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hunting tree stand

How to Buy Hunting Land

When you buy hunting land, you get to enjoy your private property without following another property owner’s rules. That opportunity has obvious appeal to anyone looking for recreational land. Knowing how to buy hunting land, however, isn’t the same knowing how to purchase a home. Before you commit to purchasing property, make sure you know how to buy hunting land that meets your needs.

Set a Realistic Budget Before You Buy Hunting Land

First, you need to know realistically how much money you can afford to spend on recreational land for hunting.

Most people don’t have enough cash on hand to purchase the amount of acres they would like, so they rely on lenders. Borrowing money makes it easier to buy property, but it also adds to the overall cost. Even though you spread out the payments over several years, you still pay interest on the money you borrow.

Another option is to buy hunting land with a group of investors through a land-owning partnership and share the property. This avenue can have many benefits even outside of the dollar savings.

Whether buying the land solo or as part of a group partnership, it’s always best to set a realistic budget before you even start looking at land. Then, you can make sure you are spending your time exploring the right options.

Do You Want to Earn Money From Your Recreational Land?

The good news is that you can potentially offset some costs when you buy hunting land. For example, you can charge a fee for other people to hunt on your property. Depending on the area, you may also generate income by:

Data also shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged some people to buy recreational land where they can find refuge away from crowded cities. As land values increase, you could profit from selling parcels of your land or renting to people looking for weekend getaways.

pheasant hunter

Know What Features Your Recreational Land Needs

When you visit properties, look for the types of features that attract wildlife. This may sound obvious, but you want to make sure you buy hunting land that already attracts the type(s) of game you enjoy hunting. Seek game signs such as deer trails, scrapes, rubs, and beds to see if the property shows sign wildlife use you want on the land. If you want to hunt deer, for example, look for a property that has enough thick wooded areas. Alternatively, purchase a property with access to a pond, lake, or stream if you enjoy fishing.

You should also consider the value of features that will make the land more comfortable and fun. You might prefer owning recreational land that already has certain features, like:

  • Housing where you can spend the night.
  • Tree stands that are well kept.
  • A barn or shed where you can store equipment.
  • Docks that let you fish in deeper water.
  • Trails that make it easier for you to explore your land’s beauty.

Features You Can Add After You Buy Hunting Land

Don’t write off a property that comes very close to meeting your needs. You can always add features to your recreational land after you buy it. Keep in mind that you can add some features more easily than others.

One great way to make your hunting land more attractive to game is by planting mast bearing or fruit trees, and/or adding food plots. Make sure you choose food sources that your preferred game love to eat. As long as you have the right soil, planting can require minimal effort. You can also add water troughs or ponds.

hunting buck

It’s also very easy to improve your recreational land’s value by adding trail cameras. You can use the cameras to show hunters, vacationers, or potential future buyers pictures of the land and wildlife on it. Photos also make great souvenirs that will encourage more people to visit your property. Photos taken with trail cameras are one of the best ways to increase the chances of selling your property for the price you want when the time comes.

“Trail camera photos and harvest photos are one of the top items that buyers of hunting land look and ask for when considering which property to buy. Our website analytics show properties with trail camera and harvest photos have a much longer view time and total number of views versus the ones that do not.  Purchasing a trail camera and a thumb drive to keep a history of the wildlife on your property is the single most cost effective thing you can do to improve the value of your property,” says Accredited Land Consultant Bob Stalberger, a land specialist in Minnesota with Whitetail Properties Real Estate.

Also, remember that adding features will increase the overall cost of your land. Include the cost in your budget and be careful not to spend more money than you intended. It’s considerably more costly to add large bodies of water, buildings, electrical lines, and wells to the property.

Focus on Convenient Locations

How far is it for you to drive to reach your recreational land? Are you willing to drive three hours? How about eight?

Buy hunting land in an area that you find convenient. Of course, convenient means something different to everyone so its important to determine how far is too far early on in the process so you don’t waste time looking at properties not in your desired range. If you have a demanding job in a metropolitan area, you might want to look for a relatively nearby location on the outskirts where you can spend the weekends. If you’re retired or work remotely, you might not mind making a longer drive to stay on your recreational land for a week or longer at a time – or even live there full time.

