Gaining Community Support for Land Use Projects

Working on large land use projects can have many upsides. You get to work with big name clients and, many times, the job comes with a bigger paycheck. However, working on large land use projects can also have its drawbacks. These projects tend to attract controversy and resentment from the surrounding community; and community resistance can slow down construction, and in some extreme cases, can even shutdown projects entirely. If you want to gain community support for your land use project, good communication and planning will be your secret weapons.

Communities have rallied against land use projects since real estate agents, developers, companies, and governments started proposing them. Knowing how to handle opposition is becoming increasingly important, especially in areas where land is both highly valued and extremely limited such as New York or California. Small towns have also had to struggle with choosing between new land projects and historical or well-loved buildings. No matter where you are in America, you can use these tips to gain community support for your land use project.

Create A Website

When people Google your project, the first thing they should see is your website not an angry blog post about your project. For this reason, it is important to start building SEO as early as possible. Lay out the need-to-know facts about the project and be sure to include some positive things the community will get from your project. Will the project bring more jobs to the area? Will it increase foot traffic, bringing more customers to local stores and restaurants? Brainstorm ways the community will benefit and lay them out on the website.

Listen To The Community

Organizing a small meeting where members of the community can voice their concerns allows you to understand where the opposition stems from. In many cases, most of the anger from locals comes from feeling like their voices are not being heard. Seeing you make an effort to understand their concerns can do wonders for your project’s public image. The other benefit is that the community will be able to hear the facts directly from you. You’ll be able to correct any misinformation or rumors.

Some public affairs firms, such as GCA Strategies, warn against huge town-hall style meetings. According to their article, the company believes that “large audiences usually have too many issues to address in depth, and time is typically so constrained that people become frustrated because they cannot fully express their fears or concerns.” Consider having limited-seating, smaller meetings to make sure everyone feels their voice is heard. Think focus group instead of free-for-all.

Another option is making an appearance on local podcasts, radio shows, or news programs to talk about your land project.  This way, you can still get your message out to locals while having total control of the situation.

Keep A Cool Head

Staying calm in the face of conflict is the single most important factor in gaining community support. With social media at our fingertips at all times, it’s easier than ever to share your thoughts with the whole world. In times of stress, it can be tempting to vent your frustrations on Facebook, but this can have huge drawbacks if the wrong person sees it. Remember, anything you say reflects not only on you as a professional, but also on the land use project you are trying to get approved.

Social media slips happen to the best of us. A good way to prevent them is to follow SPACE guidelines:

S – Stop: Type it, but don’t post.
P – Pause: Wait an hour before posting. Ideally, sleep on it.
A – Assess: Ask yourself about your intentions behind the post.
C – Confirm: Ask a close friend who isn’t involved with the project their thoughts on the post and if they think it might cause trouble.
E – Execute: Send the post only if it passed the other steps.

Gaining community support for land use projects isn’t always easy. Social media and misinformation can spread like wildfire and be difficult to contain. However, if you approach the situation with a cool head and make it clear upfront the ways the community can benefit from your project, you can overcome even the greatest of hurtles.

This article was originally posted on 

Praising the Appraisal Process

Trying to understand the appraisal process can feel like trying to find the Loch Ness Monster – impossible! An appraisal is an educated opinion based on dozens of different factors that are always changing. Since there is very little data available about most plots of land, most appraisals rely heavily on educated guesses and predictions of the market. This uncertainty makes some people uncomfortable. However, as a land professional, it’s important to know what goes into the appraisal process and what impacts value. Let’s take a look into the ever-changing and often infuriating world of appraising land real estate.

What exactly is an appraisal? According to the Appraisal Institute, an appraisal is a professional opinion on the value of a property. The word ‘opinion’ here is very important. Since land values, market condition, and demand for land types and uses is always changing, it is hard to find solid data to base an appraisal on.

Not only are the factors of an appraisal difficult to track, there are also so many of them! Here are just a few that impact land value:

  • Current market conditions
  • Income potential
  • Current land use
  • Soil type
  • Structures
  • Environmental hazards
  • Climate
  • Surrounding area/neighborhood
  • Local and national land laws
  • Location
  • Water/lack of water on a property
  • Access to mineral rights

We need a nap just after typing that list!

