a poor choice for growing most crops.
  6. Sandy. This free-draining soil dries out faster than any other soil type on this list. Any nutrients that crops may need can be washed through the soil during wet weather.
  7. Silty. Silty land has small particles and is smooth to the touch. It has great moisture retention, but drains poorly. Similar to peaty soil, this soil type can be great for crops that need a lot of water, but crops that don’t will likely drown.

With all these soil types, how on earth is anyone supposed to know what soil type is right for their land?

There are three options for finding out what soil type your land has. One is to get a soil map. You can go to the USDA’s Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS) page. They have soil maps and data for more than ninety-five percent of the nation’s counties. All you have to do is click on the link and zoom into your zip code (like you would in Google Maps) or type in your address. Click on the ‘Soil Survey Area’ tab on the left-hand side and you will be given a record of what types of land are in your area.

You can also ask local soil experts who are familiar with the soil types in your area. Soil experts, also referred to as extension agents, can help you figure out what type of soil you have on your land and what sort of improvements can be done to your soil. This personalized help is great for land owners who have multiple soil types on their land property.

Soil testing gives you an exact breakdown of what is in your soil. In the fall 2015 edition of Terra Firma, Kirk Goble, ALC, explains the benefits of soil testing on page twenty nine.

“The soil test lab report provides valuable information on the makeup of the soil, its pH (acidity or alkalinity), and cation exchange capacity (CEC),” says Goble. “CEC is a determination of the ability of the soil components (primarily clay and humus) to allow for the absorption and transport of soil nutrients from the soil to the plant roots. It is essentially a measure of the soil’s ability to hold nutrients and feed the plants.”

After testing, you’ll be given advice on what crops are best suited for your soil type and recommendations on how to improve your land. “Fertilizer recommendations are based on the results of a proper soil test,” says Goble.

Soil types are incredibly important to land real estate and are far too often overlooked. Soil types affect land use more than most people think. With all these tools at your disposal, you’ll be able to figure out the soil types on your land and use them to your advantage.

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.

How NLR GIS Helps Land Professionals

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are all around us in daily life. From searching and getting directions for the nearest gas station on your Apple Maps to checking into a restaurant to share with your friends on social media, we are consistently using GIS technology. GIS is used in many industries by many different types of professionals, but in the land industry, GIS serves as a tool to better help land agents find that perfect property for a client.

Today’s land buyers know exactly what they want. They have specific requirements and goals they want to achieve with their property. Whether you have a client looking for a recreational tract over 100 acres or you have someone searching for a smaller property with a pond and a field to build a dove field on, the GIS team at National Land Realty (NLR) has the ability to match them with a tract that fits their specific needs.

NLR GIS helps land professionals in many other ways. It can help you drive business growth, enhance performance in existing markets or streamline/update operations. NLR Land Broker, Greg Greer, who recently used NLR’s GIS technology to help a land buyer achieve his goals, shared his experience.

“When I had a large client searching for a statewide conservation project, the GIS team quickly provided the sites that met the parameters like no other land brokerage had been able to do. They couldn’t believe what we were able to produce and on such short notice when the timing was crucial for their funding approval. The GIS team is a tremendous asset and tool to our agents. The support and turnaround time on projects they provide are essential when it comes to meeting our clients’ specific needs. We truly have a capability and competitive advantage no other land brokerage can provide to buyers and sellers. It’s what really distinguishes NLR from the competition.”

Our team of Geographic Information Systems and data professionals, database analysts, and web developers can generate GIS platforms using client driven criteria, statewide and national datasets, parcel data and market trends. With this technology, our team can quickly and efficiently sift through multiple data layers to see clear opportunities for your clients. We are revolutionizing the land brokerage industry and delivering amazing results to our clients every day!

National Land Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage company specializing in farm, ranch, plantation, timber and recreational land across the country. NLR currently represents land buyers and sellers in 20 states. To learn more, visit www.nationalland.com.

