How To Make More Money Off Of Your Christmas Tree Farm

It’s that time of year again. With Thanksgiving now behind us, people are in the holiday spirit, which means it is peak Christmas tree season.

However, Christmas trees come with a unique set of complications. It’s a crop that’s only sold once a year, the trees take a lot of money and effort to transport, and use up a ton of land. Christmas trees have one of the smallest time frames for buying and selling of any crop, even though they can take up to eight years to reach maturity.

Despite all of that, Christmas trees are still a lucrative crop and bring in steady holiday money to big and small farms alike. If you’re interested in learning how to make more money off of your Christmas tree land, read on.

  1. Make Low-Cost Adjustments to Get Better Trees

Just like how people will pay more for beautiful flowers or huge, juicy strawberries, you can make more money off of good-looking trees. There are some tricks you can use in the early stages of the tree’s life to increase its value. If you make adjustments in the soil that your trees are growing in to get the right PH balance and moisture level, your trees will be much heathier and better looking. Also, keep up the habit of shaping your Christmas trees. Cutting away at dead and gnarled branches every year helps to give the trees that beautiful conical shape that everyone loves. It might seem tedious, but the results will be worth it.

  1. Grow the Most Popular Types of Trees

Some varieties of Christmas trees sell better than others. The Fraser Fir is the most popular type of Christmas tree because of its wonderful scent and classic Christmas tree look. But some places prefer different types of trees. The Eastern Red Cedar is popular in the South because its natural cone-like shape doesn’t require much maintenance. The White Fir is popular in California for its needle retention. Look up the sales for your region in the last year and invest in the type of tree that is selling best to maximize your profit potential.

  1. Consider Pick Your Own/Cut Your Own

Pick-Your-Own sections have their pros and cons. On the pros side, it’s a great draw for a fun family day out, you can charge more for Pick-Your-Own trees than for regular trees, and people will stay on your property longer, which means they have more time to purchase your produce. However, having people linger on your property can also be a downside. People can wear down your land and cause damage to your crops. If your land is used to lots of visitors, then Pick-Your-Own could be an option for you. If not, consider having your Pick-Your-Own section far enough away from the rest of your crops so that customers don’t damage them. If it’s too late in the season to re-locate your Pick-Your-Own section, invest in plenty of fences and signs to keep people from wandering where they shouldn’t.

  1. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!

If you haven’t started advertising yet, you should start as soon as possible. Most people buy their Christmas tree shortly after Thanksgiving, so you want to get the word out about your trees soon. And with people shopping for Thanksgiving and getting a head-start on their Christmas shopping, this is the perfect time to invest in a billboard ad. Since there is a time frame around how long you can sell trees and how long people will want to buy them, you’ll want to use this time to get the word out to as many people in your area as possible. Get creative! Use flyers, radio ads, newspaper ads, whatever you can think of.

  1. Don’t Cut Down All Your Trees at Once

Even though they are famous for their ability to withstand droughts, Christmas trees dry out after being cut down faster than you’d think. The trees start to lose moisture as soon as they are chopped down. Dehydrated or dying Christmas trees lose their needles and turn brown, which can turn potential buyers away from your property. So, instead of having lots of pre-cut trees out for display, only have a few trees on display and replace them as they are bought. A great way of keeping track of when to cut down trees is by taking pre-orders. This way, you can cut down the tree the day the buyer gets there instead of leaving it out to dry.

  1. Market What Makes Your Trees Unique

What makes your tree lot stand out from everyone else’s? Are your trees organic? A popular or unique type of pine tree? Is it a family-run ranch? Pick-Your-Own? Each of these is a great selling point for your advertisements. Also, if your trees have been grown with specific traits (needle retention, doesn’t need much upkeep, beautiful smell, extra-large, etc.), be sure to mention those, too.

  1. Give Your Trees the Spotlight on Social Media

Does your farmland have a website, blog, Facebook page, or Instagram? Put up some pictures of your best Christmas trees. This is an easy, free way to show off your produce. You can also put up pictures of the trees growing and the harvesting process so that potential buyers can get an insight into how the trees are taken care of (for more about immersive online farm tours, check out this article). If you’re looking for inspiration, check out websites like Texas Christmas Tree Farms and Peltzer Pines Christmas Tree Farm.

  1. Have Other Goodies Out to Buy

When people come to your farm, it’s the perfect time to show off your produce. You can sell home baked goodies (gingerbread is a holiday favorite!), hot chocolate or cider, winter crops, holly, and mistletoe. But why stop at produce? People love to buy unique gifts for their loved ones during the holidays, so consider selling things like homemade jewelry, baked goods, wood carvings, and more next to your Christmas .

Christmas trees can be a tricky crop, but with plenty of preparation and a marketing plan, you can make more money off of your Christmas tree farm.