With all this in mind, what is the best way to go about getting an appraisal? There are dozens of methods out there, ranging from the income approach to the sales comparison approach. There are many blogs that suggest ‘do-it-yourself’ equations to figure out your land’s worth. We STRONGLY recommend against this. As you’ve seen in this article, appraisals are extremely complex and require the help of a professional (such as an ALC). While it is impossible to find an exact value, here are three tried-and-true ways you and a land professional can use to get the most accurate value of your land possible.

Get The Tax-Assessed Value of Your Property

You can access these in the public tax records. Tax-Assessed Values (or TAVs) are determined so that counties can figure out how much to tax different plots of land. They are done every few years. Since these numbers are used for taxes, TAVs are a great resource for appraisals. Remember that the TAV is used for tax reasons, so you still need to factor in current market conditions.

Best For: All land.

Land Survey

Done by a professional, this will help you know what parts of the land you own. This is great for lands where the boarders are unclear or deeds have gotten blurred over time. A land survey will also show you the buildable land and topography of a plot. Knowing what land uses are possible, and what the land’s highest and best use is, are key for determining value.

Best For: Large parcels of land and land with unclear boundaries

Land Value Estimation

Raw land is the hardest land type to value. It’s a blank canvas. The value will change based on what the buyer/owner does with the land. The land use and structures built on the land can wildly change the value. For example, imagine a plot of land that has the perfect location, soil type, and structures to be a vineyard. If the buyer uses it as a vineyard, the value of the land could be much higher than if the buyer decides to use the land for a completely different use, such as hunting. This method can give you a base price of the land.

Best For: Vacant Land/Transitional Land

There’s a reason appraisals should be left to the professionals. It takes years of experience and a solid understanding of market trends to even begin to understand land value. While we don’t recommend you trying to appraise your own land without the help of a professional, we hope this glance into appraisals makes you appreciate all the work that goes into it. Make sure to to help with your next land transaction.

Five Questions To Help You Find the Perfect Plot For Your New House

If you think finding the perfect house is hard, try finding the perfect land for that house. Finding a property that is in your budget, near your place of work, has passed all the necessary tests, is zoned for the type of house you want to build, and is not cluttered with restrictions can drain a person. We’ve created a checklist of questions to ask to make sure you get the perfect plot to build your dream house on.

1. Is The Lot Buildable?

You’d be surprised how many people don’t ask this question. It’s easy to assume that if vacant land is being sold in a residential area, it is automatically buildable, but that’s not true. Be sure to run a soil test to make sure the (especially recommended if your lot is located near gas stations, body shops, or anything where toxic liquids might be present). Read through all the paperwork that comes with the land to make sure there are no hidden non-building clauses.

2. Are The Other Houses In The Area Within My Building Budget?

If you want to build a $3 million home in a neighborhood of $1 million homes, you are going to run into serious trouble. Building houses with values different than the neighbors can throw the local land values out of whack.

In an article in U.S. News, Neville Graham, a real estate agent with Partners Trust, recalls a client having her construction loan denied because the $2.2 million building and land cost was far more than the average $1.5 million houses in the neighborhood. The client had just finalized buying the land, but now can’t do what they hoped with it. That’s a true land horror story!

3. What Utilities Do I Have Access To?

Different properties have different rules about what utilities you have access to. This includes:

  • Water
  • Power
  • Wi-Fi
  • Gas
  • Waste

There’s nothing worse than someone who buys their dream property, but finds out too late that they don’t have legal access to necessities like water and power.

4. What Are The Zoning Restrictions? / Is This Neighborhood Under Consideration For Re-Zoning?

Local governments establish zoning ordinances to regulate land use and determine school districts. If zoning regulations are changed, they can drastically change what you can build on your land. Zoning restrictions are also important for families wanting to get their children into the best local public schools. Keep a close eye on the local news and government to get a sense of changing zoning laws.

5. Is The Property Close to X?

Location, location, location! We went in-depth into this popular saying in our previous residential real estate article, but it’s so important we had to add it to this list as well. X stands for whatever matters most to have near you. For some people, it’s their place of work. For others, it’s schools for their children. Nature lovers often put gorgeous views above all else, while culture vultures will prioritize being near great restaurants, theatres, and museums. It all depends on what is most important to you.

