RLI Members Benefit From Increased Exposure

With so many business buzzwords flying around, it can be hard to pin down what associations are doing day-to-day to best serve you – the members. Here at RLI National, we want to give an inside look into what we’re doing to promote our ALCs and RLI Members.

If you had a peek at the RLI 2017-2020 Strategic Plan Update, you probably noticed most of the points revolve around increasing awareness of our members and adding value to membership. At first glance, “awareness” and “adding value” can seem like two more buzzwords, but each priority is broken down into a series of steps that are currently in motion.

One of the ways we added value to membership was by creating the RLI APEX Awards Program. Sponsored by The Land Report, this awards program was designed to recognize the industry’s top national producers– truly the crème de la crème. The APEX Awards Program caught the attention of the media, getting coverage everywhere from the Business Insider to the Chicago Tribune and Market Watch. All the media attention got free publicity for all our applicants and their companies. Applicants that attended the APEX Awards Ceremony at our 2018 National Land Conference were even featured on a billboard in Times Square!

Another way we are creating awareness of RLI, is by having ads in every major industry publication and digital ads on all their websites, including:

These ads help us stay top of mind for people in every sector of the land industry. The RLI Brand is omnipresent in print and in person. in 2018, so far we‘ve had booths promoting RLI at the CCIM Conference, NAR REALTORS® Conference & Expo, and NAFB (National Association of Farm Broadcasting) Conference to help us maintain a strong voice in the land industry and spread awareness of our organization and designation. We are also working closely with NAR State and Local associations to help create awareness about RLI.

Our promotions resulted in an incredible 814% (yes, you read that right!) increase in people using the Find a Land Consultant search tool! This jump in Find a Land Consultant use means that land buyers and sellers are turning to REALTORS® Land Institute to find a land expert for their transaction – to find you, the RLI Member! In addition, with the help of Facebook ads, bringing on top-notch industry keynote speakers, and growing the number of partners in the exhibit hall by 60%, we’ve seen a 44% increase in attendees to 2018’s National Land Conference!

With more industry partners, we’re able to invest more into promoting our members and can offer more discounts to help members grow their businesses and close more deals.  For example, we also have formed partnerships to get our members great discounts and services as part of our Member Advantage Program (MAP).

 

RLI also created my role as Membership & Communications Specialist to assist with content generation, in addition to assisting members, to increase the quantity of posts we are able to put out. This has allowed us to now create valuable content for both land real estate agents like our members as well as content valuable to landowners. And even the content for landowners benefits you, the member, because you are able to share these pieces from our YOUR Land Blog to position yourself as the expert in your market by providing relevant, valuable content to your clients and potential clients. Our blog posts (like the one you are reading right now) keep our members in the know and to cement our role as The Voice of Land by showcasing timely, relevant content that is valuable to both land agents and landowners.

We’ve already had incredible results! RLI had a record number of partners for NLC, a 60% increase in industry partners that offer services to land professionals, and, for the first time in recent RLI history, sold out LANDU Education Week with record attendance.

We only listed a fraction of the steps that we’re taking to better serve our members (we’d need a lot more room to cover all that! You can read our full 2017-2020 Strategic Plan here). We always want to keep members updated on what we are doing so that we can work together to be The Voice of Land.

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.

Is Pine Timberland Still a Good Investment? Thoughts on the WSJ Timberland Article

The Wall Street Journal published an article last week that has caught the attention of many landowners or those who are considering making a timberland investment. This week I have been tagged by friends and followers in posts and comments on Facebook to ask my thoughts about it. The article is entitled “Thousands of Southerners Planted Trees for Retirement. It Didn’t Work.”

Ryan Dezember, the author of the article, makes some very insightful observations and reports on broad trends in the Southeastern pine timberland markets. I tend to agree with many of his statements in a broad sense, and am glad to know he has ties to Alabama when he was previously a writer for the Mobile Press Register. You should read his article in full before going any farther in this post. Also from the outset let me disclose that I am not a forester, economist, accountant, or attorney.  Everything below is solely my opinion based on years of observation as a broker of Alabama timberland, and is not legal, forestry, accounting, or other professional advice.

Mr. Dezember makes three points that are virtually indisputable on a large scale across the Southeast.

