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Wildlife Management 101

This article on wildlife management was originally published in the Summer 2016 Terra Firma Magazine.

When learning that RLI had an interest in publishing an article on wildlife management, I have to admit, I was more than hesitant.  My reservations didn’t stem from a “lack of knowledge”, my reservations were derived from “the knowledge I have,” and the criticism I’m aware it may attract. Success doesn’t come easy, nor without trial and error or a failure or two, and sometimes it doesn’t fit within a traditionally accepted box.

Wildlife management consists of so many factors, that the series of books, videos and blogs about the subject are literally overwhelming.  Politics, legislation, social perceptions and opinions, environment, mathematics, chemistry, biology, regions, species, habitat and disease are all just a few on a lengthy list of complicated factors that affect managing wildlife.

In a nutshell, wildlife management is ultimately about conservation; the guardianship and best practices of safekeeping our greatest natural wild resources for future generations.

wildlife forest

It also provides an extraordinary enjoyment through a passionate relationship between land and property owners, and justifiably continues to be a motivating factor for folks who purchase land!

I’m extremely fortunate to own, manage and control a respectable tract of leased and deeded ground in the Pacific Northwest.  Taken with a laugh, my personal experience, hasn’t been learned easily, nor done inexpensively via traditional venues.  Private land wildlife management practices are commonly dominated by Whitetail deer, a little waterfowl and an occasional fish or upland bird topic.

To be candid, the folks in the Midwest and down South are hands down, far ahead of the curve in regards to wildlife management.  Whitetail deer are routinely the primary topic of choice.  Justifiably, the Whitetail deer geographically dominate North America by the location they reside.  Non-profit and traditional organizations such as the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) and Tecomate have done a fantastic job of promoting and making wildlife management materials available.  However, I humbly believe, the Whitetail species is a much easier species to manage than many others, and another reason why I chose to write on this subject.

I know, I know… I’m sure I’ll never live that comment down (laugh). Okay, how about this, because there’s more information available on Whitetail wildlife management, justifiably because it’s the dominate non-migratory game in North America, I feel they’re easier to manage and understand (and should be) than other species with less availability and a broader migration range… and they’re easier to harvest than blacktail deer… KIDDING!… sheez… relax! Just trying to keep ya’ll interested in reading!?

In the early 2000s, after reading an in depth QDMA book, frequenting blogs, watching videos and living the lifestyle we sell, I made the commitment to start managing wildlife on our family’s ground about forty minutes outside of town.  Easy right? Just install a few food plots and feeders, develop water sources (if they’re not already there) and voila, the wild game will come flocking in!  Yeah? Not so much!  As with many topics in life, a person can read all the books they can find, but real life experiences, both good and bad, are the world’s best teachers.  In general, the basics are the same: provide a superior food source, water, and lush habitat. Doing this, is without question, enticing to wildlife.  The primary difference between my management practices and traditional wildlife management practices are dictated by my region.

food plot wildlife management

The wildlife management industry started to flourish in the early 2000s. Game cameras were few and a new “hot item” and feeders were on hunting shows everywhere – plus, they were all over the internet.  Ever hear the saying, “Never test the depth of a river with both feet first”? That’s good advice! My original thought process was methodical, and focused on the generals; to enhance food, water and habitat within drainages that naturally lent themselves.  Logically, it made sense to research and purchase available products that have worked so well for others?  So I was off… Feeders! Cameras! Food plots! …and all the associated equipment!

Little did I know that I was in for a completely different education, and all the equipment would eventually be destroyed with minimal results of what I was trying to manage–big Blacktail deer, elk and turkey.  The failing factor wasn’t a lack of genetics, nor wildlife population.  It boiled down to my regional location, and the lack of experience managing wildlife in this location.  Our terrain isn’t flat to rolling like the South or Midwest, where flatter open plains and pockets of creek bottom thickets monopolize regions.  It’s the opposite where I manage wildlife.  We have timber covered mountains, drainages and ridges as far as one can see; small pockets of open meadows monopolizing the terrain in hopes to get a glimpse of something.  That situation also positions the ultimate unmanageable factor; multiple species of wildlife, including and not limited to, abundant predators!  Most importantly, learning how and where those species habituate throughout the year and how to best manage my terrain and climate was a game changer for me.

predator

Being new and few, the first few game cameras I purchased were “top of the line,” nothing but the best… HA! I’ve never been accused of catching on too quickly. After countless dollars in cameras being destroyed, no matter how well I concealed them, a light came on in my head: never set a trail camera after eating without washing and deodorizing your hands in Black Bear country! Their eyesight is poor in comparison to their smell and hearing. Regardless of what slight scent is on my hands when I set cameras, they’ll wind it–and evidently, bears think trail cams taste like chicken!

