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Broker Tips For Choosing & Recruiting New Land Agents

The Value in a Value Proposition

For a land real estate business to be successful, it must be good at recruiting new land agents, both attracting and retaining them. Your priority should be to have a well-defined value proposition. There are two parts to creating a well-defined value proposition for recruiting new land agents.

This first is the financial value to your team or brokerage with total agent splits, etc.

The second part will be defining the resources you provide to potential recruits, for example, in terms of leads from the company websites, technology, print ads, and whatever else it is that sets your brokerage apart. Next, you should also address the more intangible elements of why they should choose to work with you. For example, “We are the best-known land brokerage in the area” or “We have a culture of sharing that welcomes new agents,” etc.

Once you have a well-defined value proposition, it’s time to go find some talented people.

Prospecting Recruits

First things first, call agents that you have worked with in the past. Then, start calling agents that are working in the area(s) you serve. Next, begin thinking about the people you already know who are in ancillary positions that may be able to become good agents. Lenders, county extension agents, insurance agents, and even wildlife biologists are all a natural fit to join the land industry.

Now comes the time to set appointments with potential recruits. In order to have a consistent interview process, we recommend crafting a standard list of questions. This helps to maintain a consistent schedule for you and the new potential recruit, and it gives you the ability to best compare candidates. Besides if you do not have a consistent list, you will spend more time with some than others, missing information which could lead you to overlook some talented people.

Recruiting Top Candidates

Once you begin the recruiting process there are a few factors to consider.

First and foremost is determining if there is a cultural fit. If they don’t want to work from the office and everyone else does, there is a lot of potential for disagreement over the long-term. A lone wolf is not comfortable in an office full of people who share information and best practices.

Next, you’ll want to examine the potential agent’s drive or motivation. If someone is financially motivated, are they willing to do the activities necessary to earn enough business to create the income they desire? If they are only willing to put in the minimum effort and expect championship results, they are doomed to failure. It is your responsibility to set reasonable expectations upfront.

A person that says they like their brokerage but they feel like there must be something else in this business is an ideal candidate to have these conversations with. Ask about their business, how do they currently generate leads for clients? This will give you the opportunity to showcase all the tools and systems that your team offers. At this point, most people can see the value in partnering with you and are ready to come onboard. If not, set a follow up time and keep the dialogue going.

Immediately after the interview, it’s time to set follow up appointments. Consistent communication is the key – just like it is with potential sellers – remember the best agents typically are already working in the field and the decision to move to a new team is not taken lightly.

 

Tim Hadley, ALCAbout 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 mockAbout 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, 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.

 

 

Four Tips for a Successful First Year as a Land Agent

Becoming a land broker sounds fun. You see all the cool pictures, videos, and listings that agents post online and on social media, so you think “Hey, I like the outdoors, I like to hunt and fish, I know my way around the woods, so I’m going to become a land agent and just watch the money roll in.” As many a land broker will tell you, you are dead wrong. Selling land is a lot like farming. It takes time, money, strategic planning, and at the end of the day, a lot of your success still depends on the weather. Here are some tips for getting over the learning curve as a new agent:

  1. Hope for the best, plan for the worst – Don’t just run out and buy a fancy 4×4 truck, UTV, winches, and tires. Being able to navigate rural lands is important, but don’t spend money you don’t have yet to do it. Be modest, create a budget. Work with your broker to outline how much you should allot to your personal digital marketing, print marketing, networking opportunities, etc. and understand when you can expect those efforts to start taking hold. Don’t spend money you don’t have just to break even later. Economies change much like the weather, and as long as you’re not over extending and you are able to adjust, selling land in a bad economy can be equally or more profitable than selling land in a good economy. Learn how to pivot your business around whatever industry weather changes may come
  2. Educate yourself at every opportunity. If you want to be an expert, don’t just play one online. Invest in yourself and become one. Join professional organizations like RLI and align yourself with industry leaders, working toward meaningful designations like that of the Accredited Land Consultant. Learn from those around you in the industry, from their mistakes as well as their successes. Follow and understand pressing industry issues: income taxes, tax shelter opportunities, current or upcoming regulations, laws, or policies that effect your client base, etc. You will be most successful in this business when you know how to best make or save your clients money.
  3. Network & get referrals. Everybody uses postcards, letters, online gimmicks, etc. to promote. Nothing wrong with that; it’s a necessity we all face, but networking is one of the most fruitful investments of time you can make in our industry. The larger the network of people that understand who you are, what you do, and why you are an expert in your field, the more business will walk in your door without you having to spend your valuable budget dollars trying to procure new clients. Start with your friends and family. They are the bedrock of a strong network and the people that will be your biggest promoters. Add your past clients to that essential list once you start to have them. A major key to successful professional networking is reciprocating. Be generous and genuine in your referrals of other professionals first, without expecting or asking for anything in return, and it will pay great dividends throughout your career. Being an RLI member aligns you with a vast network of land professionals from across the country, so make sure to take advantage of it.
  4. Above all, align yourself with a strong brand. By now, we’ve all heard about branding and how important it is. In this context, it’s not only about having a recognizable logo. It’s about what’s behind the logo: like the leadership and support team. Before you join a company, understand its culture and make sure it aligns with your personality and your goals. Join a company that invests in you, promotes your growth, provides educational opportunities, mentorships, etc., one that is constantly innovating and evolving rather than one that’s just waiting on the next disruptor to emerge and knock them backwards.

At the end of the day, you are not successful in this business because you like land, have a real estate license, and want to be successful. It comes down to what you put into it and being too stubborn to quit when it gets tough. There’s a reason a lot of people in this business wear weather hewn boots and hats – They’ve earned them!

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

Everything You Need to Know About Bringing in Outside Parties to a Land Transaction

The sale of property that predominantly consists of land requires an extension to the set of tools you would normally use in a residential listing. Listing land has unique requirements that necessitate additions to the team of professionals involved in a transaction, even prior to marketing the property. In certain circumstances, adding another agent or even another brokerage firm may increase both marketing power and product expertise. Opening title with a title company or attorney’s office aids the Escrow Officer in getting ahead of any title issues. Bringing environmental and biological consultants on board can provide crucial advice when working on developable acreage with sensitive habitats. Once the property is listed and ready to market, a land planner, economic development agency, and surveyor could inform potential buyers about what is for sale, or what could be produced on the property. Each phase of the process during a successful sale has important and legal ramifications if not completely correctly. Below are details on who the professionals are that we most utilize, when we recommend speaking with them and why.

Who: Surveyor/Engineer

When: At listing

Why: If the property you are selling hasn’t been surveyed, it is advisable to recommend the seller have a survey completed with the corners of the premise marked (for larger properties we like to have them stake the corners with 10′ white PVC pipe). This allows you to convey accurate measurements to perspective purchasers, while having the corners visibly marked so that buyers may visualize the boundary when touring the site.  Additionally, a survey will also bring to light any issues involving encroachments, potentially avoiding costly retrades or cancelled escrows when given the foresight to deal with these problems early in the process.

When marketing transitional land, primarily for residential development, a civil engineer who is familiar with the local zoning code can be engaged to provide a lotting study. Having this study, which shows a hypothetical layout for a residential subdivision in accordance with the minimum development requirements of the zoning code and site constraints, can help support value. Similarly, hypothetical site plans can be developed for nonresidential development sites that show potential layouts and building footprints. An engineer may also be able to provide guidance or connect you with the correct contacts at the municipality to gain an understanding on the ability to access public utilities (water, wastewater, stormwater, natural gas, etc.), along with their distance from the property and whether they have enough capacity to support the proposed use.

Who: Land Use Planner / Architect

When: At listing

Why: Engaging a land planner to provide hypothetical master plan layouts that incorporate a mix of future uses for larger development sites can help prospects understand the breadth of the opportunity, assigning value to the portions of the site allocated to different product types. Additionally, if they are familiar with the local municipality, a knowledgeable land planner should be able to provide a plan that will be well received by both the market and local decision-making bodies.