  • In many places in the Southeast the supply of standing pine timber far exceeds the demand or capacity of the local mills.
  • This “glut of timber” has caused the price for timber to go down in many parts of the Southeast.
  • Some institutional investors and individual landowners have lost money, significant money, in their timberland investments in recent years.

That all sounds like bad news. However, what if someone told you “Go invest your money in the stock market.” That is a broad and daunting task for the novice investor. Are there still any stocks that are winners in a declining market? Sure there are. You just have to know what to look for. The same is true for investing in timberland. Here are some elementary things you can do to increase your chances of making a good pine timberland investment.

  • Find land with quality soils. The better the soils, the better and faster that you will generally be able to grow timber. Look for soils with a high site index for loblolly pines. Soils that will grow genetically superior loblolly to 90′ to 100′ in 25 years are highly desirable.
  • Locate close to several mills. Loggers generally tell me that you cannot haul timber more than 75 miles and the landowner or loggers make any money. Locating land close to one or more mills, along good roads, increases your potential to make a good investment. The closer you are to the mill, the less money the loggers spend on hauling, and the more money goes into the landowners pocket. The money paid to the landowner for their cut timber is called“stumpage”. Locating close to more than one mill means that you have several mills competing for your wood, and you are likely to be able to get a higher price when it is time to sell your land
  • Find sites that can be logged in wet weather. Locating an upland property that can be logged during the winter months is a great way to increase your chances of making a good timber investment. Timber harvesting equipment is heavy and will bog down in the mud during the wet season. Having well-drained soils that can be navigated during rainy weather is a real plus. Mills tend to pay the most during the wet season because that is when they have the most difficult time getting wood to their yards. Look for tracts that are loggable (suitable for logging) during winter and have access to good dirt roads or paved roads.
  • Invest for the Long Haul. Pine trees have been genetically enhanced to grow to maturity faster than ever before. You can now reach a full growing cycle in 25-30 years. But trees still take a long time to reach maturity compared to a stock or mutual fund. Allowing yourself some flexibility on the length of the investment can pay big dividends if you can time the harvest of your timber sale to correspond with higher market prices. Some institutional investors have a fixed window of time in which they must generate a given rate of return. If your fund length is 10-12 years, but your timber needs 15 years to reach maturity, then your fund is likely to suffer. Give yourself plenty of time to take full advantage of the biological growth of the trees and the corresponding higher prices in the timber markets. Giving a tree another year or two of growth may allow the tree to move up into another age class, meaning it can be sold at a higher price because it can be used for a product that requires a larger tree.

The good news for small to medium-sized investors is that you can avoid some of the problems that have plagued institutional buyers. Timberland Investment Management Organizations (TIMO’s) are given the difficult task of going and Finding a large package of timberland to Purchase on behalf of their client, Manage the fund for 10-15 years, and then Sell with guaranteed returns. Often these packages are 10,000 acres up to 100,000 acres. It is difficult to pick the very best pieces of land when you take that approach. To some degree you have to take what is available on the market at the time. Smaller landowners can be much more surgical in their selection of prime pine timberland.

In my opinion, pine timberland can still be a good investment. Like every other investment, you need to educate yourself on the topic, research the options, and enlist the help of a team to help with your purchase. Southeastern Land Group has a Timber Sales Division with registered foresters that can assist you in making a sound timberland investment. Our team of brokers and agents helps people buy and sell thousands of acres of timberland around the Southeast every year. We will be happy to assist you in your search for a good timberland investment. Please let us know how we can be helpful to you with your land investment needs.

This article was originally posted on the Southeastern Land Group website.

Jonathan Goode is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) and a partner with Southeastern Land Group. He is a licensed broker in Alabama and Mississippi, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program and podcast “The Land Show.”

Recreational Land 101

Recreational land is different than other land types. Its success isn’t measured in crops, but on the quality of the time spent on the land. Whether you buy recreational land as a hideaway for generations to enjoy or to create a lucrative hunting spot, recreational land does have some unique barriers to achieving success. Since this land type isn’t talked about as much as residential or farmland, we wanted to dedicate a blog post to commonly asked questions about recreational land.

What is recreational land?

As the name suggests, recreational land is land that is used for recreation. The types of recreation can vary – hunting, fishing, camping, ATV-ing, and more. In the industry, hunting is one of the most popular and well-recognized uses for recreational land.