 

black bearTraditional feeders? UHG! My three-hundred pound metal feeders were knocked over, ripped open and crumpled up like cheap little tin cans. It’s unbelievable how strong Black Bear are! So, I improvised by designing and installing “Bear-proof feeders”. Ah-ha–Gotcha! Only to learn that feeders, if used too consistently, work like a dinner bell for our abundant mountain lion and predator populations.  Luckily, I check my cameras frequently, and DID catch on quickly BEFORE witnessing any lion kills on camera. Embarrassing as it is, at first, I was like, “hey, there’s another mountain lion on camera? I didn’t know they’d come into feeders also after they go off?” Then, a Wait!? Ruh-Row-Shaggy! light bulb came on.

So I now only use the feeders, installed in different drainages, sporadically throughout times of the day and week and primarily during the winter when natural feed and food plots sources are dormant from deep freezes and snow.

Late fall, winter and into the spring are the most crucial times of year for wildlife management in my opinion. The does are pregnant and bucks are either rutting or later shedding their antlers.  It’s truly the best time to provide a solid protein source, vitamins and minerals to the males for recovery, during the rut and horn growth before they migrate to higher elevations. While essential nutrients to impregnated momma’s throughout the birthing and nursing process is pertinent.

All that being said, the most productive source of wildlife management that I’ve consistently witnessed by all types of wildlife are my licks.  The food plots are nice, but there are a lot of natural competitive sources for deer and elk to browse in this area. Ours are primarily frequented by does and younger bucks while the mature ones are at a higher ground, only passing through.

My licks aren’t the blocked type purchased and shipped online.  Those don’t last long around here.  Bear will pick those up and even haul them off like little tennis balls in their mouths or sometimes eat them in one sitting like candy.  I use a formula I found online years ago, posted on a blog by a retired biology teacher out of Missouri, called “Mo’s Lick”.  I’d sure like to reconnect with that gentleman again to thank him and follow up.

He’d posted a detailed story about only being able to afford a five-acre tract of creek bottom ground to lease and hunt on.  He knew there were good genetics in that region, but relying on those deer to reside within his creek bottom without purpose was an unreasonable hope.  Similar to our mountainous country, his tillable food plot ground was limited by access and terrain.  So, in turn, he started his own biology project using licks.  His first deer harvested, and a common size in that thicket scored in the one-hundred and twenty inches, if I recall.  By the fifth year, he’d harvested a one-hundred and eighty-six inch Whitetail!  He never concluded whether he’d thought the original smaller deer were just young, underdeveloped and grew into mature bucks being under nourished prior to his lick supply or if the previously mentioned mature, good genetic bucks from the region frequented and resided his creek bottom more often because of the licks.  His only conclusion was, he’d leased the ground for several years prior, constantly scouting smaller bucks.

After several years of consistently using the “Mo’s Lick” formula, the average buck’s antler size changed dramatically and more consistently within that thicket.  I have used Mo’s lick since, and found great results.  I have pictures of all species using Mo’s Lick: squirrel, fox, turkey, elk, deer and more.  However, once again, our regional terrain plays a big role in consistency.  We don’t routinely see the same bucks over and over like many Whitetail managers.  When fawns hit the ground and the weather starts warming, the Blacktail deer bachelor up and head for higher elevations where it’s cooler–typical males, right? Babies are still young and can’t travel the distances or terrain that mature bucks go each summer.

deer

In turn, I know what I call “my girls” by name when I see them on camera as spring progresses.  I keep a fawn count, who’s had how many, a buck to doe ratio and so forth, while watching them grow up, or disappear to predators–when Mama appears on camera at the lick or food plot alone later in the year.  By the time the babies are strong enough to make the migration to higher ground, fall is upon us again, days get cooler and the need to migrate higher becomes less and less desirable.