Similarly, (but more typically for infill development projects) having an architect provide a feasibility study highlighting the applicable development regulations for the site (including maximum square footage or density constraints) and a massing report that shows the maximum building envelope along with architectural renderings of what a potential building may look like. These resources can help purchasers quickly assess the scope of the development opportunity at hand.

Who: Land Use Attorney 

When: Prior to engaging the market

Why: To most local elected officials, nothing is more important than land use. For this reason, when working on a transitional land project it is important for the seller to have advice from counsel that understands local politics and the land use regulatory process. This will help assess the reasonableness and likelihood of success for any offers received that are contingent on development. They can also provide valuable insight during the entitlement process and increase a project’s chances of approval.

Who: Real Estate (Transaction) Attorney

When: Prior to receiving offers

Why: Throughout the sale process, the seller should seek the advice of real estate counsel to ensure they are appropriately mitigating risk. This includes reviewing their current situation prior to receiving offers so that the agent can make Buyers aware of any business terms that are unique to this seller’s specific situation throughout the process of developing an offer. Additionally, working with counsel to review all agreements and due diligence material prior to delivery can mitigate the potential for the seller to expose themselves up to unnecessary liability.

Who: Title Officer/Attorney

When: Prior to or at listing

Why: A title review should be completed as early in the process as possible to ensure marketable title. Confirming how title is vested and addressing any encumbrances (i.e. outstanding liens or deeds of trust, lis pendens, easements, etc.) early in the process can ensure you are dealing with a property’s true decision maker, along with providing time to address any concerns long before you have a buyer at the table.

Who: Water Rights Attorney

When: At listing

Why: For any asset where access to water is currently or potentially a critical component of value, having a water rights attorney provide an opinion on the validity and defensibility of any water rights may be necessary to support any assessment.

Who: Well Driller 

When: At listing

Why: In regions that are dependent on groundwater, it is advisable to discuss the site with a local well driller to determine the feasibility of developing a well at the property, the condition of existing wells (if applicable), and any known issues with the groundwater resources in the area.

Who: Environmental Consultant 

When: Prior to or at listing

Why: Unresolved soil and groundwater contamination can be devastating to the value of a property regardless of the source. Having a consultant provide a desktop report prior to listing the property can help educate you and the seller about any known issues in the area. If there are reasons for concern, an environmental consultant can help develop a strategy to address the concerns and provide certainty to a buyer. If the owner has a previously completed Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), a report that looks at the current and historic uses of the property to assess if they may have impacted the soil or groundwater beneath the property and could pose a threat to the environment and/or human health) a consultant can review the report and help summarize what was found previously, as well as what additional investigation (if any) may be warranted.

Who: Biological Consultant

When: At listing

Why: The existence of sensitive plant and animal species, or habitats could substantially impact the cost to develop as well as the actual developable acreage of a site. Asking an expert if there are any known species in the area along with any reasons for concern by having an informal site visit completed to look for any indications of sensitive species or habitats will provide increased certainty when engaging the market.

Who: Consulting Forester 

When: At listing

Why: As detailed in the Should I Invest in Timberland Real Estate? post by Clint Flowers, ALC, a fellow RLI member, developing a solid timber management strategy is critical to the successful investment in timberland.  Additionally, if a consulting forester is engaged earlier and familiar with the property, they can help prospective purchasers assess the opportunity and determine if it is the right fit for their investment criteria.

Who: Escrow Officer

When: At listing

Why: Having a trustworthy and capable Escrow Officer as part of your team will help keep a transaction on track. An Escrow Officer can often work with Title in advance of a transaction to address any issues that may need settling prior to getting the property into Escrow. This type of preparation can limit last minute issues and help ensure a smooth transaction from start to finish.

Who: Economic Development Agency (public and/or private) 

When: At listing

Why: For development opportunities and transitional land, economic developers should be made aware of the offering as early as possible. Not only are they a potential source of a buyer, but they can typically provide guidance on incentives, approval processing, and general market expertise. Leveraging their involvement can save time and increase the likelihood of a project getting approved.