Five Must-Know Land Real Estate Apps for 2018

With the New Year just around the corner, we wanted to share with you some land real estate apps that can help you take your real estate business to the next level in 2018. Whether your resolution is to be more efficient, effective, or productive, we’ve compiled a list with the down-low on the top apps for land real estate professionals to download. How do we know these apps are so great? We’ve pulled them from the RLI Technology & Resource Center created by agents for agents as a member benefit.

Adobe Acrobat
As a land agent, we know you’re always on the go, which means so is your office. The Adobe Acrobat app is an all in one tool which allows you to easily and quickly access PDF documents no matter where they are downloaded from online. This intuitive tool makes reading documents on your phone or tablet easy with search, zoom, and scrolling functionality. Plus, you can review PDFs and add your own comments or mark-ups which you can easily pass along to staff or clients. And the fun doesn’t stop there, this app allows you to fill out forms on the go as well as e-sign any PDF doc. Finally, you have to check out its easy scan functionality which can turn a picture of anything into a shareable PDF.

CamCard
Keeping track of paper files, and especially small ones like business cards, can be a hassle. This next app proves a great way to turn your paper business cards digital to make them easier to keep track of and to use the information off of. All you have to do is snap a pic of a business card and the app keeps track of the information in a database like format. You can easily add notes, exchange e- cards, and access your contacts from anywhere!

EverNote
There’s a good reason EverNote calls themselves “your second brain.” This app has is great for agents trying to remember a lot of different things at once when they are being pulled in a million different directions. It’s not just an app for taking notes but also offers a way to declutter and work smarter by creating notes with checklists, tables, links, and even audio-snips all in a searchable central location. Plus, it also has a helpful business version of the app for purchase that allows sharing and collaboration—great for working with your team or clients.

FarmLogs
Okay so this app isn’t necessarily for your business — though you could use it that way, too! — but if you own farmland or have clients who do, it should definitely be on your radar. This app is designed to help you manage your property by giving insights into field conditions, soil maps, crop heat accumulation, yield threats, real-time futures prices, and more! You can even use for everything from taking and sharing notes while out on a property or managing a budget.

Sumo
Looking to grow your prospect list and capture leads from your website? Sumo helps agents to increase inbound traffic to their website and capture leads. From adding share buttons that make it easier for visitors to share your content to creating pop-ups that capture emails of hot leads, this app is designed to be a powerful way to grow your business.

For a full list of apps and more technology and service recommendations from the best land real estate agents in the business, check out RLI’s new Technology & Resource Center member benefit. Know of any apps we can add to this list? Fill out the form in the RLI Technology & Resource Center so we can add it to the collection! Until next time, here’s to a productive New Year!

Top Eleven Reasons Not To Miss NLC18!

We couldn’t be more excited for the 2018 National Land Conference! It’s an amazing time of year when the best of the best in land real estate come together to share knowledge, network, and have a ton of fun together. Since we did the Top Ten Reasons to Attend the 2017 National Land Conference last year, this year we are counting down the Top Eleven Reasons to Attend the NLC18 on March 12-14 in Nashville, TN.

  1. Nashville, TN – The Music City!

This year’s location is none other than Music City, USA. The hotel is located in the heart of downtown Nashville, so you’ll be within walking distance of landmarks such as the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bridgestone Arena (home of the Nashville Predators), and plenty of honky-tonks. We’ll also be hosting our Welcome Reception at The Valentine — aka “Broadway’s Biggest Party!”

  1. The Variety of the Sessions — FIVE Breakout Sessions!

Even the most seasoned land professional can learn something new in our line-up of breakout sessions. The Breakout Sessions include topics like timberland, social media, the 2018 Farm Bill, title issues, investing in land, hunting land, and so much more.

  1. Our Partners

Drop by the exhibit hall to meet some of our partners and explore the variety of services and products they have to offer. NLC18 wouldn’t be possible without partners like United Country Real Estate, The Land Report, Keller Williams Realty, Land Broker Co-op, and so many more!

  1. The Cowboy Auction: Pony Up!

Bid on hunting trips, autographed memorabilia, vacation packages, and more! We’ll have a more detailed list of items to bid on as the event draws closer. This lively event raises money for the LANDU Education Program through the Land Education Foundation (LEF). Last year United Country helped RLI raise a record amount of funds at this event. Help us break that record in 2018! Place your bids on exclusive items like hunting trips, handmade items, vacation packages and more!

  1. Amazing Expert Speakers

The best of the best come out for the National Land Conference, and 2018 is no different. Dr. Mark Dotzour, the Chief Economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, has had his research featured in Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Business Week. We’ll also have on site expert speaker is Edsel Charles, the Founder and Chairman of the Board for MarketGraphics Research Group, INC. These two men are coming to NLC18 to share their knowledge and answer questions from the audience. Where else could you get such an opportunity but at NLC18?

  1. Have Your Voice Heard

With chapters in eighteen states and over a thousand members, you might think that it would be hard to have an input with such a big organization. However, with sessions like the RLI Town Hall and RLI Chapter Workshop Meeting, you can have a chance to make a difference and have your voice heard by (and hear from) hundreds of other RLI members.

