Conservation and Land Real Estate

Conservation is by no means a new concept, but in the last several decades it has increased substantially as farmers have become more conscious of their impact on the environment. There are many different conservation practices being utilized today, and they work in different ways to control different potential problems such as erosion, chemical runoff, and retaining excess soil nutrients.  These practices increase sustainability, overall soil health, and improve water quality in local watersheds. Some of the most common practices associated with commodity crops are grass waterways, buffer strips, cover crops and land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Grass Waterways

Grass waterways are a site-specific control measure implemented throughout a field, primarily on steeper parts of the field where water flow concentrates. These waterways are seeded to perennial grasses and farmed around, providing water a place to flow with continuous vegetation to hold the soil in place eliminating erosion on sensitive areas of the field. Waterways can vary in length, width, and are typically placed in between two hills or areas in a field with a high concentration of water flow during rain events.

Buffer Strips

Buffer strips are vegetative swaths placed along the edge of a field or surrounding a ditch or body of water. Buffer strips provide a “catch strip” for nutrients and soil particles as water runs off the field and before it enters a body of water. The vegetation slows the runoff, allowing time for soil and nutrients to settle in the ground where they can then be utilized by the plants inhabiting the buffer strip instead of running off into a neighboring water source.

Cover Crops

Cover crops are typically a hardy winter small grain crop that is seeded into a standing crop or seeded after harvest to provide vegetative cover over the winter months. Cover crops also uptake and hold excess nitrogen further preventing them from exiting the soil and entering a body of water. The benefits of cover crops include reduced erosion, increased organic matter, and reduced nitrates/excess nutrients from exiting the soil. Cover crops also increase soil tilth with their extensive root systems that move throughout the soil, creating pores for water and carbon dioxide to move freely. Common cover crops include oats, wheat, barley, and tillage radishes. Cover crops that are not killed by the cold will be planted into and then sprayed in the spring, blanketing the soil and increasing water retention.

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

CRP is an incentive-based government program administered by the United States Farm Service Agency. This program establishes a rental rate based off region and soil types and pays farmers for taking environmentally sensitive acres out of production while still generating revenue on those acres via government compensation. The acres are taken out of crop production and enrolled in a pre-approved program that locks the land in a contract and ensures it will stay seeded for a number of years. There are many different options for implemented practices such as seeding switch grass, prairie strips, and native grasses that protect soil and filter pollutants by plant absorption. In addition to their stewardship characteristics, they also provide excellent habitat for upland game, pollinators, and other forms of wildlife.

Conservation continues to grow in popularity throughout the agricultural community and more advanced programs continue to be developed to reduce our impact. Conservation improves our local and national ecosystems, supports premium appreciation, and is our responsibility as farmers and stewards to protect the land for the next generation to prosper.

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

About the Author: Molly Zaver is the Vice President for the Peoples Company. She is a member of RLI’s Future Leaders Committee as well as the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

From Inside The Beltway

With the biggest legislative achievement of this Congress behind us – tax reform and the preservation of 1031 like-kind exchanges – there are other issues that are circling the congressional runway, jockeying for position and waiting to land.  While not having a direct impact on the land professional, these broad issues could have far-reaching secondary impacts on land markets, real estate development and the economy.

Farm Bill Introduced But Passage Unlikely in 2018

A 2018 farm bill proposed by House Agriculture Committee Republicans passed by the Committee in April set the groundwork for tense debates on farmland conservation and forestry — and a much more partisan battle on nutrition assistance — as Congress tries to act before the current law expires at the end of September. However, this legislation is unlikely to pass in 2018 due to a decreasing window of opportunity to act on a very controversial proposal.

The bill strikes a good balance by holding the bill’s cost close to the total spending levels of the current version. Doing so allowed the Committee to protect crop insurance, tweak the safety net for cotton and dairy producers, and reform conservation and crop programs.

On the other hand, the committee wasn’t able to boost spending on farm programs that some groups say are more needed than ever, given the tough farm economy.

Significant changes in conservation programs reflected Chairman Conaway’s interest in seeing these programs work more effectively to preserve land that helps agriculture.  The legislation would eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program — the biggest conservation program in the country, with about 72 million acres enrolled — and move some of its initiatives to an expanded Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

The bill would allow an additional 5 million acres, 29 million acres in total, into the Conservation Reserve Program, which takes land out of production for 10-year periods.

On forest policy, the proposal would allow for bigger and faster forest-thinning projects, through a 6,000-acre exclusion from certain reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act, to reduce wildfire risk. It would also remove a requirement for consultation under the Endangered Species Act if a forest management project does not harm a listed species.

