Getting to The Top: Finding The APEX of Success

The REALTORS® Land Institute recently presented the 2017 APEX Awards Program, sponsored by the internationally recognized magazine The Land Report, to identify and recognize the nation’s top producing land real estate agents. Over $1 Billion in property sales were recorded by RLI’s top 50 agents in 2017. That’s an amazing accomplishment to say the least, and this success again demonstrates the knowledge, work ethic, and power of the collective brokers within the RLI organization. Clearly, RLI partnerships are a force to be reckoned with.

At this year’s APEX Awards Ceremony, Michael Murphy and I of M4 Ranch Group were honored to be recognized with four APEX Awards, including a tie for 2017 APEX Top National Producer, a tie for 2017 APEX Broker of the Year Recreational Land Sales, both as a 2017 APEX Top Twenty Producer, and both as part of the 2017 APEX Producers Club. First, I want to pass on my deepest appreciation for the blessings our clients, our company, and our team experienced in 2017. We had “one of those years” that all of us in RLI work diligently to produce.

In 2017, the M4 Ranch Group Team was able to close over 95,000 deeded acres in 35 transactions. You, the top professionals in this industry, clearly know that just does not happen every year. You also know it has a much better chance of happening when you build the right platform, establish the right avenues for success, and most importantly, associate your company with the right performers in the industry.

We at M4 Ranch Group have worked tirelessly to do just that, working daily towards building a platform that couples time-proven tools with the newest technologies. We are both challenged and excited with learning new technology as well as with refining the ancient art of human relations. Being successful in this business is a never-ending quest for knowledge from understanding the details of an ALTA survey, easements, and water rights to understanding the history of a property and the biology of its wildlife.

M4 Ranch Group has been fortunate to capitalize on the neverending opportunities for education through our RLI Colorado Chapter. In our RLI Chapter, we focus on the needs of the industry, the needs of our chapter as a group, and the everchanging needs we as professionals face daily to better ourselves and our companies.

Each of us in the industry knows that “we only eat what we kill.” This industry makes no payment for a second place finish. 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.

While Michael and I were recognized by RLI for the fantastic success in 2017, that success would not have happened without the back up of our partner, Michelle Murphy, as well as the rest of our amazing team. If there is one path to success, it is to build on peoples’ strengths within your organization and allow them to flourish in their niches.

We are all faced with what seems to be insurmountable challenges in the industry, including marketing, meeting our clients’ needs, and budgeting so that we get the most bang for our buck. Marketing alone presents an almost-bewildering array of decisions, from a virtually limitless list of print opportunities to working every technological angle to develop the highest web rating for listed properties, from full page banner ads and web listings to drone tours, from multi-page brochures to 3-D property imaging, from the highest standards in mapping to the local chambers of commerce. It seems no one person or firm has the perfect answer here. I do know that those who rise above never quit, and they never take the easy path. Nevertheless, many of these top firms are very humble in their success. If not, they only have to wait for a down year to regroup with humility!

It is easy to get tied up with statistics: where did we get the most results, what drove the most traffic, tracking web hits, social media clicks, direct leads, direct mail, etc. We can be consumed with questions. “Are we in the right market?” “Did we spend those dollars wisely?” “Will this work?” However, in the midst of our continuous data gathering at M4, we have recognized that the single biggest avenue for success has been relationships. In particular, we can attribute success after success directly to the personal relationships built within our RLI Chapter.

Without these friendships, partnerships, and working relationships, M4 Ranch Group would not have seen the success we experienced in 2017.The bottom line is that the RLI Colorado Chapter is, simply put, something special. The Chapter is built on the philosophy of “A Rising Tide Raises All Ships.” If you don’t have the answer you do have someone to call within this group who does. The level of integrity is extremely high. You just flat out can trust those you work with, something not said often in many industries, and sometimes even less in ours.

Building on the past outstanding years of effort from National RLI we are entering into a new era. With the appointment of Aubrie Kobernus, CEO, and the drive and tenacity she and her team bring to the table, this organization is rising at a rocket rate. The rest of National RLI and the nation’s chapters are working daily to build that same level of integrity into everything from the ALC Designation and LANDU Education Program to the National Land Conference. RLI continues to work to help each of us better understand the strengths of those we work with, better understand the knowledge base of our partners, and better understand how they can share that knowledge base to help us all succeed.

Knowing the professionals in our industry is a major key to success. That’s one of RLI’s main benefits. We at M4 Ranch Group are honored to work with each of you, we are honored to call many of you friends, but most of all, we are thankful.

This article originally appeared in the 2018 Summer Terra Firma Magazine, the official publication of the REALTORS® Land Institute.

