How An Accredited Land Consultant Can Maximize Your Land Transaction’s Value

Now that we’re officially into the Spring selling season there are many sellers thinking about selling their land in the near future.  If you happen to be one of these sellers, then you owe it to yourself to consider interviewing a REALTOR® with the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation to represent you and your best interest.

ALCs make up less than 1% of the population of REALTORS® across the United States; this is primarily due to the fact that it is not an easy designation to obtain.   Unlike other designations that can easily be earned after attending an 8- or 16-hour class, the ALC Designation often takes years to finally accomplish. With over 100 hours of education required, as well as closed transaction volume requirements, the process is one of the most tedious in the real estate business.

Whether you’re selling a working farm or ranch, transitional land, a hunting or fishing property, timber ground, or a development, ALCs are educated and experienced to represent you in the sale or purchase of your property.

While other real estate agents may be part-time working a few hours a week, the dedication and commitment of a full-time ALC is constantly working for you and your best interest.  Whether it’s their unique marketing tactics to get you the most qualified buyer, their professional mapping standards, or their capability of networking with other professionals all across not only the United States but also the world, ALCs are some of the most committed and professional land brokers in the real estate industry.

As a seller, the track record of ALCs has a direct correlation to putting more money in your pocket and doing it in a timely fashion.

Quite often, sellers of farms and ranches will get to a point in their lifetime where it is just too difficult to work the land anymore, at which point they’ll decide to put it on the market. An ALC can provide the proper contacts for you, as the seller, to consider the tax consequences before you actually put your ranch on the market.  A lot of less educated brokers often overlook this crucial step.

Prior to putting your property on the market, it is important to have a discussion with an ALC about who the target market will be for your real estate.  Often I’ve dealt with sellers that think the buyer for their property will be a working farmer or rancher like them, only to have me educate them that the highest and best use for their 160 acre ranch is no longer a ranch at $2,000 an acre.  Due to the high costs of real estate prices in the city, the highest and best use is now four 40-acre home sites at $3,500 an acre.

ALCs often have a much broader scope of property marketing and advertising than the typical real estate agent. While putting a sign on the property and putting the listing into the local MLS might be sufficient for selling a home in a hot market, selling a ranch or a rural property takes some serious understanding of how to properly market the property to qualified buyers. No two properties are the same; therefore, it doesn’t make sense to have the same marketing approach to every listing.

Every rural property is unique and so are the buyers that are going to purchase them. While harvest information and production numbers might be important on a hay farm for sale on a county road, elevation, topography, and proximity to public land access are important to a recreational property a little further down that same road. The hay farm could be purchased by an investor doing a 1031 Exchange if the numbers are clearly advertised and put in front him, while the recreational property could be purchased by a buyer who has been saving up for several years just to find a little property where they can take their kids hunting and fishing.  These two buyers will likely not be looking on the same websites and publications for these two totally different types of properties, and ALCs realize that.

It is not easy to finance vacant land, ranches, and recreational properties. Many buyers are uneducated to this fact and are under the impression they can purchase land with little cash down like they did their first home when they only had to show up with 3% – 5% down payment at closing. Buyers contact me on a weekly basis on my land listings and are shocked when I qualify them and tell them that they will need 25% – 35% down in order to make a land purchase. By working with an ALC, you, as seller, are going to get a REALTOR® that understands how to qualify buyers before they step foot on your property. That ALC is also going to have the lending institution contacts to make sure that a buyer doesn’t get under contract on your ranch, just to have the deal fall apart a few weeks later due to financing reasons.

If you’re thinking about selling your property in the near future, why not work with the best in the business? Let an ALC represent you in your next land real estate transaction, and see the results they provide for not only your pocketbook, but also your time. Check out the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Find A Land Consultant search tool to find an ALC near you.

This post is part of the 2019 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: Justin Osborn, ALC, is a licensed associate real estate broker with The Wells Group. Justin is a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute and serves on their Future Leaders Committee.