While finding the perfect property is difficult, knowing which questions to ask will make the whole process a lot smoother. Another way to make the land search easier is by working with an Accredited Land Consultant (). ALCs know everything there is to know about land, and you can use the Find A Land Consultant tool to find one in your area.

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.

Top 3 New Technologies for Land Agents

As the land real estate industry continues to mature, it’s essential to keep up with the ever-changing and nonstop growth of it all. Using the latest technology not only allows you to better help your clients but also makes it easier to communicate with them and get to the closing process even faster. Here are the top three new technologies land agents can use to benefit their clients and their business.

Matterport 3D Virtual Tours

Is there a mesmerizing home on your client’s property that you just can’t seem to describe with words? The ability to tour the entire interior of a home is easily available with this new technology! Matterport, a 3D media technology company, offers a 3D platform consisting of the Matterport Pro 3D Camera, Matterport’s cloud services and the Matterport Web Player. The coolest part of the platform is the camera, which scans a home’s interior, stitches all of the images together and creates a virtual tour of the home! Travel through the home from your phone or computer and experience it all with this technology.

Land Tour 360™

There’s nothing worse than a client getting out on a property and realizing it wasn’t what they were expecting to see. They spent valuable time looking for the perfect listing online and made time in their busy schedule to go see it in person. And now they can’t help but feel a little despair. Fortunately, we’ve got just the tool that alleviates that problem. Land Tour 360™ is our latest technology that allows individuals to tour a property without ever having to step foot on it! Explore the entire property by moving around a 360-degree aerial image of the tract that includes boundaries, as well as pictures and videos taken on the tract that reveal vegetation, bodies of water and even wildlife! Like we like to say, “it’s the new way to tour land!”


This technology doesn’t involve any virtual touring, but it is one of the best tools out there for agents who are always on the go. HelloSign is an electronic signature processing service that allows users to sign, fill out, send and receive documents on a computer, eliminating the need for printing out endless amounts of paper. Securely sign documents that you’ve received or request an electronic signature from your client – it’s seriously that easy.

Have you added any of these technology tools into your “toolbox” yet?

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

All About Auctions

Real estate auctions add a jolt of excitement to selling land. The energy! The adrenaline! The thrill of watching the clock tick down! Not only are auctions fun, it’s a great way to sell lots of land in a short amount of time.

If you are new to auctions, all the different types of them might be overwhelming. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of auctions.

  • Absolute: No minimum bids. The land is sold to the highest bigger, regardless of price. This type of auction is better for less expensive land where the owner is more relaxed on the price. Keep in mind though that since there is no safety net for the seller, you do run the risk of losing money.
  • Minimum-Bid: The lowest acceptable price for properties are pre-determined by the seller. This gives the seller a safety net that they don’t have in absolute auctions.
  • Multi-Par: Multiple parcels of land are combined in each lot. This type of auction is perfect for sellers who want to move vast quantities of land. Since it is more complicated, you will need knowledgeable staff.
  • One of the benefits of online auctions is that it can be done from home. An increasing number of auctions are moving online for the convenience (bid from your living room or on the road!) and cost-savings (don’t need to rent out a room for the event).
  • Reserve: In this auction type, the seller has the unique right to reject the highest bid. If you or your client is selling high-value land, this could be perfect. Some buyers don’t like these auctions because they don’t like the uncertainty of potentially being rejected for the property, even if they have the winning bid.
  • Sealed Bid: Sealed bid means all bids are confidential. This definitely takes some of the adrenaline out of the room but protects people’s financial security.

Now that we’ve covered the different types of auctions, here are some ways to have a great auction.

As A Buyer

Strong Wi-Fi

If your auction is online, a strong connection to Wi-Fi is key. Spotty Wi-Fi has lost people their bids on incredible lots. For example, if two people submit bids at the very last second of an online auction, the person with the faster internet wins. If Wi-Fi in your area is spotty, see if any cafes, restaurants, or libraries nearby offer free Wi-Fi.  