As winter storms blow in and the rut approaches, the mature bucks start heading to lower ground.  Depending on which direction the storms blow in and the amount of snow that falls on which facing slope, this can dictate the drainage taken by those mature bucks over previous years. (Bear in mind, our ground isn’t flat, a grid of one-hundred and sixty acres can be three-hundred and twenty plus acres of surface ground, it’s just not flattened out on grid view). The younger bucks stay local for a couple years. Then, start to migrate each spring with the other mature bucks as they mature.  Every year we get mature bucks on camera that we’ve never seen before, and likely may never see again.

Cattle have been known to do similar.  Oregon is an open range state.  We’ve often had cattle in our drainage, with tags belonging to a rancher whose range is three drainages over.  As feed thins, they start heading down the drainage they’re in.  Oregon is extremely diverse.  I’m aware of an area, ten miles away as the crow flies, that buddies of mine manage who find the same deer sheds every year…?  Those deer also migrate and only frequent the area in late fall and shed in winter.  The difference is that there’s really only one major drainage option, a highway and a river that I believe naturally funnel those deer back every year.

For me, the wildlife management learning curve has been an expensive and dedicated commitment worth every second and cent spent.  My advice is that there is no perfect solution or magic wand in managing wildlife.  If there was, the book would have been written and no more needed. Consider your terrain, species and the final results you’re seeking to obtain, before buying a bunch of things that have worked well in other regions and species.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used, continue to use and try new wildlife management products all the time–because they work! However, keep in mind that each area possesses different circumstances.  Talk to others in your region that have been successful. What’s worked for my region, may not work for your region.  Most of all get out and do it, enjoy the process. Management practices can change, but the goal should always stay the same.  Best practices of safekeeping for our greatest natural wild resources, for future generations.

Mo’s Lick Recipe

deer lick recipe

(1) 50lb bag of Di-calcium phosphate (21% or more)
(1) 50lb bag of Trace Mineral Lick (fine)
(1) 50lb bag of Rock Salt (fine)

Dig a hole near a year near a water source, pour and mix ingredients well. I’ve added Selenium to the mix in higher elevations and received a good response from Elk also.

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my article and best of luck!

About the author: Garrett Zoller, ALC, is the Managing Principal Broker of Record, and a founder of both LandAndWildlife.com and LandLeader. Garrett’s hands-on experience in the development of real estate, with strength in rural and commercial properties, administers an expert knowledge of recreational, agricultural and timber real estate.

 

What You Need To Know Before Buying Waterfront Property

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

Buying Waterfront Property: Know The Rules and Regulations

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

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

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

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

fishing boat on lake

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

Buying Waterfront Property: Flood Risk

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

Buying Waterfront Property: Understand That Things Change

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

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

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

lake house

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

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

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

Need To Knows About Owning and Managing Ranchland

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

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

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

This post is part of the 2019 Future Leaders Committee content generation initiative. The initiative is directed at further establishing RLI as “The Voice of Land” in the land real estate industry for land professionals and landowners. For more posts like this, click here

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

 

kasey mock

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

Top Tips for Owning/Managing Agricultural Land

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

LAND TYPES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Solution

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

This post is part of the 2019 Future Leaders Committee content generation initiative. The initiative is directed at further establishing RLI as “The Voice of Land” in the land real estate industry for land professionals and landowners. For more posts like this, click here 

About the Author

Clayton Pilgrim, ALC, is a licensed real estate agent with Century 21 Harvey Properties in Paris, Texas.  Throughout his career he has been in production agriculture from on the ground operations to large scale management. Pilgrim is involved in private investing in farms, ranches and recreational tracts throughout Texas and Oklahoma. He is a member of the Realtors® Land Institute, an Accredited Land Consultant and on the board of the Future Leaders Committee. He resides in Paris, Texas with his wife, Kristy and daughter, Caroline.

 

How An Accredited Land Consultant Can Maximize Your Land Transaction’s Value

Now that we’re officially into the Spring selling season there are many sellers thinking about selling their land in the near future.  If you happen to be one of these sellers, then you owe it to yourself to consider interviewing a REALTOR® with the Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation to represent you and your best interest.

