This piece originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Summer 2016 Terra Firma magazine.
You know it isn’t very difficult for an agent to shine in the real estate profession. In some cases all they have to do is return a phone call or follow through on something they promised. I think it is pretty sad that the bar is set that low….
You can have a beautiful building and offices, state of the art website and office equipment and you can spend a fortune on PR, social media and marketing. However, at the end of the day, if your company is not represented by professional real estate agents you are hurting your business, your brand and the real estate profession as a whole.
Make no mistake, when a real estate agent, regardless of who he or she is licensed with, represents himself in less than a professional manner due to his or her poor work ethic, lack of skill or dishonesty, every single one of us in the real estate profession pays the price.
One very common real estate business model is to hire as many agents as possible, offer them a large split and let them beat it out. Meanwhile, whether those agents know what they are doing or not, they may acquire a listing or two simply because a friend or family member feels obligated to list with them. This approach is strongly why over seventy percent of the real estate agents will quit this profession within two years. I feel this business model is extremely unfair to the agents; unfair to the public; and catastrophically harmful to the image of our industry.
Forget the representation of your company for the moment and consider the amount of money that exchanges hands along with legalities, complexities and the consequences associated with the sale and purchase of land. I believe our objective as brokers and leaders should be to hire the best people and support them through training, marketing and structure. In essence, we pour everything we can into them to ensure they are successful and in turn we will be successful because our relationship will be bilaterally equitable.
Our primary recruiting resources are online companies like, Monster, Indeed and Zip Recruiter to name a few. We target the nearest major metropolitans to the areas we wish to populate. These companies cast pretty large nets in that they often have sub-chapters/boards and communities that extend their radius. Our collateral resources include: our own career page on our website; social media; LinkedIn careers; The Outdoorwire; outdoorindustryjobs.com; AGcareers.com and AgHires.com to name a few.
What we do not do at Whitetail Properties is try to recruit/steal-away other broker’s agents. When you consider that we work in an industry where we work together through co-brokers and referrals, trying to recruit agents away from other brokers does not feel anymore ethical to me than calling another broker’s client. If agents from other companies call us, we are more than happy to talk to them; however, we will never call them first.
The prospective agent’s initial phone interview is with our HR executive (we provide her with the qualifying criteria). If the prospective agent makes the cut, HR then sets up a second phone interview with our three-person interview panel. We then rate the candidate on a scale of one through ten on a ten-line score sheet. If the candidate makes the second cut, we then setup an in person interview. If the candidate gives a good personal interview we sign them up for the next orientation after they’ve obtained their real estate license. It’s important that they attend orientation before we allow them to represent our company and our brand.
There are a lot of real estate companies that will hire anyone who has a pulse and the ability to acquire a real estate license. I believe that this, along with a lack of training, is why many people stereotype real estate agents as a bunch of incompetent crooks.
We have four basic cornerstones when considering a new agent: First and foremost, the prospective agent has to be an honorable person; the prospective agent has to be passionate about land and every aspect of land; the prospective agent has to have a strong work ethic; and the prospective agent has to be professional.
We can teach real estate, but in my opinion by the time human beings reach adulthood we can’t make them love land or teach them to be honorable!
- Financially Stable
- Ability to work full time
We are accountable for and to our agents. For this reason, we do not allow our agents to represent our company until they have attended orientation. At Whitetail Properties’ three-day orientation, our goal is to give our agents everything they need to start their career on a successful path.
Our weekly webinars provide our agents with solid career building knowledge. The topics cover everything from utilizing your sphere of influence to recognizing a property’s highest and best use. Training is not something that you do once in a while. Training has to be scheduled and repeated on a regular basis. The key is to keep it fresh, informative, relative, productive and entertaining.
Maintaining Pro-active Contact
It’s important to maintain regularly scheduled calls with agents in order to review, mentor and coach them. You see, the agents who contact their brokers for assistance are generally the ones working deals. However, the agents who typically need help the most are the ones we don’t hear from because they are not working anything so it’s very important that we reach out to them and explore what they are doing and how we can help them
Every member of our staff is employed for the sole purpose of helping our agents become successful and continue to grow their businesses. In addition to the office and administrative staff, the following employees are at our agents disposal: we employ our own graphic designer, marketing director, advertising team, creative director, production department, IT department, compliance officer, accounting department, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer as well as team leaders and brokers. Of course we did not start off with such an extensive staff. We realized early on that in order to grow our business and our agents’ businesses, we had to develop a formula where we employed key staff members for every X number of agents.