About the author: Dan Murphy has experience running restaurants, a guest resort, owning and operating a respected outfitting business in Colorado for twenty years, and as a current owner of M4 Ranch Group, a division of Team Murphy Realty, LLC. His company specializes in ranch and recreation properties in Southwestern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

What Investors Want

Often times, investors looking to purchase farmland are looking for large, contiguous tracts with significant scale. Investors are not emotional and don’t have to buy the piece next door. They aren’t driving by the showplace farm their entire lives on the way to the co-op knowing they will do whatever it takes to buy that piece if it comes to the market. Investors typically are focused solely on the financial returns of the investment. Therefore, they are naturally more conservative than the farmer buyer, who may look at a potential transaction as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

It’s important to know the various types of investors. A public REIT (real estate investment trust), family office (family-controlled investment group), intuitional investor, or land fund all bring different things to the table. Depending on where you are located, laws may not allow for corporate ownership of land. Understanding the investor’s structure and long-term goals are important.

Farmers looking to sell their land to an investor buyer are likely looking for a leaseback provision and, sometimes, a buyback provision as part of the sale agreement.  It can be tough for everyone to get what they want in this type of negotiation. Recognizing that the investor has the ability to look at land anywhere in the country is critically important.

You aren’t in the same negotiating position selling to an investor as you are selling to the neighboring farmer. It’s wise to help the investor structure the deal so it works for them, as well. This often means the purchase price and rent need to meet their return thresholds. If a seller wants to include things like a buyback provision, the investor generally will want some upside for including that provision.

In an ideal world, we would only sell farms to other farmers and we wouldn’t need investors. The current environment may make investors a key component to allow farmers to keep farming, and they can make great long-term partners for farmers wanting to expand acres and operation.

While a few investors make uninformed buying decisions, most are shrewd and sophisticated. They want to put together a fair arrangement with the farm operator. Being incredibly transparent is the key. Investors generally want a sustainable cash rent figure and can quickly see through inflated rents.

Negotiating these deals can be tough. Attempt to understand both the farmer and the investor’s point of view. If they can agree on a fair rent number that meets the investor’s return thresholds, you can usually put a deal together. This often translates into a lower sales price than the public auction might bring. Ultimately, the question farmer’s must ask themselves is, “Do I want to maximize the sales price or continue to rent the land back?”

This post is part of the 2018 Future Leaders Committee content generation initiative. The initiative is directed at further establishing RLI as “The Voice of Land” in the land real estate industry for land professionals and landowners. For more posts like this, click here.

About The Author

Steve Bruere, RLI Member, is the president of Peoples Company, an Iowa-based land brokerage with a diversified offering of land management, land appraisal, and land investment services in 20 states. He is also a member of RLI’s Future Leaders Committee

NLC18 Land Tech Accelerator Program Winners

Every year before RLI’s National Land Conference, companies submit applications of their latest and greatest land technology in the hopes of winning the Land Tech Accelerator Program. The Future Leader Committee then votes on the best of the best. The winners get to pitch their ideas at NLC. Learn about winners from NLC18 below.

Landhub

Landhub.com, which connects land buyers and sellers via its website and social media, was recently named as one of The Realtors® Land Institute’s Land Tech Accelerator Company for 2018.

We recently caught up with their President, Kevin May, and asked how his site can help our members sell more properties.

Q: How exactly does LandHub help connect Land Buyers and Sellers online?

A: We have embraced social media marketing to help market our clients’ properties on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram and we are even posting local Craigslist ads for them.  We’re investing heavily in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as well as Google and Facebook ads.

Q: Can you explain how the current offer for RLI members works?

A:  We are currently offering TWO FREE MONTHS of our UNLIMITED LISTING PLAN which includes:

  • Unlimited Listing Uploads to LandHub.com
  • Free Promotion on all our Social Media Channels:
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
    • Instagram
  • Craigslist Property Ads in Your Local Market
  • Free Social Media Analysis

LandHub is launching a brand-new site this year and will be increasing its monthly rate but will grandfather in existing RLI Members for the rest of 2018.

Interested RLI Members can SIGN UP HERE!

Q: And how exactly does the social media analysis work?

A:  Our free social media analysis is a 20-page document that analyzes our clients’ current online presence and brand, including website and all social media profiles, and makes recommendations on how to improve them.  It’s an in-depth study we normally charge $200 for and RLI members are finding it to be a very useful way to jumpstart their online branding and marketing.

Q: What other services do you offer our members?

A:  We are investing heavily in SEO to drive traffic, and a lot of that has to do with creating content and backlinks.  We allow our RLI members to submit a blog post to our Land News section that gets emailed in our Sunday Land News newsletter and includes their bi-line and a link to their website, plus promotion on all our social media channels.