Title Insurance 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Farm Bill Legalizes Hemp in Land Real Estate Industry

By now, most people know that hemp became legal in America after the 2018 Farm Bill was signed on December 20th, 2018. However, there’s a lot more to the new law and legal hemp itself than meets the eye. Let’s take a look at hemp, its benefits, and the details of its current legal status under the 2018 Farm Bill.

What Is Hemp?

For those of you that are green (no pun intended!), hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Hemp gets confused frequently with marijuana. The biggest difference is that hemp has a very low THC (0.3% or less) while marijuana contains concentrations between 15%-40%, a much more potent dose that lets users have that “high” feeling.

What Makes Hemp Stand Out?

Hemp is used for fuel, fabrics, oil, plastics, animals feed, building materials, paper, and more. You can even eat it, although the taste is unpleasant. In fact, there are over 25,000 known uses for hemp!

Hemp is a fast growing, low maintenance crop. The plant requires less water, fertilizer, and herbicides than many common crops, making it a great option for farmers looking to save a little money or reduce their carbon footprint.

Hemp is green in more than one way. Hemp takes in more CO2 as it grows and naturally rids the soil of toxins, making it an excellent crop for bioremediation. After the harvest, the remains break down into rich nutrients for the soil.

What is the current ruling?

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (whose provisions were included in the 2018 Farm Bill) let hemp farmers apply for federal agricultural grants, own crop insurance for the plant, and have access to the national banking system (an issue for marijuana in states even where it is legal). The 2018 Farm Bill removed a lot of hoops that hemp growers used to need to jump through. Removing the gray areas surrounding the plant and allowing hemp farmers access to the same tools as other farmers will make it easier and more profitable for people to grow hemp. 

Just because hemp is legal doesn’t mean everything is cut and dried surrounding the plant. While the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and products made from hemp from the Schedule 1 Drug List, the FDA still has regulatory authority over all CDB in food and drugs. Testing protocols surrounding how much THC and CBD is in each plant is still up for debate, as different testing methods can sometimes produce different results.

A recent report from the Brightfield Group expects that the United States CBD market will be worth $22 billion by 2022. If you’re considering branching out into new crops, hemp might be a great option for you.

Be sure to tune in to the Industrial Hemp- Impacts to Real Estate non-LANDU course being held by the RLI Oklahoma Chapter on May 9th with facilitator Kirk Goble, ALC.

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

Five Helpful Tips for Owning and Managing Timberland

I admit, I am a little partial as a registered forester and land broker but I do truly believe timberland ownership can be one of the best and most rewarding investment options.  Below are five helpful tips that can apply to any owner of timberland.

1. Seek Professional Assistance

Timberland is optimized with the assistance of a professional manager.  For many landowners, the best source of professional assistance is a consulting forester. The consulting forester is a trained professional that works on behalf of the landowner making sure the landowner’s objectives are met and their best interests are represented. They can assist with the preparation of forest management plans, timber marketing and sales, reforestation, silvicultural treatments, wildlife management, and hunt lease management to name a few.

This assistance is especially critical at the time of timber sales.  For most landowners, timber sales are not frequent events, the landowner may not have an accurate expectation for the value of their timber in the current market. A consulting forester can inventory and appraise the timber to provide an accurate estimate of the value to be expected and then recommend the best method to market the timber on a competitive basis to make sure the return is maximized. They assist in execution of a harvest agreement or timber deed between the landowner and buyer, written to protect the landowner’s interest.  Finally, they will make regular site inspections during the harvest to make sure the work is occurring as agreed and the land is not damaged.

The service of a professional should more than pay for itself for most owners.

2. Determine your ownership objectives

It is important to know why a landowner has invested in timberland real estate and communicate that clearly to his/her advisers. Ownership objectives vary widely among landowners and most folks land own for a combination of reasons. There are usually one or two primary objectives for owning. Examples may be income from the sale of timber, recreational use like hunting, fishing, or riding ATVs, conservation of wildlife and habitat, family legacy, or investment for future higher and better use. Each of these objectives will require unique management activities to increase the probability the objectives are realized for the owner.