The Benefits of Land Real Estate Education

Some people think all they need to succeed in the land industry is a love of land and a few years of experience under their belt. Both of these are great to have, but once you start working, you’ll be faced with questions that even some of the most seasoned professionals might not know how to answer. Would you know what to say if a client asked:

  • In what ways do soil types affect land use?
  • Can I use a tax deferred 1031 exchange to my advantage?
  • How can I gain community support for land use projects?
  • What kind of returns can I expect from this property over the next ten years?
  • What are the tax results of my land real estate investment?
  • What is the highest and best use of this property?
  • What is the most efficient way to title real estate assets for a future wealth transfer?
  • What does the current US property rights system guarantee a landowner?

Gaining expertise through professional development and continuing education prepares agents to answer the tough questions before a client even asks them. But that’s not all. There are a lot of benefits of land real estate education.

The REALTORS® Land Institute is the gold standard when it comes to land education. No other provider offers as wide of a selection or as in-depth of courses as RLI’s LANDU Education Program. Here are the top four ways a LANDU Education can help you every day in your business to more confidently conduct transactions and close more deals as a land agent:

1: Expertise From The Best

If you look at RLI’s Instructor Center, you’ll see over thirty instructors with countless years of experience between them. You’ll truly be learning from the best in the business. These teachers have been handpicked and approved by RLI based on of their knowledge and expertise in their field of specialization.

2: Learn Your Way, At Your Pace

When you work with RLI, you choose the way you want to learn. There are online classes for folks on the go, independent study courses for those who to choose the pace they learn at, or traditional classroom classes for people who want to learn and network at the same time. If you want to get the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation quickly, you’re in luck. RLI’s 2018 LANDU Education Week is June 2-10 in Arlington, TX. Complete all of the course credits required to earn your ALC Designation in one place, including the three required courses and three elective courses which ensure attendees meet the ALC Education Requirements upon completion.

3: Stay Trendy

We aren’t talking about hitting the closest Cabela’s to check out their clothing line or buying the latest Yeti accessory (although they are trendy!). The land real estate industry and the technology tools available to agents are constantly changing, making it crucial to stay update on the latest trends so you have the strategies and knowledge needed to adapt. RLI offers Hot Topic Webinars throughout the year to make sure agents can stay ahead of the curve. Many of which are free for members to attend.

4: Increase Your Client Base and Referral Network

Getting the ALC Designation is a great way draw more and get referred more clients. Having the ALC shows your clients and other agents that you have the expertise and experience needed to successfully conduct land transactions. Plus, as part of a nation-wide network of ALCs, there is no shortage of referrals happening.

Even without earning the ALC, RLI’s Find a Land Consultant tool, which is an online public directory of RLI Members, is a popular way for potential clients to find you. In fact, if you Google ‘find a land consultant’, the very first thing that pops up is RLI’s Find a Land Consultant search tool. Even Google knows RLI Members are the best in the business!

To wrap up, there are more benefits to land education than just getting a gold pin or three letters after your name – although we highly encourage you take advantage of their added power as well. You can expand your client base and referral network and learn from the best in the business about the latest need-to-know information for land agents all in a way that’s customized to meet your needs.

About the Realtors® Land Institute                    

The Realtors® Land Institute, “The Voice of Land,” continually strives to maintain its status as the acknowledged leader for all matters pertaining to the land real estate profession. RLI endeavors to remain the essential membership organization for the extraordinary real estate professionals who broker, lease, sell, develop, and manage our most precious resource: the land. The Realtors Land Institute, provides the expertise, camaraderie, and valuable resources that are the foundation for all land real estate professionals to become the best in the business. For more information, visit rliland.com or call 800.441.5263. It’s the best time to join the best!

Seven Land Real Estate Social Media Marketing Tips

As a land agent, social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When used correctly, land real estate social media marketing can be a great (and free or low cost!) way to stay connected with people in your industry and drive traffic to your business. However, it can be very easy to lose potential clients or waste hours of your day if you don’t know what you are doing. Below, we’ve listed some tested and true ways to make sure you are in control of your social media, not the other way around.

1. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr – who has time for all of it? Trying to have a presence on all of those platforms can be overwhelming and take up all your free time. Remember: the companies that are on all of those platforms (Google,McDonald’s, Geico) all have entire departments dedicated to Twitter alone. Your best bet is to pick two or three different platforms and focus on those. “You don’t need to be everywhere, you just need to be in the places online where your time and effort will have the most impact,” says Jessa Friedrich, MBA, RLI’s Marketing Manager. “You need to find your audience on social media. To get started, take a look at where your competitors are and what channels they are spending the most time engaging on to get an idea of where you need to be to have the most impact.”

2. Use Tools like Hootsuite to Make Social Media Less Time Consuming

One of the biggest problems with social media is how much time it eats up. You’ll post something on Facebook in the morning, scroll through some friends’ photos, comment on a funny video of a cat riding a horse, and before you know it it’s time for dinner.

Tools like Socializer and Hootsuite can help. These easy-to-use apps allow you to schedule posts on various social media platforms. You can plan out your posts days or even weeks ahead so that you don’t have to be checking Twitter every single day. Just don’t forget to be social, too!

3. Figure Out What Your Brand Is

To make the most out of your social media presence, you need to have a good sense of the image you want to project to your potential clients. Figuring out what you want your current and potential clients to see can help you determine what to post. Are you trying to:

  • Raise awareness of new products/services?
  • Raise awareness of current products/services?
  • Network with other professionals in your business?
  • Increase traffic to your website?
  • Position yourself as an industry expert and resource to landowners?
  • A combination of all these ?

Having a clear sense of what you want to get out of land real estate social media marketing can help you focus on what sort of content to produce.

4. What Are The Best Times To Post?

Timing is everything when it comes to social media. Even if you craft the perfect post, if there’s no one online to see it, all that hard work will have been for nothing. According to Sprout Social, a social media management group, these are the best times to post on each social media channel:

  • Facebook: 12-3 pm
  • Instagram: 3-4 pm
  • Twitter: 9-10 am
  • LinkedIn: After 4 pm

Posts during these times have gotten the highest amounts of interactions and feedback from users. When you first start on social, try posting on social media during these times to increase your likes and shares. “After a while, it’s also a good idea to do some A/B Testing by posting at different times to see which posts get the most engagement. Then, start scheduling your posts at those optimal times specific to your audience,” Friedrich says.

5. Use Video

Videos are visually appealing and require very little work on the part of the consumer – you just have to press play and enjoy! Nobu Hata, the director of Digital Engagement for the National Association of REALTORS ® says that video is one of the most relevant social platforms available for land agents.

“Whether you’re speaking on camera about tips to buy and develop land, using it to convey the size and scope of a land offering or re-envisioning what that land can be via digital mock-up recorded on video, the options are many,” says Hata. “The one thing about video that makes it stand out against its brethren is that it’s not viewed as a “toy” and a time-suck like Facebook and Twitter can be, plus YouTube’s little red “play” button has universal – and multi-lingual – appeal.”

6. Keep It Professional

You might not want to go to your teenage niece for advice on your professional social media accounts. Posting personal drama or your political opinions doesn’t come off as professional and can turn off your followers. That doesn’t mean you have to be serious all the time. You can post as many funny photos as you want, but remember that once you press ‘send’, that post will be on the internet forever.

7. Follow Like-Minded Professionals

No matter what platforms you choose, there will be other like-minded professionals to follow. Here are some great social media Twitter accounts if you want to get into the land industry social media scene:

Social media can be a double-edge sword. It can be a great way to reach out to new clients and interact with other professionals, but it can also be a huge time drain if not done right. We hope these tips will help you make the most out of your land real estate social media marketing.

About the author: Laura Barker is a Marketing Assistant Intern for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

 

Common Misconceptions about Land Values

Land values have been all over the place in 2018. Some articles say that land values across America are up. Others say that values are sinking and will continue to do so. It’s no wonder that there is so little agreement on the current state of land values. So far, 2018 has been a whirlwind year with a jumpy stock market, new land and trade laws, and an unpredictable winter that created an uncertain market for land values. While we here at RLI can’t control the weather or the stock market, we can clear up some common misconceptions about land values to help you get a better understanding about land values in 2018.