Set Limits Beforehand

In the heat of the moment, it is easy to bid more than you should have. A good way to prevent that is to plan out in advance how much land you need and how much you can afford to spend — and stick to it! Plan on a more conservative budget, but if there is a truly amazing plot of land that you know you can turn a profit on, don’t shy away from it. Skip out on a few other bids if that can secure you getting the lot of your dreams.

Do Your Homework

Of course, you’ve already looked up the price and acreage of the plots you are interested in, but did you do a title search? A title search is the best way to know the regulations and rules that come with a certain property.

If you can, drive by the property to get a closer look. Sometimes, you’ll be able to spot obvious problems that were glossed over in the description. If the property is states away, there is always Google Earth!

As A Seller

Get A Great Auctioneer

Auctioneers are the life and energy of any auction. Who doesn’t love their mind-bogglingly fast chants? If you’ve never been to a live auction before, watch some of our favorite chants to see what all the fuss is about. Find someone with great energy who can keep up!

Know What Makes A Property Good To Auction

Property that is in good condition in a desirable location is likely to get lots of bids. Keep a close eye on the market to see what land types are selling well in your area. Some people think that auctions can be a good place to get rid of properties that they haven’t sold in ages. This isn’t true. Buyers want to be excited about a property and feel like they are finding something new so they are less likely to bid on a property that they’ve seen before.

Work With An ALC

They aren’t called the best in the business for nothing! Not only do ALCs have extensive knowledge of multiple land types, there are many ALCs who specialize in land auctions. When using the Find A Land Consultant tool, be sure to go to the ‘Advanced Search’ feature and click ‘Auctions’ under ‘Service Specialties’.

Real estate auctions are amazing places to sell land and network with other professionals in the land business. Get your bidding paddles ready and have a great auction!


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.

Leveraging Google Maps and Google Earth

It is mind-boggling that Google Earth and Google Maps are free. These programs allow you to get 3D views of properties anywhere in the world, download extensive files with all the information you could ever want about land, monitor natural disasters in real time, and you don’t need to spend a penny to use them. Land experts need to have a wide range of expertise with Google Maps and Google Earth. Whether you’re a Google Earth pro or new to virtual mapping, we’ve got you covered with tips for how to take your Google Mapping skills to the next level so you can better market your properties and more confidently serve your clients.

Before we dive into these two technologies, you might be asking yourself Wait… aren’t Google Maps and Google Earth the same thing? They have a few important differences. Google Maps is a mapping website used more for locating places and getting directions. The graphics aren’t as good, but the traffic and navigation options are up-to-the-second accurate. Google Earth, on the other hand, is used more for virtually visiting properties, with stunning high-def graphics. Both are extremely useful to land experts, Google Maps for navigation and Google Earth for information.


Explore The World Without Leaving Your Couch

When you use Google Earth, you can explore 3D versions of various properties and the surrounding area. If you want to explore a property that is way out of driving range, using Google Earth lets you get an in-depth look into the land.

Turn Back The Clock

Want to know the history of a property, but can’t find information on it anywhere? Whether it’s difficult owners or confusing paperwork, being stuck without any information about your property’s history can be beyond frustrating. Google Earth lets you view the exact same property at different points in time. Not only can this help you get a sense of a property’s history, it also gives you a sense about the area’s future land values. As you flip through the years, keep an eye on the properties around yours. Is there a lot of development? That’s a good indicator that land values are on the rise and the land is in the path of growth. Notice little to no improvements made to the land? Is the land looking worse over time? Chances are values could soon fall.


Measure Lot Dimensions

Google Earth’s measuring tool lets land experts measure out everything from lot sizes to how many feet of lake frontage a property might have.

To use this feature, go to the ‘Measurements’ tab in the upper left-hand corner. First, pick your unit of measurement (miles, feet, inches). Then, simply click and drag your mouse around the area you want to measure. The tool in the corner will immediately let you know the area’s measurements. It’s that easy!

Longitude and Latitude

Many rural land properties (especially vacant land), don’t have registered street addresses. This can make it difficult for clients to visit the property. Google Earth allows you to get the longitude and latitude of any location on Earth. Just zoom in on the area, click on the location, and it’ll give you the coordinates. You can use the ‘share’ tool to send the URL to clients or put it on your website.


