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Gathering and Verifying Comparable Sales for Rural Land

As a rural land appraiser, comparable sales are the “life blood” of my business. Of the three common methods for appraising – cost, income, and market data – I tend to use the market data approach the most often both as an appraiser and as a real estate broker. This method allows me to gather reliable and verified comparable sales which are both vital for pricing and appraising properties.  Here are a few ideas on how to do this in your rural land markets:

Sources for Comparable Sales

Networking with Market Participants

Talking with local market participants has proven to be the best way I have found to locate sales. Whether you are at the local restaurant eating lunch or at an agricultural trade show, you should always keep your “ears to the ground” for recent land sales. You may hear these sales in conversations with farmers, foresters, buyers, sellers, bankers or other individuals.  When you hear mention of a sale that you do not have in your database, be sure to listen closely and ask questions if the timing is right always being courteous of others’ time and privacy. If someone seems as if they don’t want to talk about the sale, respect that and try to do further research elsewhere such as utilizing probate records or having conversations with other brokers or appraisers involved.

Company Sales

My best sales are by far the ones where one of our company’s representatives (myself or another broker) is involved.  These internal transactions can almost always ensure that great data will be gathered to verify a sale considering that we should have all of the maps, closing statements, contact information and other necessary data readily available.

Multiple Listing System (MLS)

MLS is a great tool to utilize in your search for comparable sales in more populated areas (considering I appraise and sell land in rural south Alabama, I do not have the opportunity to utilize it often).  Further detail verification of the transaction and property will be necessary since MLS’s are geared towards Residential Real Estate but it’s an excellent “starting point,” if available.

Other Appraisers and Brokers

It is imperative to keep a good working relationship with appraisers and brokers in your market area if you want good data on comparable sales. I have made many great friendships by sharing and receiving comparable sales with other appraisers. I met several of these appraisers at various American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) events. After meeting other appraisers in my area, I always try to follow up by phone call or email to remind them to let me know if I can ever help them with comparable sales in my area. Many of these appraisers have sent work to me when they were either too busy or had a conflict of interest. “Friendly Competition” in the appraisal world is something that we must continue to work towards.

Verifying Comparable Sales

It is always best to speak with someone directly related to the transaction to verify a comparable sale. Of course, if you live in a “disclosure state” you can find items like: purchaser, seller, closing date, legal description and purchase price on the deed at the local probate office. However, in most cases there are other items that make up the purchase price that must be researched further. When verifying comparable sales, I almost always start at the probate office to verify that the sale actually closed, print a copy of the deed so that I have it for my records, and look up the property on the county tax map to verify its location. I will then try to contact someone directly involved with the transaction to determine items such as: improvements located on the sale and their contributory value, timber value, long term leases and their contributory value, equipment or livestock included with the purchase, just to name a few. I find it is most beneficial to speak with buyers, sellers, and agents involved with the transaction. More times than not there will be two sides to the story which you must reconcile to determine the true makeup of the items involved with the sale.

Comparable sales research is something that will make you a better real estate broker or appraiser. I believe you never can know “too much” about your local land market. Knowing your market will help you competitively price land which is ultimately helps it sell quicker, this “hands on” approach of digging through sales will likely introduce you to valuable market participants with great lead potential that you otherwise might not have met in your everyday professional life.

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: Calvin Perryman, ALC, is an Associate Broker and Appraiser with Great Southern Land. Calvin is an active member of RLI, serving on the 2018 Future Leaders Committee and as the 2018 President of the RLI Alabama Chapter. He graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Business and Economics in May of 2011. Shortly after graduating from Auburn he obtained his real estate license and has been in the real estate business since 2011.