1: The stock market is the best indicator of what will happen to land values

It used to be a general rule of thumb that land values mirrored the stock market. However, as we’ve seen in 2018, that’s not always the case anymore. There are many factors that impact land values. These include natural disasters, local and national laws, commodity prices, rate of return, and more. While the stock market is still a great way to get a general indication of the economy, it cannot be the sole thing you look to for understanding land values.

2: A higher demand for crops/livestock means higher land prices

Not necessarily. Even when a certain crop or type of land is in high demand, there are many outside factors that can prevent the value of the land from rising. For example, Nebraska has a booming cattle industry and has become a top beef producer for both America and China, but a severe drought has hurt the value of the land. Even though the demand for cattle is strong, the land values have not risen to meet it. Even high quality land can be impacted by forces outside of the land owner’s control. Forest productivity can be hurt by this too. https://www.rliland.com/site-index-measure-forest-productivity

3: Overall drops in land values mean all land values are suffering

While most land markets are interconnected, there are many types of land that can thrive even when others are suffering.  In the 2017 RLI Land Markets Survey the average change in the price of U.S. Land sold for Non-Irrigated Agricultural land was a modest one percent, while the average change in price for Development Greenfield land was an impressive four percent. A decrease in hunting has lowered some recreational land values (although recreational land remains the second most popular type of land sold, but timberland is expected to post strong growth rates at three percent.

4: There is no way to predict if land values will go up or down.

Looking at the state of today’s land values, it’s easy to think that they are unpredictable.

While there is no crystal ball that will predict exact values, there are some overlooked indicators that can give you an insight into which way the market will go. For example, land values will go up if lots of people move to one specific area. The amount of land will stay the same as the population goes up increasing the demand for land. This drives up the desirability and price of the land.

One thing to look out for if you are worried that land values are down is what the areas local land laws look like. Investors and businesses are skittish. They like to research local governments to see if there are any restrictive laws being discussed that could potentially take money away from their business. A lack of interest from outsiders can severely harm the land value of an area. Contact your local lawmakers to let them know the impacts of their laws.

Land values can be tricky. They rely heavily on each other in both bull and bear markets, but can also be independently impacted by dozens of different factors.  They may be hard to track, but understanding the common misconceptions about land values may be able to help you understand the value of your own land a little better. As much speculating as can be done based on the topics mentioned in this article, the best way to learn more about a property and its value would be to Find A Land Consultant. Land transactions require the specialized expertise of an experienced and knowledgeable agent.

Breaking Down Mineral Rights

Mineral rights are so complex that most of the time, people would instead hire a lawyer to deal with them. The bad news is, there is a lot of truth in that statement. Mineral rights can be tied up in tricky deeds going back generations. The good news? We’ve collected the most commonly asked questions about mineral rights to help you get a better understanding of one of the most complex issues in the land industry.

Q: What exactly are mineral rights?

A: Mineral rights are the legal rights to the minerals in a property. Whoever owns a property’s mineral rights has full legal rights to mine for and profit from those minerals.

Q: What kind of minerals are included in the term “mineral rights“?

A: There are lots of minerals that you can make a profit off if you own mineral rights. These include oil/natural gas, coal, precious metals (gold/silver), non-precious or semi-precious metals (copper or iron), and specialty earth elements like uranium.

Q: What minerals do I NOT have access to?

A: This is where mineral rights can get tricky. Sand, gravel, limestone, and subsurface water are all not covered by most mineral rights. These elements are typically considered part of the surface area of a property. Whoever owns the surface rights also owns the rights to the sand and limestone.

There have been many legal battles over what counts as a mineral. Here are just a few examples. To keep your mineral rights out of the courtroom, be sure to be explicitly clear with whoever you are buying or selling your rights to.

Q: Are mineral rights profitable?

A: Yes, but not as profitable as you might think. Private mineral rights owners received an estimated $22 billion in 2013. The government also makes a pretty penny off of mineral rights. In 2016, the U.S. government received roughly $2 billion in mineral productions (which includes oil, gas, and coal) on federal land.