3. Create a forest management plan

It is hard for anyone to hit a target if they do not have something to shoot at.  A forest management plan is a critical document for any owner of forestland. Typically prepared by a professional forester after consultation with the landowner, the plan serves as a guide for the management of the land, typically a 10-year horizon.  Components of the plan may include property description, forest stand type map, forest stand descriptions, and management prescriptions for each timber stand over the planning horizon, a timeline or schedule of activities the landowner should expect, and a log section where the landowner can keep notes on their activities.  Having a plan and following it will increase the chances the owner’s goals are met.

 

4. Manage Risks

The ownership of timberland comes with liability and risk like any investment.  It is important for the owner to understand those risk and mitigate them as best as possible.  Major risk to the loss of timber include fire, wind damage, insect, and disease.  Each of these risks can be reduced using good forest management techniques with professional assistance.

Landowners can have liability exposure from trespassers and recreational users depending on the laws in their state.  It is wise to understand those liability issues and protect against them.  Liability insurance policies are available to protect landowners from accidents that may occur on their property.  It can also reduce liability if property boundaries are clearly marked and posted to deter trespassing.

5. Incentive Programs and Tax Benefits

There are many incentive programs available for the owners of timberland.  Owners should consult with their consulting forester, state forestry representatives, their local extension agent, or their local USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office to determine what programs are available and how they may be able to benefit.   These funds may offset the cost of reforestation, property improvements, wildlife management practices like prescribe burning, plantings, or other activities.

Most states have reduced property tax programs for owners of timberland.  The programs tax the property based on its current use rather than market value.  In areas where timberland is near urban areas, this can be a substantial annual saving for landowners.

It is also equally wise to have a tax professional and/or an attorney that is well versed in timberland to advise on annual income tax return and estate tax issues.  A great resource for landowners is www.timbertax.org.  This website has information on a wide range of tax topics relevant to forest landowners.

This post is part of the 2019 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

Chris Miller, ALCAbout the Author: Chris Miller, ALC, is a land broker and consulting forester for American Forest Management, Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina.

What Does the Future of Agriculture Look Like?

What will the farms of 2100 look like? Will they be completely unrecognizable from the farms of today? Will they be autonomous? Will the type of crops farmers grow be similar to those we grow in 2019 or can we expect brand-new grains and vegetables to feed the ever-growing population? There’s no way to know for certain, but in this article, we take a look at current trends in farming and technology to hazard a guess about the future of agriculture.

Wired in

Technology already plays a huge part in agriculture and its role on the farm will only continue to grow. Drones, telematics, crop sensors, and precision agriculture technologies all help farmers increase productivity on their land while cutting back on physical labor. Although it seems like these land technologies are already a staple on many farms, the technology is still relatively new. Much like the computer or telephone, we can expect to see better, faster, and more affordable versions of these technologies in the future.

Precision agriculture technology has been extremely popular in the past few years. This technology can do everything from monitoring, giving each plant in a crop individualized care, and efficiently dispensing water and fertilizer. Precision agriculture technology is key to reducing food waste, which may be why the industry is expected to grow to $2.42 billion by 2020. You can expect precision agriculture technologies to play a huge part in the farms of tomorrow.

Another technology we can expect in the farms of the future is swarms of tiny robots. The University of Applied Sciences in Germany is already exploring a concept called MARS, which stands for Mobile Agricultural Robot Swarms. Groups of anywhere from five to one hundred bots would plant and tend each seed’s need. This specialized care can cut down on food waste and create healthier crops.

More Mouths to Feed

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the world population is expected to boom to 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. This means that food production is going to need to increase dramatically. With demand high, we might see an increase in people joining agriculture or large investments in farm technology to help make enough food to feed the masses.

The Changing Consumer

The American diet is evolving. Compared to the 1970s, people in modern day eat much more grains, oils, and sugars, and have cut back on dairy products, vegetables, and eggs. Just as the farmers of today had to adjust their crops for the changing times, the farmers of tomorrow will do the same.

graph pulled from the Pew Research Center

We can predict what the consumers of tomorrow will want based off the consumers of today. The demand for organic food has steadily risen for the past decade, as well as the demand for farm to table. The consumers of today are more health-conscious than ever before and the farms of tomorrow will have to accommodate for that.

