The Most Difficult Crops to Grow and Why

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

Cauliflower

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

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

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

Celery

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

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

Melons

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

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

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

Wasabi

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

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

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

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

Head Lettuce

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

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

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

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

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

What You Need To Know Before Buying Waterfront Property

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

Buying Waterfront Property: Know The Rules and Regulations

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

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

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

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

fishing boat on lake

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

Buying Waterfront Property: Flood Risk

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

Buying Waterfront Property: Understand That Things Change

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

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

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

lake house

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

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

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

Six Ways To Attract More Animals to Your Hunting Property

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

1. Prescribed Burns

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

2. Build a Food Plot

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

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

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

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

Duck: Grass, grain, berries,

Boar: Acorns, roots, bulbs, grass

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

3. Build a Pond

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

4. Create Cover

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

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

5.Timber Stand Improvement

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

6. Plant Trees For Winter.

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

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

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

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

The Best Advice Top Agents Ever Got

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

Know Yourself to Know Others

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

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

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

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

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

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

Respect and Hard Work Are Everything

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

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

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

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

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

Communication Is Key

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

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

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

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

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

 

 

Five Things You Need to Know Before Investing In Agriculture

Many people are hesitant to invest in agriculture, especially those that don’t have much experience in the land industry. A common assumption is that only farmers know enough about agriculture to confidently invest in it. However, agriculture can be a great investment for people of all walks of life. Before you take out your checkbook, here are six things you need to know about investing in agriculture.

1: More Than One Way to Invest

There are many ways to profit off agricultural land and you can do many of them simultaneously. Investors can make money off of the returns of the annual crops. Additionally, good quality land historically increases in value over time, so just holding the land can provide returns as it increases in value. If you want to see your investment grow faster, you can:

2: Agriculture Is A Hedge Against Inflation

Food historically increases in price over time, which allows agriculture to be a hedge against inflation. A hedge against inflation is an investment that is protected against the detrimental cost of inflation to an investment.

Future population growth is also a benefit to investing in agriculture. As the world’s population is expected to grow to 9.8 billion by 2050, there will be an ever-increasing demand for food. Global food production will need to increase dramatically to feed the growing population. This increase in demand could cause an increase in the value of crops and the land they grow on as supply decreases, providing insurance that there will be room for your investment to grow.

3: Long Term Investment

When the economy is good, like it is now at the time of this publication, people often put all their money in high-risk, high-reward stocks that offer quick and large returns. Crops need time to grow and flourish. Some crops, such as pecan trees, take three to four years to produce and often don’t reach full production potential until the tenth year. However, there will always be a steady demand for food, so this investment can add slow, steady growth to your savings. It can be easy to gravitate towards the get-rich-quick stocks, but investing in safe, slow-return stocks is important for the overall health of your investment portfolio.

4: Crop Insurance Protects Investors

With talks of trade wars and bad weather impacting the 2019 planting season, you might be hesitant to invest in agriculture. However, crop insurance was created to protect investors as well as farmers. If crops are destroyed due to natural causes or the price of the crops decline, the farmer still receives funds from the insurance so that investors can still collect their annual returns.

 

5: Diversify your portfolio

Investing in agriculture is a great way to diversify your portfolio. Much like timberland, agriculture doesn’t mimic the patterns of the stock market, giving your portfolio some much-needed protection against recessions. If you invested all your money in stocks and a recession hit, you could lose most of your investment. Agriculture is typically considered a safe, low-risk stock that can provide reliable returns and can be an excellent safety net for your financial future.

Agriculture shouldn’t be viewed as an investment only for industry insiders. Agriculture has been one of the biggest industries in America for millennia and has so much to offer investors. Investing in agriculture can be a great investment for your future.

Looking to buy agricultural land to invest in? Be sure to work with an experienced and qualified land expert in your area to find the perfect plot to invest in. If you click on the Advanced Search button, you can check the Agricultural/Farm Land option under Property Specialties to find an agent with experience in agricultural land.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

Benefits and Drawbacks Of Different Types Of Land Investing

In articles about investing, “land investments” are often all lumped together, as if investing in a commercial property is the exact same as investing in a vineyard. There are many different types of land, and not every land type is right for every investor. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of investing in some of the different types of land.