However, the growing number of legal battles between states and landowners over mineral rights is starting to rack up a hefty tab. In some cases, the price of the lawyers and time in court can drain more money than the mineral rights are worth.

If the minerals in your land are oil or coal, you are competing with solar and wind energy. The rise in renewable energy sources also has the potential to lower the value of the oil or coal in your land.

Q: What are the most common ways that mineral rights are held?

There are three common ways that mineral rights are held. The first and most common is a unified estate. In unified estates, the mineral and surface rights are held together, so whoever owns the deed to the property owns both mineral and surface rights. A severed or split estate means that the mineral ownership is sold separately from surface ownership. In this case, whoever owns the surface rights does not own the mineral rights. The last type of estate is fractional. As the name implies, fractional estate is when you receive a portion of the mineral rights. Fractional estates are often used for inheritances, so that each heir can split up the profits equally.

Q: How do I know how much my mineral rights are worth?

Finding out how much your mineral rights are worth can be difficult. The value of mineral rights can vary day-by-day, because the market value of minerals is determined by calculating how much buyers would pay for mineral rights today. There’s no easy way to calculate how much your minerals rights are worth. One of the best ways of knowing the current value is to list mineral rights for sale and see how much people are willing to buy them for.  You can also list them on US Mineral Exchange.

Q: Will mineral rights increase my taxes?

Yes – if you are currently making a profit on those minerals. Unexercised mineral rights (if you are not currently making money from the mineral rights) are not taxed. If you sell those rights, you have to pay taxes on the proceeds. Income made from the minerals is taxable income.  But having valuable minerals and oil on your land can also increase your property value, which will be helpful when it comes time to sell.

Q: What are common mistakes people make when selling their mineral rights?

One is accepting the first offer on mineral rights. Don’t accept the first offer you get. Offers are the best way to gauge the price of mineral rights, so wait until you have a few offers to figure out what your mineral rights are worth and the best price for them. Mineral rights can be incredibly valuable, so take your time finding the best buyer. Another mistake is listening to rumors. Many people think the best way to figure out the value of their mineral rights is by asking their neighbors about their mineral rights and assuming yours will be similar. DO NOT DO THIS. The minerals in land range wildly from property to property.

Q: Can I buy the mineral rights to a property that isn’t mine?

A: Yes! This is becoming more common as the value of oil and minerals goes up. You need a real estate deed that details the mineral rights as well as proof of ownership of the mineral rights, a warranty deed, and legal documents. Learn more about buying mineral rights here.

Although we have covered a fair amount in this article, it still only scratches the surface of everything there is to know about mineral rights. Mineral rights are complex, but understanding the basics is a huge step forward to becoming a mineral rights expert.

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.

 

Investing in Land Real Estate for Retirement: What You Need To Know

Choosing how to save for retirement can be a decision that takes years. After all, that’s the money that you’ll be living on during your golden years. Most people stick to 401ks and stocks, but what many people don’t know is that you can invest in land real estate to save for retirement. Investing in land real estate can be a great way to save money long-term, but with any investment, you need to know what type of land to invest in, what sort of returns you can expect, and what to avoid when investing in land real estate.

There are many benefits to investing in land real estate. One benefit is that if you invest in land in different areas, you will be protected if certain properties are hit by natural disasters or the value of one type of land real estate drops. Geographic and commodity diversity can keep your money safe even in a rocky market. Another benefit is that land real estate (farmland in particular) sometimes have higher returns than stocks do. Most stocks can be expected to produce a six to seven percent return over time), while farmland has produced a steady 11.5 percent annual return over the past twenty five years.

If you are looking for a low-maintenance investment, vacant land is a great option. It is cheaper to buy than developed land, and you don’t need to spend money doing repairs or renovations. While this is an excellent investment to make in the long-term, you will have to be patient. This investment will take time to make money. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the market to make sure you’ll be able to sell it at the best possible price. Consider looking into vacant land properties in areas that are seeing an increase in population or jobs. This land will is likely to become more desirable over time, and you’ll be able to sell it at a higher price than what you bought it for originally.