Better Fake Meat

A few years ago, fake meat looked like limp tofu “hot-dogs” that no one touched at the barbeque. Nowadays, fake meat like the Impossible Burger are similar to meat in texture and taste. As more companies compete to create a more realistic plant-based burger, we can expect more and better-tasting fake meat products.

This could create a huge shift not only in raising real meat, but also in corn and soybean production (much of which is used to feed crops).

Don’t panic, beef farmers – the number of vegetarians and vegans actually hasn’t increased much over the past few decades. This means that at least in the near future, there is still a market for real meat. The current legal battle surrounding what can and cannot be called meat could help preserve a consumer base that demands real meat.

A New Kind of Farm

Vertical farms, a type of farm where crops are grown on vertically stacked structures, may be a staple for the future of agriculture. With the population expected to boom, the ability for vertical farms to take up less room than a traditional farm could make them more popular.

They also used a tiny amount of water compared to the great outdoors.

There is no surefire way to predict the future of agriculture. We have no idea what laws, natural disasters, cultural shifts, and new technology are waiting just around the corner. However, there are plenty of clues in the farms of today that can help us predict the future of agriculture.

No matter what decade you are in, land education is key for knowing the ins and outs of the land industry. Check out RLI’s upcoming courses to stay educated and ahead of the curve when it comes to future land trends you need to know.

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

How and Why To Invest in Farmland

OVERVIEW: INVEST IN FARMLAND

From the beginning of time, farmers have been an integral part of feeding the public. Many technological changes have impacted the farming industry, from the invention of the plow to more modern advances, such as GPS technology, irrigation, and drought-tolerant seed varieties. Many facets have changed but one has not, the dirt. Investing in land is a “simple” process of purchasing property and creating value through: revenue, appreciation, or tax benefits. Although it sounds that many “simple” investors don’t understand the difficulty in selecting properties that make sense for their investment goals when they invest in farmland, for example investing in farmland for retirement.  Listed below are a few short items to look at before investing in farmland.

FIND A PROFESSIONAL

 

Many investors both large and small make the mistake of not employing a professional that has the knowledge of the industry/market and can care for their money. Many times, throughout my real estate career, investment experience and as a farmer myself, I have seen investors not use the correct professional with knowledge of the land. When looking to diversify with farmland, seek a real estate professional with historical and proven confidence in the area.

Accredited Land Consultant land transaction expert farmland

Typically, land professionals are part of organizations like The Realtors® Land Institute where land is the single most asset class, they deal in. To go further, Accredited Land Consultants are trained and accomplished in the industry, of which only a few hundred agents have acquired the designation worldwide.  I use the quote, “I will not go to a heart doctor to get my hip replaced.” A Realtor® who sells homes in an urban area would not have the specific expertise to know the farm and ranch industry and understand the investment quality of a property. A farm and ranch real estate agent would not know about condominium prices in downtown. Use the Find A Land Consultant tool and look for an ALC Designated agent (see why) to make sure you are using a qualified land professional.

BENEFITS

One of the best benefits known to investors is the ability to have land as a tangible asset when you invest in farmland. This is especially important when a portfolio is heavily invested in the stock market.  Another benefit we see in farmland is the tax deduction in relation to depreciation.  Many farms contain improvements that depreciate such as grain storage, irrigation pivots, shops, barns and etc.  An owner can depreciate some of these assets each year to offset yearly taxes.  Always ask your favorite CPA for more information.

invest in farmland

“The United States has some of the best potential farmland for investment…”

Another great benefit to owning farmland is the ability to lease, farm, or share crop your property, to make money.  The value of farmland has increased over the last several years due to an increase in demand for food and fiber globally.  The United States has some of the best potential farmland for investment because of our democratic government and the infrastructure it possesses; ie, railroads, rivers and highways. Other countries have very fertile soil but have no roads to deliver products to a port, and it makes for a hard harvest.  Also, some foreign countries have great land to grow crops but have a corrupt government and/or the state owns all the ports of exchange.  Not all international investments are bad, they just can be more volatile than the U.S.