Q: How has 2018 been so far and what does the future hold for LandHub?

We’ve been growing rapidly and gaining market share in a very competitive landscape.  We recently hired Luke Hoene as a Senior Sales Associate.  Luke spent several years at one of the nation’s largest land-listing firms and knows the industry inside and out, as well as all the major players.  We are also building a brand new, state-of-the-art website set to launch soon which will bring even more tracking and analytics to our clients, as well as, a detailed buyer profile to make meaningful connections.  We’ll also be rolling out new social media management programs next month, which RLI members can get at a discounted rate.  We are land marketing specialists and our ultimate goal is to create a hub that connects land buyers and sellers while offering a breadth of services they both want and need.

Contact:

Kevin May, President

LandHub.com

844-4-LandHub

Kmay@LandHub.com

www.LandHub.com

Farmland Finder

“A rising tide raises all ships.” This is one of my favorite quotes and it’s exactly what FarmlandFinder has the potential to do for the land real estate industry.

FarmlandFinder is an online search portal for agricultural real estate. We have a process that involves automation and a dedicated team of professionals that tracks land that is for sale and aggregates auction and listing results. Website visitors can find this information with just a few clicks. We’re bringing a sense of transparency and ease of searchability into the rural real estate industry.

This ubiquitous access to information will increase the amount of engagement within the industry. When everyone has the ability to access land sale data with ease, I anticipate that we’ll see new business models be created in the land investing space that leverage predictive machine learning analysis, blockchain technologies and land-acquisition automation.

Unlike traditional listing websites, we don’t charge broker’s for placement of their listings. We believe that leads to an imbalance and unfair ‘pay-to-play’ model that simply isn’t the best experience for brokers looking to sell or landowners looking to buy. Our belief is that finding information should be ridiculously easy and free.

What we’ve found is that people like to know as much as they possibly can about a property, without having to talk to a person. They’re not looking for some misleading land value estimation tool… they’re looking for real data and the facts. That’s exactly what FarmlandFinder provides.

We’ve also learned that once somebody’s done their research and they’re ready to buy, sell, rent or invest – they want the help of an expert. That’s why we provide brokers and agents the opportunity to connect directly with our website visitors, in real-time. We call these experts PRIME AGENTS and if you’re interested in being featured as the local expert in your area, let’s talk! I’d be happy to help.

At FarmlandFinder, we’re just a group of humans trying to help other humans build the life they want. That’s why get excited about a frictionless future where everyone has access to all the information about land sales. We get excited about an industry-wide user experience that is pleasant for folks on all sides of the transaction. Most importantly, we get excited about creating a life-improving platform that helps you.

That’s who we are. That’s what we believe. And we’d love to provide you value, in any way we can.

I’m Steven and you can reach me at steven@farmlandfinder.com or give me a call on my cell at 712-720-3076. I’d be happy to learn more about you and see how I can help!

 

REALSTACK

REALSTACK  is a digital marketing and software firm serving the land and outdoor lifestyle industries founded in 2012.

Today, REALSTACK is quickly becoming a leader in the rural land and outdoor lifestyle markets by providing sales driven digital marketing services and software. Ultimately, sales for our clients is what drives the marketing strategy and continual improvement. That drive and continual improvement led us to build a powerful internet marketing platform for land brokerages to help sell more land faster.

 

Interested in submitting your land tech for NLC19? See if you qualify here (Land-Tech-Accelerator-Program) and fill out the application. Good luck, and happy inventing!

The Six Most Common Mistakes When Buying Residential Land Real Estate

You’ve probably heard home buying horror stories before. Everyone knows someone that got stuck in a mortgage they couldn’t afford or finding out too late that their dream house was crawling in termites. Residential land buying mistakes are very different from home buying ones, but both have lasting consequences. Here are some of the most common mistakes made when buying residential land and how to prevent them.

1. Not Working With A Professional

Why spend all the money on a land expert when your neighbor Bob down the street has bought residential land before? Maybe Bob doesn’t have much experience in the field or any certifications, but he’ll do it for half the cost!

Even though it might save you dollars and cents in the short term, not working with a land professional could cost you serious money down the road. ALCs have a world-class education in land and years of experience under their belt. They know the ins and outs of the industry. All of the rest of the mistakes on this list can be avoided by working with a land expert.

2. Not Stepping Foot On The Property

Google Earth is an amazing tool. You can use it to view the history of any property and tour the neighborhood. However, no online tool can replace the experience of actually seeing a property in person. You and your agent can best spot any issues with the land that might be too small for Google Earth to pick up. Walking around a property can also help prevent our next mistake…

3. Assuming ‘Buildable’ Means The Same Thing Everywhere

In some areas, the word ‘buildable’ simply means your city or county permits you to build on the land. This definition has nothing to do with the land type. It only means that you are allowed to build on it. In other areas, it means the land type and characteristics are good to build on. It’s kind of like how ‘sweet tea’ means tea brewed WITH sugar in the South while the same words means tea with sugar added AFTER the tea has brewed in the North.