When investing or buying vacant land, you should always know who you are buying from.Be careful of people who have only owned the land for a short amount of time and seem very eager to get the land off their hands. Vacant land takes times to accumulate value, so it’s suspicious if people only own it for a short amount of time. The owners might know something about the land that makes it less valuable. This is a perfect example of why it is so important to find an agent with the expertise and experience needed to conduct land real estate transactions – like an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC).

Timberland or forestland are also excellent long-term investments. The returns for timberland real estate tend to move counter cyclically to other markets.  Because of this, it will add portfolio diversification, lowering the risk of losing money. Timber is also a hearty crop that can provide you with returns for many years.

You should invest in timber or forest land only if you are planning to retire ten or more years down the road. You’ll have to spend money to plant trees and won’t get returns as they grow, but once the trees reach maturity, they will provide steady returns.

Although investing in land real estate to save for retirement is an excellent option, there are some key factors to look out for. Keep the following in mind while you look at different properties:

-You need to know the land inside out. You need to know everything about the land you are investing in. This means zoning, mineral rights, any environmental hazards on the land, usage restrictions, access easements, taxes on the property, and the likelihood of natural disasters in the area. If you think you are asking too many questions, you are not. Even small issues can end up costing you a lot in the long term. For example, you could have an incredible property with full mineral rights, but if the soil drainage is poor, the value of the land could drop so dramatically that any other positive factors wouldn’t matter at all. Finding an ALC near you can help ensure that you see the whole picture when it comes to investing in a piece of land.

-You need to be crystal clear on the taxes. This was mentioned in the previous bullet point, but it’s so important we added it again. Some properties have taxes that are so high that the taxes eat up any returns you make on the land. Speak with your land agent about this and make sure you understand what your costs will be before investing in a property.

-Are there wetlands on the property? Thanks to Waters of the US (WOTUS) and other laws, if you have wetlands on your property, huge parts of your land might not be useable. This could cause the value of your land to drop dramatically.

Investing in land real estate can be a great way to save up for retirement. Land real estate is a valuable and limited community that, historically, continually grows in value. If you do your research and spread your investments out over a few different types of land, you could have a successful start to saving and creating a well-balanced, diversified portfolio for your retirement.

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.

Tips To Stay Healthy During Flu Season as a Land Agent

2018 is facing the worst flu season in over a decade, and land agents have a high risk of getting sick. You might not be in an urban area surrounded by sick people all the time, but land agents are always meeting new people and touching doorknobs or handrails that dozens of others have also touched. If you aren’t careful, you or one of your clients could catch the flu. Here are some tips to protect yourself and your clients this flu season.

1: Keep Tissues on Hand At All Times.

When your clients are traveling long distances to visit properties, they often leave things at home or in their car. Tissues are one of the most common things to leave behind when visiting a property, so you should come prepared. Using tissues helps prevent the spread of germs from you to your client or vice versa. You can also use them to open doors if you notice your client coughing or sneezing a lot. Plus, it never hurts to show you are considerate and prepared.

2: Sanitize Things People Frequently Touch.

This can be difficult when you are visiting several different multi-thousand-acre properties. However, if you take a few minutes to wipe down the areas that most people touch (such as doorknobs, tables, shared farm equipment, and pens), you can significantly reduce the risk of spreading the flu. A quick swipe with a disinfecting wipe can be one of your best defenses against the flu.

3: Increase Humidity in Indoor Spaces.

You might associate warm temperatures with the flu, but the infection actually thrives in cold temperatures. Cold, dry air often leads to coughing, one of the most common ways of spreading the flu. There’s not much you can do about the humidity outside, but usually you can control indoor spaces. If there are indoor spaces on your properties, add some humidifiers to keep you and your client’s lungs clear.

4: Wash Off The Germs Before And After Meeting Clients

Meeting clients on a property that many others have been to is a battlefield of flu germs. Keep yourself healthy by washing your hands thoroughly before and after meeting with a client or visiting a property. This not only ensures your safety, but also protects your clients and properties from any germs you might be carrying. A small bottle of hand sanitizer is also a great way to ward off germs. For an extra level of protection, you can also pop a Vitamin C capsule before going into virus-happy areas.

