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 land 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 build-ability 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 under story 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. Interested in learning more about recreational land as an agent? Check out the Recreational Land Real Estate LANDU course.

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

The 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! Use the Find A Land Consultant tool to find a qualified land agent in your area.

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 a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She 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 are important to land real estate as an industry and its important to know they 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 do require upkeep. You’ll need to prune them in spring to get rid of dead wood.
  • 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 apple varieties to choose from, so channel your inner Johnny Appleseed and getting planting! Thinking about purchasing an orchard or starting one of your own? Make sure to find a land expert using the Find A Land Consultant search tool. Land transactions and investments require an agent with specialized expertise and experience in the field.

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 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.

Jonathan 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 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 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 $200 per LANDU 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 ($535 per each of the five 16-hour courses plus $750 for the 24-hour Land Investment Analysis) at the member rate (a savings of $200 per course) equals $3,425.

For the course work alone, they average ALC applicant will save about $1,200. Take out the cost of membership and the one-time application fee and you’ll still come out ahead 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. 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.

Using Video to Close More Land Deals + Better Serve Clients

We’re living in the golden age of video. Video editing software is cheaper and more user-friendly than ever before, millions of people head to streaming sites like YouTube every day, and smartphones have basically become tiny video cameras you can take anywhere.

Land experts are (or should be!) making the most out of the advancements in video, too. Video is used for everything from taking stunning shots of properties to reaching clients on a more personal level. We reached out to a few expert Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs) to find out how they use video to close a deal.

Drones

Drones are taking the land industry by storm. They can do everything from watering crops to monitoring livestock. Drones also make excellent videos. You don’t have to worry about getting your thumb in the way of a shot or your hand shaking as you hold the camera. Drones also give you incredible birds-eye shots of properties that you can’t get anywhere else.

Drew Ary, ALC, with Keller Williams Advantage in Coweta, OK, likes how efficient and high-tech drone videos are.

“Taking multiple 5+ second Drone videos during a listing appointment and using the DJI app to patch them together to make a 30-45 second video of the property immediately after flying is the quickest route to getting a John Hancock… what a way to show a client you are on the cutting edge of technology,” says Ary.

The Personal Touch

Video allows clients to connect with you on a personal level. It’s one thing to read an article about an agent, it’s a completely different thing to see and hear them deliver the same message.  Wendy Johnson, ALC, with United Country Texas Landmark Properties in Royse City, TX, uses the personal touch of video marketing to connect with clients for long-lasting relationships.

“Video marketing is providing me a good return on investment. I receive leads that I have been able to convert to listings and buyers,” says Johnson.

Johnson’s video of a Texas ranch shows off the gift of personal touch. Everything from the instrumental music to the smooth shots of every corner of the ranch pulls you in and makes you want to learn more about the listing.

“I believe because of the content marketing that a video can offer. I am able to utilize it in selling my properties as well as to engage an audience which can facilitate long-term relationships, which builds trusts and confidence in both myself and clients,” says Johnson.

Beyond Properties

Videos showing off your properties are great, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. About Me videos on your website are a great way to let your clients know a little more about you and your business. A great example of this is a promotional video like the one Drew Ary, ALC, created. Ary talks a bit about his experience in the industry while you look at sweeping views of Oklahoma land.

You can create:

  • How-To’s/Informative videos (Great content for social media. It shows off your expertise. For example, RLI has videos explaining our education program and member benefits.)
  • Promotional videos of your brokerage
  • Compilation videos (Show off your most successful sales!)
  • Videos that tour the neighborhood of the property
  • And much more! Don’t be afraid to get creative.

Video is king in 2018 and is looking to keep its throne in 2019. It’s easier than ever before to create videos, and thanks to social media and sites like YouTube, more people are tuning in. Making the most out of video is a great way to expand marketing and reach new clients like never before.

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.

Timberland is Timberland… Right?