Import KMZ And KML

KML (Keyhole Markup Language) and KMZ (KML-Zipped) are file formats that store important information (parcel information, buildings, power grids) about land via Google Earth. You’ll want these if you want in-depth information about the land.

Before you can access this great tool, you’ll need to download an application like Parlay. This application provides the parcel data layers and files to use in Google Maps. Once you’ve downloaded Parlay, you will see layers of data in your ‘My Places’ tab.

Make A Tour

Why send clients a link to a property when you can give them a tour of it? The tours, called KML tours, can also be narrated by you! Click the ‘Add Tour’ button in the main screen, and when you are ready, press the ‘Record’ button. Create the tour by zooming in and out, rotating the globe, and flying to different locations. Your microphone will record whatever you say (stumble in the middle of your planned speech? Never fear! You can edit the audio once you’ve finished the tour). Click the ‘Record’ button again when you are done.

After writing this article, we still can’t wrap our heads around the fact that this program is free. Google Maps and Google Earth can be some of the most powerful tools a land expert has. We hope these tips will help you make the most of it.

Seth Williams from RETipster has lots of excellent step-by-step videos on Google Maps and Earth. He even shares tricks such as drawing parcel lines with the polygon tool and how to find the elevation of any point on Earth. Check them out!

Want to learn more about Google Mapping? If you are in Texas, you’re in luck! RLI’s Texas Chapter is hosting a Google Earth Mapping for Real Estate course on June 25.

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.

A Record LANDU Education Week

In 1984 George Straight was launched to the top of the charts with his # 1 song Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind. Now, 34 years later, a record number of RLI Members will likely be launched to the top of the charts in their own markets thanks to one of the best LANDU events ever put on by RLI. With 50 participants involved in nine full days of intense classes, along with evening festivities most nights, there was certainly not a down moment during the week.

Attendees came from all over the United States this year. We had representation from brokers that specialized in selling the Alaskan frontier, the California coast, recreational properties in Colorado, hunting ranches in Montana, working ranches in Texas, timber farms in Georgia, rural developments in Tennessee, commercial properties in Alabama, and citrus groves in Florida. The camaraderie and knowledge alone that was shared amongst just the attendees was certainly both enjoyable and valuable. It’s quite clear just from engaging in conversations with RLI members from across the country why they are some of the top real estate agents in their markets.

The RLI Texas Chapter hosted us to a fabulous evening at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Visiting the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame and Niles City Hall Saloon were wonderful ways to start the evening. A special thank you must be given to Lone Star Ag Credit for the drinks and amazing dinner they treated us to at Lonesome Dove Bistro. What would an evening in the Fort Worth Stockyards be without a night cap at the White Elephant Saloon?

Obtaining the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation is no easy feat. With 104 educational hours being required, it’s something that can literally take years to accomplish. LANDU did a fabulous job of condensing these hours into the nine days that we were in Texas, without cutting corners on the quality of the education. I’ve taken real estate classes in multiple states across the country, and I must say that the instructors we had at LANDU were by far some of the best instructors I’ve ever had. It was an honor to learn from them and hear about their years of experience in the real estate industry.

In the Transitional Land Real Estate course, we discussed the financial aspects, physical attributes, and the governmental, legal and economic factors that can greatly impact a piece of development ground.

This carried over smoothly to Land Investment Analysis where we analyzed data to calculate the net present value, net future value, internal rate of return, and multipliers and ratios for different properties when determining the highest and best use of those properties.

In the Land 101: Fundamentals of Land Brokerage course, we discussed the tools and techniques that are involved to strategically market and sell both vacant land and rural properties.

Agricultural Land Brokerage and Marketing was certainly educational in that it brought to light all the different economic factors that can affect the value of agricultural land.  It also taught us how to analyze and calculate the income potential of farm land.

The Tax Deferred 1031 Exchange class educated us on the different tax laws that exist for our clients, and how we can help them defer taxes on their investments.

Even though I’ve been a licensed REALTOR® for 16 years, the topics that were covered in the Transitional Land Real Estate class, Land Investment Analysis class, and Tax Deferred 1031 class each gave me tools that I literally put to use in my practice within the first three days of being back in my hometown.  Being able to pass along my knowledge and expertise to my clients will certainly separate me from my competition, and I have LANDU and RLI to thank for that.