ALCs make up less than 1% of the population of REALTORS® across the United States; this is primarily due to the fact that it is not an easy designation to obtain.   Unlike other designations that can easily be earned after attending an 8- or 16-hour class, the ALC Designation often takes years to finally accomplish. With over 100 hours of education required, as well as closed transaction volume requirements, the process is one of the most tedious in the real estate business.

Whether you’re selling a working farm or ranch, transitional land, a hunting or fishing property, timber ground, or a development, ALCs are educated and experienced to represent you in the sale or purchase of your property.

While other real estate agents may be part-time working a few hours a week, the dedication and commitment of a full-time ALC is constantly working for you and your best interest.  Whether it’s their unique marketing tactics to get you the most qualified buyer, their professional mapping standards, or their capability of networking with other professionals all across not only the United States but also the world, ALCs are some of the most committed and professional land brokers in the real estate industry.

As a seller, the track record of ALCs has a direct correlation to putting more money in your pocket and doing it in a timely fashion.

Quite often, sellers of farms and ranches will get to a point in their lifetime where it is just too difficult to work the land anymore, at which point they’ll decide to put it on the market. An ALC can provide the proper contacts for you, as the seller, to consider the tax consequences before you actually put your ranch on the market.  A lot of less educated brokers often overlook this crucial step.

Prior to putting your property on the market, it is important to have a discussion with an ALC about who the target market will be for your real estate.  Often I’ve dealt with sellers that think the buyer for their property will be a working farmer or rancher like them, only to have me educate them that the highest and best use for their 160 acre ranch is no longer a ranch at $2,000 an acre.  Due to the high costs of real estate prices in the city, the highest and best use is now four 40-acre home sites at $3,500 an acre.

ALCs often have a much broader scope of property marketing and advertising than the typical real estate agent. While putting a sign on the property and putting the listing into the local MLS might be sufficient for selling a home in a hot market, selling a ranch or a rural property takes some serious understanding of how to properly market the property to qualified buyers. No two properties are the same; therefore, it doesn’t make sense to have the same marketing approach to every listing.

Every rural property is unique and so are the buyers that are going to purchase them. While harvest information and production numbers might be important on a hay farm for sale on a county road, elevation, topography, and proximity to public land access are important to a recreational property a little further down that same road. The hay farm could be purchased by an investor doing a 1031 Exchange if the numbers are clearly advertised and put in front him, while the recreational property could be purchased by a buyer who has been saving up for several years just to find a little property where they can take their kids hunting and fishing.  These two buyers will likely not be looking on the same websites and publications for these two totally different types of properties, and ALCs realize that.

It is not easy to finance vacant land, ranches, and recreational properties. Many buyers are uneducated to this fact and are under the impression they can purchase land with little cash down like they did their first home when they only had to show up with 3% – 5% down payment at closing. Buyers contact me on a weekly basis on my land listings and are shocked when I qualify them and tell them that they will need 25% – 35% down in order to make a land purchase. By working with an ALC, you, as seller, are going to get a REALTOR® that understands how to qualify buyers before they step foot on your property. That ALC is also going to have the lending institution contacts to make sure that a buyer doesn’t get under contract on your ranch, just to have the deal fall apart a few weeks later due to financing reasons.

If you’re thinking about selling your property in the near future, why not work with the best in the business? Let an ALC represent you in your next land real estate transaction, and see the results they provide for not only your pocketbook, but also your time. Check out the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Find A Land Consultant search tool to find an ALC near you.

This post is part of the 2019 Future Leaders Committee content generation initiative. The initiative is directed at further establishing RLI as “The Voice of Land” in the land real estate industry for land professionals and landowners. For more posts like this, click here

 About the Author: Justin Osborn, ALC, is a licensed associate real estate broker with The Wells Group. Justin is a member of the REALTORS® Land Institute and serves on their Future Leaders Committee.

Five Helpful Tips for Owning and Managing Timberland

I admit, I am a little partial as a registered forester and land broker but I do truly believe timberland ownership can be one of the best and most rewarding investment options.  Below are five helpful tips that can apply to any owner of timberland.