How To Build A Pond Or Lake

I had the privilege of selling some property to a great couple and they had a ‘must have’ requirement; they wanted a property suitable to building a lake and we found a great property located in Harris County, GA. The property was heavily wooded with a stream flowing through the property and the property had a great lake site and suitable soils. The contractor estimated the final lake size around 4.5 acres. Using a topographic map, I estimated the watershed area to be about 110 acres. Generally speaking, the watershed area should be about 4:1 (4 acres of watershed to 1 acre of pond or lake). Due to the size of the proposed lake and the intended use, the owners were able to get a permit through the NRCS (Natural Resource and Conservation Service) to construct the lake.

The number one attribute that buyers are looking for is water features such as a pond or lake! The addition of a pond or lake will add lots of value when it becomes time to sell. A pond or lake provides lots of opportunities such as fishing, canoeing, water source for irrigation, increases the aesthetic value of the property and much more.

Generally, the process starts with clearing the trees and brush. The brush can be burned and some of it can be used to build fishing habitat or structures for larger fish to hide and ambush their food sources.  A portion of the dirt is removed and used later on for constructing the dam for impounding the water. Another important issue is the presence of clay. The clay is used to key (core) the dam, creating an impermeable layer inside the dam that the water can not pass through. That is why land with a high content of sand is not suitable for constructing a pond or lake. The topsoil is stockpiled and used later to dress up the dam so the dam can be vegetated.  Beware…keep the trees on the back side of the dam cut.  When tree roots die, they can become channels for water to seep through the dam.

Use a professional to design the pond and dam. A 100-year rain event can destroy a dam if not properly designed with a spillway to handle the runoff.

For the most part, contractors are now using siphoning systems to control the water level. Metal pipes and valves tend to rust over time. I went back from time to time to document through pictures and video the construction process. This process took over 1 year!

Some of the pictures in the video were taken to show what to do if you are building a pond or lake for trophy bass fishing. The pond should be deep at the shoreline. This is designed to keep shallow water plants and weeds from invading your pond or lake. Also, structures should be left in the lake to improve the habitat for the fish. Often these large bass will use these structures to ambush bait fish. Also, notice the shallow mounds built in the pond, these are great for spawning bass and bream!!

 

The take away is this…if you are planning to buy land for building a pond, agricultural purposes, timberland or whatever, use an Accredited Land Consultant. You need someone advocating for you that understands land and land brokerage. This person needs an in-depth understanding of topographic maps and watersheds.

This article was originally featured on Kent’s blog Land Blog…Get The Dirt! He writes about all things land, from timber to selling land to lessons learned from his 40 years in the industry. Check out his blog for more excellent content!

Kent Morris, ALC, is a Registered Forester and Associate Broker who has experience in fields such as timber appraisals, harvesting, thinnings, and timber sales.

Answering Common Questions About the ALC Designation

The Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation is one of the most prestigious and difficult to earn designations in the land industry, so it makes sense that those pursuing it have a lot of questions both leading up to and while going through the process. Every week, we get calls concerning how to earn the ALC, so we thought we’d dedicate a post to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What exactly is the ALC?

The Accredited Land Consultant Designation is given by REALTORS® Land Institute to those land experts who have completed RLI’s rigorous and strict education, experience, and ethical requirements.

Having that gold ALC pin shows clients that you have an unparalleled level of expertise and experience in the land industry. Check out more reasons why a client would choose to use an ALC over any other land professional in our guest post on the Land.com blog. In addition to their impressive resumes, ALCs are also highly respected for adhering to the ALC Code of Conduct and the NAR Code of Ethics.

Becoming an ALC doesn’t just mean bragging rights for your clients. It opens the doors for additional networking opportunities and discounts on everything from the National Land Conference to classes.

Your wallet will thank you in the long-term, too. Did you know that according to a recent RLI survey, the average ALC earned $373,925, which is approximately $100,000 more per year than the average earned by non-designee respondents? Knowledge is power, and in this case it’s the power to better serve your clients which in turn means more business and more clients.

What are the requirements to get the ALC?