The most important thing we teach our agents is that our client’s experience is the single most important part of their jobs. None of us will sell every tract of land we list, but when our ultimate goal is not necessarily to sell the listing but rather to provide our clients with the ultimate land buying or selling experience, we will sell more land. In addition, we will receive more referrals and elevate the image of our company and of the industry.
There are too many real estate companies who feel making the sale is more important than working in their client’s best interest; more important than building a relationship; more important than being a professional and even more important than being honest. This has to change.
Our Most Valuable Asset
Our agents are unquestionably our most valuable assets. However, we can’t just wind them up and turn them loose. Through explanation and repetition we have to instill our company’s core values in our agents. Our company’s ideology is the foundation from which we’ve grown our business. Without a solid foundation based on integrity you are not developing or nourishing your most valuable assets.
As I mentioned before, we have to provide a consistent training program. We have to take every opportunity to mentor and guide our agents and we have to teach our staff how to best assist our agents to ensure their success. Along with this, we don’t allow agents to simply “hang their licenses” with us. If we teach, train and mentor our licensees they become our most valuable assets. However, if we do not teach, train and mentor an agent, that agent becomes our biggest liability!
We take our obligation to our agents; to our clients; to the public; to the States where we are licensed; and to all of our fellow brokers and agents in the industry very seriously. Although as brokers we are held responsible and accountable for every one of our agents, there is no possible way that we can be present every single time our agents interact with buyers, sellers, customers or clients. However, we can pour into our agents on a regular basis to ensure they conduct themselves, knowledgably, honestly, professionally and responsibly. After all, they are our most valuable assets.
About the author: Dan Perez, RLI Member, is the CEO, Chief Broker, and one of the Founding Owners of Whitetail Properties Real Estate as well as the host of the ever-popular Whitetail Properties television show. Dan is passionate about the land business and driven by hiring and developing real estate agents to become multi-million-dollar land specialists.
With easy access to the internet, staying up to date on the latest trends in the industry has never been easier. However, it is important to find credible blogs–like the RLI Blog–from which to source your information. Here are a few of our favorite land real estate blogs to follow for news, advice, and insights. If we could, we would put our RLI Blog on here, but if you’re reading this you’ve already found us–congrats, you’re off to a good start! Now, here’s our list of the top land blogs to be regularly checking:
- The National Land Realty Blog
We are a fan of this blog for a few reasons. The site is laid out to make finding blogs you’re interested in easy. Visitors can choose from categories like Hunting & Fishing, For Land Professionals, Conservation, Land News, and Featured Properties; there’s even a way to browse by state. Not to mention, the content is credible, relevant and there is a wide variety of topics covered. Plus, the authors are land professionals–just like you–who are experienced in the industry and are able to give valuable insights.
- Mossy Oak Properties
If you’re in the land business, you need to be reading this blog. Between advice from How to Buy Land and How to Sell Land to Land Market Information and Life on the Land, this blog covers almost every aspect of a truly passionate land professional’s life. We wouldn’t be adding this on our list if the content wasn’t both credible and relevant.
- Lands of America Blog
This blog is a helpful resource for anything related to buying and selling land. Whether looking for market trends, information on hot industry topics, or just good to know information, this blog has it all when it comes to land. As a leading listing site with insights into all kinds of valuable data, these posts are jam-packed with useful information making them a must read.
If you are active on social media, you’ve probably come across a post or two from this awesome blog page. They offer posts covering a wide range of topics from niche areas of the industry to bigger picture topics. They also offer insights gathered from survey results they’ve accumulated to give information on the latest industry topics. With a clean look, easy navigation, and great information, its easy to get lost in their sea of posts about the land real estate industry.
- Land Blog… Get the Dirt!
This one is a favorite, not just because one of our own Accredited Land Consultants runs it, but because it comes from a firsthand account of on the job experiences. If you’ve ever had a client ask questions like When is the best time to sell my property?, What do I need to know about due diligence? or How do I chose the right REALTOR® to sell my land?, then you’ll love reading through these gems to see just how an expert land consultant answered.