  1. The Land Tech Accelerator Program

This new addition to the conference is a look into the future of land real estate. The 2018 New Technology Partners will showcase the latest technologies for land real estate and showcase how they can improve your business. Hear from our winners, Terva, LandHub.com, and REALSTACK, about their new technologies available to the industry!

  1. Pre-Conference Tour of Jack Daniel’s Distillery | Update: SOLD OUT!

Kick off the week the Nashville Way! Take a tour of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and learn the history behind this famous whisky. Afterwards, sip five different types of whisky and liqueur at Barrel House 1-14. There are a limited number of spots for this event and registration is first-come-first-serve—so get your tickets today!

  1. The Return of Let’s Make Deal$ LIVE

It’s back by popular demand! This fan favorite event is a live Haves & Wants session where you can showcase your client’s property to over 250 other brokers/agents and their clients. It is the largest opportunity to market and buy land in the industry, so don’t miss out on this amazing business opportunity to make deals. We already have $200M worth of land being presented, don’t miss this two-hour property marketing session at NLC18.

  1. The Chance to Network

With texting, social media, and LinkedIn, it seems as if there are fewer and fewer opportunities to network with people offline. At NLC18, not only do you get to meet fellow professionals from all over the country, but you will be interacting with the best of the best. Make sure to check out the NLC18 official event app to enhance your networking.

  1. The 2018 RLI APEX Awards

Topping off our list is a new addition to the NLC rotation. NLC18 will include the first-ever APEX Awards Program. The APEX Awards Program celebrates outstanding RLI members and their accomplishments. Awards will be given to the top twenty producers, as well as top brokers in the categories of Crops, Ranches, Recreational Land, Timber Land, Commercial Land, Residential Land, and Auction Sales. Will you be recognized as one of the nation’s top producers? Attend to find out!

Top Tips For Land Agents to Beat Holiday Stress

Few people understand how tough it is to be in the land real estate business during the holidays. You don’t just have a nine-to-five job, you’re working around the clock. You have to work around the schedules of the clients, which in many cases means early mornings, late nights, and weekends where you are barely home. And while December is notorious for being one of the worst months to sell land real estate, many people use the holiday free-time to look around for properties. Putting all this together can make the most wonderful time of the year into a nightmare.

So, with an increase in work and the holidays right around the corner, how is a successful land real estate agent supposed to stay on top of their work and also enjoy time with their friends and family? Below, we’ve rounded up some great ways to handle the holiday craziness.

Want to learn more about how to stay sane during the crazy holiday times? Be sure to check out RLI’s ALC-to-ALC teleconference ‘Being Your Best-Reduce Stress, Maximize Productivity, Stay Healthy’. A recording will be made available to everyone after the event. In the meantime, here are some quick tips to get you started:

1. Focus on your target audience.

You don’t want to spread yourself too thin during the holiday season. So instead of reaching out to every type of client that comes your way and running yourself ragged, try to focus on serious potential buyers and the projects you already have. This way, you can focus all your energy into projects that will have the best payout for you.

2. Budget

The holidays can be a stressful time on anybody’s wallet, but it can be especially hard on those in the land real estate business. Since income is tied to sales instead of a 9-to-5 paycheck, it can be hard to figure out how much money you’ll have to spend on presents and other holiday fun. If you haven’t tried budgeting before, now is a great time to start. Once you figure out how much you usually spend a month, you can get a conservative estimate about how much you’ll have leftover for the holidays. Here’s a link to learn more about budgeting.

3. Take Control of Your Time

Anyone who tells you “It must be great to be able to pick which hours you work!” has never worked in land real estate. You might not have to clock in from 9-5 Monday through Friday, but the hours can be grueling. Add on top of that family events, mass, pageants, shopping, and you’ve got a tight schedule.

While a huge part of working in land real estate revolves around the clients, there are some things you can do to reclaim your time. Scheduling meetings with clients as early in advance as possible will let you plan other things around it. And if you aren’t typically the most organized, now’s the time to change that (at least for the holiday season). You can use a physical planner or an online one, like Google Calendar. Seeing your time laid out in a planner is a great way to stay updated on what needs to be done and when.

4. Sleep

Sleep is the one thing that everyone thinks they can skimp on. Some people carry their lack of sleep like a badge of honor. Even though it might make you feel good to say “I’ve been working so hard, I only slept two hours last night!” getting no sleep can take a serious toll on your work and your health, which will hurt your career. Also, skimping on sleep is a guaranteed way to make your body more prone to catching a cold, which is the last thing you need during the holiday season.

5. Limit Time on Tech.

Do you ever feel like you spend all day answering texts and e-mails, but never actually get anything checked off of your to-do list? Even though it’s a necessary part of any job, technology can be a huge time waster. The real time-suckers are those e-mails that don’t require an instant reply. Try putting those aside to focus on projects that need your full attention and see how much extra time you have at the end of the day.