Infrastructure: All Talk and No Action?

Infrastructure effects all parts of the American economy, from good roads and clean water to flood protection and mass transit. Both President Trump and Congress have floated proposals that would provide resources to fix aging infrastructure, such as roads and water treatment plants; and develop new and transformative projects, such as modernizing the electrical grid and high-speed rail.  All of these kinds of activities would have a positive impact on land markets.

President Trump’s plan would incentivize and stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment over the next 10 years, shorten the process for approving projects to 2 years or less, address unmet rural infrastructure needs, empower State and local authorities, and provide for intensive workforce training. The plan addresses more than traditional infrastructure — like roads, bridges, and airports — but addresses other needs like drinking and wastewater systems, waterways, water resources, energy, rural infrastructure and public lands.

The proposal introduced by Democrats in the House would offer 5 times the amount of federal infrastructure funding over the President’s plan.  Their plan would boost local economies and generate billions of dollars in new economic activity without adding to the deficit.  Our infrastructure plan will invest in American iron and steel and new American-made green infrastructure materials to support good-paying jobs, and ensure opportunities for small business owners.  Our plan will ensure projects advance quickly, while maintaining key environmental protections and labor standards.

Both plans are similar – both seek to leverage federal resources to empower the private sector and state and local governments to develop these projects. Both promise to shorten and ease the permitting process and both promise extensive worker retraining.

Would you like to know another similarity between the two plans?  Nothing has happened to either of them since they were published.  Yes, the President has pushed federal agencies to ease permitting restrictions and some individual bill have been introduced, but at this time nothing substantive in this area has been accomplished.

If I were a betting man (which I am most decidedly not) I would not place my hard earned money on a massive infrastructure spending bill moving through Congress in 2018.  Just like with the Farm Bill, Congress is running out of time and lacks the focus to get something like this across the finish line – neither party wants to give their opponents something to brag about in the upcoming elections.

If you would like additional information on any of these issues, please contact me at 202-383-1259, rriggs@realtors.org.

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

 

About the author: In his position with the National Association of REALTORS®, Russell Riggs serves as the RLI’s Government Affairs Liaison in Washington, D.C., conducting advocacy on a variety of federal issues related to land.

wotus

WOTUS Rule Sees Revival in Twenty-six States

The controversial Waters of the US (WOTUS) Rule is being re-implemented in 26 states after a federal judge’s ruling that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers improperly suspended it. “U.S. District Judge David Norton in South Carolina agreed with environmental groups that the agencies failed to follow the public-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act in implementing a suspension rule this year that was intended to delay enforcement of the 2015 rule. The APA requires agencies to take public comment on regulatory actions before implementing them,” stated a recent article on AgWeek.

The REALTORS® Land Institute and National Association of REALTORS® support the review of the WOTUS rule as laid out by President Trump’s Executive Order to ensure that both private property rights and clean waterways are protected.

States Under Jurisdiction of WOTUS as of 9.20.2018

This image represents the most current information available as of September 20, 2018.

Time Zappers

The biggest problem with time zappers is that so many of them are necessary to succeed in the land industry. Driving might eat up a lot of your time, but how else are you going to get a good sense of a property? Today, we’re going to look at how to deal with time zappers so that you can get back to focusing on what really matters: getting your clients an amazing deal.

Social Media

Social media is a double-edged sword. On one side, social media can be a great (and free!) way to show off your expertise, network with other professionals, and gain new clients. Social media is a great marketing tool, but it can also rob you of your time with endless updates, videos, and photos.

The Solution: Using programs such as Hootsuite or Informz can help you plan out posts days or even weeks in advance. It’ll cut the amount of time you spend on social media in half.

If you struggle with Facebook breaks turning from five minutes into a half an hour (hey, it happens to the best of us!), try setting a timer for yourself. You’d be surprised at how quickly those ten minutes will zoom by.

Answering The Same Questions Over And Over (And Over And Over…)

How many times a week do you answer the same few questions (what type of land do you sell? Where are you based in? Do you specialize in x?) over email, phone, or in person?

The Solution: Links are your best friend. Include links to your website on your business card, Find A Land Consultant profile, and anywhere else you or your listings are posted. More and more people (especially younger generations) will search the web for answers before calling you. Make sure your vital information (such as website, e-mail, specialties, and phone number) are available for any potential clients to find on their own. Also, always carry around a few business cards with you. You never know when you’re going to run into your next big client!