Required Courses (56 hours — Must take all three):

Specialty Courses (32 Hours – Pick two courses):

Elective Courses (16 Hours – Pick one or pick another from Specialty Courses)

Other requirements include:

  • Experience. A minimum of 2 years of experience in land sales or brokerage or a minimum of three years of comparable real estate experience.
  • Volume. A minimum of 5 closed land transactions totaling $10,000,000 OR 25 separate land transactions of which no more than 20% involve residential parcel sales (more specific details on the different types of land sales here)
  • Knowledge. Pass the cumulative ALC Exam.
  • Application. Submit a comprehensive portfolio
  • Recommendation. Submit recommendation letters and approval by the RLI Board of Directors.

Who is the main contact for me during this process?
If you have any specific questions about the above requirements or your qualifications, please reach out to Aubrie Kobernus at akobernus@realtors.org or 1-312-329-8837.

There’s a final exam? Do I have to remember everything from every single class?

The final exam only covers the three required courses that you completed and will be using to apply towards the education requirement. These include the Land Investment Analysis, Land 101: Fundamentals of Land Brokerage and either the Tax Deferred 1031 or Transitional Land Course depending under which requirements you began your coursework.

If you took the 1031 Class before the education requirements changed, no need to panic. You can still take the cumulative exam that features the 1031 Tax Deferred Exchanges course instead of the Transitional Land Real Estate course.

Do I have to be a member of RLI to become an ALC?

You don’t need to be a member of RLI while you are working towards the education and transaction requirements (although you do get a discount on classes if you are!), but you do need to be an RLI Member when you submit your final portfolio and for as long as you hold the elite ALC Designation.

If you have more questions about RLI membership, we’ll be posting an article called ‘Answering Common Questions About RLI Membership’ in October. Keep an eye out for it! For now, make sure to check out our RLI Member Benefits.

I have another designation and/or prior education in the field, is there any way I can skip some classes?

There is! RLI has a Fast Track program where people with the following designations or education will qualify them to opt out of taking all courses under the education requirement other than the three required courses.

  • CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member)
  • SIOR (Industrial & Office REALTOR®)
  • CRE (Counselor of Real Estate)
  • AFM (Accredited Farm Manager of ASFMRA)
  • ARA (Accredited Rural Appraiser of ASFMRA)
  • RPRA (Real Property Review Appraiser of ASFMRA)
  • AAC (Accredited Agricultural Consultant of ASFMRA)
  • MAI (Member, Appraisal Institute)
  • CAI (Certified Auctioneer Institute)
  • CPL (Certified Professional Landman of AAPL)
  • SR/WA (Senior Right of Way Professional of IWRA)
  • AICP (American Institute of Certified Planners)
  • Those who hold either a bachelor’s or master’s degree, with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, with a major in real estate, development, forestry, or a program related to a land business specialization, may also apply for consideration for Fast Track to the ALC Designation Committee. Fast Track will only be granted to the applicant upon approval by the ALC Designation Committee.

You will need to provide proof of your designation before being approved for Fast Track option.

Achieving the ALC Designation isn’t easy, but nothing worth getting ever is. The ALC Designation is highly respected and sought after all across America. Our numbers are growing every day. Will you be the next one?

If you have more questions about the ALC, contact us at 1-800-441-5263 or rli@realtors.org.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

Time Out-Sourced

As a broker, what activities do you enjoy doing the most? Is it meetings? Researching property? Cold calling? <–(FAT CHANCE). Beyond enjoying, what activities tend to get you the most business or make you the most money? I’m sure we have many activities that we enjoy doing far more than others. I have many of them. For example, I absolutely hate collecting all of the minute information related to a new listing. Tax info, parcel numbers, future land use, water, sewer, etc. It is certainly important for me to know all of that information. But the process of collecting it is time-consuming and tedious. On the other hand, what I enjoy more than anything is riding property with a client. Not only does it teach me the finer points of the land itself, but it fosters the client relationship in a unique way. This also takes time. You can’t be in a hurry when getting to know your client. For me, it’s one of the most important things to focus on for current and future business. When considering the resources that you put towards your business everyday time is both the most demanded and the most precious. It is your most valuable and least available resource.