Who: Other Brokers/Agents 

When: Prior to listing

Why: Fielding the best team on every deal is fundamental to our success in business. When given the opportunity to work on a project outside of our unique area of geographic or product expertise, a referral is not always possible depending on our relationship with the client. However, partnering with the right team of real estate professionals to provide the expertise you lack will improve your learning curve, expedite the sale process, and (most importantly) ensure you achieve the best possible results for your client. RLI has a vast network of agents across the country with extensive expertise in the various sectors.

Who: Appraiser 

When: Prior to listing

Why: When analyzing a new opportunity, speaking with an appraiser knowledgeable in the market can help establish the most defensible approach to valuing a specific asset along with developing a defensible baseline value. They may also be able to provide verified comparable sales to support your analysis.

As you can see, much of this work is recommended to be completed early in the process. Understanding these aspects of a property and addressing any areas of concern sooner than later can:

  • assist with establishing a defensible asking price of the property;
  • ensure you present a comprehensive offering to the market;
  • help you address buyers questions early and knowledgably, and most importantly;
  • and decrease the level of uncertainty around a property and reduce the likelihood of surprises during escrow that may lead to avoidable delays, price reduction requests, or failed escrows.

While this list has been assembled primarily from the perspective of a listing agent, a buyer’s agent could also benefit from using this as a guide to assist either their clients with due diligence or their own preliminary investigations to determine if a site fits their client’s acquisition criteria. The list is not meant to be comprehensive but, in our experience, it addresses the vendors, consultants, and professionals we engage with most frequently. Establishing a stable base of knowledgeable experts can expand your capabilities and allow you to more effectively guide a client through the process of buying or selling real estate.

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:
 Matt Davis is a real estate broker with Cushman & Wakefield. He is based in San Diego, CA, and assists clients with the disposition and acquisition of investment grade agricultural and transitional land assets. He is also founding member of the company’s Land Advisory Group and Agribusiness Solutions Team. Matt is a member of RLI and serves on their 2019 Future Leaders Committee.

About the Author: Cynthia Bynum started in Real Estate in 2003 as an investor and acquired her license in the State of Texas in 2009. She was raised on Eagle Mountain Lake and is quite familiar with properties in Parker and Tarrant Counties. Joining Trinity Territory Brokerage firm was the best move for her career. Her specialties range from representing buyers and listing residential properties to commercial, land sales, property management, foreclosures,  and leasing.

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.

 

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.

Call The Neighbors And Other Prospecting Tips

Early in my land career, I learned a valuable lesson. I got a call one day from a broker who works in my market area saying he had a prospect for one of my listings. They toured the property, submitted an offer, and we negotiated to an executed contract. About a week later I was gathering some information for the closing attorney via the property assessor website. It was then that I discovered that the buyer was the landowner immediately adjacent to my listing. The broker that submitted the offer had seen the property marketed online and was friends with the eventual buyer. He made one phone call to his friend and became the buyer’s broker in the deal. By failing to contact that individual myself, I gave up half of my commission – over $100,000.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I have no issues cooperating with other brokers. Our land broker community is a small one and pretty tight. I have done plenty of deals that would not have happened without the cooperation of fellow brokers and I welcome their involvement. But in the case above, this buyer was someone I could easily have gone to directly.

It seems like a simple thing – get in touch with the adjacent landowners to gauge their interest in your listing. But I screwed it up. So, maybe by pointing it out, I can help someone out there avoid the same mistake. Certainly, we all have go-to buyers who we contact the moment we have a property that fits in their wheelhouse. But it’s always possible the simplest solution is literally right next door.

Since entering the land brokerage industry 5 years ago, I’ve made a few (a lot of?) other mistakes or simply failed to do some (MANY!) important things. So, I’d like to offer some tips on prospecting to help you get more deals and maintain a more consistent pipeline.