If you aren’t comfortable giving out your personal e-mail or phone number, you could always create a contact form. This allows people to send you their information and questions without spam cluttering up your inbox

Looking at properties far outside of your jurisdiction

Are you licensed to sell land in more than one state? Awesome! Do you find yourself exhausted from trying to stay up-to-date with land sales in multiple states? Less awesome. Land experts are known for traveling long distances for clients, but similar to social media, there’s a fine line between working hard and spreading yourself too thin.

The Solution: Being licensed in multiple states is great. The key to making the most of your time is knowing your own limits. Ask yourself:

  • How much time am I spending on each property?
  • Do the long drives out to far-away properties tend to end in sales? Are these properties worth the cost of gas/my time?
  • How much time will it take to complete the CE requirements for each state I’m licensed in?

Driving

A huge chunk of time for land experts is spent on the road. This is a non-negotiable in the land industry. Google Earth is great, but nothing beats walking around a property yourself. It’s the only surefire way to spot issues with the land.

The Solution: Not much can be done to change the time on the road, but you can change how you use it. You can listen to podcasts such as Let’s Talk Land or stream lectures on land issues. You can make your truck a university on wheels!

We know there’s no way to cut any of these time zappers out of your life for good. Social media, long drives, and crazy hours are all things that come with the job. However, by using these tricks, you’ll be able to able to make the most out of the most precious resource a land agent has: time.

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.

DC update

IRS Guidance Out on 20 Percent Business Income Deduction

“On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”.

All individual provisions of the measure are generally effective after December 31, 2017 for the 2018 tax filing year and expire on December 31, 2025 unless otherwise noted. The provisions do not affect tax filings for 2017 unless noted. To read NAR’s analysis of the bill’s provisions impacting real estate, please go to “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – What it Means for Homeowners and Real Estate Professionals.

NAR will be providing ongoing updates and guidance to members in the coming weeks, as well as working with Congress and the Administration to address additional concerns through future legislation and rule-making. Lawmakers have already signaled a desire to fine tune elements of The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as well as address additional tax provisions not included in this legislation in 2018, and REALTORS® will need to continue to be engaged in the process.

NAR worked throughout the tax reform process to preserve the existing tax benefits of homeownership and real estate investment, as well to ensure as many real estate professionals as possible would benefit from proposed tax cuts. Many of the changes reflected in the final bill were the result of the engagement of NAR and its members over several years.” – NAR Tax Reform Info

The Treasury/IRS recently released its proposed regulations on the Sec. 199A 20% deduction for pass through businesses.

NAR wrote a letter to Treasury and IRS advocating that a wider range of real estate professionals should be eligible for this deduction.  NAR was successful in getting a carve-out for real estate agents and brokers.  The proposed guidance from Treasury/IRS has specifically stated that services provided by real estate agents and brokers are not considered “specified service businesses” and can be eligible for the Sec. 199A deduction above and below the income thresholds of $157,500 (single) and $315,000 (married).

NAR has also published additional information, including a Realtor Mag piece and Comm Blog that has been posted on the NAR website. To learn more, there is a series of FAQs on the IRS website that can also be shared.

Bottom Line:

This is a pretty straightforward deduction for pass through business owners making under the income thresholds.  Agents/brokers who are above the income thresholds:

This proposed guidance from Treasury/IRS is good news because real estate brokerages are not considered “specified service businesses” and can be eligible for the Sec. 199A deduction above the income thresholds of $157,500 (single) and $315,000 (married).  The calculation will depend on how your business is structured (S-corp, LLC, etc) and the deduction cannot exceed the greater of 1) 50% of the W-2 wages paid by the business, or 2) the sum of 25% of those W-2 wages paid plus 2.5% of the original cost of “qualified property.”  This is generally the original cost of the business’s depreciable property during its useful life.  This is a very basic explanation and there are other considerations, particularly if you have multiple qualified businesses. Consult your tax advisor to give you guidance on eligibility and how to file for the deduction.  NAR will release additional information about the Sec. 199A tax deduction and its impact on real estate professionals once we have done more analysis on the proposed rule. 

The Characteristics & Attributes of Land

Unlike homes in certain residential developments across the country, no two parcels of land are the same in my mind.  Sure they may have similar views or produce a similar crop, but there are likely many different attributes that each property might have that are not visible from just a site visit online or from studying a map of the property.  In order to completely grasp these attributes to their fullest extent, there are a number of important questions that must be asked prior to making an investment in land.