If you intend to generate income from your land, remember that most weekend warriors won’t want to travel very far to hunt. Focus your attention on hunting land as close as possible to major cities to get the most bang for your buck unless your planning to specialize in trophy hunting. It might also help to choose hunting land located near a small town where visitors can get supplies or have dinner.

Learn About the Neighboring Properties

Knowing about neighboring properties can help you decide whether land will make a good place for hunting. If your acreage is surrounded by farmland, then you probably don’t have anything to worry about. If there’s a community nearby, though, you should consider the possibility that your activities might not be allowed.

You should also talk to neighbors to learn about local residents. Are they the kind of people who respect private property, can you trust them not to trespass to hunt on your land while you’re away?

Find the right Agent

Not all agents are created equal and just because you might know a licensed real estate agent that is a friend or family member doesn’t mean they are experts in the land business. If you need help choosing recreational land that’s perfect for you, make sure to start by finding a land consultant who has the experience and expertise needed to help you find the perfect property to meet your needs. We suggest finding an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC).

The Road To Buying Your First Rural Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has convinced many people that they don’t want to continue living in urban areas with high population densities. Millennials were already starting to move away from cities, but the pandemic has piqued their interest and encouraged many to consider buying their first rural home.

If you plan to be buying your first rural home soon, you will need to do some research that makes the process easier. In many cases, buying a rural home, especially if it sits on a few acres of land, is different than buying a home in a city or suburb. The following recommendations should help you learn more about your options and choose a country home you’ll love.

Know How You Can Use the Land Once You Own It

Typically, rural land has fewer restrictions than urban and suburban properties. Don’t assume that you can do anything you want after buying your first rural home, though. Even if local laws let you set up a residential hobby farm, they may prevent you from owning certain animals or using specific farming practices.

Use this list of important questions to help you choose a piece of land that fits your expectations.

goat

Know What Features You Want From Your Rural Land

You should also look for features that will meet your specific needs and wants to get the most out of your property. For example, it makes sense to buy a rural home on wooded property if you want to hunt, hike, or use it for many other recreational purposes.

There are many potential features to consider before buying your first rural property. A pond or lake provides great entertainment for swimmers and fishers. Hilly land doesn’t suit many crops, but cows can enjoy it. A large plot of well-drained soil could make an excellent spot for a family garden or even growing produce for a farmer’s market.

Also, ask questions about whether the area has good broadband internet access. A poor internet connection can make it difficult to work remotely, enjoy your favorite media, and stay in touch with friends. Unfortunately, many rural areas have broadband deficiencies. Don’t assume you will get a fast internet connection just because the property has a town nearby.

Know What Types of Insurance You Will Need

In the city, most people choose standard homeowners’ insurance policies that cover hazards like fire, damage from storms, and personal liability. You may need more coverage for things like crop protection (if you plan to grow crops), additional liability insurance (if you plan to let people hunt on your land), and property insurance that covers other structures like barns and tractors.

Think about how you plan to use the property so you can get an insurance policy that keeps you protected.

rural home porch

Determine How Much Effort You Are Willing To Put Into the Home

Maintaining a rural home, and the land it is on, can take a lot of time and effort. Suddenly, you have much more to do than mow a small backyard and plant a few flowers. In addition to the usual maintenance that comes with owning a home, proper maintenance for your rural home could include:

  • Clearing acres of growth around your house or mowing a sizable lawn.
  • Establishing a fence line that helps you and neighbors avoid conflicts.
  • Repairing damage to barns, sheds, fences, and other structures on the property.
  • Tending to the plants and animals on your hobby farm daily, if you have one.
  • Managing common pests living on the surrounding land.
  • Clearing large driveways of snow if living in cooler climates.

You might also need to think about ways to keep predators away from your house, especially if you have children or small animals. A herding dog could help, but that means adding a furry member to your family, which comes with its own effort and expense.

rural home

Think About How Long You Plan to Keep the House and Land

Is this a property that you want to live on for a few years or several decades? The answer matters quite a bit. If you only want to live there for a few years, you probably don’t need to develop the property much. Instead, you could turn a profit from selling the raw land.