When on the phone, if they will keep talking, let them talk!

When I first started cold calling, many of my calls lasted less than 20 seconds. I would get someone on the phone and ask if they wanted to sell. If they said “no”, conversation over. Move on to the next call. Over time, I realized I was doing it wrong. I began engaging people in conversation – even if I knew they weren’t sellers. I learned about people. I built relationships. And pretty frequently, I got a tip on a family member or friend nearby who owned land as well. By making the phone call less about a “yes” or “no” and more about gathering information, I was able to make my calls more productive and, frankly, more enjoyable. It was also a great way to set myself up for doing what I recommend in the next tip.

When prospects tell you “no”, call them back later

At this very moment, I am working on a rather large deal that is the result of consistently calling back a “no”. I’ve been following up with this guy for over 3 years and he is finally ready to sell. In fact, on my most recent follow up with him, he told me he still wasn’t a seller. Then he contacted me a week later and wanted to move forward. The point here is that people change. Regular follow up is VITAL to make sure you get to them when they are ready. Many things can make a landowner change their mind: a bad crop year, a death in the family, birth of grandkids, or whatever. The answer may be “no” today, but is likely to change to a “yes” at some point in the future. You want to make sure that when “yes” arrives, you are the only person that owner will think of.

Flag down the tractor

This tip falls a bit more under the heading of canvassing than prospecting. But when done well, it leads to more effective prospecting. Have you ever been out looking at land (in my case row crop farms) and seen someone plowing or spreading fertilizer? Next time you do, park your truck on the side of the road and see if you can get his attention. He might be a contractor, or a farmhand, or maybe even the owner himself. But no matter what his role or position, you’re bound to get some great information from him if you simply engage him in conversation. Using this technique, I’ve gotten names, addresses, and even cell phone numbers of quality prospects. It may sound a bit weird or make you uncomfortable, but the tractor driver generally welcomes the company. He likely spends most of his day alone in that tractor cab. Give him the opportunity to talk, ask the right questions, and before you know it you’ll be listing that $10MM property that you got from the guy on the tractor.

There are millions of different tips and tricks to effective prospecting. I’ve written in the past on outsourcing your time and using good software to boost your prospecting efforts. But there is no substitute for getting on the phone or talking in person with people who own property. In my opinion, this is far and away the most directly effective method for listing and selling property. First, call the neighbors. Then, call EVERYBODY ELSE.

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.

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

Checklist for Success

How many of you are the backbone of your Company’s entire operation? In fact, you are probably your entire operation: a solo agent prospecting for new leads, writing offers, conducting listing appointments and buyer consultations, negotiating contracts, giving sellers marketing updates, ordering surveys, determining utility locations, marketing your listings, handling your social media and overall, handling the entire transaction from listing to closing. In fact, you probably have to make your own coffee and try to manage a database and a family. WHEW, it’s a lot!

Have you ever felt as if you’re juggling too much, perhaps, you’re even struggling to keep up? Ever wished that you were in a position to hire an assistant to support you with the never-ending stream of administrative tasks? Have you determined that you’re not quite ready for that next step but desperately need some help staying organized and efficient? I feel like this is an incredible place to start. Not only will it help you stay organized, it will create a workflow that can be duplicated and passed on. Now is a great time to consider implementing systems and processes that can later be handed off as you grow. In order to do so, you have to write down what has to be done before you can hire someone to do it.

In order to move from a solo agent to a team, you must build systems that will keep your company operational and functioning in a smooth, systematized and efficient manner. In addition, when you finally hit your breaking point and hire an admin, you can share these systems and train your team by simply going over your documented processes. If you’re a real champion and want to grow your business exponentially, I would personally recommend going through the utter discomfort of hiring a business coach. I would recommend someone like Mike Ferry Organization, Tom Hopkins International, or my personal favorite, Icenhower Coaching and Consulting.

A coach can help you organize your business, determine when to hire staff members and how to grow. It is uncomfortable; however, I want to illustrate the type of systems the discomfort introduces. Below you will find Ary Land and Home’s Listing to Contract Checklist. My team and I have developed this over time while working with our coach (Icenhower Coaching and Consulting). See below.