Conservation Easements

Is the land encumbered with a conservation easement?  This should be one of the first questions asked when looking at land in my mind.  While some landowners may be looking to permanently conserve the land while getting a healthy tax benefit, others may want to have the opportunity to develop it at some point down the road.  I’ve seen lots of common sense conservation easements over the years that do not hinder the use of the land in a significant way, but I’ve also seen some bizarre conservation easements that can greatly affect the overall market value of a property.  Consider the long-term effects of a conservation easement and if they’re right for you and your heirs.

While most parcels of land do not have conservation easements, some might have rules, restrictions, or covenants that the owners must abide by.  It’s imperative that this be investigated so that you know what can actually be done on the property.

Hunting Properties

Buyers of hunting properties, especially in the West, often look at proximity to public land.  While many landowners consider it a luxury to border National Forest, a lot of recreational buyers consider it a negative if there is a public trailhead nearby.  The last thing any outdoorsman wants is to purchase a gorgeous high-country elk hunting property bordering the National Forest, just to the have the public legally walking on the other side of the fence in blaze orange come hunting season.

In states where public land is more rare, it’s quite common for a hunting buyer to look at smaller properties that are adjacent to large cattle ranches or large farms full of crops, as these will typically hold and attract a significant amount of wildlife.  If the neighboring properties are all 80 – 160 acre parcels with homes, then there is a very good chance the hunting opportunities will be very limited compared to if the neighboring properties are a peanut field on one side and a cattle ranch on the other.

Waterfront Properties

Avid fly fisherman will often look for two types of properties.  Those with deep enough pockets strive for acquiring a long stretch of river, often at least half a mile, to hold enough holes where they can fish without feeling pressured from neighbors both upstream and downstream.  Those looking for more affordable options will often look in ranch communities or platted subdivisions that offer fishing easements for its members or property owners.  These fishing easements can range from 1 – 6 miles of premium fishing habitat with very little pressure, as most property owners in these types of communities are typically absentee owners who have a primary residence is another state.

When purchasing waterfront land it’s important to obtain a floodplain map.  These can often be found through FEMA, but I encourage you to have the land surveyed so that you have the most up to date accurate elevations.  If you’re ever planning on building, be sure to do your proper due diligence and investigate insurance options prior to your purchase.  Flood insurance certainly isn’t cheap and it must be considered prior to purchasing land in low-lying valleys or along waterways.

Farmland

If farming is the primary purpose for a land purchase, knowing the soil type and the annual precipitation is going to be imperative.  If water rights are applicable, details of the water rights and the method of delivery for those water rights will be imperative to understand.  The length of the growing season and cuttings per year must be considered as well with farm ground.

Access

Access is another key component when comparing different parcels of land on the market.  While most properties around the United States have decent year round access, it is not unheard of for there to be no year-round access.  I’ve seen properties that can’t be accessed in the winter unless it’s via snowmobile, and I’ve seen properties that can’t be accessed after a heavy rain due to all the clay.  Vegetation and soil type can vary from region to region, and it’s important to know how those can affect the access during the different seasons of the year.  Along with access must come the conversation of access easements.  It’s certainly not ideal to cross a neighbor’s property to get to yours, so this also must be investigated if it does not appear that the property has direct access off of a road.

Utilities

Location of utilities and infrastructure should be a given when it comes to looking at land, especially residential home sites, but I’ve seen several buyers purchase land over the years because of a fabulous view it offered and didn’t give any consideration to the costs of pulling utilities to the property.  While solar has certainly gotten much more popular over the past few years, the majority of the public still desires to be tied into the electric grid.

Domestic water should certainly be another characteristic that buyers consider if they plan on living on the land.  If purchasing land in a rural area, it’s wise to talk to the neighboring landowners with improvements and see what the depth, yield, and quality of their water wells are.  (Some states have this information posted online on their Division of Water Resources website).  If you see a water trailer or a pickup truck parked next to their house with a portable cistern, this should be a red flag as it likely means they are literally hauling water for domestic use.

Residential

When dealing with residential homesites it’s important to consider the direction in which the land lays.  For example, a prime home site in the Rocky Mountains will often have good southern exposure for generating great natural light in the cold winter months.  On the other hand, a home site in the Texas Hill Country would ideally be more east facing and have a lot of mature trees on its western boundary, providing a good amount of afternoon shade over the home in the hot summer months.