- Southeastern Land Group Blog
If you’re looking for a blog where learning takes many forms, look no further! This blog not only has valuable written content, but they also have a steady stream of videos that keep industry professionals and their clients informed. While they don’t post as frequently, the content they do publish is high quality and there is no lack of quantity in their archive to explore. You know the content is good when it is coming from experienced professionals.
Regularly checking in on the latest posts from these industry experts can help keep you informed, provide new knowledge, and even help you to answer your clients most common questions with a fresh perspective. Make the most of these blogs by commenting and starting a discussion–you never know where the conversation will take you!
If you are a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute, you have a member profile that is seen by possible clients every day. The RLI Find a Land Consultant Tool was recently updated to make finding land consultants easier and faster than ever before. This is great news for you as an RLI member because this is an additional opportunity to put your best foot forward for potential clients–but only if your profile is updated! So, here’s how to optimize your profile to bring in new clients.
The Complete Package
You already know that you are a potential client’s best option for buying/selling their land. Now, you need to make sure they do too! The first step to an effective profile page is making sure all profile information–including a professional head shot image–is filled out in its entirety. Not only does this give the readers more information to make their decision upon, but it also adds credibility. It shows you care about your image and that you are making an effort to put your best foot forward for them!
Think about when you are looking to make an important decision. What do you consider that influences your choice? For most people its goes something like: How easy is it to find the information? Is the information useful? Is the information credible? Is the information appealing? and so on…
Completing your profile also has the added benefit of making you easier to find. The more information available for clients to find you by, the more likely you’ll be found. It seems common sense but most agents don’t realize how important adding information like specialties, countries served, designations, etc. is to having an optimized profile. Also, never bypass the opportunity to add a profile image. Putting a face to a name makes you more credible, trustworthy, memorable and personable–all key aspects to gaining clients!
Now that you have added all the information your potential clients need to find you and make an informed decision, make sure to keep it updated. There is nothing worse than searching for something and thinking you’ve found it only to realize it wasn’t accurate. In this industry, no one has time to waste so don’t frustrate potential clients from the start. Get a new cell number? Change companies? Have a more recent head shot image? Update your profile right away! One way to keep your profile updated is to set a calendar reminder for every six months to check and update information.
That’s it. Having a complete and current profile really is that easy and won’t take more than fifteen minutes to set up. The digital age is here, if information about you and your company can’t be found online, you’re missing out! RLI members can start optimizing their profiles at any time by logging in to the website and navigating to My Member Profile. Need assistance? Contact the Institute at 800-441-5263 or firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s no doubt 2016 will bring new challenges and new opportunities to land professionals. From legislative changes to shifting industry trends, land professionals will need to be prepared to adjust and adapt in the New Year. Institute members can take advantage of the Institute’s many member benefits to help them reach their professional potential. Here are 16 of the best ways to use a REALTORS® Land Institute Membership in 2016:
- Take advantage of member rates with savings of up to $150 on all LANDU courses.
- Join the nearest RLI Chapter to start networking and learning locally.
- Post and search property listings on TheLandConnections.com at no cost.
- Network and learn at the 2016 National Land Conference: THE BEST STOP HERE!
- Take advantage of discounts on industry services with the Member Advantage Program (MAP).
- Read Institute communications to stay current with industry news, trends and more.
- Use the Find A Land Consultant tool to find other members and ALCs near you.
- Join a Committee and help write the Institute’s history and build its future.
- Showcase your properties during a Let’s Make Deal$ remote marketing session.
- Email your properties to other members with the Institute’s e-Properties platform.
- Attend the 2016 LANDU Education Week plus in Little Rock, AR, at a discounted rate.
- Enhance your marketing with the Member Marketing Kit.
- Network with ALC Allies to learn how to achieve the designation and make the most of Institute benefits.
- Connect with the Institute on its social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Contribute a piece to the Institute Blog and share it to promote yourself.
- View white papers written on the hottest industry topics by RLI members and ALCs at no charge.
For more information on any of these benefits, please contact Institute Staff at 800.441.5263 or email@example.com.
Happy New Year!!
It was a brutally cold, windy and overcast morning in the Dakotas Territory. The year was 1871. Every living creature exhaling air was immediately turned into vapor from the freezing temperatures. We were soldiers in the 7th United States Calvary Regiment and this particular morning, we were not singing “Garyowens”. Thousands of settlers were flocking to the territory and our job was to protect them. At this moment, many of the settlers were being threatened by the bad guys and we were preparing to ride to their rescue.