5: Take care of yourself

This one might seem obvious, but many land agents are too busy to get the good night’s sleep and fresh fruits and veggies that can protect you from germs. In stressful times, it’s natural to reach for potato chips instead of apple slices, but you could be putting yourself at greater risk of getting sick if you do. If you are working around the clock, you can still squeeze in some time to make sure your body is strong enough to fight off the flu. Here are some foods and beverages that can keep your body strong enough to ward off germs:

-Beef. Beef is an excellent source of zinc, a mineral that helps build up white blood cells. While beef isn’t the easiest food on this list to travel with (if only twelve-ounce steaks fit in our glove compartments), you can bring along some beef jerky or make roast beef sandwiches or beef chili to keep your protein levels up.

-Blueberries. If you live on or near a property that grows blueberries, you are in luck. Blueberries have the highest amount of antioxidants of any fruit you’ll find in the supermarket. They are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and other antioxidants. Blueberries are also easy to carry around and travel well.

-Garlic. Garlic might not be the best smelling food on this list, but it does have a lot of surprising benefits. This spice contains allicin, a powerful antioxidant-packed compound. If you don’t want to go meet clients with garlic breath, there are also odorless garlic tablets  that give you all the benefits without the stink.

-Lemon or honey tea. If you are feeling under the weather, drinking water is one of the best ways to help you feel better. Tea is great for easing early symptoms of the flu. The steam and heat of the tea help open up the throat and can also stimulate the cilia (the hair follicles inside your nose). Lemon tea contains flu-fighting vitamin C, and also thins mucus. Honey tea soothes raw throats and is antibacterial.

Tea is especially great for land agents because you can take it with you anywhere and it is the cheapest option on our list.

This might be the worst flu season in a long time, but these tips can help you dodge the flu and stay focused on what you do best: succeeding in the land real estate industry.

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.

What’s All The Buzz About Bees and Land Real Estate?

Bees in America have been dropping like flies. Since the late 1990s, beekeepers, farmers, and scientists have noticed a steady decline in the bee population across the country. Before 2006, the usual number of bees that beekeepers lost due to frost or disease was 5-10 percent. After 2006, beekeepers saw that number rise to between a 30 to 36 percent decline in their hives. Panic really set in when a US report stated that American beekeepers lost 44.1 percent of their hives between March 2015 and April 2016.

So, what does this have to do with the land real estate market? Losing bees could have devastating effects on our farms, economy, and day-to-day life. As food pollinators, bees play a huge part in almost everything we eat and everything that our food (cows, pigs, turkeys, etc.) eats. Without them, landowners would lose the most efficient and cost-effective pollinators on Earth, driving the cost of farming and food way up. Farmers would have to invest in expensive pollination technology. If they couldn’t afford the technology, farmers would be severely limited in what crops they could grow since bees pollinate thirty percent of the world’s crops.

The loss of bees could also be disastrous for land values. Crops, livestock, and wildlife will drop in numbers and value without the bees around to pollinate the plants and food sources of the land. Since the value of land real estate relies heavily on the profitability of the land and its natural resources, a drop in bee population could mean a huge drop in land values.

No one knows the main reason bee populations are dropping, but there are several factors scientists believe are hurting our winged friends. A growing number of varroa mites, tiny crab-like parasites, have been feeding off of drone bees and can kill off entire hives. These mites are tiny and hard to spot, which lets them destroy hives from the inside out without anyone noticing until it is too late. Another possible reason is neonicotinoids, a powerful insecticide that slowly weakens bees.

People have been scrambling to find ways to help the honeybees. Almond growers in California are trying to breed more blue orchard bees (B.O.B.s). The blue orchard bees are known for being excellent pollinators. They are more efficient than regular honey bees; a few hundred female blue orchard bees can do the same amount of work as 10,000 regular honey bees.