Another question one should consider when looking at land is the long-term potential of that land generating an income.  There are a variety of ways to generate income from vacant land.  A few examples include the following:

  • Income from leasing the mineral rights
  • Income from leasing the pasture for grazing
  • Income from leasing the land for crop production
  • Income from leasing the water rights
  • Income from leasing the land for storage (RV’s, boats, etc…)
  • Income from leasing RV or tiny home sites
  • Income from leasing the land for wind turbines
  • Income from a hunting or fishing lease
  • Income from recreational activities (mountain biking, ATV-ing, etc…)
  • Income from harvesting timber

Wildfires

With the wildfires that unfortunately spread across many states this year, another important factor to consider when purchasing land is the likelihood of the land burning and the long-term effect it could have on the property.  Is the land a healthy forest with little undergrowth vegetation, or is it full of dead timber that is likely to go up in flames?  What are the neighboring properties like that border it?

Despite what many folks might think, selling and purchasing land is not an easy task.  I encourage you to do your proper due diligence and think about one of the most important attributes of all, and that is the family memories that land can offer for generations to come.  Whether it’s eating a meal from the family garden, watching a child harvest their first Thanksgiving turkey, or building a cabin next to the river, the right parcel of land can offer the opportunity to bring families together in a way that unfortunately far too few of people are truly experiencing these days.

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.

Justin Osborn is a licensed associate real estate broker with The Wells Group. He is a member of RLI’s Future Leaders Committee.

 

Welcome Reception Networking NLC20

Listen Up! The ROI on NLC

Married people, who can relate to listening to your spouse without really listening? No, just me? For years, I’d heard my husband, Luke Worrell ALC, come back from the National Land Conference raving about how valuable it was – the speakers, the networking and everything in between. I didn’t fully grasp what he meant until I experienced NLC18 for myself this year. It was the single most valuable professional development tool I’ve put in my work belt in a long time.

Luke and I are blessed to work together in the land business that his dad, Allan Worrell ALC1, started and that we now own together – Luke as a land broker and farm manager, and me on our marketing and operations functions. NLC18 equipped each of us with new ways to become more effective and efficient in our roles. Allow us to elaborate…

Networking Opportunities

Luke: The NLC has become somewhat of an annual pilgrimage to me. Like many organizations and activities, you get what you put in, and the NLC has given me so much. The thing I most value about the conference is the chance to come together with colleagues from around the country and network. It can go beyond networking as well; I have made countless genuine friendships over the years by attending this event.

The 2018 conference in Nashville was special to me. Not only was it the first NLC that Allison and I could attend together as business partners, but it held certain symbolic meaning to me personally. My very first NLC was in Nashville back in 2011. I was “green as grass” to the industry and literally knew no one there other than my dad. I was there lacking confidence and not really knowing what to make of everything and everyone. Ray Brownfield held a national position with RLI at that time and was on stage talking about how the NLC held such distinction to him. He cited that networking through RLI has led to great business. I distinctly remember a younger, naïve version of myself sitting there wondering to myself if what Ray was saying was true or something nice he felt like he had to say since he was in leadership….

Fast forward seven years to 2018 and I was in Nashville again, this time winning the National ALC-to-ALC Networking Award for the largest real estate transaction closed between two Accredited Land Consultants. Low and behold, the colleague with whom I partnered and closed that sale was Ray Brownfield himself. As it turns out, Ray was telling the truth back in 2011! Closing on an $8.4 million farmland sale is a huge gift from God that makes for a great story and a feather in the cap to networking at these events. The biggest take away goes beyond an award-winning sale – it is the people. Since that first trip to Nashville in 2011, Ray has become a trusted colleague, a mentor of sorts and a genuine friend. The wonderful thing about the NLC and going year after year is that I could say that about many other members of the Realtors Land Institute. Barring tragedy or the birth of a child (literally the only reason I missed Tucson in 2015!), I refuse to miss the National Land Conference. It is an invaluable experience for me as a land professional, and me on a personal level.

Knowledge Acquisition

Luke: Another obvious benefit of the NLC is amount of knowledge you take away. Over the years, the conference has continued to add high-quality breakout sessions that essentially create a buffet of knowledge. You can pick and choose from numerous choices and tailor your conference experience to expand your knowledge in just the right places.

Nashville was a prime example. I went into the conference wanting to learn more about reaching different types of buyers, other than those I have grown accustomed to. Because of the numerous breakout options available at NLC, I was able to do just that. On one day of the conference alone, I learned about working with foreign buyers on land acquisitions, understanding what motivated institutional investment groups and how to better position myself on social media to appeal to a broader base. Keep in mind I was able to attend all of these sessions in an eight-hour window of time. There isn’t anywhere else I could cover that range of topics in depth in such a short period of time. Over the course of three or four days, the quality of options to learn is incredible.