Disclaimer: There are more benefits and drawbacks to investing in a single land type than we could ever fit in a single article, so we are going to focus on some of the most important pros and cons of each land type.

Timberland

Pro: Less Risky Than Stocks

Historically, timberland has had much less risk and volatility than stocks, but timberland returns were similar to those of stocks.

“Over the last twenty years, according to the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries, returns from timberland have been almost equal to returns from equity investments as measured by the S&P 500.” Said Bob King, ALC in his article The Basics of Timberland Investing.

Pro: Moves Against the Stock Market

Not only does timber have less volatility than stocks, timber historically moves countercyclical to other asset classes. That means even during bad markets where many other investments types take a dip, your portfolio will have a safety net.

Con: Timber Is Delicate

The elements can impact all types of land, but timber is especially susceptible to the elements. Pests, natural disasters, wildfires, and other forces of nature can have long-lasting impacts on the value of your land.

Con: A Pricy Down Payment

When timberland is priced as the “highest and best use”, often by sellers marketing their land towards people looking to build their second home, the price can skyrocket. The exact same property can double or triple if it is reclassified. The best thing you can do, is work with a land expert in your area to make sure you are paying the right price for your investment.

Vineyard

Pro: Quick Returns

If you invest in a vineyard that is already producing grapes, you will likely see a return on your investment quickly. In fact, vineyards are one of the land investment types to see the fastest return on investment (ROI).

Pro: Tax Advantages

From the immediate expensing of replacing diseased vines to tax breaks based off the depreciation of a trellis to cash-only accounting, vineyards are ripe with tax advantages.

Con: The Down Payment Might Be More Than You Think

Depending on where you buy, investing in vineyards might cost a pretty penny. In the past decade, wealthy buyers have started investing in vineyards, so the prices have skyrocketed up to over $400,000 an acre in some high demand areas.

Con: High Operating Costs

Vineyards can be very expensive to run, making it harder to turn a profit on smaller vineyards. If you are buying a vineyard that hasn’t started producing yet, it won’t produce a profit for at least the first two years, so that can add extra financial burden to an investor.

Farmland

Pro: Tax Breaks Based Off Of Depreciation

Similar to vineyards, farmland can also offer tax advantages to investors, as pointed out in the article How And Why To Invest In Farmland by Clayton Pilgrim, ALC.

“Many farms contain improvements that depreciate such as grain storage, irrigation pivots, shops, barns, etc.,” says Pilgrim. “An owner can depreciate some of these assets each year to offset yearly taxes.”

Pro: The Ability to Lease Out Farmland

Sharecropping or leasing your land can help bring in some extra income. It’s minimal effort on your end, and it brings in some extra cash.

Con: High Risk

There are many risk factors to take into consideration with farmland. The market is unpredictable and can change on a dime. And it’s not just the market – the weather, natural disasters, pests, and dozens of other factors out of your control can take a serious toll on your investment.

Vacant Land

Pro: The Freedom

The possibilities of what to do with vacant land are endless. You can transition the property to its highest and best use, hold the property until the value goes up, add solar panels or wind turbines, and more. The choice is yours!

Pro: More Affordable Than Developed Land

Since it often doesn’t come with structures, vacant land often has a lower price tag than other land types meaning the financial barrier to entry is usually a lot lower than other land types.

Con: Less Tax Advantages

Unlike some of the other land types on this list, vacant land doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to tax advantages.

Orchards

Pro: More Money Per Acre

Trees don’t need much space, so you can squeeze lots of trees onto your property to maxamize your returns.

Con: Time To Grow

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says “The best time to plant an orchard was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now”. The meaning behind it is if you want a successful future, but in the hard work now, but it can be taken literally. Trees are a slow grower, and can take three-to-six years to start producing money. If you are looking for quicker returns, consider investing in an orchard that is already producing.

Con: Fruit Rot

Fruit that falls from the trees needs to be picked up quickly or else you run the risk of fruit rot. Rotting fruit can impact the health of your trees and the land.

Recreational Land

Pro: Sentimental Value

It’s not as easy to have fun on timberland! Recreational land is an investment that you can enjoy with your family and friends.

Pro: Can Handle More Wear And Tear

Unlike other land types (we’re looking at you, orchards!), recreational land is hearty. It’s meant to handle foot traffic. If you don’t want to spend time fretting over the impact of people or weather, this might be the right investment for you.