This is an uncommon issue in the land industry, since most sellers give their buyers the information they need to distinguish between the two. However, there may be some vague listings and possibly less than honorable people willing to take advantage of people who don’t know the difference.

4. Not Knowing the Lingo

Land lingo can be confusing. Not knowing the language of residential land buying can end up in you buying the wrong property or buying in the wrong place. Here are some words you will definitely need to know to get started:

  • HOA/POA. Home Owners Association or Property Owners Association are groups dedicated to the upkeep of common areas of a property and protecting the property’s values.
  • Restricted subdivision. This is a type of subdivision where deed restrictions are put in place by the initial developer to protect property values. Homeowners will be required to follow these restrictions.
  • Unrestricted subdivision. In unrestricted subdivisions, these areas do not have POA or HOAs that enforce restrictions that protect property values. However, they are not excluded from state or county-imposed deeds.

5. Skipping The Tests

We know, we know. No one likes shelling out extra money when buying land is already so expensive. However, these tests are the key to making sure you aren’t stuck with a property that has environmental hazards, the wrong soil type, or any other disaster waiting to happen. These tests include (but are not limited too):

  • Title searches
  • Soil tests
  • Land Surveys
  • Environmental tests
  • Appraisals

6. Thinking All Fees Are Included

Fees and extra costs are like cockroaches: if you see one, there’s probably ten more hiding somewhere close. In an article for realtor.com, Chris Chapin, a REALTOR® with Douglas Elliman, points out all the little costs people forget about.

“There are substantial expenses for getting land ready for construction,” Chapin notes. “You will need a survey, permits from the municipality, and health department approval. The site must be cleared, graded, and excavated. Departments of local, county, and state governments can be involved, all with associated fees, of course. The process from identifying a parcel for purchase to receiving the certificate of occupancy can take a year or more.”

Staying informed on the land industry and working with a land expert are two of the best ways to avoid these common mistakes. We hope this article can help you avoid and overcome the most common mistakes when buying residential land.

Make More Money Off Of Your Timberland

Timber prices are at a record high. The tragic wildfires of last summer and trade disputes as well as an increase in demand for new residential housing have all caused the price of timber to skyrocket. With low supply and high demand, timberland owners are sitting on a potential gold mine. To make the most off of the high prices, you’ll need to tread carefully. Here’s how to make the most out of the booming market.

Check The Timber Mills

Is your local log mill looking for a particular kind of log? Many mills are willing to pay extra for logs that meet their specific standards and may dock your pay if they do not. Some mills even pay less for logs that are larger than usual. This means you are getting less money for more timber! Scope out the pricing of your local mills to find out where your tress will make the most money.

Long-Term Gain

Patience is the name of the game when it comes to timberland. Prepare to lose money for the first few years because you will need to spend money planting and taking care of the trees. Since timber doesn’t provide immediate returns, many people might be hesitant to invest.

However, timber has historically produced strong long-term returns. Many financial websites, such as CNN Money and Investopedia, recommend investing in timber as a way to diversify your portfolio. The returns tend to move countercyclically to other markets, providing your portfolio with a safety net. Not only is investing in timber a smart financial move, it is a good investment in your land. Timber is a hearty, relatively low maintenance tree that will produce steady returns for years.

To Cut Or Not To Cut?

When you cut your trees doesn’t only impact your current crop, it will also determine the growth and health of the next generation of trees. With prices at a record high, it can be tempting to cut down your trees as soon as they mature. Try to plan harvests around times that would benefit the saplings as well as when your timber is at its highest value.

Best Practices

Taking care of your timber now will result in high-value trees down the road. Regular thinnings, regeneration harvests, and timber stand improvements (the culling of undesirable trees and saplings) are all practices that result in healthier (a.k.a. more valuable) trees. Healthy trees mean healthy saplings and a whole new generation of high-value trees. It’s a never-ending cycle of profit!

Sky-high prices and an increasing demand have created a modern day gold rush. Although it can be tempting to chop down all your trees and cash in on the craze, long-term planning is the best option for you to make the most money off of your timber.
To learn more about timber, be sure to check out the newly updated LANDU course Timberland Real Estate on August 1st being hosted by the RLI Alabama Chapter.

This article was originally posted to the National Land Realty blog.