The majority of our market in the Southeastern United States consists primarily of timberland. One of the biggest problems I encounter with both Buyers and Sellers of timberland is that they don’t understand the value components of timberland tracts and what questions to ask to determine them on a tract by tract basis. A bigger problem is that many times, neither does their agent. Understanding what to look for in timberland enables you to be a smarter seller, buyer, or agent.

What makes a good timberland tract? A combination of important factors come into play with timberland: soils, site preparation, stocking/ stand density, and as always with real estate: location.

Soil

In regards to soils, you want to ensure that the soils are capable of growing the species that perform best on that site and grow at a rate competitive with other species/products in your timber market. And while you can take actions to enhance your soil’s growth rate like fertilizing or mechanical site prep applications like bedding, the better your soils are to start with, the faster you’ll see results from your timberland. Learn what site index rating the property has for the species you intend to grow or the species it’s already stocked with. The site index correlates closely with the yield of your forest. It acts like a score; that score is the height of that species at a certain age. The higher, the better. A site index score of 70 for loblolly pine in a plantation setting, the most common species see in timberland in our market, indicates that under normal conditions, a dominant and codominant loblolly pine would be 70 feet tall at 25 years old. Always remember that Site Index is species and age-specific and can vary greatly by both, so before using a tract’s site index rating to make a financial decision, be sure to confirm what base age is being used.

Site Preparation

Regarding site preparation, an analogy I use frequency is a vegetable garden. Which grows best – A garden that was tilled and sprayed or removed competing weeds, etc. or one that was planted directly into the soil without any site preparation? The prepared site of course. Timberland is no different, especially in a plantation setting. Reducing the initial competition through chemical and/or mechanical site preparation applications can greatly affect the long-term yield of timberland.

Stocking/Stand Density

When it comes to stocking and density, understanding your goals is key. Some saplings, speaking primarily of pine here, are genetically designed to grow fast but not necessarily clean, meaning more limbs and wider growth rings, both of which can affect the stand’s ability to grow lumber grade logs and poles (in pine stands). These stands will be more prone to produce products that are pulp and chip-based throughout their financial lifetime, also known as a “rotation.” Regardless of the source/type of seedlings you have, stand density can also affect the quality of your timberland. Wider spacing equals fewer trees. That helps them grow in diameter faster, but may limit vertical growth and the natural pruning that occurs in a properly stocked stand. Beyond that, a more simplified explanation can be fewer trees potentially equals fewer harvests and less money over the lifetime of the stand.

Assuming all things being equal between two tracts of timberland, location can be the most important factor in determining which is more valuable. Logging and hauling costs are the first expense that comes out of the gross income generated by a timber sale. The closer your proximity to mills that process the products your timberland will produce, the less it will cost to harvest that timber and the more competition you’ll see for that wood, both of which yield a higher net income to the landowner. The net income from a timber sale is also known as “stumpage”. Stumpage is the rate most experts are quoting when asked about current timber prices. Location can also determine what types of weather you can perform harvests in, which affects when you can bring your timber to market. Tracts with logging limitations due to weather concerns, such as wet natured or floodplain tracts, can be restricted to selling during the dry season vs tract with dryer ground or abundant road frontage that can be logged year round. Being able to sell your timber in a wet weather market can allow you to take advantage of huge swings in timber prices because when supply is limited, demand rises, and prices along with it. I’ve witnessed timber prices go as high as four times the norm due to wet weather logging demand.

I’m often asked how “the timber market” is doing or “isn’t timber down right now?” It’s important to remember that timber is a commodity and there is no single “timber market”. Every species can produce several product classes, each has their own market with contributing or limiting factors, and the current value of each product class is driven by supply and demand. One market may be down while another is up. Arming yourself with a true expert in timberland is imperative to ensuring your maximum yield is reached as a buyer or seller of timberland.

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

Clint Flowers, ALC is a top producer with National Land Realty, a member of the REALTORS Land Institute of Alabama, and a member of the 2018 Future Leaders Committee.  He was a NLR Top Producer Nationwide in 2016 and 2017. He also won the 2017 APEX National Broker of the Year award for Timberland.