Con: Animals (And People) Can Be Tricky

If your recreational land is used primarily for hunting, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the habits and health of the animals on your property. Attracting and keeping game on your property can take a lot of time and money.

It’s not just animals you need to worry about – poachers and trespassers can steal animals, destroy the animals’ habitats, and scare animals off your land. Be sure to have clearly marked signs and limit access points to reduce the risk of trespassers.

There are lots of benefits to land investing, regardless of land type. Tax advantages, diversifying your portfolio, and saving for retirement are all great reasons. No matter what land type you invest in, investing for your future is always a good idea.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

What’s At Stake With The Disaster Relief Bill?

With dozens of bills passing through Congress every month, it can be hard to keep track of the current state of land laws. One bill that has been particularly hard to follow has been the Disaster Relief Bill. This bill has been debated about and changed for months. As hurricane season approaches, it’s important to know the impacts that the disaster relief bill could have on the land industry.

To understand why the disaster bill is important requires an understanding of the massive impact that natural disasters have had on the land industry in recent years. A series of natural disasters in 2017 destroyed countless crops, livestock, land, and lives. According to a study from Texas A&M, 27% of the state’s cattle population were affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Then, 2018 wasn’t any easier – The estimated agricultural losses from 2018 are estimated to be $5.5 billion for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and over $3 billion for Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. We’re only halfway through 2019, but have already faced widespread flooding, wildfires, and more.

The most recent draft of the bill (which you can read in full here) is still being debated over issues such as disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico and money for emergency boarder security. If the most recent draft is signed into law by President Trump, here is how it will impact the land industry.

Crops and Livestock

With farm debt and bankruptcy on the rise in many areas, the damage on crops from natural disasters has taken a huge toll on farmers. The cold snap in mid-March of 2017 froze thousands of crops and caused $1 billion in agricultural losses. The impacts of these natural disasters last beyond a single crop. Floods can deplete the soil of its natural nutrients, which can take a long time to recover.

The impact of natural disasters on livestock has also put a strain on the rancher’s wallet. Not only is the financial impact of having livestock die bad for the farmer’s bottom line, if the dead animals are not removed in a properly and timely manner, it could impact water quality, the other living livestock, or other natural resources.

The disaster relief bill is expected to provide $3 billion to help recover losses of crops, trees, and vines that were impacted by natural disasters. This will help ease the financial loss for farmers. The grants will also help farmers pay for livestock losses and future crop insurance.

Forests

Wildfires claimed countless trees, properties, and lives in the past few years. Part of the Disaster Relief Bill sets aside money that will go towards forest restoration, hazardous fuel management, and other expenses related to protecting trees from natural disasters; including $720 million for urgent wildfire suppression and $480 million for an Emergency Forest Restoration Program.

Clean Up and Prevention

Preventing and cleaning up the impacts of natural disasters can be extremely costly. Large sections of the most recent draft of the bill include funds for marine debris removal, improving hurricane and flood intensity forecasting, restoring and rebuilding national wildlife refuges, helping rebuild national parks, fixing local roads, and more.

While this bill has been mulled over for months, there may be good news on the horizon. The House recently passed a multibillion-dollar disaster aid package on Friday, May 10th, and the Senate is expected to vote on the bill before a weeklong Memorial Day Recess. This means it is one step closer to getting the final approval from President Trump. Be sure to reach out to your elected officials to make sure they know how important disaster relief is to the land industry, especially private property owners.

One great way to stay on top of the latest land laws is by following us on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We cover the most important land laws and news that you need to know!

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

What You Need to Know About Investing in Vacant Land

Investing in land is a great idea, but the best type of land to invest in varies from person to person. For example, investing in farmland is great for people looking to diversify their portfolio and the ability to crop out your land for a little extra cash. Investing in timberland is great for those looking for stable, steady growth.

Investing in vacant land has its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, which we are going to explore in today’s article.

Low Maintenance, High Rewards

Vacant land is unique from other land types in how low maintenance it is. It’s a refreshingly hands-off investment. Quality vacant land (good location, soil, and access) historically increases in value, so you don’t have to do much to see your investment grow. Not only is vacant land easy to take care of, it is often cheaper than developed land.