1. Seek Professional Assistance

Timberland is optimized with the assistance of a professional manager.  For many landowners, the best source of professional assistance is a consulting forester. The consulting forester is a trained professional that works on behalf of the landowner making sure the landowner’s objectives are met and their best interests are represented. They can assist with the preparation of forest management plans, timber marketing and sales, reforestation, silvicultural treatments, wildlife management, and hunt lease management to name a few.

This assistance is especially critical at the time of timber sales.  For most landowners, timber sales are not frequent events, the landowner may not have an accurate expectation for the value of their timber in the current market. A consulting forester can inventory and appraise the timber to provide an accurate estimate of the value to be expected and then recommend the best method to market the timber on a competitive basis to make sure the return is maximized. They assist in execution of a harvest agreement or timber deed between the landowner and buyer, written to protect the landowner’s interest.  Finally, they will make regular site inspections during the harvest to make sure the work is occurring as agreed and the land is not damaged.

The service of a professional should more than pay for itself for most owners.

2. Determine your ownership objectives

It is important to know why a landowner has invested in timberland real estate and communicate that clearly to his/her advisers. Ownership objectives vary widely among landowners and most folks land own for a combination of reasons. There are usually one or two primary objectives for owning. Examples may be income from the sale of timber, recreational use like hunting, fishing, or riding ATVs, conservation of wildlife and habitat, family legacy, or investment for future higher and better use. Each of these objectives will require unique management activities to increase the probability the objectives are realized for the owner.

3. Create a forest management plan

It is hard for anyone to hit a target if they do not have something to shoot at.  A forest management plan is a critical document for any owner of forestland. Typically prepared by a professional forester after consultation with the landowner, the plan serves as a guide for the management of the land, typically a 10-year horizon.  Components of the plan may include property description, forest stand type map, forest stand descriptions, and management prescriptions for each timber stand over the planning horizon, a timeline or schedule of activities the landowner should expect, and a log section where the landowner can keep notes on their activities.  Having a plan and following it will increase the chances the owner’s goals are met.

 

4. Manage Risks

The ownership of timberland comes with liability and risk like any investment.  It is important for the owner to understand those risk and mitigate them as best as possible.  Major risk to the loss of timber include fire, wind damage, insect, and disease.  Each of these risks can be reduced using good forest management techniques with professional assistance.

Landowners can have liability exposure from trespassers and recreational users depending on the laws in their state.  It is wise to understand those liability issues and protect against them.  Liability insurance policies are available to protect landowners from accidents that may occur on their property.  It can also reduce liability if property boundaries are clearly marked and posted to deter trespassing.

5. Incentive Programs and Tax Benefits

There are many incentive programs available for the owners of timberland.  Owners should consult with their consulting forester, state forestry representatives, their local extension agent, or their local USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office to determine what programs are available and how they may be able to benefit.   These funds may offset the cost of reforestation, property improvements, wildlife management practices like prescribe burning, plantings, or other activities.

Most states have reduced property tax programs for owners of timberland.  The programs tax the property based on its current use rather than market value.  In areas where timberland is near urban areas, this can be a substantial annual saving for landowners.

It is also equally wise to have a tax professional and/or an attorney that is well versed in timberland to advise on annual income tax return and estate tax issues.  A great resource for landowners is www.timbertax.org.  This website has information on a wide range of tax topics relevant to forest landowners.

This post is part of the 2019 Future Leaders Committee content generation initiative. The initiative is directed at further establishing RLI as “The Voice of Land” in the land real estate industry for land professionals and landowners. For more posts like this, click here

Chris Miller, ALCAbout the Author: Chris Miller, ALC, is a land broker and consulting forester for American Forest Management, Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Tips From Land Experts on Closing Year-End Deals

With stress running high and people busier than ever, closing deals in December can be difficult. To find out how some agents flourish during the holidays, we reached out to some of our elite Accredited Land Consultants to find out their top tips for closing land deals in December.

Be Where The Buyers Are

Did you know that 78% of people do their holiday shopping online? Every year, more and more people go online to make purchases. With such an increase in screen time, sharing your properties on social media and in targeted ads is a great way to get your properties in front of potential buyers this time of year.