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

The Great Grazing Debate

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word ‘holistic’? Daily meditation? An all-kale diet? Yoga retreats that cost more than most houses? For some people, it’s holistic planned grazing (also called HPG), a system that supposedly increases the health of your land. Like anything that has a lot of supporters, it also has doubters. So, is this method going to save our lands? Today, let’s explore holistic planned grazing and if it is right for your land.

Holistic planned grazing caught the attention of the land community after a 2013 Ted Talk by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean ecologist and farmer. He claimed that, contrary to popular opinion, reducing the number of animals on the land actually made the land condition worse. He concluded that the natural grazing patterns of animals is actually better for land.

Savory’s TedTalk, which currently has over four million views, sparked a debate in the land community. Some blogs, such as GrainNews, are singing the praises of HPG. Others, like the Sierra Club, are more suspicious of this new method.

So, what exactly is this practice that is causing so much controversy? Simply put, holistic planned grazing is a pattern of grazing that mimics how wild herds would have grazed on the land before it was cultivated. In theory, this practice will help the land return to a more natural state. HPG will be different for every landowner based off of their amount of livestock, type of land, soil type, and your overarching goals for improving the land.

Holistic planned grazing isn’t just letting your cattle out into the fields and hoping for the best. In fact, it requires quite a bit of planning and tracking. Timing is key when it comes to holistic planned grazing. Have your livestock stay in a pasture for too long and you run the risk of overgrazing. Too short a stay and the land will not reap the full benefits.

Many farmers who have tried this method have reported positive results. In one study, organic dairy farmer Dharma Lee tracked the health of their land over three years. Here is what they noticed:

  • A 120% increase in the number of grazing days per year, from 76 days to 167 days per year, which translated into an annual savings of $27,300 for them.
  •  A drop in feed cost from 60% to 48% of the total cost of production.
  • Improved profitability, with a gross margin of 41%.
  •  Increased carrying capacity of the land, with a 68% increase in grass harvested by cattle on the pasture.
  • A significant improvement in livestock health, with a key indicator – mastitis – dropping from 73% to 3% within the herd.

You can read the full study here. Other landowners have reported similar results in their land.

“Holistic management is a method of managing livestock in rapid rotation to increase greater production, sustainably, and profitably,” says Jennifer Sandy, a cattle rancher.

As we mentioned earlier though, not everyone is a fan of holistic planned grazing. American ecologist Dr. John Carter believes that HPG relies too heavily on personal anecdotes and not enough on science. He also points out that the study ignores the negative effects of intense trampling on a land’s water storage and plant productivity.

So, is Holistic planned grazing right for your land? That depends on a number of factors:

  • Are you trying to improve the health of your land?
  • Do you have the time/resources to plan and carry out moving your cattle?
  • Can your land recover if your livestock occasionally over or under graze an area?
  • Do you want your landscape to mimic its original growing patterns?
  • Do you have enough livestock to cover the land? And if not, does it make financial sense to invest in more livestock?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, HPG might be great for your land. Be sure to watch the original TedTalk, see what other landowners have to say, and work with a land expert in your area before making your final choice. Since it is a newer method, only time will tell if holistic planned grazing is the future of land or just a passing trend.

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

Top Crops for 2018 and How To Make More Profit On Them

Crops can be profitable for a variety of reasons. Some are staples of day-to-day life, some flourish in specific climates, and some are popular because they are trendy (think superfoods like kale and avocados). Today, we’re going to take a look at what makes these five top crops so successful and how you can make even more money off of them.

When choosing our top crops, we’ve factored in three key things:

  1. Profitability (of course!)
  2. Demand (both historic and recent)
  3.  Value (current and predicted)

Of course, some of these crops might not be right for your specific land and the current tariff war has temporarily lowered the value of some of the crops on this list. But we think these five crops are excellent investments in the long term.

Corn

What Makes It A Top Crop: Corn is in everything! It’s used in animal feed, plastic, penicillin, sugar substitutes, whisky, ethanol, and so much more! While the demand may fluctuate, there will always be a need for corn.

How To Make More Money: At the Illinois Soybean Association event, successful corn farmer Randy Dowdy shared his secrets to success, saying “The difference between a good farmer and a great farmer is timing and attention to detail.” Dowdy kept a close eye on his expenses to see what his return for investment was, and was able to determine from that what he could cut back on.

Dowdy is also a huge fan of minerals. “You want 300-bushel-per-acre corn? If it takes a certain amount of nitrogen, a certain amount of phosphorous, and a certain amount of potash to make a bushel of corn, my question is, how much magnesium, molybdenum, copper, iron, sulfur, calcium, manganese, phosphorous, potash, boron and zinc does it take to make a bushel of corn? Yields are based on limiting factors,” Dowdy said. If all this sounds close to a foreign language to you, it’s a perfect example of why it is so important to find a qualified expert to help with your land transaction. You’ll need to consider everything from ROI to soil type when determining if this is the right crop for your prop.