If you plan to spend many years in the home, you need to think more carefully about your wants and needs. Adding gardens, cottages, and other features could increase your enjoyment significantly. You could even set aside a section of the property for paying guests. Visiting the countryside can help city-dwellers de-stress, so you could use your land as a new income source by advertising your cottages as a vacation spot.

Hire an Accredited Land Consultant Before Buying Your First Rural Home

You don’t want to use a standard real estate agent when buying a rural property. Instead, you should get help from an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC). ALCs must take at least 104 hours of courses, get approved by a committee of active ALCs, adhere to a strict code of ethics, and show a history of successful sales before they can obtain accreditation from the REALTORS® Land Institute. No matter what type of rural land you want, an ALC can narrow your search to options that best fit your needs.

ALCs have a lot of connections, so they can introduce you to a large pool of sellers. If you decide to sell your land later, you can reach out to your ALC to benefit from his or her connections to potential buyers.

As more people think about buying rural homes, prices will likely increase. If you think you want to make the move, start exploring your options by finding and talking to an ALC near you.

money growth time

Do Not Let the Virus be an Obstacle to Selling Your Property: Know Your Options With A Section 453

The virus is affecting everything in our lives. Stay at home. Eat your own cooking. Home school your kids. Do not get your haircut. If only John Wayne was here to come to the rescue. Well, he is not coming to save the day but maybe I can when wanting to buy/sell real estate. That is correct. Do not let the virus be an obstacle in the real estate market.

Many property owners, when appropriate, want to transact a 1031 Exchange. However, because of the virus, have decided not to sell until the virus has passed. This is in large part due to the 45- and 180-day periods. Fortunately, the Treasury Department has extended the 45-day period until July 15 but is that the answer? What if sellers have not listed their properties yet so there is still no supply of properties to identify? The larger question is why sellers are even dealing with the 45-day period in order to defer taxes when there may be a better option.

That is right. A proprietary trust based on Section 453 may be a better option than a 1031, especially in the current environment.  Here are some of the reasons why you should consider 453 rather than 1031. Our proprietary trust has none of the 1031 requirements.  No dealing with a 45-day period, 180-day period, loan to value ratios, like-kind properties, or holding periods, and you do not have to get locked into a Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) as an emergency replacement property. Sell today, defer the capital gains tax, state tax, and depreciation recapture, and have an unlimited time to buy another property.

Consider the current situation with the virus. Let’s say that a seller has a buyer but will not sell because he is concerned about transacting a 1031. Using Section 453, the virus is no longer an issue to defer taxes. They can sell today, defer taxes today, and wait for the virus to end to buy another property. Also, consider this: If many sellers are waiting until the virus is basically over to bring their property to market, there could become an oversupply of properties and now you have a buyers’ market. That is great if you sold your property using Section 453 but not so good if you waited to sell.

land real estate

In a virus-free world, that is also an opportunity. Sell today in a sellers’ market, defer taxes, and wait until market conditions become more favorable to buying.  If you must wait 6 months or 2 years that is not a problem. Sell high and buy low. Even Einstein thinks that is smart – thanks, Al!

In addition, there are numerous other opportunities using Section 453. Quite often, depreciation plays a key role when owning a property. When you transact a 1031, you may not get a new depreciation schedule on the replacement property so even though a cost segregation study may be beneficial, it won’t be as beneficial as if you were to use Section 453 where you do get a complete new depreciation schedule. Using cost segregation and 453 has the potential to generate more real estate wealth than using a 1031.

Quite often, at some point, a property owner may want to sell and retire and does not want more real estate. He would like to find a 1031 exit strategy. A Delaware Statutory Trust is not a 1031 exit strategy but rather a 1031 continuation strategy and, at some point, taxes will have to be paid. If someone is in the wealth accumulation stage, a DST may make sense but it is not an appropriate retirement vehicle unless it’s a small part of someone’s estate. Again, at some point the Delaware Statutory Trust will no longer be an option and all the previous exchanges will become a taxable event and the basis will be the basis of the first original property. A DST only delays paying taxes.

The bottom line is, especially with the cloud of the virus hanging over the economy, Section 453 may be the real estate vaccine needed to keep the real estate market alive and well. If you can sell today, do so knowing that you can still defer your taxes today and either wait to buy another great property or to retire and go move closer to the grandkids and spoil them to get even with your kids for making you miserable when they were growing up. Maybe we do not need John Wayne because 453 may come to our rescue – seems only fair. Happy selling and be safe.