 

Date Completed Date Requested
Admin intro call to sellers – immediately after listing signed
Receive signed listing agreement
Create PROPERTY FILE CHECKLIST
Obtain all signed & completed sellers disclosures
Obtain showing instructions from agent/sellers, Gate Code? Combo?
Verify Aerial is accurate with salesperson
Put seller on MLS listing auto-alert email drip for LAND OR HOME to buy
Put seller on MLS auto-alert drip- MLS status changes 1 MILE RADIUS FROM LAND
Ask Seller for utility companies, call and get sizes of lines in front of prop
Order preliminary title report, HOA Documents & CCRs if HOME
Order Signs? Let Trish know what’s used for sign inventory
Add sellers to admin weekly update call list
Add sellers to agent’s weekly update call list
Ask to Enter listing into MLS as incomplete for agent to proof
Assign lock box to MLS listing
Add client to CRM database
Add new listing to Team Scoreboard
Submit listing contract/disclosures in to DotLoop for compliance
Get MLS listing edits/approval from Agent
Upload MLS Client Detail Report to property file
Email MLS Client Detail Report to all team members
Add/Enhance Listing on LandWatch LOA and LandBrokerMLS
Calendar Listing Expiration Date
Prepare property flyer
Create “Just Listed” Facebook & social media posts
“Just Listed” mailers/flyers created & ordered
Add clients as friends on Facebook/Social Media
Claim listing on Zillow/Trulia & set up reporting
Sign up at property
Flyers delivered to property
LISTING GOES LIVE ON MLS  
Send Thank You/Gift Card to Person who Referred Listing
“Just Listed” email to neighborhood & SOI
“Just Listed” posted on Facebook & social media
Call to sellers for PRICE REDUCTION APPOINTMENT?
Weekly Activity Report Call to sellers
Email Activity Report to sellers
ONCE OFFER(S) RECEIVED  
Prepare summary(s) of key offer terms to present to sellers
ONCE OFFER ACCEPTED – Start Property File Checklist  

 

*Please note that you need to go through the checklist, there are some things that will not apply to your situation.

Can you picture yourself using this checklist? Can you imagine what it would be like to know that all of your files are “where they need to be?” Fundamental organization and structure is essential.

The main goal in writing this Blog is to help novice agents understand that developing routines and establishing work flows is essential to running a successful real estate company. Even though you may feel like you are too far gone, YOU CAN turn chaos into order and whip things into shape. These processes will 1) make your life as an agent easier and less stressful, and 2) create and maintain seamless systems that can be duplicated to keep the business running so that you can focus on growing your business.

With that said, I urge you to sit down and go over the above Listing to Contract Checklist and make it yours. Don’t stop there, make a Contract to Close Checklist, a Seller Closing Checklist, and a Buyer Closing Checklist and just keep going. Don’t make the checklists just to make them, make sure you implement them and go over them weekly. Make a checklist of what needs to be done on every file and eventually you will be able to hire someone that can make sure the items are checked off for you. I know it will be painful and you will grow to the extent of pain you can handle!

On another note, if you are looking to hire someone and you are not sure exactly what they are supposed to do, keep reading. Below is a sample Listing Manager’s job description.

  • Oversee all aspects of Seller’s transactions from initial contact to executed purchase agreement.
  • Prepare all listing materials: pre-listing presentation, Listing Agreement, sellers’ disclosures, comparative market analysis, pull online property profile, research old multiple listing service (MLS) listings and etc.
  • Consult & coordinate with Seller’s all property photos, surveys, repairs, cleaning, signage, lockbox, access requirements & marketing activities.
  • Obtain all necessary signatures on listing agreement, disclosures and other necessary documentation
  • Take property phone calls and monitor Agent emails.
  • Coordinate Buyer showings & obtain feedback.
  • Provide proactive weekly feedback to sellers regarding all showings and marketing activities.
  • Coordinate all agent meetings and remind Agent of important dates.
  • Input all listing information into MLS and marketing websites and update as needed.
  • Submit all necessary documentation to office broker for file compliance.
  • Input all necessary information into client database and transaction management systems