6. Eat Well.

We know this is tough to hear during the season of roast turkey, gingerbread cookies, and eggnog, but you’re going to need all the energy you have to make the most out of this time of year. Sugary treats can keep you up at night, limitng the time you have for the all-important sleep, and fatty foods can zap your energy. Does this mean you can only eat salads during the most delicious time of the year? Of course not! Making a few changes each day (switching soda for water, getting a side salad instead of fries, keeping healthy snacks with you) can make a huge difference. You’ll notice an increase in your energy and focus (and maybe even how your favorite pair of pants fit) in no time.

7. Remember What It’s All For.

Between all the stress, hard work, and tension that comes with the holidays, sometimes it’s easy to just want them to be over. But it’s important to keep in mind what makes the holidays so special. Think about your favorite part of the holidays. Is it eating a good meal with your family? Going to church Christmas morning? Unwrapping presents first thing in the morning? Whatever it is, remind yourself of those special moments whenever you can. Putting some pictures of good family times from previous Christmases around your work space can help bring holiday cheer into your day.

8. Cut yourself some slack.

Everyone has to make sacrifices during the holidays, especially people who work in land real estate. Maybe that means spending less time at work or having to skip a Christmas party with your friends. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do everything that everyone wants you to do. Remind yourself that no one is able to “do it all” during the holiday season.

 

Is Virtual Reality in the Future for Land Real Estate?

Nowadays, the technology in land real estate is looking more and more like something out of a science fiction movie. First, drones flew into popularity among landowners to take aerial pictures and film videos of properties (read more about drones here). Now, virtual reality tours are popping up on the internet, offering 360 views of properties and a more in-depth look at farm life than ever before. We’re going to take a look at this new technology and the pros and cons of investing in your own virtual tours.

First of all, what exactly is a virtual reality tour? You might be thinking of something out of The Jetsons. It’s much simpler than that. A virtual tour uses a combination of photographs and videos to allow someone to explore a location using their phone or computer. Recently, technology has become so advanced that some videos have a 360-degree feature where you can use your mouse to explore every inch of a property. Other companies are using virtual reality headsets so advanced that you feel like you are walking in the middle of an apple orchard when you are actually just standing in the middle of your living room.

One example of this new technology is FarmFoods360, a virtual reality site that lets you explore Canadian farms. There are sixteen different types of farms to tour, ranging from the usual (egg farms and fruit farms) to the unique (ratite, a type of flightless bird originally from South America). Videos with 360-degree access allow you to learn everything from how the animals are kept to how cabbage is harvested. If you click on Dairy Cow Farms, you can view the milking stations, the different types of stalls, and calf barns. Each tour is chock-full with enough facts about the livestock and crops to satisfy even the nosiest customer.

Even though virtual reality tours sound great, every technology has its drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the upsides and downsides of this new technology.

UPSIDES

-Clients can view properties from their own home. You can save yourself and your clients time and money by replacing in-person tours with online ones. They can view your properties from the comfort of their own couch. Also, having a virtual tour expands your working hours with no extra effort to you. Your virtual tour will be open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It’s like a permanent open house!

-Food transparency. Have you noticed a new wave of customers who want to know exactly where their food came from and what is in it? More people than ever are interested in ‘food transparency’, where and how their food is raised.  In a 2015 Trace One survey, 91% of respondents said it’s important for them to know where their food comes from.Virtual tours let customers explore farms and see how their food is raised.

-Shareability. In the age of social media, it’s easier than ever to share information. With one click, you can share a link to your virtual tour to social media sites and high traffic blogs (like the REALTORS® Land Institute blog!). This is an easy way to reach out to new clients and keep current ones updated on your latest properties.

DOWNSIDES

-Virtual tours can be pricey. If you opt for more high-tech virtual reality equipment, it’s going to cost you. A VR computer can cost over $1,000, and high-end headsets can range from $50-$600. Even the cheaper options can end up being more expensive than you’d think. Matterport 3D Camera, a company that uses 3-D scanning to photograph properties, charges around $100 to $200 to capture a property. If you are selling multiple or large properties, this could get expensive fast.

-New tech glitches. Because virtual reality is so new, there are bound to be glitches. Some common glitches include blurry photos and broken links. Some people who use virtual reality headsets claim that the headsets gave them motion sickness if they kept them on for too long.

-The human touch. Some people prefer to walk around the properties they are considering buying and meeting the owners face-to-face. While virtual tours are better for convenience, there is something special about in person visits that can get lost online.   

Taking this all into consideration, are virtual reality tours worth it? Our answer is: yes. While it is a relatively new technology that can glitch and isn’t the cheapest option, virtual tours are simply the best marketing tool in our new world. Today’s customers value convenience and expertise, and virtual tours can give that to them.