Pork

What Makes It A Top Crop: Technically, pigs aren’t exactly crops, but they are still in high demand. A strong demand and high prices make pork a great “crop”.

How To Make More Money: Make your own feed. Feeding pigs can be a huge money drain.  Here is a great recipe for making your own pig feed.

Raising the most in-demand pigs ensures you can get higher prices for the same amount of meat. Some popular ones are the American Yorkshire Pig, Berkshire pigs, and Durco pigs. We have lots of other helpful tips in our recent article on how the Pork Industry Brings Home the Bacon.

Sorghum

What Makes It A Top Crop: The USDA predicts that sorghum will return $74 per acre for the 2018-2019 year. While this is a lower return than some of the other plants on this list, in many high-altitude areas, hearty sorghum can be more profitable than corn. Other countries like China buy tons of sorghum as a cheap feed source or to make alcohol.

How To Make More Money: Don’t invest all your money in sorghum just yet. Recently, China imposed a 179% tariff on sorghum. Previously, sorghum was the number one import from China. While this crop has hit a rough spot internationally, it still has a ton of potential. We suggest waiting until the tariff war dies down though before growing this crop.

Soybeans

What Makes It A Top Crop: Even in the face of a tariff war, America is the leading soybean producer and exporter in the whole world. Similar to corn, soybean has a lot of uses, such as animal feed, cooking oil, biodiesel fuel, and more. Plus, as consumers become more health conscious, it is also often a great way to get plant-based protein.

How to Make More Money: Similar to sorghum, we wouldn’t recommend buying soybeans right now. In the future, check out the tips from Dan Arkels, winner of the 2014 Illinois Soybean Association yield contest, from his article on agriculture.com:

  1. Get the right soil. Arkles recommends soil that holds water well and has excellent drainage. “My soils are black, tight, and deep Muscatine-Sable type of soils,” said Arkles.
  2. Plant early. Early planting allows soybeans have an increased flowering period. “A soybean plant is light-sensitive, and it will flower as late as the season allows,” he says.
  3. Weed management. Did you know that around fifty percent of waterhemp seeds are viable nine days after flowering? Removing waterhemp plants before the harvest prevents future waterhemp.

Marijuana

What Makes It A Top Crop: While still illegal in some states, marijuana is medically legal in 30 states and recreationally in nine. Its new legality makes it an incredibly trendy crop.  It’s currently the fastest growing crop in America. Hemp, marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin, is still illegal, but there is a huge push to legalize it in Congress.

How To Make More Money: This one is tricky. Since legal marijuana is not federally legal, you want to make sure to work within the law. One way to make more money is knowing all the products that can come from this plant. It has uses in medicine, helping veterans suffering from PTSD, beauty products, and many other uses.

Even the best crops can have slumps. However, we hope this list got you thinking about ways to make more money off of your crops or even new ways that you can make sure you’re getting the highest and best use out of your property. If you’re thinking of purchasing land to grow one of these Top Crops, make sure to Find A Land Consultant near you. Purchasing and managing land real estate requires specialized expertise!

 

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

Land Lingo

For those just starting out in the land industry, all the lingo might sound like a foreign language. Here’s a quick guide for those new to land real estate (or those who just want a refresher!) on some of the most common terms in land real estate.

1031 Exchange: When you sell land, you have to pay taxes on your gains. This can cause a problem for sellers, since taxes on selling land can be massive. A 1031 exchange allows you to delay paying capital gains taxes if you reinvest the proceeds from the sale in a like-kind type of property.

Agritourism: This is any type of activity which brings visitors to your land. This can include:

  • Fishing
  • U-Pick
  • Wine Tasting
  • Guided tours
  • Horseback riding
  • On-sight sales

ALC: This is an acronym for the elite Accredited Land Consultant Designation, a prestigious designation through REALTORS® Land Institute. To get the ALC, land experts need to complete RLI’s rigorous education program, have a proven track record of transaction performance, and pass the summary exam. It’s not easy, but nothing worth getting ever is!

Conservation Easement: This is a legally binding agreement that prevents certain developments or land uses on a property in order to protect the land’s natural resources. You’ll see these a lot in areas with endangered wildlife.

Google Earth/Google Maps: Google Earth and Google Maps are two free online programs that allow you to measure a lot’s dimensions, create online tours, and download all the data you need on land from around the world. Seth Williams from REtipster has an excellent video series of Google Earth hacks. Check them out here.

Land Values: In the simplest terms, land values determine how much a plot of land is worth. There are dozens of factors that impact land values, ranging from land use to the state of the market to current land laws.