Allison: Just as Luke was able to acquire new knowledge to help him as a land broker, I was able to expand my knowledge on topics that help me better market our company and address some operational challenges we’re facing. I either participated in a session, met with an exhibitor, or swapped strategies with other attendees on the following topics, and more:

  1. Tools for tracking sales leads and processes within the sales cycle
  2. Tips for how to motivate our brokers and measure their performance
  3. Social media tips and tricks – when to post, what platform to use, how to engage the audience
  4. How to improve our online footprint
  5. Tips for becoming more effective and efficient

For at least three of those topics, I had signed up for various webinars over the past year and cancelled at the last minute because something came up at work that made it fall on the priority list (not RLI webinars, of course – those are can’t miss!). Participating in the National Land Conference allowed me to pull away from the day-to-day so that I could finally devote uninterrupted attention to topics that will help to grow our business.

Public Relations

Allison: You might be surprised to read that Public Relations is one of the value-added benefits we identify for the National Land Conference. But, hear me out. Anything you do to develop yourself professionally is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to landowners, lenders, attorneys and others with whom we all share the agribusiness space, that you embrace the notion of lifelong learning within your craft. That you aren’t just someone who operates solely off of intuition in your little corner of the world.

Tactfully slide into conversation that you just got back from the National Land Conference and that you learned about XYZ topics, compared land market trends with brokers in neighboring areas and invested in developing yourself to the benefit of those whom you serve. In our market in Central Illinois, after Luke returns home from a work conference, I often contact the local radio station and offer him up for an interview on their farm programming show. They usually jump on the chance to fill a timeslot, and it’s a great way to position ourselves as thought-leaders within the ag realm, so it’s a win-win for everyone. Write about what you learned at the conference on your blog and/or company newsletter. Post a photo from the conference on your social media pages.

Make the most of any conference you attend, leadership role you hold or award you win. You can bet your next commission check that I leveraged Luke’s ALC-to-ALC Networking Award to his advantage! It’s okay to toot your own horn (in a humble, high-integrity way of course) about awards you earn. More than just a plaque in your office, industry awards are tangible ways to show potential clients and business partners that you have the credentials and experience they’re looking for in a land broker.

And for goodness sake, get your ALC designation! Talk about good publicity!

Can you tell that we’re big fans of the National Land Conference?! Taking time out of your territory might seem like a costly endeavor, whether financially or procedurally. But we assure you, it is an investment that pays for itself. If you’ve never been, what are you waiting for? Let’s meet up in Albuquerque for NLC19!

 

1 For those of you who know Allan, rest assured, he hasn’t retired. We honestly don’t think he ever will – he loves the land business too much! He’s just tired of dealing with the headaches of business ownership.

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

 

About the Authors: Luke and Allison Worrell own Worrell Land Services, LLC, specializing in land brokerage, farm management and land appraisals across Central Illinois. Luke is an accomplished Land Broker who has earned the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designation. He is also an Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) who manages 84 farms across Central Illinois. Luke is an active leader in many ag-industry organizations, both nationally and locally. Allison leads the company’s strategic marketing and communications efforts. She brings to the business a unique blend of professional experiences from her background with a national pharmaceutical wholesaler, as well as non-profit work.

 

 

 

Social Media Beyond Facebook Part One

A few weeks ago, Facebook’s stock took a historic plunge, losing $119 billion in one day. It’s the largest one-day stock drop in history. Younger generations are leaving Facebook for newer social media sites, while others are fed up with scandals surrounding data usage.

Although Facebook is still a powerhouse, other social media sites are on the rise. In this two-part series, we are going to look at some of the most popular social media beyond Facebook and how to make the most of them to grow your client base as a land agent.

Instagram 

Instagram is a photographer’s paradise. The land industry thrives on this platform, as pictures of beautiful properties rack up thousands of likes. Chris Miller, ALC, gave us some insider tips for having a successful Instagram account.

Make The Photo The Star

“A picture is worth a thousand words” perfectly captures how to be successful on Instagram. Wordy posts that would normally do well on Facebook flop on Instagram. When thinking about what to post, think about what draws the eye: rich colors, sweeping shots of land, and pictures of horses on ranch land.

If you need any inspiration, check out Miller’s Instagram page. It’s an excellent mix of stunning land shots, short videos of properties, and promotional material for his real estate group, American Forest Management.