Some people still don’t like the idea of virtual reality tours. Some people claim that they prefer the “authenticity” of a real visit instead of a virtual one, while other people are worried about the cost. There was a similar reluctance when drones were first introduced to the world of land real estate. Even though drones were able to get aerial shots of land that were previously impossible to get, almost no one bought a drone. The first commercial drones were outrageously expensive and required a license to fly them. Over time, the prices dropped and people discovered that drones could do more than just take great photos of land. Drones can track hurricanes, track wildlife, and take pictures of poachers.  Now, there are over 600,000 commercial drones in the air.

While some of the more high-end virtual reality equipment like headsets are out of the price range for the average land seller, there are simple and cheap ways to get on board with the newest wave of technology. Check out sites like YouVisit and Homes & Land  to learn about cost effective ways to incorporate virtual reality into your business.

Top Land Real Estate Blogs to Follow in 2018

Following land real estate blogs is one of the easiest ways to keep your land and business ahead of the game. The only hard part? Finding blogs with credible sources, useful information, and content that’s up-to-date with the latest real estate news. To help you get the best information for your land, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite land real estate blogs (we left out the RLI blog, since you’re already lucky enough to know about it if you’re reading this post!). In no particular order, here are our top land real estate blogs to follow in 2018:

1. Whitetail Properties blog, The Hunting Blog

Whitetail blog

 

 

This is the go-to blog for anything to do with hunting properties. Need advice about buying or selling hunting land? They’ve got that. Want to learn about the best spots to harvest big game? They’ve got that, too. If you own a hunting property or just love hunting, you have to be following this blog!

2. National Land Realty blog

National Land Realty blog

 

The clean layout of the National Land Realty blog makes it easy to find the articles you want. You can choose from categories like Investing, Ownership, Cabin & Home, and Hunting & Fishing. Our favorite category? Industry News, which will keep you updated on the latest technology and news you need to know. Many of the posts are from their agents, ensuring the authors have hands-on experience in the field.

3. LandThink blog

Land Think Blog

 

Want to make more money with your property? Then this blog is for you. These no-nonsense articles let you know exactly what steps you need to take to get the most out of your property. The “A Land Buyer’s Checklist” series lays out exactly what you need in order to increase a property’s value.

4. Land.com blog

Land.com

 

What’s great about this blog is the wide variety of topics they cover. While the Buying Land and Selling Land sections seem pretty straightforward, the articles in the other sections cover every topic under the sun, ranging from quail sustainability to prepping your home for a natural disaster to fly-fishing. Written by land real estate and ranch experts, you know you’re getting the best information.

5. Landhub.com

Land Hub Blog

 

This blog takes a look at the long-term effects of owning land real estate with articles like “Could Buying Land Be An Investment In Your Child’s Future?” and “What Kind of Damage Can Terminates Do To A Home?”. Be sure to follow this blog if you’re in the real estate game for the long haul. This blog is also chock-full of how-to material for everything from thinning timber to how to sell to Millennials. While this blog’s layout is a little different than the other blogs on this list, it has great information if you are willing to dig around a bit

6. Land Blog… Get The Dirt!

Land Blog

 

 

Did you read our 2017 round up of blogs to watch? You might notice this blog was featured in there as well! This blog is great for people who don’t want to be bombarded with articles. It gives you monthly articles about the nuts and bolts of being successful in the world of real estate. Kent Morris is an ALC (Accredited Land Consultant), so you know you can trust his advice.

7. Harvest Returns blog

Harvest Returns blog

 

Interested in investing in agriculture, but not sure where to begin? This blog breaks down the basics for you and follows the trends of investments and returns. You’ll get a crash course in investing from following this blog and learn all sorts of useful information. For example, did you know that US Farmland investments have a higher annual return than gold? The articles about the latest land laws and regulations are also important to read. They cut through the political jargon to get to the heart of the matter; how the new laws are going to affect you.

 

 

investment

Yes, You Should Invest in Land Real Estate

“I have always liked real estate; farmland, pastureland, timberland and city property. I have had experience with all of them. I guess I just naturally like ‘the good Earth,’ the foundation of all our wealth.” — Jesse Jones, entrepreneur

Real estate investors and buyers alike have always had an affinity for land. There is just something about land that draws in savvy investors. Whether it’s the innate, territorial tendencies we have deep within or the simple magnetism of connecting with nature in a world increasingly becoming cluttered with high rises and highways, our instincts are doing what they do best, pointing us in the right direction!

Whether its amber waves of grain or purple mountain majesties, land continues to prove be one of the most profitable long-term investments from sea to shining sea. The USDA’s 2017 Land Values Summary released in August shows that from 2010-2016 average farm real estate values have cumulatively increased 43 percent or an average of 6.1 percent annually and average cropland real estate values have cumulatively increased 51 percent or an average of 7.3 percent annually—that’s quite a return on investment! It’s no wonder smart investors are flocking to invest in the land real estate market.