“The holidays are one of the better times to market your properties as families get together, shop on their phones, and flip back and forth on Facebook,” said Drew Ary, ALC, with Ary Land & Home/ Keller Williams Advantage. “In fact, 78% of people do most of their holiday shopping online and 54% of purchases will come from smart phones and tablets. Share your property listings and do some live videos about purchasing the ultimate Christmas present! Tell them to plan for tax season and use that extra money to make the most memorable investment there is to make!”

Communicate

Communication is always important in the land industry, but it is especially important around the holidays. As the calendar fills up, you run the risk of double booking a showing, client meeting, or other events. Clear communication is important with your staff, clients, and friends and family.

“Elevated communication is key. Each day matters when it comes to deadlines, so putting together a closing schedule early and keeping everyone in the loop at each step is essential,” said Kenny Schum, ALC, from Murray Wise Associates, LLC. “Make sure you know each stakeholders holiday travel schedules and business hours early and plan accordingly.”

Know Why They Buy (Or Sell)

While the popular misconception is that December is the slowest month for real estate sales, the looming tax season and the natural desire to get things done before the end of the year creates a whole new client base. Knowing who and why people buy will help you in closing land deals in December.

“Year end is busy for real estate brokers, buyers, sellers, and investors because it is a natural deadline for decisions,” said Ben Crosby, ALC, from Crosby & Associates, Inc. “Taxes are a major reason for these decisions. Buyers either want a purchase on their books before year end or after the new year. Sellers make the same decisions based on their best tax strategy.”

Be Prepared

Knowing that this time of year is hectic can actually be your secret weapon. Use the months beforehand to plan, schedule meetings, and layout what needs to be done before the holiday mayhem hits.

“Scheduling closings during the holiday season can be tricky,” said Phil McGinnis, ALC, of McGinnis Commercial Real Estate Co.  “I prepare all year to be able to call in favors at holiday time to get my closings fit in. Lawyers, paralegals, and the whole team of surveyors and appraisers usually don’t mind helping out if they have been helped out throughout the year.

De-Stress

Holidays have a way of packing on the stress. Working around the clock while trying to juggle all your other Christmas activities can drain even the toughest agent quickly. Make sure to take some time for yourself.

The holidays can be a tough time to close deals. However, with the right mindset, preparedness, and open communication with those in your office and in your life, closing land deals in December will be a breeze!

Don’t have your Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation yet? Learn about the requirements for and benefits of earning this prestigious designation!

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

RLI Members Benefit From Increased Exposure

With so many business buzzwords flying around, it can be hard to pin down what associations are doing day-to-day to best serve you – the members. Here at RLI National, we want to give an inside look into what we’re doing to promote our ALCs and RLI Members.

If you had a peek at the RLI 2017-2020 Strategic Plan Update, you probably noticed most of the points revolve around increasing awareness of our members and adding value to membership. At first glance, “awareness” and “adding value” can seem like two more buzzwords, but each priority is broken down into a series of steps that are currently in motion.

One of the ways we added value to membership was by creating the RLI APEX Awards Program. Sponsored by The Land Report, this awards program was designed to recognize the industry’s top national producers – truly the crème of the crop. The APEX Awards Program caught the attention of the media, getting coverage everywhere from the Business Insider to the Chicago Tribune and Market Watch. All the media attention got free publicity for all our applicants and their companies. Applicants that attended the APEX Awards Ceremony at our 2018 National Land Conference were even featured on a billboard in Times Square!

Another way we are creating awareness of RLI, is by having ads in every major industry publication and digital ads on all their websites, including:

These ads help us stay top of mind for people in every sector of the land industry. The RLI Brand is omnipresent in print and in person. in 2018, so far we‘ve had booths promoting RLI at the CCIM Conference, NAR REALTORS® Conference & Expo, and NAFB (National Association of Farm Broadcasting) Conference to help us maintain a strong voice in the land industry and spread awareness of our organization and designation. We are also working closely with NAR State and Local associations to help create awareness about RLI.