Commanding F Company was the American icon Capt. John Wayne. His Second in Command was WWII hero Lt. James Stewart. Work with me here. We were divided into two wings. One the left wing, 1st Squad was manned by the great Virginian Sgt. Randolph Scott and 2nd Squad was led by the incomparable Sgt. Errol Flynn.
The right wing was led by the 3rd Squad’s fearless Sargent Glenn Ford, who later helped defeat the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway, and the 4th Squad was led by Yours Truly right out of “The Point.” Again, work with me. The battle lines were drawn and we were ready for action. Captain Wayne gave the order and the bugler belted out the Calvary charge. The horses leaped into action, our swords at the ready and at that very moment….my alarm went off and it was a Wednesday morning in 2015. Another missed opportunity to ride to the rescue. Or was it?
Scrutiny Looms Over Section 1031s
Section 1031 is beginning to receive scrutiny by Congress and that’s probably not a good thing. All of the appropriate organizations including the Institute are lobbying Congress to leave 1031 exchanges alone–and for all the right reasons. But this is Congress, and that means that this will probably become a huge political football. I have no inside information but based on being in practice since the late 70s, my gut feeling is that 1031 exchanges will be modified to some extent. Perhaps, the first 500k in capital gains can be passed on to a new replacement property or something along those lines may be the final result.
Can You Help Your Clients Without Using 1031s? Yes!
So, assuming that Section 1031 is changed in some fashion, how can Institute members ride to the rescue to still help their clients defer capital gains taxes, state taxes where applicable, depreciation recapture, the Obama care tax and possibly the alternative minimum tax when selling a clients’ property. Actually, there are options now and you don’t even need a 1031 to defer taxes. Let’s turn a negative into a positive.
Imagine not having to deal with a forty-five day identification time limitation or loan to value ratios. What if you could sell a client’s great property now, defer taxes and at any time in the future, you can buy any property that you would like for your client AND while you are looking for that property, your client can receive a check every month for roughly five to six percent of the sales proceeds while those proceeds are still tax deferred. Do you think that this might give you a competitive advantage over other brokers that are unable to provide this opportunity?
Imagine working and taking constant risks for thirty or forty years or more and when you’re finally ready to retire, you have to write a check for twenty-five to thirty percent of your liquid assets to the US Treasury before you can retire. Well, fortunately you don’t have to but when selling your clients properties, they do have to write a check to the US Treasury for twenty-five to thirty percent of their sales proceeds and for many, that’s THEIR retirement plan. You can still defer those taxes for your clients and keep more of their hard earned sales proceeds in their pocket and send less to Washington, even if a 1031 isn’t appropriate. Do you think that this might give you a competitive advantage over other brokers that are unable to provide this opportunity?
Another tax deferral strategy that might face Congressional scrutiny in the future is the stepped up basis. I have met a number of older land owners who intend to pass their property on to their heirs instead of selling their property because of the large tax liability that the sale will create, and because a 1031 isn’t appropriate. That’s not necessarily a bad strategy unless you make a living selling real estate. If you do sell real estate, it is possible for the land owner to sell their property and defer taxes and turn an illiquid asset into a lifetime retirement income. When the land owner passes on, the income can be passed on to the heirs. And you just sold a great property.
The great thing about the REALTORS® Land Institute is the sharing of ideas and strategies and that’s why Institute members and Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs) tend to be more successful and have higher incomes than non-members I certainly hope that Congress doesn’t make changes to Section 1031 but if they do, we can still ride to the rescue of our clients without having to be John Wayne or….even me. Let’s turn a potential negative into a positive today by recognizing there are other ways to defer our clients’ taxes than a 1031. You will sell more real estate and keep more of your clients’ hard earned sales proceeds in their pockets and sending less to Washington. Happy selling and deferring taxes!
David is a Partner at Creative Real Estate Strategies, a 2015 Silver Partner of the Institute, and has been in the industry since the late 70s. His years of experience help him to assist land brokers in helping their clients defer capital gains tax, state tax and depreciation recapture taxes on their client’s sales proceeds when either their clients are unable to complete their 1031 or the client would like to sell and retire but still defer taxes. By understanding these tax deferral strategies, brokers have been able to sell more real estate. David can be reached at 713-702-6401 or at David@cresknowsrealestate.com