RLI 2017 Land Markets Survey

In fact, the 2017 REALTORS® Land Institute Land Markets Survey shows that out of all buyers in land transactions, there was a five percent increase in those who were investors in just one year from 2015 to 2016. With so many different types of land to choose from when investing and so many different ways to invest in land, the possibilities are almost endless. If you aren’t sure where to start, just keep reading.

Hopefully by now I have your attention and you are no doubt wondering “why is land real estate such a hot investment?” There are a lot variables that can be mentioned here but the simple answer is best summed up by Mark Twain as “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” Compared to other investments, land can be purchased relatively cheap if you find a motivated seller. Being a limited resource and non-depreciable, it’s a fairly safe asset when looking for a solid return on a long-term investment.

invest in land

For those looking to invest in land real estate to diversify their portfolio, buy a property to retire on, or just get in on the action, there are a lot of great resources out there. Just keep in mind that when investing in land real estate, it is crucial to consult a professional with the experience and knowledge necessary to conduct these kinds of transactions. Land is a whole different animal than residential or commercial real estate and there are agents out there who dedicate themselves to being experts in this field. The REALTORS® Land Institute offers investors an easy to use search tool to find a qualified local agent called Find A Land Consultant, check it out and get started!

Jessa Friedrich, MBA, Marketing ManagerAbout the author: Jessa Friedrich, MBA, is the Marketing Manager for the REALTORS® Land Institute. Jessa has a Bachelor of Science with a dual major in Business Administration and Marketing as well as her MBA specializing in Marketing. She has been with RLI since March 2015 leading their marketing efforts.

 

Note: Information in this article should not be construed as recommendations for any course of legal, financial, or accounting action.

sage grouse

Sage Grouse Management in the News

I read the recent article noting that our new Secretary of the Interior was directing mangers of the public lands to include flexibility in their plans to improve on sage grouse habitats. This, and in other articles I have read, continue to reference “livestock grazing” as one of the reasons for the decline of the sage grouse. In one article, they cite the main reasons for the decline of the sage grouse: “In 2013, the FWS identified 14 threats to the greater sage grouse: nonnative invasive plants, energy development, sagebrush removal, improper grazing, range management structures, wild horses and burros, pinyon-juniper expansion, agricultural conversion, mining, recreation, urbanization, infrastructure and fences.”   Interestingly enough, they always leave out the one reason that probably has the most impact on sage grouse populations and that is “Predators.”

We have more predators of the sage grouse now than ever before and still most will not recognize them as a major factor. One predator in particular whose population has grown by a thousand percent is the raven. University studies since 1948 have shown ravens as major predators of ground nesting birds and a 2003-2005 study “The Effects of Raven Removal on Sage Grouse Nest Success” by Peter S. Coates and David J. Delehanty of Idaho State University confirms the benefits of taking Raven’s out of the picture for improved nest success.

sage grouseWhy not give credit where credit is due? Some believe it is because controlling predators won’t give the public lands managers the control on other resource users that using “critical habitat” does.  There are organizations in the West whose main goals are to interfere with livestock grazing on public lands. In Idaho, they are trying to have dirt tanks (ponds created to store water for livestock) filled in because they are used as breeding grounds by mosquitoes since they are carriers for the West Nile disease which is found to also kill sage grouse.  Any of us who spend a lot of time in the habitat will tell you that these same ponds are frequented by many species of wildlife that benefit from them, just a livestock do.

Many argue that there has been entirely too much time and money spent on improving “habitat” for sage grouse. Historical records indicate there were very few sage grouse in the Great Basin before man settled. The journals of early day settlers such as Peter Skeen Ogdon (1828-1829); Jedediah Smith (1827); John Charles Fremont (1843-45) pay a lot of attention to wildlife and the diets of the native American’s they encountered.  In all these journals, there was one record of sage grouse found as a diet item (RE: testimony of Nevada Assemblyman Ira Hansen 2011). In the meetings in 2012, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWL) was conducting a hearing on the potential listing of the sage grouse, they noted that they were using as a starting point the mid 1800’s and the areas they identified as sage brush areas at that time.  They were also using a two-million bird prediction based off that number of acres of sage brush.  In other words, the number of Sage Grouse being managed for is based on poor data that is not substantiated by historical records.

Livestock grazing can actually be a benefit to sage grouse and, if you look at the records, you will see that at the same time we had the most livestock on public lands is when we had the largest sage grouse populations. I believe mainly for two reasons:  first, we had an active predator control program at that same time; and second, over grazing of grass species allows shrubs to encroach onto those areas being overgrazed.