What should I look for when buying recreational land?

Knowing what zoning regulations and restrictions impact a property is one of the most important things to look for. These regulations can impact everything from buildability to what you are allowed to hunt. Work with a land expert in your area who can help you find a property zoned right for your intended use.

If you want to use the land for hunting, keep an eye out for animals and things animals like. Food plots, a good source of water, and cover for animals to feel safe in is key for attracting game to your land.

Good neighbors can also make or break a recreational property. If the property is part of a managed neighborhood, that’s a great sign that they are dedicated to helping everyone in that community and their land to thrive. Bad neighbors (for example, poachers, people who make noises that scare animals or disturb the natural peace, or people that dump waste into the river) can ruin an otherwise perfect property.

What are the benefits of buying recreational land?

How you benefit from the land is up to you. You could let other people enjoy the property and its amenities for a fee. You could improve the land and sell it for a profit down the road.

You can also use it for your friends and family as a retreat from the rest of the world. If kept in good shape, recreational land can be something passed down for generations that will only increase in value.

How can I add value to my recreational land?

There are dozens of ways to add value to your recreational land. In his guest post for RLI, Bob Stalberger, ALC, suggests adding trail cameras as a cheap and effective way to add value.

“Buyers are always asking me to see trail camera photos from the property for sale,” said Stalberger. “When we check the analytics of our listings, it is proven that a listing with good trail camera photos vastly outperforms a listing without them. In addition, I personally advise my new buyers to go buy a thumb drive and save trail camera photos from day one, even if they have no plans of ever selling. It is great to be able to show a buyer 2-10 years of trail camera photos and allow them to see the quality and quantities of deer using the property.”

Tommy Stroud, Jr, ALC, recommends creating habitats for animals to thrive in. He says, in his guest post for the RLI Blog, about a recent property he helped to add value to “This [property] required thinning the trees back to 35-50 trees per acre. A skid steer with a grinder ate up a lot of the long-abandoned understory before Garlon (Triclopyr) was sprayed to prevent hardwood growth. These fields were burned using prescriptive fire in late February.  Continuing to burn every one or two years will keep this stand clean and provide a great habitat for all wildlife.”

Recreational land is so much more than just another land type. It can be a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation, a profitable business, or just a place to get away from the rest of the world. Interested in owning a piece of your recreational land? Make sure to Find A Land Consultant that has the expertise required to conduct these types of transactions.

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 Scary Side of Land

Forget goblins and ghosts – these are the really scary parts of October. These land nightmares can cost you time, money, clients, and even your reputation as a land expert. Read on to find out some of the scariest things that can happen to land professionals and to see how you can avoid falling prey.

Buying A Property From Someone Who Doesn’t Actually Own It

One thing that every land expert fears is helping a client sell a property for a seller that doesn’t actually have a clear title to the property. This can create a horror show of legal battles and thousands (even millions) down the drain.

Sometimes, a seller doesn’t have legal rights to a property because they didn’t know enough about the history of the land and genuinely thought they owned it. It is important for agents to secure a title proving ownership before moving forward with a client.

Less scary: For those of you that are newer to the land industry, a title search is the process of retrieving documents about the history of a property. Title searches are the best way to know exactly who owned the property when.

Finding Out Too Late That There Is Something Wrong With Your Property

Just because a property looks perfect doesn’t mean that it is. There is nothing worse than buying what seems to be a flawless property only to find out after the check clears that there are environmental hazards lurking in your land.

Less scary: Soil tests do take time and money, but they are the best surefire way to weed out anything that could lower the value of your land. These tests can show a variety of things, from nutrient content and composition to other important characteristics such as the acidity or pH level. Nutrients in the soil can vary depending on depth and the timing of when the sample was taken so it is important to make sure you have a recent test.

Soil tests are especially important when building a structure or planting crops. You’ll want to make sure you have the right soil type for your produce.

Buying A Property With No Access

This might sound ridiculous, but there are thousands of landlocked properties with no access. As Future Committee Leaders member, Eric Leisy, ALC, pointed out in his guest post for RLI, “not having deeded access to a property can cause the value to plummet.”