SELECTION

When selecting a farm to purchase an investor needs to keep three simple points in their process.  Do I have the capital to make the investment? Do I feel comfortable in a long-term project? Can I leave emotions aside when purchasing/selling?

  1. Knowing your buying potential, aka how much can you spend, is key when purchasing farmland. Some investors move capital into property with no debt and many move some capital and acquire debt through lenders.  Lenders are everywhere and, in my opinion, choose a lender that understands farmland and its characteristics.  There are options for government loans through the USDA and other government entities as well.  Consult your land professional to direct you to lenders that can help.
  2. Farmland investing for the most part is a long-term project. Many investors buy land and hold it for extended periods of time to get the most return.  Many large investors may hold land for as long as 10+ years to see the returns.  The farm economy goes in cycles much like the economy, which as a whole goes up and down.  To see real potential in farmland, one must be ready to hold on through at least 5+ years.
  3. Emotion is always on the table when it comes to tracts of land. Throughout my career I have fallen victim to getting emotional towards a piece of property.  This is a definite thing to remember when it comes to you and your family’s financial future.  Leave emotions at the door.  The phrase, “time is money”, can go both ways. Waiting two years to purchase because it makes more sense financially or selling now because you have a willing buyer, may factor into your decision. Remember, “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush”.

“To see real potential in farmland, one must be ready to hold on through at least 5+ years.”

DIVESTING

After the asset has reached potential or maybe you are ready to buy a new investment, it is time to liquidate. When you invest in farmland, selling the property is as important as the day you purchase. I cannot express the importance using a qualified professional. Visit the Realtors® Land Institute to find a qualified agent when it comes time to sell your investment. The right professional can elevate your sales price, alleviate hassle, and supply you with confidence to the day of closing. When selling farmland, a land professional must qualify buyers and must advertise to the masses. This requires a tailored marketing program and someone with whom has the skill set to vet buyers and make sure qualified candidates can meet or exceed the requirements to get to the closing table.

CONCLUSION

Investing in farmland is very rewarding, if done correctly. The key to remember is to surround yourself with qualified people to help you make decisions. This is your money and your future, happy hunting!

About The Author: Clayton Pilgrim, ALC, is a licensed real estate agent with Century 21 Harvey Properties in Paris, Texas.  Throughout his career he has been in production agriculture from on the ground operations to large scale management.  Pilgrim is involved in private investing in farms, ranches, and recreational tracts throughout East Texas and Southern Oklahoma.  He is a member of the Realtors® Land Institute, an Accredited Land Consultant and on the board of the Future Leaders Committee.  He resides in Paris, Texas, with his wife, Kristy, and daughter, Caroline.

protect property

How to Protect Your Property from Trespassers

Courtesy of National Land Realty

When you invest in a property, you don’t want to be worried about trespassing or theft.  It doesn’t happen too often, but if it does, you want to make sure you’re prepared and have done everything you can to prevent it from happening again. Coming up with a plan to protect your property and prevent trespassing even when you’re not always present on your property will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Here are some things you can do to protect your property from trespassers:

  1. Put Up New Signs

This may seem like a common-sense thing to do, but it’s the easiest and cheapest task to add to your plan. Putting up new “no-trespassing” signs will show people that you are alert and frequent your property often. Rules for putting up signs on your property vary from state to state. So, make sure to check with your local land authorities on how to set them up correctly.

protect property

  1. Get to Know Your Neighbors

This one’s important. If you’re the new owner of your property, you’ll want to meet the owners of the land next to yours. Even if you’ve owned your property for several years already, it’s still wise to introduce yourself to the neighbors. Friendly neighbors are sure to keep an eye out and let you know if they see something suspicious.