Mineral Rights: If you own the mineral rights of a property, you have ownership over the property’s underground resources, such as oil, natural gas, iron, and even gold! Having mineral rights gives you the right to mine for and profit from these minerals.

Perc/Perk Test: This is shorthand for a percolation test. A percolation test evaluates the rate that water drains through soil. These tests are incredibly important when it comes to determining the highest and best use for a property. The rate that water drains through soil impacts what crops can grow on the land and what structures the land can hold.

RLI: This is the abbreviation for REALTORS® Land Institute, the industry’s leading land real estate organization. RLI provides the education, networking, and resources to help land real estate professionals become the best in the business.

Tax-Assessed Value (TAV):. This is the amount that seller’s property taxes are calculated on. These numbers are available at your county’s courthouse and are updated every few years.

Title: A title is a bundle of rights tied to a property. These rights can be divided up and held by different parties. For example, someone could own the mineral rights to a property without owning the property itself.

Topography Map: These maps are very similar to your run-of-the-mill maps. The only difference is that topography maps details the physical features of the land (the topography). This can help land experts get a sense of what they could best use the land for, based off an area’s elevation and physical make-up.

Transitional Land: This is a land type that is transitioned from one use to another to increase profitability and land value. For example, if a plot of land is perfect for ranching, but is currently just vacant land, someone could purchase it and invest enough money to transition the land into ranch land. This person can therefore then sell the land at a much higher price.

This is just a sample of the varied vocabulary of land experts. The longer you are in the land industry, the more you’ll learn! Interested in becoming ana land real estate expert? Check out our LANDU Education Program Upcoming Courses.

 

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

Investing in Land 101

“Ninety percent of all millionaires become so through owning real estate. More money has been made in real estate than in all industrial investments combined. The wise young man or wage earner of today invests his money in real estate.” — Andrew Carnegie, billionaire industrialist

When it comes to investing, land has always been a solid choice. Many finance experts agree that investing in land is an excellent way to diversify your portfolio. There are also plenty of famous billionaires who have made their fortune in land. Today, we’re going to break down the basics of investing in land real estate.

Investing in Land vs Investing in Stocks

Before we look into investing in land, it’s important to know how it is different than investing in stocks. When you buy a stock, you own a tiny piece of that company. When the company profits, you profit. When you buy land, you choose exactly what you want to do with that land. You can transition it to another land type, lease it out, or just hold onto it and wait for the value to increase (we’ll get more into these investing methods later in the article). You have a lot more control when investing in land.

Investing In Land

There are many different ways to invest in land real estate, but today we’re going to look at the top three most popular with land experts.

1: You can hold onto the land until the market is great and you can sell it for a profit (also called the buy and hold method). Since it relies heavily on the market, this is usually the slowest way to make a profit. However, if you buy a quality piece of land during a market dip, you can sell it at a profit when the market is strong. Buy low, sell high!

2: You can invest to transition the land to its highest and best use. Transitional land is a booming market. This method will cost more, but if you find the perfect use for your land, you can make serious money off of your transitional land.

3: You can lease the land out to farmers or hunters. This requires more work but can get you a steadier profit. You’ll definitely want to work with a land expert like an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) on the contracts to make sure you are getting maximum profits on each lease.

Benefits of Investing in Land

There are many benefits to investing in land real estate. Here are just a few.

  • Diversify Your Portfolio. Land is an excellent way to give your other investments a safety net. If you invested all your money in stocks, and the stock market drops, you run the risk of losing most of your savings. Investing in land gives you safety even when other markets are down. Over the last twenty-five years, farmland has produced 5 percent annual return on average. Cha-ching!
  • Limited resource. Ever wonder why people pay thousands of dollars for tiny apartments in San Francisco and New York? It’s because land is a limited resource, and desirable land will always be in demand. As Mark Twain once famously said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”
  • Low effort. One thing many people love about investing in land is that it usually requires minimal effort, especially if you are using the buy and hold method. This is a huge benefit for farmers and land real estate agents who have very little free time.

Drawbacks

Even though there are a ton of benefits to investing in land real estate, there are some factors you need to be aware of. Even though we think investing in land is an excellent idea, our goal is for you to make the best educated choice for you and your land.

  • Taxes can be tricky. States and counties have different laws for taxing investment land. Here’s a great guide to understanding exactly how much you should be paying in taxes for different types of land.
  • Previous uses. Previous land uses can impact the land’s value and what you can use the land for. For example, some land uses can result in environmental hazards that will cause the land value to plummet. Sometimes, it can be difficult to track down the previous land uses, especially if the land has had many owners. Luckily, if you are having trouble finding the previous uses, you can always use this Google Earth hack to see the land’s history!
  • Patience. Depending on your method of investing, you won’t see returns for anywhere from six months to many years. You should only invest money into land that you won’t need in the next few years. No one likes the waiting game, but good things take time!

