The Most Difficult Crops to Grow and Why

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

Cauliflower

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

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

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

Celery

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

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

Melons

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

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

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

Wasabi

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

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

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

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

Head Lettuce

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

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

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

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

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

What You Need To Know Before Buying Waterfront Property

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

Buying Waterfront Property: Know The Rules and Regulations

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

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

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

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

fishing boat on lake

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

Buying Waterfront Property: Flood Risk

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

Buying Waterfront Property: Understand That Things Change

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

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

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

lake house

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

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

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

Six Ways To Attract More Animals to Your Hunting Property

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

1. Prescribed Burns

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

2. Build a Food Plot

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

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

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

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

Duck: Grass, grain, berries,

Boar: Acorns, roots, bulbs, grass

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

3. Build a Pond

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

4. Create Cover

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

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

5.Timber Stand Improvement

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

6. Plant Trees For Winter.

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

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

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

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

Five Simple Steps to Increase the Value of Your Land

This article was originally posted in the Lands of America blog

As the world population continues to grow, the demand for quality land will inevitability grow as well. According to the laws of supply and demand, quality land can expect to slowly increase in value over time. If you don’t want to wait around for years for that to happen, here are five steps you can take to help increase the value of your land.

1. Improve Access

Even if you have the perfect property in America, the chances of the land selling will plummet if the property does not include access or has poor access. Not having access will severely limit the amount and type of buyers. To gain deeded access to a property, you may have to reach an agreement with nearby neighbors, do some serious construction, or even go to court. To learn more about the best ways to handle access easements, check out this article from land expert Eric Leisy, ALC, about the best ways to handle the most difficult situations.

Even if you do have legal access, there might be roadblocks such as untrimmed woodland, a road filled with potholes, or a stream blocking smooth egress and ingress from the land. Do whatever you can to make sure accessing the property is as easy as possible. Making it easier to access the property makes it much more appealing to buyers.

2. Add Utility Lines

According to a recent LANDTHINK Pulse Survey, 74 percent of respondents said that electricity is the top logistical concern when searching for land in a rural community.

Adding utility lines can be costly, but they are in such high demand that not having them will significantly lower the value of your property. Running utilities may be simpler in urban areas, where you may be able to just connect to lines on the street and pay the hookup fee. In rural areas, this may take a little more money and work, but will be worth it when it comes time to sell.

3. Build Structures

In most cases, adding structures such as homes, storage sheds, barns, and other structures can help increase the value of your land. This advice doesn’t apply for every land type or every structure. For example, it likely wouldn’t add value to your land if you added a hunting cabin in the middle of your vineyard. The structure needs to be beneficial to the current or future land use.

4. Add or Improve Gates

The entrance to the property is one of the first things a client will see, so you want them to create a good first impression. Gates can also protect your property from trespassers.

“New gates should be properly sized to accommodate any future needs. Consider whether there will be future timber harvests, and the width needed to get equipment through the access point,” says Chris Miller in his article on perfecting your gates. “It is preferable to have the gate installed slightly off the main road so you can easily pull in to open it without having to stop on the road shoulder. The gate also should be installed so that it will not sag and drag on the ground, or not align with their latches properly.”

5. Get a Survey

Many people are reluctant to fork over the cash for a survey. This is understandable—it’s not cheap to increase the value of your land. However, the information you can get from a land survey is incredibly valuable. This information includes:

  • The boundaries of the property
  • any restrictions attached to the property
  • the topography and soil types of the property
  • the location of any easements

“In my territory, the land is not flat and often times you can’t see from one corner to another,” says Bob Stalberger, ALC. “Spending the money to hire a professional surveyor to mark your property boundary corners as well as points between the corners will make a buyer more comfortable when purchasing your property. It also allows you to easily establish or maintain your property line. This can also be helpful when doing any logging, adding a trial system, food plots, water locations or even hanging stands and posting your property.”

These are just a few examples of ways you can increase the value of your land. We hope this article has inspired you to think of what other ways you can add value to your property.

Working with an Accredited Land Consultant is one surefire way to sell your land for the highest possible value. Check out the REALTORS© Land Institute Find A Land Consultant tool to find a land expert near you.

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.

 

Need To Knows About Owning and Managing Ranchland

There are a few different ways to make money owning and managing ranchland. In this article, we have included a few of the best practices for both absentee owners and managers.