Less scary: If your dream property is landlocked, you do have options. You can go to court to try and get an ingress and egress easement or purchase deeded access from whoever holds it.

“It is best to sit down face to face with the landowner that you are requesting the access easement from,” said Leisy. “Calmly go over the process, and explain why it is needed. Most people will respond much more positively to this type of meeting over a cup of coffee rather than getting a letter or email. You might be pleasantly surprised at the end result.

Buying Land Zoned Wrong

There’s a common misconception that the strictest land zoning happens in urban areas. In reality, zoning regulations can be just as strict for agricultural and rural land, especially when it comes to the livestock.

Less scary: Do your research on the area’s zoning laws. Local jurisdictions determine zoning requirements such as minimum farm size, number of non-farm dwellings, density of development, and land use.

Be sure to also check if the land is zoned as being in a 100-year flood zone. You don’t want to wake up to see the structures you’ve built on the land have floated away!

Buying Land Without An ALC

We saved the scariest for last! Accredited Land Consultants bring decades of experience, in-depth knowledge, and a network of other professionals to every land deal. Working with an ALC is a surefire way to avoid all the other land horror stories (and even some we couldn’t think of) mentioned in this article.

Less scary: Always work with an ALC!

Being trapped in a land horror story will cost you time, money, and more. Be sure to keep your land and money protected by always working with a professional. Happy Halloween!

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.

How to Start an Orchard

Many people think that summer is the best time to appreciate land, but orchard owners know that fall is when land is really in its prime. The leaves are changing color, fall treats are cooking in the oven, and everyone is in the mood for a big mug of warm apple cider.

Since October is an orchard’s time to shine, we thought we’d look into what makes a successful apple orchard.

Choosing Your Land

For an orchard to succeed, it needs to have a strong foundation to grow on. You’ll want to find a property with plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil. Different varieties of apples thrive in different climates, so you’ll need to make sure your trees and your property’s location are a good match.

The USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a great way to gauge which types of trees would thrive in your location.

Soil drainage is also incredibly important. Be sure to get a soil test done or check out the USDA’s Web Soil Survey to make sure your property’s soil type is the best kind for your trees to flourish.

The best landscape for your orchard will also depend on the type of apples you plan to grow. If you grow apples that need more sunlight in the fall, you’ll want to plant them on a northern-facing slope. If you grow apples that need more sunlight in the spring, its best practice to plant them on a southern-facing slope.

A rolling landscape protects land from harsh wind. Too much exposure to strong winds isn’t good for any crop, but despite their sturdy looks apple trees are especially sensitive to the effects of wind. To prevent the delicate branches of your trees from snapping and the fruit from bruising, make sure your trees have decent protection from strong winds.

Finding the perfect property for an orchard can be tricky. Land transactions require specialized expertise, so Find A Land Consultant in your area before investing in this unique type of property this fall.

Choosing Your Apples

In America, there are currently 2,500 varieties of apples grown, each with their own unique flavor, colors, and needs. Here are some best sellers, according to the US Apple Association:

  • This New England favorite grows best in cool areas. Its tart flavor makes it perfect for cooking fall treats.
  • Originally developed in Japan, the Fuji apple is sweet and crisp. They also have a very long shelf life, sometimes lasting up to a full year with refrigeration.
  • Red Delicious. This American classic thrives in warmer climates. Although this type of apple has a surprising amount of online hate, it is still projected to be one of the top sellers for 2018.
  • Pink Lady®. A sweet, sharp taste with a lovely blush color. But be warned – this type is susceptible to fireblight and cedar apple rust.
  • These apples have a mild, honeyed flavor that is great for baking or dipping in caramel.

To learn about other types of apples, check out Orange Pippin. They have detailed descriptions of hundreds of apple types.

 

Tips For Planting/Caring for Your Orchard

  • Planting three varieties of apple types is the best way to get great pollination. Like people, bees like variety in their food. Offering them a few different types of apple blossoms will keep the bees coming back to your orchard time and again.

 

  • Patience is important when growing trees. It can take anywhere from two to seven years for trees to turn a profit. Much like timberland, orchards take a while to make money.

 

 

  • Orchards are also especially susceptible to pests, so set aside some money for pest control.