Investing in land is a great way to build wealth and save up for retirement. Be sure to consult with a professional and know the hottest land markets to invest in before making any big decisions with your savings.

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

Lessons from Land Legends

To quote the legendary John D. Rockefeller: “The major fortunes in America have been made in land.” The people on this list have made their fortunes in different parts of the land industry, ranging from oil to transitional land to ranches. Let’s look into the secrets to success from America’s greatest land legends.

John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller might be the biggest land legend of all time. Even though some of his business practices were considered less than ethical, you still have to admit this oil tycoon’s thinking was revolutionary for the time. Rockefeller was the king of cutting costs. He bought his own tracts of white oak timber to build with, knowing the long-term value of owning timberland would be worth the short-term cost. Rockefeller was notoriously stingy, except when it came to investing in land that he knew would bring him profit for decades.

Rockefeller also believed in waste not, want not. He found ways to make a profit on the byproducts of oil, such as using the tar for paving or selling Vaseline to candle makers. He was thrifty in a time when other refiners were dumping their gasoline and other byproducts in the river. His planning for long-term value made him one of the richest men in American history.

What can we learn?

Think long term for gaining profit. Rockefeller knew buying timberland property might not be cheap in the moment but would pay for itself over time. Thinking about the big picture can lead to big profits.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Most people only know of the original John D. Rockefeller, but his son is just as fascinating. While his money was made primarily through his father’s business, the younger Rockefeller had a passion for land. He donated land for multiple national parks, including Grand Teton, Acadia, and Yosemite. He used the shell company Snake River Land Company to buy up land for the Grand Teton National Park. When he reached a stalemate, he wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt saying “it will be my thought to make some other disposition of it or to sell it in the market to any satisfactory buyers.” He eventually won the land. For his dedication to land, both the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Highway and Rockefeller Memorial were named after him.

What can we learn?

The land industry is not for the meek. Rockefeller, Jr. was not afraid of opposition and fought for what he thought was right. He may not have made money in these deals, but he cemented his reputation as a land legend, which is more valuable than any paycheck. He is also a perfect example of having the kind of passion for land that it takes to make it in the industry.

Ted Turner

Ted Turner

You might know him as the founder of CNN, but did you know he also owns two million acres in ten states? The “Mouth of the South” uses much of the land to raise bison for his restaurant chain. His other ranches rake in a profit from hunting, fishing, and ecotourism.

What can we learn?

Turner uses his land to earn multiple sources of income. He also has a good sense of land use and a knack for finding a property’s highest and best use to ensure he is using certain plots of land for whatever use is most profitable. How else can you make money off your land?

J. Paul Getty

J Paul Getty

When he was just ten years old, J. Paul Getty’s father, George Getty, bought the mineral rights for 1,100 acres of land. Smart move. The land was soon producing 100,000 barrels of oil a month.

When he was twenty-one, J. Paul Getty’s father gave him ten thousand dollars to expand the Getty family’s Oklahoma oil field holdings. After careful deliberation, he bought the Nancy Taylor N. 1 Oil Well. Site. He struck oil. The 40% commission he got made him a millionaire!

What can we learn?

Mineral rights are just as valuable today. Before buying land, make sure any mineral rights you could be entitled to are included in the sale. Imagine what would have happened if George Getty had bought the land without the mineral rights?

Walt Disney

Walt Disney

The story of how was bought is crazier than Space Mountain! Disney secretly bought up 27,000 acres of land dirt cheap under shell corporations with names such as M.T. Lott. When locals found out who was buying all their land, prices shot up, in some cases to $80,000 an acre!

Even though it got expensive towards the end, the Orange County Appraisers officer estimates that the land value of all Disney World is now worth over $1.3 billion.

What can we learn?

The sky is the limit when it comes to transitional land. Figure out the highest and best use for your transitional land and profits will follow.

And One To Watch: Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezoz

According to Forbes Magazine, he’s currently the richest man on earth, with a net worth of 140.8 billion USD. So far, his money has come from his business, Amazon, but many land experts are curious about what he’ll do when it comes to the second headquarters for Amazon. He might pull a Disney and transition low-value land into some of the most expensive land real estate in America. We’ll just have to wait and see!

These land legends come from different places and periods in time, but they do have a few things in common. All these men are out-of-the-box thinkers, hard workers, and take advantage of everything land has to offer to them. We hope these stories will inspire you to become the next land legend. Interested in buying or selling land real estate? Make sure to Find A Land Consultant that is qualified to handle your transaction.

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