  1. Conduct Regular Inspections

Be sure to set up a regular schedule of times throughout the year to walk your land. Go through your property each time, tracing boundary lines and make notes of any significant changes or anything specific you want to remember. Later, you can look back on your notes if you ever see something that looks a bit off. This can help you determine if someone has possibly been trespassing on your property.

search property

  1. Limit Access Points

Having a “one road in and one road out” system will limit the amount of access points for trespassers to make their way in. Having a gate with a lock at the entrance also helps with this.

These are just a few simple and quick things you can do that will help protect your property from trespassers. By doing these four steps, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll never have any trespassing problems, but it does mean that you’re prepared, and potential trespassers will certainly see that!

About the Author: National Land Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage company specializing in farm, ranch, plantation, timber and recreational land across the country. NLR currently represents land buyers and sellers in 20 states.

2018 Land Markets Survey

Top Four Takeaways from The 2018 Land Market Survey

The highly-anticipated Land Market Survey is out! Every year, REALTORS® Land Institute and the National Association of REALTORS® Research Group conduct this survey for land professionals across America to use as an informational resource. The land industry faced many challenges (such as natural disasters and uncertainty on the long-term effects of the current trade war) and many victories (such as the WOTUS ruling and an overall strong economy). Let’s take a look at some of the biggest takeaways from the 2018 Land Market Survey.

1. Land Prices Are On The Rise, But Slowly

Average land prices across America rose, but at a slower rate than previous years. Land prices rose 2% in 2018, compared to 3% in 2017. This slower gain could be a result of rising interest rates and depressed commodity prices.

2. The Price of Land Bought and Sold Went Down

Across all land types, the median price per acre decreased to $4,500. The amount of land being bought and sold also decreased to a median of 53 acres. However, some land types actually saw higher sizes and prices in 2018. Agricultural irrigated land, timber, recreational, and ranch land all increased in price per acre over the year, while agricultural non-irrigated, timber, residential, and ranch land increased in property size.

3. Financing Was The Number One Issue Facing The Land Industry

49% of respondents said that financing was an issue affecting the land industry. Local zoning, federal zoning, state regulations, and tariffs were also mentioned as top issues.

4. Land Is Being Sold Faster.

While some land types struggled in 2018, the median number of days a property would sit on the market decreased from 95 in 2017 to 90 in 2018.

As with any year, 2018 was a year of many ups and downs for the land industry. It’s impossible to predict what will happen next, especially in this industry. However, the data from the Land Market Survey can help us plan for whatever 2019 has in store for us and help make it the best year yet.

Want to learn more about the current state of the land market? On January 23, Scholastica (Gay) Cororaton, a research economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, hosted a survey going into the nuts and bolts of the Land Market Survey. The live webinar quickly sold out, but don’t panic! You can still watch the recording for free on our webinar archive page. The recording will be posted the week of January 28th.

We wanted to give a big thank you to everyone that participated in this year’s survey. We had the highest participation rate ever!

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 does RLI Have In Store For 2019?

The start of a new year is a time for fresh ideas, getting motivated, and setting new goals. If your New Year’s Resolutions include growing your career, networking with other land professionals, and learning more about land, check out what the REALTORS® Land Institute has in store for 2019.

2019 National Land Conference

The biggest networking event in the land industry is right around the corner! Join hundreds of other land professionals in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on March 3-6, for four days of networking, amazing speakers, Break Out Sessions, and more!

This year’s opening keynote speaker will be Dr. Mark G. Dotzour, a real estate economist who worked as the Chief Economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. His research has been used in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, USA Today, and more. He will be informing attendees about how current economic conditions are impacting the land industry. You’ll also hear from expert industry speakers like Steve Apfelbaum, Amber Hurdle, John Newton, and Russell Riggs on topics such as the ecological value of your land, personal branding, the New Farm Bill, and the latest on land laws.

In addition to gaining expertise from these amazing speakers, you’ll be able to:

You can reserve your spot for NLC19 here. We hope to see you there!

Updated Classes

Our classes have been upgraded to include the most up-to-date information and the latest industry best practices. In addition, our new VILT (Virtual Instructor Led Training) courses foster engagement with and hands-on participation in the course content as well as networking with fellow participants. We are still rolling out these new classes, so if you don’t see a class you’d like to take, check back later in the year on our  , and we’ll most likely have it scheduled.