  1. Start with a soil test. You will not be able to apply the correct amount of inputs unless you start with a baseline. Too much fertilizer is a waste of money and the wrong pH in the soil will reduce your bale tonnage by a great amount. All my leases require the renter to apply fertilizer and lime as recommended by the county
  2. Keep records. Keep records of how many bales you get per field that will let you go back and see if your production is improving or declining. You won’t know that you have a problem without records. This is especially important if you have a tenant. Knowing this information will help you verify best practices are being used because a decline in production raises
  3. Paddocks. Installing paddocks can improve the animal carrying capacity of the land by a great deal. If animals are just turned out on open range they eat the best forage and ignore the less palatable plants. At the same time, they trample areas that often lead to erosion or soil compaction. With a system of paddocks, we can control how long our animals are on a particulate, ensuring even grazing while allowing the rest of the land to grow without pressure from animals. This method will ensure the maximum grass growth since growth is stunted for two weeks after it is grazed. Using this system, allows the most recovery time.
  4. Water. Watering is easier in some places than others, but some things are constant. It is rarely the best practice to allow cattle in the pond as it destroys water quality and can be dangerous for the young and weak members of the herd. Ideally, it is good to have tanks or troughs that are spread throughout the property to allow for our rotational grazing system. To do this, the initial cost is higher but the investment is usually recouped in a few years; not to mention the convenience of being able to just move to a different tank if there is a problem with another tank which makes it easier to schedule repairs without forcing us to fix it as an emergency.
  5. Goats. Consider investing in goats the first year you acquire a property that has been neglected. They will eat the Russian thistles and some other weeds first while allowing the grass a season for recovery. They are also very helpful in clearing brushy areas that are too overgrown to get a rotary cutter into. Usually, all that is needed is one growing season but with their very mild manure there is no risk of nitrogen burn so it will reduce the need for purchasing nitrogen pellets or liquid. Then, the area will be in much better condition before we introduce cattle or horses to a new range.

     6. Trees. The other technique that I have seen used for long-term wealth building is hardwood trees. In a system called alley cropping, we establish rows of hardwood trees every 80 feet; walnut and red oak trees make a good example. A simple hot wire can protect them when they are young saplings. Soil scientist tell me that having the trees will not reduce the hay production until year eight to ten when they end up being tall enough that their shade and size will begin to reduce the hay production on the range. There is an offset in most cases, if we follow this plan, the timber value at 30 years is greater than the purchase price of the land. This can be an especially lucrative harvest if its timing aligns with the farm owner’s retirement.

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: Tim Hadley, ALC, is an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Gladstone, MO. He joined the REALTORS® Land Institute in 2017 and is currently a member of their Future Leaders Committee.

 

kasey mock

About the Author: Kasey Mock is the Director of KW LAND Division at Keller Williams Realty International. Mock is a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute now serving on their Future Leaders Committee. Make sure to check out his break out session diving further into this topic at the 2018 National Land Conference in Nashville, TN, in March.

Five Things You Need to Know Before Investing In Agriculture

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

1: More Than One Way to Invest

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

2: Agriculture Is A Hedge Against Inflation

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

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

3: Long Term Investment

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

4: Crop Insurance Protects Investors

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

 

5: Diversify your portfolio

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

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

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

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

Benefits and Drawbacks Of Different Types Of Land Investing

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

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

Timberland

Pro: Less Risky Than Stocks

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

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

Pro: Moves Against the Stock Market

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

Con: Timber Is Delicate

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

Con: A Pricy Down Payment

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

Vineyard

Pro: Quick Returns

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

Pro: Tax Advantages

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

Con: The Down Payment Might Be More Than You Think

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

Con: High Operating Costs

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

Farmland

Pro: Tax Breaks Based Off Of Depreciation

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

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

Pro: The Ability to Lease Out Farmland

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

Con: High Risk

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

Vacant Land

Pro: The Freedom

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

Pro: More Affordable Than Developed Land

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

Con: Less Tax Advantages

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

Orchards

Pro: More Money Per Acre

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

Con: Time To Grow

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

Con: Fruit Rot

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

Recreational Land

Pro: Sentimental Value

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

Pro: Can Handle More Wear And Tear

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

Con: Animals (And People) Can Be Tricky

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

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

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

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

What You Need to Know About Investing in Vacant Land

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

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

Low Maintenance, High Rewards

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

Your Land, Your Choice

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

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

Drawbacks

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

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

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

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

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

 

Top Tips for Owning/Managing Agricultural Land

To get started, we need to show the variances in agricultural land. Several types of land fall within the bounds of “ag land” and we need to simply define these as follows:

LAND TYPES:

  1. Farm – used for growing crops on an annual basis, ie: corn, soybeans, cotton, and wheat.
  2. Ranch – used for grazing of animals for meat production or hay production.
  3. Vineyard – Production of grapes for wine, raisins, or juice.
  4. Orchard – Multiple types, ie: oranges, peaches, lemons, and apples. Also, whole fruit or nut production, ie: pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.
  5. Timber – Production of timber for uses like lumber and paper.