About the Author: David Fisher is the managing partner for Creative Real Estate Strategies, a national firm that can defer taxes on highly appreciated real estate when a 1031 isn’t appropriate or can’t be completed. He has been an RLI sponsor since 2006 and has sponsored over various RLI events nationwide. He can be reached at 713-702-6401 or david@cresknowsrealestate.com.

rural home

Will Americans Trade-In Their Urban Lifestyles For Rural Ones In The Wake Of COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic will encourage a lot of people to rethink their urban lifestyles. In a time when social distancing and self-isolating play crucial roles in health, consumers living in urban centers find it nearly impossible to follow the rules for safety and are realizing they are at a much greater risk of being impacted by such an outbreak. The COVID-19 pandemic will, however, only add to subgroup of the population moving away from large, crowded cities to homes with more open lands in rural areas.

In fact, in a recent Virtual Round Table discussion about COVID-19’s Impacts on The Land Market, Accredited Land Consultant Lisa Johnson with Horsepower Real Estate out of Junction City, OR, predicts that there will be a lot of demand and says that right now there isn’t a lot of inventory to meet it. “We’re still seeing a lot of people calling from the larger metro areas… that, whether its 5 acres or 100 acres, they just want somewhere to go.” Read more insights from Lisa in the COVID-19 Impacts on Rural Residential Hobby Farms RLI blog post.

New York City at the Epicenter of a Pandemic

It didn’t take long for New York City to become the COVID-19 pandemic’s epicenter. Millions of people commuting on a public transit system and passing each other on crowded streets helped the virus spread quickly.

Millennials Were Already Moving to Suburbs

Fear of future pandemics will likely encourage more people to leave cities and settle in suburban and rural areas. Those moving away from cities, however, are not starting something new. They’re continuing a trend.

Drew Ary, ALC, with Ary Land Co in Coweta, OK, said in the COVID-19’s Impacts on The Land Market Virtual Round Table that he is seeing a similar trend in land sales with “an increase in anything outside of 45 minutes of a major metropolitan area.” He also noted that the inventory and interest rates are low and thinks “we’ll continue to see an incredible increase in demand for these types of properties. Read more insights from Drew in the COVID-19 Impacts on Rural Residential Hobby Farms RLI blog post.

As Millennials get older and start families, many of them realize that they cannot continue to afford living in large cities. The median home cost in New York City exceeds $680,000. In LA, the median home cost is nearly $690,000. Few families can afford to spend that much money on housing. A growing number of Millennials and other young people see suburbs, mid-sized cities, and rural areas as cost-saving alternatives with other perks of their own.

Knowing that they will have to spend half a million dollars more on housing to live in big cities, a lot of people don’t mind moving. Moving to smaller cities, suburbs, and rural communities often means that they can purchase larger homes, access better public education, and avoid higher rates of crime – not to mention improve their mental health. Add the fear of another pandemic, and it becomes easy for people to reconsider living in places like New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

rural home

Technology and Remote Work Opportunities May Influence Decisions

Improved technology and a growing number of remote work opportunities may also influence people when they decide where to live. Living in New York makes sense when it’s the only place where you can find a job. When work becomes decentralized and remote, though, employees can effectively make more money by living in cheaper areas.

Data from the Pew Research Center show that internet access has grown considerably in rural and suburban areas over the last two decades. In 2000, only 42% of people in rural places used the internet. During the same year, 56% of suburbanites accessed the internet. In 2019, 85% of people in rural communities and 94% of people in suburbs said that they use the internet.

Despite improvements in technology, many business leaders have shown reluctance to remote working. The pandemic has forced them to reconsider this outdated idea, which could lead to a significant paradigm shift that embraces the value of working remotely.

Companies have already undertaken the hardest parts of setting up remote teams. Stay-at-home orders meant that businesses had to review and adopt software applications designed for remote workers. With these technologies now in place, some companies may decide that it makes sense to keep their employees remote to decrease overhead instead of bringing workers back to their offices. By keeping workers at home, companies may have to spend slightly more money on technology. However, in return, they can save a lot of money on overhead costs associated with real estate, energy, and insurance.