This is not the first time I have written about protecting your time. Visit What is Your Time Worth? Part 1 & Part 2 for some background. For this article, I will focus more specifically on saving time when doing one of the most important things in the business: PROSPECTING.

I’ve learned a lot about prospecting over the years. I’ve utilized many resources and heard from or read many different experienced brokers on the topic. A website and blog authored by Bo Barron was particularly helpful in my early days of brokerage. Most recently, I heard Michael Bull, CCIM, speak at the REALTORS® Land Institute National Land Conference. Michael led an incredible session on broker success strategies and gave me one of the best tips I’ve ever heard about prospecting in commercial real estate: “Prospecting is not part of the business. It IS the business.” With this idea as the backdrop behind spending your time wisely, let’s look at how to maximize your available time for true, focused prospecting.

Here’s a quick real world look at the aim and process of my prospecting system. I look primarily for high-quality farmland. If I can find willing and reasonable sellers who own irrigated farmland, I can usually sell it pretty quickly. Below is a rough breakdown of my process. When I first started, I did all of this myself.

Step 1. Find high-quality properties located in certain agricultural areas

  • Search aerial imagery visually
  • Look for crop circles, irrigation

Step 2. Match likely properties from imagery with tax parcel info

  • Find property on tax assessor website
  • Collect owner’s name and address

Step 3. Search public information websites to find phone numbers for owner

  • Google owners name
  • White Pages, Intellus, etc.

Step 4. Enter information into Client Relationship Management (CRM) database

  • Click, type, copy/paste, repeat
  • Ensure accuracy, categorize new prospect
  • Log task for follow up call to prospect

Step 5. Prepare form letter to mail

  • Enter address info on form letter, fold, and insert
  • Address envelope, lick stamp

Step 6. Follow up call

  • Pick up phone, dial number
  • Talk
  • Sell
  • Make money

That’s a lot of steps. And all of that work took time. Time, time, time! And on the days I had meetings or other obligations, I got further and further behind.  I felt like I was always playing catch up with my property research and other administrative tasks – and the phone calls often left undone. Then came the MOMENTOUS day I discovered the world of Virtual Assistants (VAs).

VAs are real people who will undertake just about any task that can be completed with the use of a computer and phone. They work remotely from anywhere in the world. They can’t pickup your dry cleaning or drive you to an appointment. But when it comes to administrative and electronic tasks, they are some of the best in the business. With a little training and direction, they will amaze you with their ability to complete tasks quickly with great attention to detail. A quick Google search of “Virtual Assistant” provides many different clearinghouses to choose from or you can hire a freelancing VA directly. Hourly rates vary depending on experience and skill level, as well as whether they are US-based or overseas. However, you can get solid virtual support for between $8-$20/hour. It may take some trial and error to find a good fit, however, once you get comfortable with the process you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

The one thing I will admit is that it was difficult at first to hand things off. I had a certain way I wanted tasks done and was hesitant to just let someone else do it for me. Yet before long my VA was churning out info and products for me faster than I could keep up with the important things. So now, my process looks like this:

Step 1. Open CRM and see all the wonderful work my VA has done for me.

  • Properties researched
  • Owners name, address, and phone number, already in database
  • Tasks for follow-up calls already entered
  • Letters ready to print

Step 2. Give letters to in-house assistant to collate, address envelopes, and mail

Step 3. Same as Step 7 above

The process that once took me about 30 minutes per prospect/property now takes about 30 seconds. I skip straight to the most important step of getting on the phone with people to build relationships and get busy listing and selling property.