As George Straight says in Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind… “Good memories don’t fade so easy.  Does Fort Worth ever cross your mind?” I think I speak on behalf of the majority of the attendees that participated in this year’s LANDU Education Week when I say that the good memories will certainly not fade so easy from the fun times we created getting to know one another, and when Fort Worth crosses our minds we’ll think of the eventful evening we had together that night thanks to RLI.


Justin Osborn is a real estate broker with The Wells Group. Justin is a member of RLI on the Future Leaders Committee working towards earning his ALC.  He currently resides in Durango, CO.

Residential Land Real Estate 101: Back to the Basics

The demand for residential land real estate continues to increase, but its important to recognize that residential is one of the trickier land types. If you Google residential land, you’ll find articles about houses (but not the land they are on), vacant land, farmland, and various reality shows. Residential land overlaps with other land types. One of the most common overlaps is residential and vacant. Many undeveloped residential lots can also be categorized as vacant lots, and many vacant lots can be transitioned into land fit for residents. Since residential land is such a broad term, many people are hesitant to get involved in a field with so many gray areas. Today, we are going back to basics to learn the need-to-know information about residential land real estate.

Different Types Of Clients

You might think that people buying residential land real estate and those buying houses are the same. Actually, they often have very different goals. Home buyers typically want their property to be move-in ready. Residential land buyers, on the other hand, typically want a blank canvas to build their dream house on. While both groups are searching for land to live on, the specific type of land will vary based on the client.


Everyone has heard the old saying location, location, location, but what does it actually mean? It means two properties that are identical in every single way (amenities, quality, size) can have wildly different values based solely off the location. The ideal location is different for every client. For example, families with young children are often willing to pay extra for residential land in districts with excellent schools. Be sure to know the priorities of your client and how those priorities may affect the types of properties they would be most interested in seeing.

Don’t Assume Anything

One of the most common mistakes made when buying residential land real estate is assuming things will be included. For example, many people assume that most residential land will allow you to build most types of housing, included manufactured housing (also called mobile homes). However, many properties include strict regulations on what type of residence can be built. Many areas do not allow manufactured homes.

One way to avoid this problem is to stay on top of local land news. Are there zoning changes on the horizon? Are land values on the rise? Are there plans for new roads that could impact the access to your property?

Another way is to run your own tests. Before buying residential land real estate, you need to go through a series of tests. Environmental tests can determine any potential damage from previous owners. These tests are extremely important because if the soil has been tainted from previous owners (a former gas station or auto body shops, for example), housing can’t be built there.

Having a surveyor look at the boundaries can also be a lifesaver, especially for plots that have had many previous owners. You don’t want to build on land that legally belongs to your neighbor!

The Ups and Downs Of Nature

Nature has a huge role to play in the value of residential land real estate. Properties near oceans, rivers, lakes or parks tend to hold their value because beautiful views and the proximity to outdoor activities (such as hiking, fishing, and hunting) are always in demand. But be careful if the property is near a possible natural hazard (volcano) or at a high risk for a natural disaster (earthquakes, floods, etc.). These risks can cause values to plummet.


When buying residential land, make sure your client’s budget is similar to the prices of the neighborhood houses. Construction loans are frequently rejected if the cost of the land combined with the cost to build is higher than the average home prices in the neighborhood.

The lines between residential land real estate and other land types are blurry. There is no one set of rules about what qualifies or what doesn’t when it comes to residential land. While this land type might be confusing, residential land real estate is always in high demand. We hope this article has piqued your interest about residential land real estate.

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.

Summer Agritourism: How To Make Extra Money Off Your Land

Agritourism — The word sounds like a trendy food you might find at a health food store between acai and kombucha. What agritourism actually is is an activity that brings customers to your land. While this concept might sound confusing, you may already have agritourism happening on your land today. Do you rent your land out for fruit picking, hunting, camping, or fishing? Congratulations, you’re already an Agritourism pro!

Summer is a perfect time for dipping your toes into agritourism. Here are some ways to use agritourism to bring in some extra money this summer.

Horseback Riding

If you have a lifelong love of horses, sharing it with others might be a great way to bring in some extra cash this summer. Renting out horses for trail rides, teaching lessons, or boarding horses on your land are all lucrative options.