Your Land, Your Choice

One of the biggest factors that sets vacant land apart from other land types are the endless possibilities of how to increase the value of your investment. There are so many ways to profit off of vacant land that it can be a little overwhelming. Here are just a few examples of ways you can make money off of your land:

  • Buy and Hold. As we mentioned in our Investing in Land 101 article, the buy and hold method is exactly what it sounds like – you buy land and sell it when the land appreciates enough to be sold at a profit. It’s the safest, though usually slowest, way to make a profit.
  • Transition the Land to Its Highest and Best Use. Transitional land is such a multi-faceted and dynamic topic that we have a whole class dedicated to it. Transitioning your land to its highest and best use requires a deep understanding of the markets and different types of land, as RLI’s Marketing Manager Jessa Friedrich, MBA, pointed out in her article Transitional Land: Finding Highest and Best Use: “What makes transitional land a unique area of real estate brokerage is the fact that the ultimate use of the property might not be easily recognized. In fact, the very nature of transitional land is that the highest and best use is dynamic.“ Be sure to work with a land professional with experience when trying to identify your property’s highest and best use.
  • Lease the land. You can lease your land out for storage or to other landowners. This allows you to still make an income from the land with minimal effort on your part.
  • Add solar energy or wind. The structure of the solar farm can add value to the property and you can profit from the energy coming in. Twice the profit!
  • Forest the timber. If you’ve got timber on your property, you could have money. Find a land expert that specializes in timberland transactions to find out if you find out if your timber is ripe for the picking.

Drawbacks

As with investing in anything, there are drawbacks to investing in vacant land. One of them is the property taxes. This is something you should take into consideration especially if you are considering the buy and hold approach. Depending on your property, the property taxes might outweigh any profit the land might produce.

Another drawback is that no matter which way you choose to invest in vacant land, it’s likely that the returns will be slow. Don’t pour your money into vacant land and expect to see huge returns in a few months. It’s important to work with a land professional who knows the industry inside and out, like an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC), to get the best returns on your investment.

Investing in vacant land is the ultimate “diamond in the rough” opportunity. You have endless ways to make money off of your investment – which one will you choose?

If you are looking to invest in vacant land, check out our Find A Land Consultant tool to find a qualified land agent near you with specialised expertise in your market.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

 

The Great Fake Meat Debate

Not so long ago, the fake meat market wasn’t much more than a few packets of grey tofu dogs that no one touched at the barbecue. Now, the meat alternative industry is a $1.5 billion market. Curiously, production and consumption of real meat are also on the rise. Do these two seemingly-opposite industries have more in common than we think, and can they live in harmony?

It’s nearly impossible to ignore the rise of fake meat. From Burger King planning to roll out Impossible Whoppers by the end of 2019 to White Castle already offering Impossible Sliders, fake meat is everywhere. The sudden and shocking success of fake meat has taken many industry officials by surprise. How could a product that was so niche for so many years suddenly become so popular?

One of the main factors that led to the success of fake meat products is advancements in food science that increase the taste and texture of fake meat. Scientists can now study what makes meat taste so good at a molecular level and replicate it with plant substitutes. Not only can they make the meat taste better, but they can also make the product look more like meat, too. For example, the main ingredient in the Impossible Burger is heme, a molecule that gives blood its signature color. They also use coconut fat and potato protein to mimic a burger’s natural greasiness and texture. Other companies use soybeans, seitan, and Quorn.

Another reason for the rise in fake meat is that Americans have become increasingly health conscious. A recent study from John Hopkins University showed that over 60% of Americans are making efforts to eat less meat.

Health-oriented customers have also played a large role in the rising real meat economy. Americans hit record levels of meat consumption in 2018. According to the USDA, the average American will consume 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry. Other animal products, such as eggs and milk, have been on the rise as well as Americans trade-in carbs for protein. As high-protein diets become increasingly popular, some adjust their diet by adding meat substitutes to cut back on red meat, while others focus on incorporating high-quality real meat into their lives. The strong economy also lets the majority of Americans afford beef and chicken despite rising meat costs.

While the two industries are both enjoying success, there is concern from the beef industry about the effects of labeling fake meat as ‘beef’ on real meat products. If the value of real meat products is impacted, this could have serious drawbacks for ranchland values. Ranchers are pushing for an official definition of beef and meat. The top priority in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s list of official 2019 policy priorities is to clarify the definition of those words.