 

If you have the time, patience, and love of land required to grow an orchard, it might be a great addition to your property.  There are thousands of different apples to choose from, so channel your inner Johnny Appleseed and getting planting!

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.

How To Pick The Perfect Agent for Your Land

You’ve found the perfect property to buy, sell, invest, or manage. There’s only one thing missing — the agent. Finding the right agent can be harder than finding the right property. Land transactions require specialized expertise so it is important to do your research when choosing an agent. Here are some tips to find the best real estate agent to help with your land real estate transaction.

1. Go Beyond Google

Google can be a great place to start, but there are many land-specific search engines, such as Find a Land Consultant that will tailor your search for your specific need and ensure you find a qualified agent.

What’s great about the Find A Land Consultant Tool search tool is that you can pick and choose exactly what you need for your land sale or purchase. You can select service specialties, such as conservation easements, investment management, tax deferred 1031 exchanges, and mineral rights, using the ‘Advanced Search’ functionality. You can also search for agents who specialize in ranch land, residential or commercial land, vineyards, farmland, timberland, and more.

2: Expertise

Nothing beats boots-in-the-dirt experience. It’s the best way to know the ins and outs of the industry. Someone with years of experience under their belt will know what common issues to look out for and the tricks of the trade to get you the best sale possible.

Looking at an agent’s expertise and history in land, especially if that experience is in doing transactions for your type of property, also lets you know if they are the right fit for you. There are many agents who have years of experience but still may not be right for handling your transactions.

For example, say an agent has spent 25+ years strictly selling massive commercial properties, and you have a 20-acre ranch. Even though the agent has decades of experience and probably is great at what he or she does, chances are you’ll want to work with a different agent. Take a look at their website and other listings or give their office a call to get a sense of what their strengths are and if they fit your needs.

3: Designations Matter

Achieving any designation requires time, hard work, and money. Almost every designation also requires continuing education to keep up with the latest in land news, laws, tech, and more. This is a guarantee that the agent will be up-to-date on all things land.

Johnathan Goode, ALC (who, by the way, specializes in agricultural/farmland, commercial land, and appraisals, just to name a few!) knows how important designations are in the land industry.

“These agents are demonstrating that they take seriously their commitment to excellence in their profession. Having these designations may not mean much to potential buyers, but it does show that they have worked hard to gain knowledge and proficiency in the discipline of land. Agents that are Realtors® have agreed to operate by and be bound to a Code of Ethics, which helps protect landowners in land transactions,” he said in a guest post for LandThink. They are also certified to have a high level of expertise in various aspects of land due to their completion of a rigorous education program, like RLI’s LAND University.

4. Marketing and Visibility

How an agent markets their property is important. Check out their websites and other listings. If you see their listings have been sitting on the market for a while, chances are yours won’t be flying off the shelves.

You’ll also want to think about their visibility. Do their listings show up during Google searches, or do you need to dig through pages before you find them? Do they have an active and engaged following on their social sites? Is their website updated regularly? Do they use drone video and high-resolution photos to market the properties?

“Pay close attention to how well an agent markets their listings online,” says Goode. “Recent statistics show that over 80% of buyers preview properties online before getting in their car and driving to look at land. You will get an idea about how much effort an agent will put into advertising your listing. Will your land be visible to potential buyers? It needs to be in this market so that ALL possible buyers are aware that you have a quality piece of land for sale.

5. Ask Questions That You Couldn’t Find Answered On Their Website

Most agents have almost everything you need to know on their website. You can find:

• how long they’ve been in the industry
• testimonials
• credentials
• specialties
• location
• listing examples
• And more in just a few simple clicks.

If you aren’t able to find those answers online, ask when you call them. You’ll also want to ask questions about your specific property and what their rates are.

The right agent will get you the best price for your land and smooth out the complicated process of buying and selling land. There’s a whole world of agents. Make sure you work with the best in the business – Find A Land Consultant near you to get started!

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.

What You Need To Know to Make Taxes Less Taxing

This guest post was originally posted on National Land Realty‘s blog.

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.

As Margaret Mitchell wrote in Gone With The Wind: “Death, taxes, and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.” Land experts know how draining taxes can be.

The taxes associated with land sales are complex, and as soon as you feel like you’ve got a good grip on them, tax laws change! Even with the many changes that happen, there are some things that are set in stone. In this article, we take a look at the backbone of land taxes.