While horses can be a huge draw, they can be expensive if you don’t already have most of the equipment. You’ll need:

  • Horses (of course!). Depending on how many riders you are expecting, typically you should have between two to twelve horses
  • Trails or an area to ride the horses in
  • Hay, grass, concentrates, and treats
  • A shovel and wheelbarrow for mucking
  • Saddles, blankets, helmets, and bridles
  • An unlimited water supply (did you know horses drink at least eight gallons of water a day?)
  • The time to feed, care, exercise, and groom your horses
  • Equipment for hoof maintenance (every six to eight weeks)

If you don’t have seven out of eight in that list, horses might not be the most financially-sound agritourism opportunity for you. Once the business is running, you can make extra cash by setting up a shop for visitors with branded gifts and common-sense needs for a day out (like water bottles and snacks).

Camping Land

If you have vacant land that you don’t need to keep in pristine condition, you might consider renting it out for camping. Camping is one of the most minimal-effort ways to rent out land (except for getting calls from that one person who gets lost every five seconds on their way to your property), and many are willing to pay top dollar for beautiful camping sites. You can charge extra for forest, mountain, or waterside property.

Using land for camping does come with its drawbacks. As mentioned above, you shouldn’t rent land out for camping if you need it to stay in perfect condition. Campers can leave behind lots of trash (plastic bags, old food, and even human waste!). Not only can this be bad for your land, it can attract predators like bears that you wouldn’t want near your family. Consider investing in a Porta-Potty and looking into the waste management options needed to run a campground. 


Visiting farm land has always been a popular field trip for school children, but there is also a growing interest from hip foodies who want to know how their food is raised. Giving tours of your land is a great way to teach people about farming and sell some of your crops along the way. If you sell your local grown food at a farmers market or local restaurant, those would be great places to promote that tours of the farm the food came from are available.


People are happy to pay extra for the experience of picking their own apples, berries, or other fresh crops. In summer, crops like corn, cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes are all in high demand.

U-Pick crops come with some surprising benefits. There are reduced labor costs, no transportation costs for the U-Pick crops, and entry fees ensure income even if people don’t pick anything.

If you are willing to work weekends and don’t mind the extra clean-up from people on your land, U-Pick could be a great way for you to make some extra cash this summer.


Who doesn’t love a nice, cold glass of wine during the summer? We could use a glass right about now! Wine tours are a summer staple. If you own a vineyard, consider tours, tastings, or interactive events to get wine lovers to your property. You can also pair your wines with your own cheese, fruits, or vegetables. Double the sales!

Even in the most well-planned agritourism plans, accidents happen. Tourists who aren’t used to rural life have the potential to injure themselves on your land. Because of this, you should have guests sign a waiver that protects you and your land. For a more in-depth look into the legality of agritourism, here’s a helpful PDF.

Agritourism is on the rise in America. Farming video games such as Stardew Valley are getting young and urban people interested in agriculture. A rising interest in how food is grown is also bringing more people to the farms. Hopefully, this article jump-started your creativity into thinking of how you can incorporate agritourism into your land this summer. If you are interested in purchasing a property to be used for agritourism, make sure to near you that is qualified to advise you on the transaction.

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.

Choosing (And Using) The Right Client Relationship Manager (CRM) Software

Picture this: It’s Friday afternoon, 3:00pm. You are scheduling your next week’s business activities, setting priorities, and putting a plan in place. You’ve had a pretty successful week – got a contract on a large listing, met a new prospect who is likely a buyer for a couple of projects, went to a successful networking event, and called 25 new prospects on big land tracts. You’re feeling good. But as you begin to plan, you look down and see business cards scattered on your desk, a wrinkled legal pad with half-legible notes, and a desk calendar sprinkled with coffee stains. You breathe a deep sigh and wish that you were better organized.

Does this sound like you? Perhaps it’s not as bad as all that. However, I think we can all admit that we have been there. Things get busy and we run our business with pen, paper, and our own brains. But in the long run, all 3 of those things will fail you. There should be (and is) a much better way.