I will also note that the combination of a VA with an in-house Executive Assistant (EA) or Administrative Assistant (AA) is an incredibly valuable combination. Whatever the EA can’t do because it requires a physical presence (such as mailing letters) the EA or AA can do. My preference is to map out the vision and set expectations for the in-house assistant and then let them use their own skills while leveraging the VA as necessary to get the job done. My focus is on the output, and I do my best not to get too involved in the process.

As with anything you introduce into your business, all of this takes time: setup, training, direction, etc. And of course, none of this is free. A certain cost is associated with outsourcing of all kinds. You will need to make a determination on what is an appropriate level of outsourcing and cost for yourself and your business. However, in the long run, the time saved and the additional revenue generated is more than worth the time spent up front. As a suggestion, if you’re new to Virtual Assistants, start small. Outsource some non-time critical tasks on a pay-as-you-go basis, assess the results, and gradually increase. You will likely have to make yourself uncomfortable (like I did) with letting go of certain things, but once you reap the benefits, I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.

Ultimately, the buck stops with you. As a licensed real estate agent you have both a capability and a skill set that you cannot outsource. There are very specific things about your job that only you can do. Yet there are hundreds and thousands of other things that someone else can do for you at a fraction of the cost of your time. I encourage you to really asses yourself and your business to see where you can leverage other people and divert your most precious resource to the most important of tasks.

To learn more about this topic, check out McDow’s companion podcast below:

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: Caleb McDow, ALC, is a land specialist and vice president for Crosby & Associates in Winter Haven, FL. He holds a Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE), the CCIM Designation, and is a licensed private pilot and drone operator. McDow joined RLI in 2014 as a Military Transition Program (MTP) member. He is an active member of RLI, serving on the 2017-2018 RLI Board of Directors and as Chair of the 2018 Future Leaders Committee. He also regularly shares his expertise on real estate issues for various industry blogs.

Upfront Marketing Money: Partner With Your Clients

It is well known in the auction industry that about 90 percent of Auction Companies partner with their clients by charging upfront marketing money. Why is this not part of the traditional sales model? Is it due to the amount of competition? Is it fear of losing the listing to someone that doesn’t have the courage to ask for the much needed marketing money?

Whatever the reason, this topic is so dear to my heart due to seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on marketing for an auction, just for the property to sell at 65 percent of the last list price to a neighbor. I have been involved in many successful auctions and many not so successful auctions. Yes, auctions work in certain situations and they are the quickest, most effective way to determine fair market value on a given day. With that said, my goal in writing this article is to help my “traditional land selling friends” provide exceptional service to their clients by selling properties the first time around. I believe this is done by heavy market exposure, paid for by your clients.

How many of you agree that the best chance you have of selling a property is during the first six months? Have you ever asked your seller for upfront marketing money in order to help sell their property in the first six months? If not, you should immediately make some adjustments to your listing presentation and offer both a basic and a premium marketing package, then see what your clients choose. In my opinion, it should be part of your discussion, more importantly on the $500,000+, unique/hard to sell assets.

Most agents are afraid to ask for upfront money. They are worried that they may get a hard “NO” and get run off the listing appointment. This is so far from the truth. In fact, asking for upfront money solidifies your ability to do your job and shows a willingness to execute. Worst case scenario, the seller decides they do not want to invest in the sale of their property and you offer them the basic package, which is the package the next agent they interview will offer. In other words, if you are looking at a $2,000,000 property that is really going to take a specific buyer and your client/seller refuses to invest a few thousand dollars to help the sale, what does that tell you about their motivation?

Here is a quick “upfront marketing” script:

With this being a very unique property with a limited amount of buyers, we really need to hit the ground running with marketing. The best opportunity to sell this property is in the first six months of advertising before it becomes stale on the market. Over the years, we have seen hundreds of similar properties go to auction because they were not marketed properly in the first place. And the crazy thing about Auction is the seller ends up paying one to two percent of their reserve upfront. In order to hedge our bets, we should come out strong and hit every marketing avenue we can. With that said, would you be comfortable paying $7,500 upfront to market your property? We will credit you back every dollar you spend on marketing against the commission at closing. Basically if its $1,000,000 Listing at X% commission, charge $7,500 upfront, the net commission will equal $1,000,000 x X% – $7,500.