Livestock grazing kept the excess fuels down and we had fewer range fires. Managing for grass required leaving excess grass to reseed and I can tell you we have a lot more grass now than when I was a kid in the 1950’s and 60’s. In those days, we didn’t have government fire centers that did the firefighting, we did it ourselves. All the ranchers and other county residents would drop what they were doing when a fire started to put it out. That meant bull dozers being loaded and put on fire lines, it meant filling barrels with water, grabbing soaked seed sacks to slap out flames, and not stopping even at dark.  In fact, we usually got the fire under control at night as the winds calmed down and the moisture content of the air went up. We don’t have forests to deal with so fighting fires at night isn’t much danger.  Unfortunately, even today, the agencies who now control firefighting shut it down at dark and wait until after their 7 am fire meeting is over the next morning to get back to it. Changing this one policy would keep the size of our fires down considerably. To their credit, however, this year they are getting on the fires much sooner that they have in the past.

In summary and in my opinion  a)the sage grouse are not at a low enough population level to justify being listed as threatened or endangered;  b) the Critical Habitat Provision of the Endangered Species Act is being abused to list species whose populations don’t warrant listing; c) Livestock grazing is not a negative to the sage grouse; d)Predators are not even sited as one of the main impacts on the population even though there are numerous studies that show they are a large factor; e)the agency’s policy of not fighting fires in the Great Basin at night has burned literally hundreds of thousands of acres unnecessarily. On the other hand, I just sold a 10,000 acre ranch I had listed for over eight years to be used for sage grouse meditation with federal agencies. Suave on the sore!

About the author: Paul Bottari, ALC, is Owner/Broker for Bottari & Associates Realty Inc. in Wells, NV. Paul serves on the REALTORS® Land Institute 2017 Government Affairs Committee.

Turning Your Land Into Multiple Sources of Cash Income

Hey Land Owners, What Have You Been Waiting For? Turning Your Land Into Multiple Sources of Cash Income is Easier Than you Think!

We live in the age of AirBnB and VRBO mania. Residential owners across the globe are taking advantage of the need for residential renting opportunities. They post their properties on listing websites like AirBnB or VRBO, and quickly turn their residential properties into piles of instant cash income. Guess what? Land owners can do this too! There is an enormous demand for private land use of various types, in which users are willing to pay. It’s time for landowners to get in on the money making action too.

The demand for private land use across our great nation is nearly immeasurable. Simply put, an exponentially enormous portion of the population has the desire or need to use private land for various purposes. As an example, in addition to being President and CEO of LandLeaseExchange.com, I am also Vice President of Maury L. Carter & Associates, Inc., a land investment and brokerage firm based in Orlando, FL. Our firm and our investors have owned hundreds of thousands of acres over a 50+/- year time frame. We currently have a portfolio of 12,000 acres.

Every year we get hundreds, if not thousands of unsolicited phone calls and email inquiries on the 12,000 acres in our portfolio. These inquiries are from individuals or companies searching for property to lease or rent. Again, it is important that landowners understand just how much demand there is for the leasing and use of land. We DO NOT market our properties for lease, yet we receive all of these unsolicited inquiries from users who are ready, willing, and able to lease a property.

Most of the land in our portfolio that we lease is conducive for production agricultural farming, cattle leases, citrus leases, timber leases, and hunting leases. These are fairly standard land leasing categories, yet they are just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the possibilities available to landowners and how they can turn their land assets into cash revenue. The land leasing market has been identified as an extremely under-served marketplace. What am I saying? There are tens of millions of people in the U.S. that have a need for land, yet there isn’t even a small fraction of land available to them to do so. Enter the private landowner.

On the LandLeaseExchange.com side of things, I have many landowners say to me “John, all I have is (enter amount of land) acres, and there really isn’t much I can do with it to make money.” Really? I beg to differ. Each parcel of land is different and offers its own uses based upon its characteristics. Landowners don’t really need to get too creative, actually. They simply need to take advantage of the land they already own and provide leasing opportunities to users that are conducive to the characteristics of the land owned.

As land owners, we have to think outside of the box. We have opportunities that we take for granted, available to us RIGHT NOW on the land we own, that others are willing to pay to for to experience.

Here is a list of examples I have compiled. Remember, you can lease your entire property, or just a portion. For one use, or for many uses. No property is too big, or too small to turn into cash income.

Agricultural Opportunities

  • Do you have land that you aren’t currently using that could be leased for agricultural purposes? Whatever agricultural use your land is conducive for, the likelihood of someone wanting to use it for commercial agricultural purposes is high. Our website offers listing categories on anything from citrus to peaches to tomatoes to more traditional commodities like soy beans, corn and cotton.

Recreational Opportunities

  • Birdwatching, camping, equestrian, fishing, hiking, hunting, mountain bike trail riding, RV/Motor Home/Camper, Shooting, Off-Road Trail Riding/ATV/Motorcross, Waterfront properties, and more. Recreational use is one of the most desired uses for land right now.