LANDU Education Week

LANDU Education Week is an amazing opportunity to finish all six required courses for the Education Requirement towards earning the Accredited Land Consultant Designation in one week.  This year’s LANDU Education Week will take place in Denver, CO, from June 2-11. We sold out quickly last year, so be sure to register early! We’re still polishing the final details, but will be opening registration in early April.

Great New Webinars

Want to dive deeper into the Land Market Survey? We have two free webinars coming up that go into the nuts and bolts of the survey’s results. Scholastica (Gay) Cororaton, a research economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, will lead the Digging Into the Land Survey: Top Market Trends webinar on January 23. Then, Jay Wittistock will take a closer look at land surveys in general with The Dirt on Land Surveys on April 10.

Didn’t get to watch a webinar live? No problem! You can watch recordings of them here.

With all these great events, classes, and webinars coming up, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the REALTORS® Land Institute. We hope it is for you, too!

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.

Should You Start A Christmas Tree Farm?

One of the surefire signs that Christmas is around the corner is seeing those beautiful green pine trees popping up in every household. If you are thinking about growing some trees of your own, ask yourself these five questions to see if a Christmas tree farm is right for your property.

1.Do You Have The (Right) Land?

With the average Christmas tree farm squeezing in 1,500 Christmas trees per acre, these trees can take up a fair amount of land. If the property you own doesn’t have enough room, you can always sublet land from a neighbor. Since Christmas trees take a long time to grow, make sure to work with a land expert in your area to make sure you get the best deal for this long-term commitment.

Soil type is another factor to take into consideration. While different trees do best in different soil types, well-drained, loamy soils are a good bet for almost every type of Christmas tree. Soil that holds onto water will drown the trees.

2. Do You Have The Time?

Christmas trees are low-maintenance, not no-maintenance. Not much has to be done in the first four years of growth, but after that, the trees do require upkeep. Once the trees start to mature, you’ll want to shape the trees to help them maintain that gorgeous conical shape everyone loves.

3. What Trees Will You Grow?

There are dozens of types of Christmas trees. Which ones will you grow? Here are some of the most popular according to the Farmers’ Almanac.

  • Balsam Fir. This tree is incredibly fragrant and will fill your house with that classic Christmas tree smell.
  • Douglas Fir. The way this tree grows gives it a natural fullness and conical shape.
  • Fraser Fir. People love these trees for the unique silver color underneath the needles.
  • Scotch Pine. Tired of sweeping up needles every day? Scotch pines are famous for not shedding and retaining water after it is cut, making it a great low-maintenance tree.
  • Colorado Blue Spruce. The ice-blue color of these trees makes it popular with people looking to do a little something different this Christmas.

4. Are You Looking For A Crop That Will Turn A Fast Profit?

Certain crops reach maturity quickly and have a high regrowth rate, making them great if you need cash in a pinch. Christmas trees are not one of those crops. From seed to fully-grown tree, the average Christmas tree takes anywhere from eight to ten years to reach maturity. And that’s only if everything goes right. Make sure you can afford to not make money off this specific crop while it matures.

5. Think Beyond the Tree

You can also sell greens, garlands, and wreaths alongside your trees. Holly, poinsettias, and pine cones are also extremely popular with decorators and crafty people. This text is from our 2019 updated Timberland course:

The land can be used for specialty products such as Christmas trees, boughs for holiday wreaths, mushrooms, honey, or maple syrup. Additionally, the land can be used for other wood products, such as saw, firewood, wood chips, decorative wood, greenery, cones, and seeds.

Christmas trees are a staple of the holiday season. We hope this article helped you decide whether or not your land is right to start your own Christmas tree farm or an agritourism business.

Whether you are looking for land to grow Christmas trees or any other kind of crop, be sure to always work with a qualified land real estate professional, like one that can be found on the Find A Land Consultant search tool, to get the best deal for your hard earned money.

Want to learn about growing trees for profit? Be sure to check out our Timberland course, which will be available to take in 2019!

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.