Below are the packages we offer…

Your Everyday Agent Marketing Package: NO COST

  • A 4×4 Generic LAND FOR SALE sign
  • Professional Drone Still Photos
  • Advertised on Local MLS, LandsOfAmerica.com, Zillow, Trulia, LandWatch, LandandFarm, LandBrokerMLS
  • One Targeted Facebook Boosted Advertisement

Mediocre Marketing Package: $2,500

  • A 4×4 Custom LAND FOR SALE sign and 2×3 directional
  • Professional Drone Still Photos and Video
  • Advertised on Local MLS, LandsOfAmerica.com, Zillow, Trulia, LandWatch, LandandFarm, LandBrokerMLS
  • Three-month showcase ad on LandWatch.com or LandsOfAmerica.com
  • Flyers distributed local to property at major gathering places
  • Email blast to top land agents across all of the US
  • Two Targeted Facebook Boosted Advertisements

Blitzkrieg Marketing Package: $7,500

  • 4×4 RANCH FOR SALE SIGNS (one on property and one on nearby Hwy) and (3) Directional Signs
  • Professional Drone Still Photos and Professionally Edited Video
  • Three-Month featured AD on Landwatch.com
  • Three-Month Platinum AD on LandsofAmerica.com
  • Website designed specifically for the property
  • Bi-Monthly Email Blasts to all of the top land agents across the US through RLI
  • Ads on LandsofOklahoma, Landwatch.com, LandsofAmerica.com, LandandFarm, Zillow, Trulia, LandsofOklahoma, LandFlip, Realtor.com, LandBrokerMLS, DuPont Registry, WSJ.com, craigslist, etc
  • Ad in High Plains Journal
  • Cover on Open Fences Magazine
  • Cover on Homes and Land Magazine
  • Local Newspaper Ad
  • Flyers distributed local to property at major gathering places
  • Four Targeted Facebook Boosted Advertisements

Now that you have seen my basic guide to upfront marketing money, I want to make sure everyone understands that asking for upfront marketing money doesn’t happen on every listing. There are many listings that I sell with a very basic advertising package paid for by yours truly. In addition, depending on the listing, I may adjust the packages and remove a few items to lower the cost. Another tip is having a “Marketing À La Carte” menu. This allows you to offer several options to your clients at a set cost. At the end of the day, make sure you are always using the marketing dollars to promote the property, not yourself. Do not charge the client more than the hard cost of the advertisement and be authentic. Your clients will appreciate it for years to come and become your “raving fans.”

Thanks for reading, if I can ever do anything for you or answer any questions, please call or email me.

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: Drew Ary, ALC, is an agent with Keller Williams Advantage. Drew has a vast knowledge of raw land, land with improvements, and farm and ranch properties. Above all, he has a passion for selling land and farm and ranch properties by bringing buyers and sellers together through honesty and integrity. Drew spent 10 years in the real estate auction world with roles as a Closing Coordinator, Project Manager, and a large portion as the Director of Farm & Ranch Sales. Drew moved to traditional real estate with Keller Williams Advantage at the beginning of 2017.

Effectively Networking for New Land Professionals

Networking always has and always will be a vital component to any successful real estate professional’s career. Being new to the industry can be especially daunting considering the number of real estate professionals entering the business.  To put it simply, the best piece of advice I can share is “you must be seen to be known.” In order to establish yourself in the marketplace and be successful, you need to be seen “out and about” by your existing and prospective clients at local and regional functions.  Here is an outline of several ways you can effectively network to grow and sustain your real estate business:

  1. Network with Industry Leaders Face-to-Face
    Get to know the top industry leaders and let them know you are in the business. By industry leaders I mean Brokers and Agents (within your company as well as your competitors), Appraisers, Lenders, etc. which have been in the land business for some time and are thought of as the “go-to guys.” It may be tough to get much of their time considering their busy schedules, however, try offering to take them to lunch or stopping by their office for a quick chat when you’re in the area. Be sure to have something to offer them, for example, if you stop in to see a broker you could take information on a new listing or ask them about specific buyer needs that you may have. I am always surprised how much more I learn by stopping by someone’s office and talking for 10-15 minutes in person vs. calling, texting or emailing them to check in. Always be willing to sit back and listen when they start talking, you will be surprised how much you learn.
  2. Start Using Social Media Networking
    Social media has become a huge part of the land brokerage business. It is a great way to network with buyers, sellers, and industry leaders as well as market your clients’ properties. I recommend creating a “business page” along with your personal social media pages. The business page will allow you to promote your business in a professional manner that can be easily reached by the public. A tactic I’ve found to be successful is periodically sharing items from your business page to your personal page. This will send traffic over to your business page often resulting in very credible leads. You will also find that once you’ve established yourself in the business, many of your clients will become actual friends and will likely become “friends” with you on your personal social media pages. This is a great way to stay in touch with your clients. By simply “liking” their post or wishing them a “happy birthday” you will stay on their mind and when they need a land professional they will be more likely to think of you.
  3. Attend Conferences and Industry Events
    Conferences are one of my favorite ways to network. Generally, at these conferences there are great speakers and trade shows, along with some of the best of the best in the industry. I highly recommend attending the National Land Conference by the REALTORS® Land Institute which is typically held in the Spring of each year. This premier event is attended by the foremost leaders of the land industry and is a great venue to gain expertise from the best industry speakers and teachers available. In addition, Conservation, Agricultural, and Forestry conferences are held throughout the Nation each year and provide great networking opportunities. There are also local and state chapters such as The National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, and Safari Club International that host events.  All of these can be very beneficial in getting to know like-minded individuals with an interest in buying or selling land.
  4. Network in Your Local Community
    There is no replacement for being involved in your local community. If you take care of and help the people at home, they will take care of you. There are great networking opportunities in most local areas including: Sponsoring Charity Events, Participating in Church Events, Sponsoring Youth Sports teams, etc. You should make it a point to be present at many local community events such as trade shows, community cook-offs, historical society events, etc. Along with volunteering and sponsoring these events it is also a great idea to be involved with your local Chamber of Commerce. Many of the people you see and meet at these events will eventually have a need for a land professional or perhaps know someone who needs a land professional. When this happens, you want them to always think of you.

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: Calvin Perryman, ALC, is an Associate Broker and Appraiser with Great Southern Land. Calvin is an active member of RLI, serving on the 2018 Future Leaders Committee and as the 2018 President of the RLI Alabama Chapter. He graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Business and Economics in May of 2011. Shortly after graduating from Auburn he obtained his real estate license and has been in the real estate business since 2011.

Top Five Reasons You Need An ALC When Selling Land

We all know the old saying ‘the customer is always right’. Usually, it’s applied to restaurants and retail stores, but at the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI), we think customer service is just as important in the land industry. Land sellers can expect an unprecedented level of expertise from any Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) that can help ensure you get the best deal when you sell land. Here are the top five benefits a landowner gets when using an ALC to sell their property.

1. ALCs Have An Unprecedented Number Of Connections

You meet a lot of great people on the road to completing the elite ALC Designation. These people include clients, other ALCs from classes and networking events, and industry experts from RLI’s annual National Land Conference.

Having these connections is a two-part benefit to land sellers. The first benefit is a larger client base. Since ALCs have so many connections with other expert land agents in the industry, they’ll have no problem connecting you with people interested in buying your land. ALCs have a national network of land professionals and industry experts at their fingertips through a directory of trusted land professionals called the Find A Land Consultant search tool offered by RLI.