1031s Are Your Best Friend

Instead of paying taxes on the sale, 1031 exchanges let you invest the proceeds of your sale into a like-kind property. You can defer paying federal and state capital gains taxes.

If you’ve sold land before, you are probably familiar with using 1031s for land sales. But did you know that you can also sell conservation easements, water rights, development rights, and more while deferring taxes as well? This can save you hundreds or even thousands in tax dollars.

Although 1031s are an amazing resource for land buyers, there are strict rules about which properties do and do not qualify for this program. Be sure to check with a local land expert to see if your property qualifies before selling. You can also get started by reading through some official guidelines from the IRS.

Unique Tax Rules For Different Kinds of Land

Different land types come with different benefits and drawbacks.

  • Timberland: Each state taxes timber differently. For example, in Texas, timberland property is taxed by the appraised value multiplied by the tax rate. In Massachusetts, the tax is five percent of fair cash value, plus an enrollment fee and eight percent yield tax. To check your state’s unique rules, check out this handy website.
  • Vineyards: Small-time vineyard owners could be entitled to a sweet tax credit for making American wine. This Title 27 credit applies to producers who make under 250,000 gallons of wine a year in America. You can get up to a nine percent tax deduction. Bottoms up!
  • Agriculture: The most recent tax bill made many changes favorable for agriculture. Starting in the 2018 tax year, farmers can immediately write off up to one million dollars of capital purchases such as breeding livestock, farm equipment, and single-purpose structures.

Capital Gains Tax

A capital gain is defined as a profit from the sale of property or of an investment. This gain is taxable at the state level and the federal level.

This is where capital gains gets tricky. Each state has its own rules. In states like Texas or Nevada, you can expect to pay around twenty-five percent. In California or New York, you can expect to pay upwards of 30 percent! Here’s a tool from SmartAsset that can help you get a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay.

How High Are Capital Gains Taxes in Your State?

https://taxfoundation.org/how-high-are-capital-gains-taxes-your-state/

No one enjoys paying taxes. But having a solid sense of the fundamentals of land taxes can help you save your hard-earned money and make you (and your clients!) the most profitable deal possible. 1031 Exchanges are such a dense topic that we can’t possibly cover all there is to know in this article. If you’re a land pro and you’d like to learn more about helping your clients take advantage of 1031s, check out RLI’s November VILT-online course: Tax Deferred 1031 Exchanges. If you’re a landowner looking to learn more about how your property can benefit from these, make sure to contact a land expert near you to learn more.

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.

 

national land conference

Answering Common Questions About RLI Membership

“Why do I recommend land professionals join the REALTORS® Land Institute? Simple, it makes you money!” –  George Clift, ALC, Clift Land Brokers

We got such great feedback from our article Answering Common Questions About the ALC Designation that we thought we’d do a follow-up article about RLI Membership. We get dozens of calls every week about membership benefits, costs, and networking. Membership numbers have been on the rise, so we thought this would be the perfect time to answer the most common questions about an RLI Membership.

Q. Why should I become a member?

Becoming a member of RLI unlocks a lot of great tools and discounts for land agents. Membership includes:

  • Savings of $150 per course with exclusive member rates (excluding chapter and Land 101 independent study courses).
  • A personal profile in the Find a Land Consultant online search tool/member directory to be found by clients and other agents.
  • Access to a national network of over 1,300 land professionals.
  • Access to exclusive resources like a contract library, technology + services recommendation center, and a marketing kit filled with tips and advice.
  • Ability to apply for the prestigious APEX Production Awards
  • A subscription to the biannual Terra Firma Magazine.
  • And more! Check out the full list of member benefits on our website.

Q. What EXACTLY are the costs of becoming and staying a member?

The cost to become a member can vary depending on the month you join (we’ll go more into that in the next question), but a full year’s membership costs $445 plus a one-time $75 application fee. The annual renewal fee is $445.

 Q. Why does it cost different amounts to join at different points in the year?

If you looked on our website, you might be confused as to why joining in September is so much more expensive than joining in August. Our pro-rated dues schedule determines when your membership will expire and when you will need to pay renewal dues.