Again, when I got into real estate, I knew how to sell Farms. I did not understand how to run a business. None of this comes natural to me, however; it has changed the way our business operates. In fact, I no longer say “only I can do it” or “no one will do it as good as me.” That is a scarcity mindset and you have to realize that if you are saying that right now, it’s because “how to do it is not written down,” as our great leader, Gary Keller, would say. It took me a long time to realize this and if it weren’t for Kasey Mock taking the time to explain how important a business foundation is, I sure wouldn’t be where I am at today. With that said, my challenge to you is to start to document the things you do and create checklists to make sure they are done on every file. Make it a priority! Call me if I can help!

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.

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.

Adding Recreational Value to your Property

The majority of the buyers in my market are typically looking for properties with two characteristics: timberland for an investment and hunting for recreation. However, there aren’t many properties that ideally fit both characteristics. Sometimes I scratch my head, wondering why there aren’t more people willing to play the role of a developer and convert timber tracts into recreational retreats for profit. While it’s rare for an established hunting retreat to hit the open market, the properties that do, usually justify their price premium and get purchased quickly.

Timber real estate investment trusts (REITs) and investors are realizing that recreational value on many properties is now exceeding the timber value, which in turn justifies selling the property for a substantial profit. While there are many different ways to add recreational value to a property, I’ve decided to focus on one particular property, as it’s a great example. The main goal behind the property is continuing to operate a pine plantation for investment purposes, however, have the means to hunt, fish, and enjoy the property recreationally year-round. Here are some ways this property was able to achieve this goal:

1. Created Food Plots

While it does take some time and money to prepare a food plot, the end result will benefit wildlife and keep them on your property.  This requires cutting timber, removing the stumps, liming and fertilizing the soil, and figuring out what and when to plant. The majority of these food plots are on the edges of hardwoods. This one, in particular, has been low fenced to keep the hogs out.

2. Built A Dove Field

Having a great dove field is a great way to host guests, family, and friends for entertainment. It’s a fun social event you can put on several times a year. This dove field has all the makings for being successful including a fake power line and trees for the birds to roost, water to drink, sand/gravel, and approximately 12 acres to plant.

3. Created A Duck Impoundment

Since this property sits along the eastern flyway, this duck impoundment is ideal to attract passing ducks. This impoundment is planted in June and the water level is manually controlled through a flashboard riser. The owners are able to enjoy it from early teal season in September, all the way to the end of the season in February.

4. Created Quail Habitat

This 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 understory 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 great habitat for all wildlife.

5. Building A Fishing Pond

This pond was started almost a year ago. The owners were able to reach a mutual agreement with a local contractor and the Department of Transportation. The agreement allows the two parties to have free rights to the dirt in order to finish converting a nearby roadway from two lanes into four. Once completed the landowners will have a 17.5 acre stocked pond to enjoy year-round fishing.

6. Starting A Garden

Establishing a garden requires a lot of work. However, it is very enjoyable to be able to eat what you have grown. This garden contains a mixture of fruit trees including blueberries, blackberries, peaches, limes, nectarines, oranges, apples, pears, and grapes. It also has a seasonal section that is currently planted in corn, squash, cucumbers, peppers, okra, bush beans, cantaloupes and watermelons.

While there are certainly several other recreational aspects to add to a property, I thought this property did a great job of highlighting many of them and a great example of maintaining a timber investment and year-round recreational enjoyment.

Interested in becoming an expert in recreational land transactions? Check out the RLI’s Recreational Land Real Estate LANDU course.

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: Tommy Stroud Jr., ALC, is a broker with National Land Realty Tommy has served on the REALTORS© Land Institute Future Leaders Committee since 2016. He holds the esteemed Accredited Land Consultant Designation (ALC) and has an active real estate license in the states of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Tommy lives in St. Simons Island, GA, with his wife and two children.