The second benefit is that they have an endless wealth of knowledge from all their contacts. ALCs share their knowledge and experience through teleconferences, attending courses, and at the National Land Conference. When you hire an ALC to help sell a property, you’ve got the knowledge of hundreds of ALCs behind you.

2. ALCs Are Up-To-Date On Land Industry News

Knowing the latest in the land industry is a given for ALCs. Not only do they have an extensive knowledge of land from their courses, they are also able to stay up-to-date through a combination of e-mail newsletters, social media, and blog posts provided by the REALTORS® Land Institute. You can be confident that your ALC knows the latest legislative changes, market trends, and other news affecting the land real estate industry and will use this knowledge to your advantage in your land sale.

3. ALCs Are Proven Hard Workers

Getting the ALC Designation isn’t easy. To get the designation they must:

  • complete 104 LANDU education hours
  • meet strict volume/experience requirements
  • pass a summary exam
  • submit a portfolio that documents their experience, education, and volume of sales
  • be approved by RLI’s ALC Designation Committee and Board of Directors
  • agree to abide by high ethical standards, known as the ALC Code of Conduct, as well as the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics

Did you get tired just reading that list? So did we. Completing the ALC Designation requires immense dedication to professional development and hard work. You know they will put the same amount of hard work into giving their clients the best service possible when it comes to their land transaction.

4. ALCs Raise The Bar When It Comes To Experience

Selling land is such a complex process that you need someone on your team with years of experience. Having years of successful land sales experience is a required part of becoming an ALC. This experience helps them navigate every part of the sale, from mineral rights and soil types to how the land transaction could be impacted by 1031s or WOTUS. They know all the tricks of the trade from their years in the industry and can use it to help you sell your land.

5. Top-Notch Education Equals Expertise

When conducting one of the most important transactions a landowner can come across in their lifetime, there is a lot riding on having it done right. Why accept anything less than the best? Using an ALC guarantees that the agent representing you will have the knowledge and expertise to do what is in your best interest. All ALCs have completed rigorous courses through RLI’s LANDU Education Program, which is equivalent to having a master’s degree in land real estate transactions.

Selling land is so much more complex and requires specialized expertise of a trustworthy agent with connections, knowledge, and experience. Having an ALC at your side can help guarantee that you will sell your land for the best possible price. Find an ALC or reputable land professional in your area using RLI’s Find A Land Consultant tool.

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.

The Top Land Blogs to Follow!

Buying or selling land can be confusing and complicated at times. It helps to partner with a land professional. You the client need to be educated about the process, intricacies around land ownership and many other facets surrounding all things LAND. There are many blogs out there that cover these topics and a lot of this information is available to you through blogs. Experts in the field often write blogs where they have an opportunity to share their knowledge….so why not take advantage.

I wanted to mention just a few, I hope you find these helpful.

 

 

Lands of America Blog

One of the leading website for rural land searches. Their post are written from many land professionals around the country and contain information you need to know!

 

 

LandThink

A great website full of information. This is the parent company for LandFlip.com a great site for searching for land and farms. The content often contains surveys from land professional across the country. Want to get land savy? Read their blog.

 

Southeastern Land Group Blog

Great content from their land agents. The content often covers topics about buying and selling land, transaction process and a wide variety of great information. One of my favorite bloggers is Jonathan Goode.

 

 

 

REALTORS® Land Institute Blog

Institute of  Land Broker professional from across the Country. Their Blog post come from members with a diverse background including Forestry, Agricultural, Farms, Ranches and a lot more!!

Land Blog.. Get the Dirt!

I had to plug my own blog. With over 35 years of experience in the timber, land management and land brokerage business, I love to share information to help buyers and sellers! My blog is narrowly focused to cover land, real estate and forestry topics!

 

Kent Morris, ALC is a Registered Forester and Associate Broker who has experience in fields such as timber appraisals, harvesting, thinnings, and timber sales. He writes articles about these fields and more in his blog Land Blog…Get The Dirt!