If you join between January 1 and August 31 of each year, your dues will be prorated through the end of the current year. If you join between September 1 and December 31, your dues will be prorated to include the rest of the current year as well as through December 31 of the following year.

The one-time application fee of $75 doesn’t change.

 

Q. I’m working towards my ALC Designation. Is it more or less expensive to be a member?

We’ve run the numbers. Long answer short, having an RLI Membership while working towards the ALC Designation will more than pay for itself in savings on courses. Plus, you get the added benefits of an RLI Membership.

If you are working towards the ALC with a membership, the total cost of six online courses ($445 per each of the five 16-hour courses plus $595 for the 24-hour Land Investment Analysis) at the member rate (a savings of $150 per course) equals $2,820.

Without membership, the cost of six classes ($595 per each of the five 16-hour courses plus $695 for the 24-hour Land Investment Analysis) would be $3,670. For the course work alone, they average ALC applicant will save about $900. Take out the cost of membership and the one-time application fee and you’ll still come out ahead by $380 in savings plus you’ll be able to take advantage of all the other property marketing, networking, and resources that are included as RLI member benefits.

Even when you add in membership costs and the one-time application fee, getting the membership will save you money in the long term.

Note: class prices are subject to change, and are expected to increase in 2019. For the most recent course pricing, see the individual course registration pages.

Q. How does RLI promote its members and give them exposure to get more clients?

We’re dedicating an entire October blog post to all the ways RLI promotes its members, so we’ll save the in-depth descriptions for that, but here are some of the main ways that we promote our members:

  • Ads in top industry publications, including The Land ReportLAND Magazine, Farm and Ranch Magazine, NAR Commerical Connections Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Open Fences Magazine, and the TerraStride HuntStand app.
  • Host the Find A Land Consultant search tool
  • Write guest posts for top industry websites such as LANDTHINK, Land.com, and National Land Realty that highlight the benefit of working with ALCs and RLI members.
  • Run digital ads on Facebook and other industry websites
  • And so much more. Keep an eye out for our October article covering the many ways RLI promotes its members!

Additionally, we encourage all of our members to harness the power and prestige of the RLI brand by promoting themselves as RLI Members. We even have a member logo for our members to use on their marketing materials to help create awareness in their local markets.

 

RLI Membership is an endlessly helpful tool for land experts that continually provides value to its members. If you don’t believe us, ask the members themselves! These glowing reviews are just a few examples of how land experts used their membership benefits to become the best in the industry. As George Clift, ALC, once said “Why do I recommend land professionals join the REALTORS® Land Institute? Simple, it makes you money!”

If you have more questions about membership, contact us at 1-800-441-5263 or rli@realtors.org. Ready to join RLI? Simply fill out the online membership application today!

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.

Tips on Generating Multiple Incomes From Your Property

This article was originally posted as a guest post on LANDTHINK‘s blog.  

“Buy land, they aren’t making anymore.” Mark Twain’s quote isn’t just hilarious, it’s true. Land is a limited resource. People get so caught up in trendy stocks that they sometimes forget the fundamental value of land.

What makes land such a unique investment is that you can use it to generate multiple streams of income. Before you read on, take a look around your neighborhood. Are there already seven other U-Pick operations in your area? Do all your neighbors grow and harvest the same type of timber at the same time? If lots of other landowners are doing it in your area, you might want to explore other options.

Having multiple streams of income is all about out-of-the-box thinking.  Here are just a few ways you can make more money off of your land.

Agritourism 
Agritourism can be a great way to make a little extra money on the side. Agritourism is any sort of activity that brings tourists to your land, and the opportunities are endless! Each land type offers its own unique range of ways to make extra money.

  • If you own an apple orchard or grow sunflowers, consider U-Pick or hosting different fall events. These could include hay rides, festivals, or selling fall treats like cider and pumpkin pie.
  • Ranchland? Consider horseback riding or boarding horses.
  • If you own a vineyard, you could do tours or host samplings. Maybe you could pair different wines with cheese or fresh fruit from your land!
  • Farmland? Host a corn maze or pumpkin patch activities in the Fall to attract visitors.

Air B+B/Rent Out Land For Campers
You might not view your land as the ultimate romantic destination, but other people might. The rental industry is booming, and there are tons of people looking for a country getaway. Websites like Airbnb.com allow you to list your guest room or cottage for the price of your choice.