Client Relationship Manager (CRM) software is the extra brain that every successful business operator needs to keep their business at peak efficiency. A CRM is far more than a list of clients. Used properly, a CRM is your contact database, your personal assistant, your calendar planner, and your goldmine of information. It will remind you to follow up with a new client, call a prospect you should’ve heard from by now, or get in touch with a past client at regular intervals. We’ve all got way too much flying around in our heads to remember it all. Handing off a lot of that responsibility to a CRM is a great way to free up brain space and time in order to focus on the most important aspects of your business.

Many of you are already using a CRM at peak efficiency. Great! Stop reading now and go make it rain. But many of you are not using one well, or worse, not using one at all. I submit that in today’s market with all of the available technology, speed of information, and industry competition, it is more important than ever to be the person most engaged with every prospect you want to do business with. Your CRM will keep you honest and consistent with that engagement.

I’d like to offer three tips for choosing a CRM as well as three tips for using one – and using it well.


Tip 1: Keep it simple.

Many CRMs have intricate functionality and can perform high-level categorization and analysis on your contacts, prospects, and pipeline. These features are great. But make sure you will actually use them before you select a CRM that does so much. You might get bogged down in all the functionality and lose sight of the goal.

Remember that the CRM is supposed to serve you. Not the other way around.

Tip 2: Don’t break the bank… at least at first.

Do you want to spend thousands of dollars on a CRM? There are many available. Do you want to get one for free? A few of those exist as well. If you’ve never used a CRM before, start with a free one (Zoho and Insightly are free for 1 or 2 users). You might not get every bell and whistle but as discussed above, you don’t need them. Once you are accustomed to using a CRM effectively you can always upgrade. And you’ll be far better prepared to select among alternatives since you will have some likes and dislikes from your free experience.

Tip 3: FORCE yourself to use it.

When first starting out with a CRM, you will be tempted to use all of your old methods as a crutch. As you encounter frustrations and growing pains, you will tend to shy away from the CRM – only using it when it’s convenient. This is no good. Select a system, spend a few days playing around with and getting used to it, then COMMIT. If you encounter issues, use the help function. Or use Google. Figure it out as you go along and deal with the pain up front. You want to get that machine good and oiled up so that it’s smooth sailing once you’re past the indoctrination period.


Tip 1: Do it right from the beginning… or at least from right now.

If you’re just getting started or only have a couple of years in the business, make this a high priority for yourself. Properly creating, growing, and maintaining a quality database can be tedious, but it’s far more tedious to get 10 years down the road and try to do it all at once. Maybe you’ve been in the business for many years and use a spreadsheet, a notepad, or even a Rolodex (anyone??). All of that should be converted into a digital CRM. YES, it will take time. YES, it will be painful. But the benefits you will reap when it is complete far outweigh the work of getting it done.

Tip 2: Once you figured out the basics, try a new function or capability.

Once you have pushed through the transition, you should be pretty comfortable with the functionality – at least the basics. When you’re feeling foggy, learn something different about the software and find a new way it can help you. You may discover that it can tell you something interesting about your business operations. What’s your average time from listing to closing? How often do you really call that important client? How many new calls do you make on a weekly or monthly basis? By exploring different functions you will more deeply understand your contacts, your process, and your overall business.

Tip 3: Change to a different software after 3-5 years.

OK, this may sound crazy but I really do believe it is beneficial. As technology continues to develop, newer, better, and less expensive options will always be available. If you shop around every few years you may find a product with functions you’ve always wished your current CRM had. Furthermore, moving to a new system will force you to look at your information and clean it up. It’s kind of like moving into a new house.  You might finally decide to throw away that box of stuffed animals you’ve had since you were six. By cleaning up your database once in a while, you will keep it streamlined and relevant – making it more useful in your business.

A well-maintained and properly utilized CRM can make a struggling business good and a good business great. With very little effort, anyone can introduce a much higher level of structure to their business, keeping the pipeline full and the clients happy.

About the author: Caleb McDow is a land specialist and vice president with Crosby & Associates, Inc. in Winter Haven, FL, with a Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) and is a licensed private pilot and drone operator. McDow joined the institute in 2014 as a Military Transition Program (MTP) member.  He serves on the Institute’s Future Leaders Committee and regularly blogs on real estate issues. Caleb McDow can be reached at 352-665-6648 or