Our promotions resulted in an incredible 814% (yes, you read that right!) increase in people using the Find a Land Consultant search tool! We’ve heavily promoted this tool in prominent industry publications and on various industry blogs where landowners can find us. This jump in Find a Land Consultant use means that land buyers and sellers are turning to REALTORS® Land Institute to find a land expert for their transaction – to find you, the RLI Member! In addition, with the help of Facebook ads, bringing on top-notch industry keynote speakers, and growing the number of partners in the exhibit hall by 60%, we’ve seen a 44% increase in attendees to 2018’s National Land Conference!

With more industry partners, we’re able to invest more into promoting our members and can offer more discounts to help members grow their businesses and close more deals.  For example, we also have formed partnerships to get our members great discounts and services as part of our Member Advantage Program (MAP).

 

RLI also works with a freelance writer to assist with content generation, in addition to assisting members, to increase the quantity of posts we are able to put out. This has allowed us to now create valuable content for both land real estate agents like our members as well as content valuable to landowners. And even the content for landowners benefits you, the member, because you are able to share these pieces from our YOUR Land Blog to position yourself as the expert in your market by providing relevant, valuable content to your clients and potential clients. Our blog posts (like the one you are reading right now) keep our members in the know and to cement our role as The Voice of Land by showcasing timely, relevant content that is valuable to both land agents and landowners.

We’ve already had incredible results! RLI had a record number of partners for NLC, a 60% increase in industry partners that offer services to land professionals, and, for the first time in recent RLI history, sold out LANDU Education Week with record attendance.

We only listed a fraction of the steps that we’re taking to better serve our members (we’d need a lot more room to cover all that! You can read our full 2017-2020 Strategic Plan here). We always want to keep members updated on what we are doing so that we can work together to be The Voice of Land.

About the Author: Laura Barker is the Membership and Communications Specialist for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

Put the Power of the RLI or ALC Brand Behind Your Name

Being a part of REALTORS® Land Institute comes with a lot of benefits that you probably already use: amazing networking opportunities, deep discounts, and our property marketing tools The Land Connections and e-Properties. But there is one benefit that isn’t as obvious: the power of the RLI or ALC brand. In this article, we’re going to explore how you can put the power of the RLI or ALC brand behind your name.

How can you, the RLI Member or ALC, make the most of our brand power? We asked Terri Jensen, ALC, a land broker with National Land Realty and 2015 Past President of RLI, what the ALC Designation means to her. Of 18,000+ REALTORS® in Minnesota, Terri is one of only 14 to have earned the elite ALC Designation, so we knew she’d be a good person to ask. Here’s what she said having the RLI and ALC brands means to her:

  • “Provided the education, experience, and expertise needed to better assist my clients
  • Continued education on hot topics to stay current in the marketplace
  • Ability to lobby for legislation on behalf of landowners, as well as real estate practitioners
  • Always having someone to call on with a question
  • The ability to better market my services given the very small number of ALCs in my state vs. the total number of REALTORS®
  • Networking and a sense of family with those who know land
  • The opportunity to participate in, and be part of an organization that strives to be The Voice of Land and make its members the best in the business!”

So, what can you do to make the most out of your ALC and RLI Membership? Here are five ways:

1. Use The Logo

Use the RLI Member or ALC Logos* on all your property listings, business cards, email footers, and other marketing materials. You can even visit the RLI or ALC Logo Brand Shops (access them from your RLI Member profile page) to order clothes, office supplies and more branded with our logos! Plus, RLI Chapter Members can take advantage of using the new RLI Chapter Member Logo if you’re an active member of an RLI Chapter. The more you promote the ALC logo and RLI Member Logo, the more brand recognition there will be in the industry – which means the more valuable holding the designation or being a member becomes for you!

Need marketing materials? We’ve got you covered. You can order ALC Brochures online, and we also have press release templates for new ALCs and RLI members in our Member Resources page.

2. Keep Your Find a Land Consultant profile Up To Date

With the boom in use, you’ll want to make sure your most current information is on your FALC profile. This includes your specialties, contact information, where you are licensed, a head shot, and more. Check out our article Top Six Find A Land Consultant Profiles article for tips on how to improve yours.

3. Continuing Education

There’s always something new to learn, and sometimes it costs nothing! ALCs and RLI Members get exclusive discounted member rates on classes and even get a few free webinars each year.