If you don’t want people in your home, you could also rent out your land to campers. Camping can be profitable as long as you’re okay with a little wear and tear from people sleeping and eating on your land. One investment we’d suggest if you go this route? A Porta-Potty.

Lease Out Unused Land
You can lease your land to farmers who need extra land. This is especially helpful if your soil type is good for what farmers grow in your area. While this can be profitable, leases can get tricky very quickly. You’ll want to work with a land consultant to make sure you are getting the best possible deal for your land.

Host Events
The average couple spends thousands on a wedding venue, and rural and country weddings are a current trend. If you have a picturesque property or rustic barn, you can host a variety of events on your land to bring in extra income.

Make Energy
Renewable energy is a great idea if you don’t mind a few eyesores, like overhead power lines or turbines. Harvesting wind or solar energy on your land can make some extra money. You can either sell the power or use it for yourself to slash your energy bills (the latter more applies to solar energy). While this can be a great way to generate multiple incomes, having energy on your land could limit what you can do on that part of the property. Make sure you know all the benefits and drawbacks before making a decision on this one.

If you are interested in learning more about whether or not solar power is right for your property, don’t miss the REALTORS® Land Institute’s September 2018 Hot Topic Webinar on Solar Panels: A Good Idea for Your Land?

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of ways to generate multiple incomes from your property. We hope this article inspired you to find one perfect for your land!

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.

How To Build A Pond Or Lake

I had the privilege of selling some property to a great couple and they had a ‘must have’ requirement; they wanted a property suitable to building a lake and we found a great property located in Harris County, GA. The property was heavily wooded with a stream flowing through the property and the property had a great lake site and suitable soils. The contractor estimated the final lake size around 4.5 acres. Using a topographic map, I estimated the watershed area to be about 110 acres. Generally speaking, the watershed area should be about 4:1 (4 acres of watershed to 1 acre of pond or lake). Due to the size of the proposed lake and the intended use, the owners were able to get a permit through the NRCS (Natural Resource and Conservation Service) to construct the lake.

The number one attribute that buyers are looking for is water features such as a pond or lake! The addition of a pond or lake will add lots of value when it becomes time to sell. A pond or lake provides lots of opportunities such as fishing, canoeing, water source for irrigation, increases the aesthetic value of the property and much more.

Generally, the process starts with clearing the trees and brush. The brush can be burned and some of it can be used to build fishing habitat or structures for larger fish to hide and ambush their food sources.  A portion of the dirt is removed and used later on for constructing the dam for impounding the water. Another important issue is the presence of clay. The clay is used to key (core) the dam, creating an impermeable layer inside the dam that the water can not pass through. That is why land with a high content of sand is not suitable for constructing a pond or lake. The topsoil is stockpiled and used later to dress up the dam so the dam can be vegetated.  Beware…keep the trees on the back side of the dam cut.  When tree roots die, they can become channels for water to seep through the dam.

Use a professional to design the pond and dam. A 100-year rain event can destroy a dam if not properly designed with a spillway to handle the runoff.

For the most part, contractors are now using siphoning systems to control the water level. Metal pipes and valves tend to rust over time. I went back from time to time to document through pictures and video the construction process. This process took over 1 year!

Some of the pictures in the video were taken to show what to do if you are building a pond or lake for trophy bass fishing. The pond should be deep at the shoreline. This is designed to keep shallow water plants and weeds from invading your pond or lake. Also, structures should be left in the lake to improve the habitat for the fish. Often these large bass will use these structures to ambush bait fish. Also, notice the shallow mounds built in the pond, these are great for spawning bass and bream!!

 

The take away is this…if you are planning to buy land for building a pond, agricultural purposes, timberland or whatever, use an Accredited Land Consultant. You need someone advocating for you that understands land and land brokerage. This person needs an in-depth understanding of topographic maps and watersheds.

This article was originally featured on Kent’s blog Land Blog…Get The Dirt! He writes about all things land, from timber to selling land to lessons learned from his 40 years in the industry. Check out his blog for more excellent content!

Kent Morris, ALC, is a Registered Forester and Associate Broker who has experience in fields such as timber appraisals, harvesting, thinnings, and timber sales.