Special Event/Corporate Retreats/Religious Retreats

  • Do you have an old barn you could clean up, hang some lights and rent for weddings or parties? Brides and grooms and party hosts want to create something different and unique while hosting their parties.
  • Corporate retreats – Does your land have activities available? Skeet shooting, hunting opportunities, adequate lodging amenities, meeting areas, etc.? Turn it into a corporate retreat and charge companies to use your property.
    Cabins, Rural Residences, Estates:
  • People want to have a getaway weekend or an experience on a farm, ranch or property outside of the city. Provide the opportunity to them by leasing out cabins, rural residences or estate properties.

Agri-Tourism Sites

  • Now, more than ever, people want the opportunity to get on land, see where their food is coming from, visit the farm and experience something outdoors and have a good time. What type of agritourism can you provide? U-Picks, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, vineyards, petting zoos, Christmas Tree U-Cut, etc.

Communications and Energy

  • Do you have a site that would be perfect for a cell phone tower?
  • Are you located near high tension power lines and you think your property would be good for a solar panel project?
  • What about a road, and your property would be good to lease to a billboard company?

All of the above are ideas on how to turn your land into cash revenue. As a landowner, what are you waiting for? Additional cash income is only a few clicks away!

 

About the Author: John Evans is a 2008 graduate of the University of Mississippi with a degree in real estate finance. A seventh-generation Floridian, he lives in Winter Park, FL, with wife Ann and son Jack, 1. He is Vice President of Maury L. Carter & Associates, Inc and founder, CEO and President of Land Lease Exchange, LLC. which is an online marketing tool that connects landowners to land users.

 

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An Increase in Demand for Residential Land Real Estate

“Under All Is The Land,” starts the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics. Whether a property is residential, commercial, or of a more rural variety, it all starts from the ground up—literally. With almost all properties needing land on some level, it’s no wonder the demand for residential land real estate continues to grow. As John D. Rockefeller once said “The major fortunes in America have been made in land,” and any land agent would agree that land real estate makes one of the best investments for that reason.

Let’s take a closer look at all the buzz about an increase in demand for residential land real estate. REALTOR® Magazine recently released a piece called “Best Year For New Construction In A Decade?” The article focuses on HousingWire’s prediction that “growing buyer demands will likely spark home builders to construct [more] homes this year than in the last decade.” In addition, the REALTORS® Land Institute released their annual Land Market Survey for 2017 which shows that 25 percent of all closed land transactions over the past year were for residential use. The survey also shows a 5 percent increase in total dollar volume of closed residential land transactions compared to the previous year, meaning the number of residential land transactions are up from the previous year.

residential land real estateEven those in the field are seeing it all firsthand. For example, in the article “The Evolution of Residential Land Sales in the Northeast,” recently published in RLI’s Summer 2017 Terra Firma magazine, expert Accredited Land Consultant Michael Durkin observed “Land prices [in the Northeast] are escalating higher and higher almost to the point of spiraling out of control.” As the demand for land continues to rise, it only makes sense that the prices of land will follow in the affected areas. In fact, RLI’s Land Market Survey showed a 2 percent average increase in residential land prices over the previous year and majority of respondents expect prices to continue increasing over the coming year.

So where are the strongest markets for residential land real estate transactions? The REALTOR® Magazine article points out that “The Midwest and Northeast will likely see the most uptick in new-home construction.” This prediction falls in line with RLI’s Land Market Survey results which show the Northeast leading in residential land sales. Survey participants also expect a three percent increase in residential land sales for the coming year; so, the future is looking bright as well!

All this information may lead one to question, why is there suddenly an increasing number of residential land real estate transactions? Lawrence Yun, the National Association of REALTORS®’ chief economist, explained in the REALTOR® Magazine article that “the increase in new housing would be a much needed relief to the overall housing market” which is currently facing a housing shortage.

Looking at NAR’s “2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report,” Millennials and Gen Yers make up 34 percent of home buyers and are currently driving an increased demand for affordable housing. On the other hand, Baby Boomers are the second largest group of home buyers making up 30 percent of recent buyers. The report also shows that overall 14 percent of buyers opted for a new home versus a previously occupied one, an increase over the previous year adding to the demand for residential land real estate.

In the end one thing is for certain, as the demand for more housing continues to grow, it only follows that the demand for more land will track up with it as will land values.

The annual REALTORS® Land Institute and NAR Research Land Markets Survey is a tool for land real estate professionals, owners, and investors across all sectors of the business to use for bench-marking and as an informational resource when conducting business. View the full survey here. Read more on this topic from REALTOR® Mag in their follow-up piece on this post “The Demand for Land Widens.”

Jessa Friedrich, Marketing Manager, REALTORS Land InstituteAbout the author: Jessa Friedrich, MBA, is the Marketing Manager for the REALTORS® Land Institute. Jessa has a Bachelor of Science with a dual major in Business Administration and Marketing as well as a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing with a specialization in Social Media. She has been with RLI in the land real estate industry for two and a half years and manages all matters pertaining to marketing and communications for the organization. In her role, she is dedicated to promoting and enhancing the valuable benefits of an RLI membership to the land real estate industry and ensuring RLI continues to be “The Voice of Land.”