Agricultural land is used for its ability to produce products that are used in our everyday lives. Timber is cut to produce lumber to build homes as soybeans are grown to produce feed for animals to eat. Without our agricultural production, human life would cease to exist. Keeping our investment, the land, producing at its highest ability, we must manage the variables that we can. Several factors affect production:

  1. Weather
  2. Insects/Disease
  3. Urbanization
  4. Government Regulation and Deregulation
  5. Fertility/Weed suppression
  6. Fallow (idle, neglected)

With all the factors we have to manage, weather is the largest factor, in my opinion, affecting the production of any type of ag land. Snow, droughts, floods, winds, hail, hurricanes, etc. all wreak havoc on properties across the United States. Managing weather is tough, but knowing the limitations of your program and planning for these types of events are crucial in effectively managing land. Feeding cattle before a large snow event or using no-till farming in highly erodible areas are some types of preventive measures growers can take to prepare for adverse weather.

Land also is affected by other natural elements like insects and disease. Insects affect production globally every year from bowl weevils in cotton to pine borers in timber plantations. All insect infestations can be detrimental if not taken care of in a timely matter. Many application methods exist from aerial to ground, but someone with professional experience and licensure should always be involved. Never apply chemicals without looking into the regulations that are in your area. Diseases are common in many ways from rust fungus on wheat to stomach worms in cattle. Also, keep in mind that a professional will be needed when looking into treatments for diseases accompanying ag production.

Urbanization is becoming an increasing concern for ag land that is situated around large cities. Many vineyards are currently dealing with large cities growing and their increased need for water resources. Some are also experiencing travel problems with large equipment as well as growing land prices because of land transitioning from ag use to commercial use. These are pertinent problems that have to be managed because of the direct financial impact they can cause to your bottom line. Managing this factor is tough and can sometimes cause relocation, or can result in change of crops with associated equipment. In the cattle business, it can cause problems with transportation, feeding, fly control, and keeping animals in pastures out of neighborhood yards. A land manager needs to carefully plan years in advance for this is something that we, as growers, can’t stop.

 

Government de/regulation is always something to consider because of our ever-changing legislation.  Some areas see the banning of chemicals that are crucial in controlling insects and weeds. A constant look at current issues, as well as reading and staying close to your legislator, will be the best way to stay ahead of the curve on these issues.

Fertility and weed suppression are another problem that we see in our ag land properties. Poor management of crucial micro/macro nutrients in farmland are detrimental to a farm in continuing production. Another example is weed and grass control in an orchard. Tall grass and weeds use water and without proper control can cause production loss. Management of fertility and weeds is always a factor that can contribute to production loss. However, with the proper professional oversight this can be avoided.

Fallow is a factor that affects ag land in two main areas.  One, continued growth and unmanaged land can cause grounds for breeding of insects and also fuel fire conditions. Insect infestations like we have seen in the south with the aphid epidemic were less in areas where fallow ground was least. Insects need cover to nest and hatch, and large growth can house and help multiply insects for several different crops. When we see the large fires in the west almost all the time, these are well fueled underbrush from mismanaged timber areas. Controlled burning, shredding and plowing can reduce the kindling needed for large scale fires which with proper care your property can be protected from wildfires.  Another thing to remember is there is an equal balance that the manager needs to follow.  Work closely with conservation and extension agencies in your local area to figure out where your equilibrium exists.

Solution

Find a qualified professional, do not go at this alone. You do not use a dentist to do your open-heart surgery, so why would you use advice from an unexperienced land professional, or worse an agent with no experience in land.  The Realtors® Land Institute has a search tool to help you find professionals in your area to help you make these kinds of decisions as well as manage and implement ideas for your specific property. Accredited Land Consultants are just that, they consult based upon years of experience and training from working in the land business. I have numerous clients I help on a weekly basis with finding the right tenant for their farm to helping them find a dirt contractor to build the next bass lake on the ranch. On the ground experience and superior training make the Accredited Land Consultant the perfect professional to rely on.

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

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 Texas and 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.

 

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.