“The use of traditional beef nomenclature on alternative products is confusing to consumers and weakens the value of products derived from actual livestock production,” claims the NCBA’s 2019 Policy Book.

The goal isn’t to get rid of fake meat for good, but to make sure that the customer knows what they are buying.

“While at this time alternative protein sources are not a direct threat to the beef industry, we do see an improper labeling of these products as misleading,” said the  Policy and Outreach Director of U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, Lia Biondo, to USA Today. “Our goal is to head off the problem before it becomes a larger issue.”

Luckily, many titans of the fake meat industry seem to be on the same page.

“I think it actually could help us more than it could hurt us because it starts the national dialogue around what really is meat, and if the origin of meat really matters to the consumer,” said Ethan Brown, the founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, to CNBC.

While meat alternatives are still a relatively new concept to American markets, fake meat could have a lot to offer farmers. Since many fake meats are created from plants such as soybeans, fake meat companies could become steady clients of many farmers.

Real and fake meat are here to stay. One industry doesn’t need to fail for the other to succeed. A changing customer base, strong economy, and scientific advancements have all helped both industries become the successes they are today.

Looking to buy some land to start your own real or fake meat empire? Be sure to always work with a land expert in your area to get the best deal for your money.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

Title Insurance 101

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be construed as professional tax advice, always consult with your tax or financial advisor for additional information on how this will impact your personal or business tax situation.

Title insurance seems to be one of those phrases that makes peoples’ eyes gloss over. While it might not be as exciting as drones, title insurance is actually one of the most powerful tools you have to defend your rights to your land. Some people think that buying a property means that they automatically own all the rights to the land. These people are in for a rude shock when old easements and delinquent bills start to pop up. In this article, let’s explore what title insurance is and why it can be your best defense against issues that lurk in your property’s past.

In a nutshell, a title is the legal record of the property’s history of ownership, rights, and easements. Title insurance protects you against any defects in the title that may have occurred in the property’s history. These defects can include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Hidden mortgages
  • Easement issues
  • Delinquent tax bills
  • Clerical errors
  • Unpaid mortgages
  • Legal claims by spouses or children of previous owners
  • Forged documentation
  • Mineral rights
  • And more

When you buy land, you also buy the legal history that comes with that land. Something as simple as a clerical error or incorrect parcel ID number can have terrible impacts on land value. Title insurance protects you from any defects in the title history that could impact your rights to the land or the land’s value.

When you purchase title insurance, the company conducts a title search. This is basically a background check on the property. The company will collect information about the history of the property, including access easements, timber deeds, mineral rights documents, power of attorney records, and more.

After the search has been completed, the attorney will issue a title option or title binder that will lay out everything that was found in the search. This document will be submitted to the title company so that they can issue a title insurance policy based off of their findings.

While most states regulate the cost of title insurance, you can expect to see massive price swings in the states that don’t. In his guest post for LandThink, Jonathan Goode, ALC, with Southeastern Land Group says you can expect to pay about 0.5% to 1% of the purchase price of the property for an owner’s title policy.

So, what are the benefits of title insurance? Having title insurance drastically reduces the risk of going to court over decades-old issues. Title insurance helps to eliminate any potential risks that can arise from issues in the defects in the title. Simply buying land doesn’t mean you automatically end the rights of previous owners. Title insurance is the only way to know for sure that you, and you alone, own the land.

People often get lender’s title insurance and owner’s title insurance mixed up. Lender’s title insurance protects the loan institution from issues relating to the property’s title. This type of insurance is required. Owner’s title insurance isn’t required, but highly recommended by many land professionals with decades of experience in land. The price for title insurance may be high, but paying a one-time fee for peace of mind is priceless, as Jonathan Goode, ALC, with Southeastern Land Group pointed out in an article for LandThink.

“Title insurance is a common-sense purchase when buying a piece of rural land. You can often obtain an owner’s title policy for about 0.5% to 1% of the purchase price of the property, and be protected from anything in the history of the title,” says Goode. “To me this is a wise investment and provides the peace of mind to allow you to use the property without worry.”

Buying land is a huge investment. Title insurance is a one-time investment that protects you against everything that happened on that property’s history. Insuring your land now is one of the best ways to help your land reach its highest possible value.

Looking to find the right title company for you? Check out the title companies that we recommend in our Technology Services Resource Center.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.