Although introducing a new breed of bee sounds like a great idea, there are a few drawbacks to the blue orchard bee. For one, they do not produce honey. Another is that they have sluggish reproduction rates (bee keepers have only been able to increase their B.O.B.s a factor of three to eight every year, a tiny fraction of how quickly honey bees can be increased), so getting enough for the current American demand for bees might be tough. The cost of raising B.O.B.s is also still uncertain.

Technology also offers hope for the bees. Robo-bees may sound like something from a sci-fi moive, but in Japan, they are already a reality. Japanese scientists have created a remote-controlled drone the size of a dragonfly. These robo-bees are able to pollinate lilies and are currently being retooled to pollinate other crops. U.S. scientists say a similar product in is the works right here in our own country.

These robo-bees also have their drawbacks. They would be significantly more expensive than raising honeybees, and the risk of malfunctioning could leave fields without pollination for days or even weeks on end.

While the rest of the world is trying to figure out a cure for this epidemic, there are things you can do to help the bees:

Grow flowers that attract bees.  Lavender, white clover, and thyme can all help attract bees to your farm.

-Build a hive or sponsor one. Vice President Mike Pence had a beehive in his backyard and encourages others to do the same. Don’t like the idea of bees buzzing around where you go barefoot? You can also support a hive through websites like the Honeybee Conservancy  to help give bees a safe place to thrive.

-Make your land real estate bee-friendly. Besides planting bee-friendly flowers, you can also invest in pesticides that don’t harm bees.

The decline in bee population is a serious threat to everyone. However, with a raised awareness, people are starting to understand how important bees are to our food and land real estate. Because of this, there is hope that the bee population across America will be able to grow again.

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.

How To Have a Great Hunt in February

 

By the end of January, most people have put away their guns and declared the hunting season over. February is one of the slower months for hunting. However, if you still have an itch to hunt, there are plenty of hunting opportunities for you in February. Here are some tips to help you have a great hunting season even after January is over.

1: Don’t Count Out Small Game

Deer season might be over, but there are still plenty of clever critters that will make for an exciting hunt. In many states, hunting small animals like rabbits and squirrels is legal throughout February. If you haven’t hunted squirrels before, it might not sound as exciting as hunting an elk or a wild boar. However, since the winter and the earlier hunting season have already claimed some of the weaker ones, the remaining squirrels will be cunning and make for a rewarding hunt. Rabbits are also a challenging hunt. They are one of the more popular small games to hunt, and it’s easy to see why. They have an excellent sense of smell and long-distance vision that only the most skilled hunters can know how to trick. If you are looking for a hunt that will challenge your brain as well as your hunting skills, small game could be your new favorite prey.

2: Some Animals Can Be Hunted Year-Round

While this does vary state by state, most states allow year-round hunting of animals that are considered pests or could harm the ecosystem of the land. Wild pigs and coyotes are some of the more popular animals to hunt year-round. Coyotes are highly intelligent and adaptable animals that have gotten a passionate following over the years in the hunting community.

Also, wild pigs can be hunted year-round in twelve states (California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin). These husky creatures have an unpredictable temper, so only go after them if you are an experienced and thrill-seeking hunter.

3: Check Your Calendar

Depending on where you live, you might have more time to hunt big game than you think. Alabama allows deer hunting until February 10th, thanks to the varying rutting seasons around the state. Hunting seasons can shrink or grow based off population, rutting season, and the needs of the land.

4: Hunt Smarter, Not Harder

Every hunting season has its ups and downs. Hunting in February is no different. Fewer hunters means less competition for you. The barren land and fallen leaves mean you will have an excellent view of your prey. The catch? They can see you just as clearly. This is the time of year to break out your best camo.

Another drawback for hunting in February is that most of the prime hunt has already been harvested. January hunters have taken out the biggest game, and Mother Nature has taken the animals not fit enough to survive the harsh winter season. You might have missed the biggest animals of the season, but there are still lots of animals out there ready to give you a memorable day in the great outdoors.

Hunting in February is for hunters who like a challenge. Even though you might not catch the buck of your dreams, there is still plenty of great hunting to be had.

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.