Hidden Talent: Property Value from Untapped Sources

Everyone has a hidden talent. For some, it is a performance skill such as singing or playing an instrument. For others, it’s a marketable skill like welding, baking, or artistry. And for many, it’s something simple but impressive – magic tricks, stunts, or the ability to cram 23 marshmallows into your mouth without choking. Whatever your particular talent, those who are meeting you for the first time can’t see that talent on the surface. You must spend time with someone and get to know them before unlocking what’s inside (People don’t cram marshmallows in their mouth for strangers). But these talents make people fun far beyond simple socialization. They make people unique and interesting.

Land is no different. And while I have never seen land sing or bake, I have seen many pieces of land with their own hidden talents, that is, attributes that make for hidden value sources for owners and sellers. Finding and taking advantage of these hidden talents can provide higher cash flow, a higher selling price, or even intrinsic benefits to landowners and sellers alike. Here are just a few examples of places to look for, and hopefully find, hidden value in you or your client’s property.

1. Mineral Rights

Oftentimes, people can’t see beyond, well, what they can see. What is contained below the surface is sometimes the most valuable part of the property. Mineral rights can be very lucrative depending on location or resource to be mined. This may be a value a buyer wants to tap right away or at some point in the future after an alternative use. For example, here in Florida there are pieces of land that are used for cattle grazing and then later for mining of phosphate. Still later, some of the phosphate land is reclaimed for reservoirs or even single-family homes. In a unique case, there is even a luxury golf course build on an old phosphate mine near Tampa (checkout streamsongresort.com. This may be one of the best examples of hidden value I’ve ever seen.) Mineral rights are tricky and investing in them somewhat speculative. But properly considered, their value is not to be dismissed. For a better understanding of mineral rights, try the RLI course on the subject.

2. Conservation Easements

This one gets a lot of debate. Some people would argue that this isn’t hidden value, as putting a conservation on your land restricts the use, therefore devaluing it. And while I don’t disagree that selling prices for encumbered land are necessarily lower than their unencumbered counterparts, the real question lies in property use. I’ve seen cattleman pursue easements that remove their development rights – but only on land their family has been running cattle on for 100 years that they would never think of selling. These easements include what are called “compatible use agreements” which allow them to continue running cattle at a reasonable volume. Money in their pockets, they continue to operate as they always have. It is important to understand not only your rights but also your obligations as the owner of easement land. But if those line up, the opportunity could be an attractive one.

3. Mulch

This is definitely a much smaller scale example but still worth mentioning. Do you have an area of trees on your property that you think is worthless? Hire someone to clear those trees and turn them into mulch. I have personally had clients who have collected thousands of dollars from just few acres of pine or cypress. You don’t have to have a section full of 15-year-old pines to realize value from trees. This is certainly not a good retirement plan. But for smaller areas with no real merchantable timber, mulching is an excellent option that will provide some income.

4. Leasing – Hunting, fishing, camping, ATV riding

Again, not a lottery ticket here, but you don’t always need thousands of acres to provide a recreational area for someone. I’ve seen people lease as little as 10 acres for people to ride ATVs or dirt bikes on and as little as 100 acres for people to hunt on. Usually, these are vacant land pieces within 30 min or so of a city for people to just enjoy the outdoors. Sometimes referred to as “play land”, pieces like these provide the city-dwellers an opportunity to get away, get dirty, and enjoy some fresh air. Some landowners even provide limited use of their land free of charge to non-profit organizations. Not only is this great community involvement, but could also provide an opportunity to deduct the fair market value of that use for tax purposes (Not offering tax advice. Consult your CPA J).

Whether your property can swish an over-the-shoulder 3-pointer or do a double back flip off the diving board, it’s got something valuable that isn’t obvious. Take some time to find that value for yourself or your client for maximum property benefit.

What? Oh, me?? I play the piano. Happy to bang out Don’t Stop Believin’ for you anytime.

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.

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