“I post tract photos of lands I have for sale, I do some iPhone video clips that I create in movie maker which I share to talk about tracts or land-related issues. I also just share really good photos of land pictures or land management activities that I think interest landowners,” says Miller. “I take some great photos from the side of the road or when I am walking a tract and see something interesting.”

Consider Using Apps

There are apps to make photos better, schedule posts for you, and track all your likes and comments. Apps can take your Instagram game to the next level. Chris Miller likes the app Ezy Watermark.

“I use an app called Ezy Watermark to add my company’s logo to my videos and some photos for brand awareness as well.  However, I have heard Instagram favors photos with no text so I do not use this on every photo.”

The Repost app is also a fan favorite with land experts. You can use this app to repost from other Instagram accounts. This is great because it can save you time from having to create your own post while still staying top of mind and providing valuable content to your followers.

Love What You Do

If you always get your thumb in the way, you might want to try another platform. However, if you love photography, like Miller, Instagram might be the perfect social media site for you. “I enjoy photography, especially iPhone photography. So it is enjoyable to me to take the photos and share them and then see how people react to the photos.  I think it helps tremendously with top-of-mind awareness among your following and makes people think of you in land conversations they have or if they have a need.”

Having fun with Instagram also adds authenticity and makes your brand seem more relatable. This helps to generate trust from your audience.

Twitter

Twitter is rapid-fire takes on current news, different topics, and anything else you can imagine. RLI Future Leaders Committee Member Tim Hadley put it perfectly in his guest post for RLI: “Twitter is like a crowded club where you pop in and out of conversations and stay with the ones you find interesting.” But amid all the chaos, there are a lot of opportunities to brand yourself and meet new people.

Tweet Frequently And On Brand

The speed and vast amount of content of Twitter can sometimes feel catholic, but there’s a method behind the madness. Tweeting frequently keeps you top of mind for clients. Tweeting about topics related to land shows off how much you know about the industry and how in the know you are.

Take Mossy Oak’s twitter account for example. They tweet frequently (about two or three times a day). While they post lots of different topics (land news, hunting tips, nature shots, promotions for new merchandise), it is all tied around their brand.

Stay On Top Of The News

Who has time to read through a whole newspaper? Twitter keeps you up-to-date on not just national news, but also news specific to your interests. Check out hashtags to find content on topics you are interested in and you can even join the conversation and share your own expertise using them.

Track What’s Working

One of the great things about Twitter is how easy it is to see how successful certain posts are. Just click on your profile, click the “Analytics” button, and you’ve got a detailed report of the engagement of every single thing you’ve ever tweeted.

Hear What’s Being Said About You

Social media makes it easier than ever to keep track of what people are saying about you, good or bad. Follow your company accounts and hashtags to see what clients are tweeting about you. Google Alerts are also a great way to know when you or your company are being mentioned.

While Facebook is still a great place to network on, there are many other social media platforms that you can promote your brand on, meet other professionals on, and get your name out to potential clients through.

In the second part of this series, we’ll explore LinkedIn, YouTube, and one more surprise social media site!

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.

rli whitetail properties partnership

RLI & Whitetail Properties Partner To Bring A Whole New Level of Expertise To Land Agents

August 8, 2018 (Chicago) – The Realtors® Land Institute (RLI), The Voice of Land, is excited to announce its partnership with a leading industry brokerage, Whitetail Properties. Through this partnership Whitetail joins a growing group of industry brokerages taking advantage of RLI’s Education Partnership. The two organizations are joining forces to bring Whitetail Properties’ land real estate agents expertise, prestige, and opportunities across the country.

As the industry leader in education for land agents, RLI now offers Whitetail Agents exclusive discounts on Land University (LANDU) online courses, RLI’s National Land Conference and LANDU Education Week events, and earning the elite Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation. The goal of this partnership is help Whitetail agents to be more productive and effective for their clients.

Aubrie Kobernus, the CEO of RLI, commented on the partnership saying “We developed this strategic LANDU Education Partnership opportunity for brokerages looking to invest in enhancing their agents’ skills by taking advantage of the resources we have available. This partnership is a win all around – especially for Whitetail Properties agents and their clients!”

“We are most excited about partnering with the Realtors® Land Institute because we feel their principles align with our seven core values. To us, these core values represent the foundation of every great company. We greatly appreciate the opportunity RLI has given us to grow our business by increasing our knowledge, our network, and our position in the market,” said Dan Perez, Founding Partner and CEO of Whitetail Properties, also commenting on the new partnership.