Now is the perfect time to check out our course schedule, since we just finished up an education update to make the courses even better. The content in all of our classes has been updated to provide you with the most relevant industry trends and best practices. The format of the classes has also been updated to enhance engagement with both the content and other students. You can view all of our upcoming classes here.

4. Attend the Annual National Land Conference (NLC)

This is a great event to see and be seen. RLI Members and ALCs get discounted member rate registrations. Plus, you can be sure to get an even deeper discount on the networking event of the year with early bird registration rates by registering before December. And if you are a new member of RLI*, you’ll automatically get an additional 25% off registration. How does attending NLC help your brand?

“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,” says Allison Worrell of Worrell Land Services, LLC.

5. Keep Us In The Loop!

We love promoting members who have won an award or gotten an article published. Contact us at rli@realtors.org so we can extend the reach of your industry success.

Now that you know how to make the most out of your RLI Membership and ALC, see how RLI promotes its members.

*Reminder: RLI Members and ALCs – please be sure to use the logo in accordance with the RLI Visual Standards Manual.

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

 

Recreational Land 101

Recreational land is different than other land types. Its success isn’t measured in crops, but on the quality of the time spent on the land. Whether you buy recreational land as a hideaway for generations to enjoy or to create a lucrative hunting spot, recreational land does have some unique barriers to achieving success. Since this land type isn’t talked about as much as residential land or farmland, we wanted to dedicate a blog post to commonly asked questions about recreational land.

What is recreational land?

As the name suggests, recreational land is land that is used for recreation. The types of recreation can vary – hunting, fishing, camping, ATV-ing, and more. In the industry, hunting is one of the most popular and well-recognized uses for recreational land.

What should I look for when buying recreational land?

Knowing what zoning regulations and restrictions impact a property is one of the most important things to look for. These regulations can impact everything from build-ability to what you are allowed to hunt. Work with a land expert in your area who can help you find a property zoned right for your intended use.

If you want to use the land for hunting, keep an eye out for animals and things animals like. Food plots, a good source of water, and cover for animals to feel safe in is key for attracting game to your land.

Good neighbors can also make or break a recreational property. If the property is part of a managed neighborhood, that’s a great sign that they are dedicated to helping everyone in that community and their land to thrive. Bad neighbors (for example, poachers, people who make noises that scare animals or disturb the natural peace, or people that dump waste into the river) can ruin an otherwise perfect property.

What are the benefits of buying recreational land?

How you benefit from the land is up to you. You could let other people enjoy the property and its amenities for a fee. You could improve the land and sell it for a profit down the road.

You can also use it for your friends and family as a retreat from the rest of the world. If kept in good shape, recreational land can be something passed down for generations that will only increase in value.

How can I add value to my recreational land?

There are dozens of ways to add value to your recreational land. In his guest post for RLI, Bob Stalberger, ALC, suggests adding trail cameras as a cheap and effective way to add value.

“Buyers are always asking me to see trail camera photos from the property for sale,” said Stalberger. “When we check the analytics of our listings, it is proven that a listing with good trail camera photos vastly outperforms a listing without them. In addition, I personally advise my new buyers to go buy a thumb drive and save trail camera photos from day one, even if they have no plans of ever selling. It is great to be able to show a buyer 2-10 years of trail camera photos and allow them to see the quality and quantities of deer using the property.”

Tommy Stroud, Jr, ALC, recommends creating habitats for animals to thrive in. He says, in his guest post for the RLI Blog, about a recent property he helped to add value to “This [property] required thinning the trees back to 35-50 trees per acre. A skid steer with a grinder ate up a lot of the long-abandoned under story before Garlon (Triclopyr) was sprayed to prevent hardwood growth. These fields were burned using prescriptive fire in late February.  Continuing to burn every one or two years will keep this stand clean and provide a great habitat for all wildlife.”

Recreational land is so much more than just another land type. It can be a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation, a profitable business, or just a place to get away from the rest of the world. Interested in owning a piece of your recreational land? Make sure to Find A Land Consultant that has the expertise required to conduct these types of transactions. Interested in learning more about recreational land as an agent? Check out the Recreational Land Real Estate LANDU course.

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