Whitetail’s Core Values Include:

  1. We exist to provide our clients and customers the ultimate land buying or selling experience.
  2. We exist to serve our clients and customers with the highest degree of honesty and care.
  3. We exist to elevate the image of the real estate profession by taking integrity, accountability and ethics to the highest level.
  4. We exit to lead by the example of our actions and not our words.
  5. We exist to never stop learning and growing.
  6. We exist to approach and engage in our work with commitment, enthusiasm and passion.
  7. We exist to always take the high road regardless of its steepness.

As a partner, Whitetail Properties agents can now enjoy steep discounts on the courses and fees associated with earning RLI’s ALC Designation; a key requirement for Whitetail agents looking to earn their WPCLS (Whitetail Properties Certified Land Specialist) Designation. Whitetail will be hosting a newly updated version of RLI’s Transitional Land Real Estate LANDU course for its agents in August. This course will count towards earning the elite ALC Designation.

About the Realtors® Land Institute                                     

The Realtors® Land Institute, “The Voice of Land”, continually strives to maintain its status as the acknowledged leader for all matters pertaining to the land real estate profession. RLI endeavors to remain the essential membership organization for the extraordinary real estate professionals who broker, lease, sell, develop, and manage our most precious resource: the land. The Realtors® Land Institute provides the expertise, camaraderie, and valuable resources that are the foundation for all land real estate professionals to become the best in the business. For more information, visit rliland.com or call 800.441.5263. It’s the best time to join the best!

For additional information contact:
Jessa Friedrich, RLI Marketing Manager
800-441-5263 | jfriedrich@realtors.org

Handling Access Easements

So you get a call from Mr. Jones asking if you want to list his 500 acres. He tells you the property has a fully stocked 50 – acre lake that has been intensively managed for trophy bass; the property is dominated by beautiful mature hardwoods that have never been cut; there are over 75 acres of planted food plots for wildlife, also intensively managed; and the road system is extensive and   can be driven in a car. He goes on to say he wants to price it to sell fast, as he and his wife are getting too old to look after the property and are ready to move closer to their grandchildren.  You make an appointment to meet him tomorrow, to visit the tract, gather information, and do your due diligence. This potential dream listing in a great location that you know will sell quickly has you giddy with excitement!

Well, you meet Mr. Jones at the coffee shop. He jumps into your truck to ride with you to his property. After a short drive you pull up to the first gate and enter, then you go a little further and through another gate that is the entrance to his property. You enjoy your tour. The property is actually even better than he previously described. You know this will be an easy property to sell.

Then you ask him “Do you have deeded access from the paved county road to your gate?” and he answers “Well, no I don’t. Mr. Smith has always just allowed me to cross his property and we get along just fine.”

You now see your dream listing in a whole different light and it is not so good! Well, what do you do now?

Basically. you have four options.

OPTION 1- Accept the fact that you have a prescriptive easement to access the property and factor the price accordingly.

This option will pretty much limit your market to cash buyers only, as most lenders will not lend money to purchase property without deeded access. Another problem with this option is the unknown of what will happen when Mr. Smith is no longer the owner of the adjoining property being used for access. The new owner may not want you driving across his property.

OPTION 2 – Although in Alabama you cannot be landlocked, you still may have to go to court to gain some sort of access.

This will mean legal fees and other possible expenses, as well as, the court may only grant you an easement for ingress and egress (coming and going). The easement may be limited in width and not include utilities. This is a legal easement that the lenders will now finance, but the buyer may not be able to get power and public water to a home/cabin site.

OPTION 3 – Mr. Jones asks Mr. Smith to give him deeded access.

Mr. Jones can offer to pay for the survey and any other costs associated with having this agreement drawn up. This obviously is the best case scenario.

OPTION 4 – Mr. Jones offers to purchase deeded access to his property from Mr. Smith.

If you choose this option or option 3 be sure that the easement is wide enough (typically 45’-60’should suffice) and allows utilities. We recently helped a client purchase a 45’ easement for ingress, egress, and utilities that was ½ mile long, at a cost of $4,000.00. The value added to the property was far greater than the cost to purchase the easement.

So, there you have it, a quick summary on how to handle a fairly common easement issue. In closing, I have found that when you encounter potential problems like this, it is best to sit down face to face with the landowner that you are requesting the access easement from. 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.

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

About the Author: Eric Leisy, ALC, is an avid outdoors-man, freelance outdoor writer, REALTOR® & Land Specialist for Great Southern Land Co.