The combination of better internet technology throughout the country and an increase in remote work opportunities will make it even easier for ambitious people to move away from crowded cities.

rural home

Are Employers and Employees Rethinking the Future?

No one knows how people will respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once researchers develop a vaccination, employers and employees might go back to life as usual. Alternatively, they could be reconsidering their urban lifestyles as a way to prepare and protect themselves from future potential outbreaks as the world economy continues to globalize. If they feel less certain about the future, there is a good chance that many will leave crowded urban areas for places that offer more room to spread out.

If this pandemic has you thinking about moving to a more rural area to put some land between you and your neighbors, as well as allow you to source your own food, make sure to Find A Land Consultant and use the Land Connections property listing site to help find the perfect property to meet your needs.

private ranch property

Landownership Basics: Private Property Rights

“The best investment on earth is earth.” -Louis Glickman

Fee simple landownership comes with some fundamental private property rights no matter what kind of land you own and where you own it. Understanding your private property rights from the start, even before owning a property, will ensure you get the most enjoyment from your property without violating the rights of others.

Fee simple “refers to real estate or land ownership. The owner of the property has full and irrevocable ownership of the land and any buildings on that land. He is free to do whatever he wishes on the land subject to local zoning ordinances. Fee simple and fee simple absolute are the same thing. Fee simple is the highest form of property ownership.”

“Private property rights are one of the pillars of capitalist economies, as well as many legal systems, and moral philosophies,” according to an article defining property rights.

Right to Possession

Once you fully own your own piece of land and hold the title, you retain possession and control its rights. If you have a mortgage, then the lender probably holds your land title until the loan and its interest is paid in full. Until then, you will have limited possession rights and potentially limited private property rights for use. Depending on where you live and the terms of your loan agreement, the lender could take the property quickly once you stop making payments.

land real estate private property

Right to Control

Assuming that you do not live in a neighborhood or city with zoning regulations or other laws that forbid certain activities, you can participate in any legal action on the land you own.

Keep in mind though that neighborhood associations and similar organizations often have covenants that restrict certain activities, so you’ll want to ensure none apply to your property. Covenants may include relatively harmless demands like requiring you to maintain grass that’s visible from the road. Other covenants may restrict activities like raising animals, operating a business, or using chemical fertilizers.

Always read local covenants and laws closely before purchasing land. Using a land expert in your area is the best way to learn about your property rights.

Right to Use and Enjoyment

The right to use and enjoyment means that you can engage in any legal activity on your property. The word “legal” carries a lot of weight in that sentence. For example, owning land does not mean that you can open a casino there without a state license. You must comply with local, state, and federal laws at all times. In fact, the Department of Justice can seize property that they think has been used to commit crime. Federal forfeiture law lets the government take ownership even without proof that it was connected to a crime.

You’ll also need to gather information on any zoning regulations that are tied to your property. According to legal experts, “Zoning regulations and restrictions are used by municipalities to control and direct the development of property within their borders,” and therefore restrict, limit, or otherwise define the uses of a property.

agritourism apple picking

Right to Allow Others a Right to Use

As a landowner, you can give other people access to your property. In fact, it is for many one of the most lucrative aspects of owning land real estate. You can choose to let others access the land for free, or you can charge for access. For example, investors may purchase farmland so they can earn money by leasing it to farmers. Recreational landowners may charge for access to hunt their properties. Agricultural landowners may charge visitors to access for agritourism like fruit picking, pumpkin patches, or corn mazes.

private property signRight to Privacy and to Exclude Others

No one has the right to access your property without permission. You have the right to tell other people that they cannot come onto your private property.

There are only two caveats to the right to privacy and exclusion. Law enforcement can come onto your property while pursuing a suspect. They do not need to stop their pursuit to seek your permission. Law enforcement can also access your property without consent by getting a judge to issue a warrant. If a judge has reason to believe that illegal activities take place on your property, then it only takes one document for officers to investigate.

Additionally, people who have been granted legal rights to use the property for access or another use by previous owners should be considered.

Right to Transfer Ownership

When you own land, you have the right to transfer ownership as you see fit. You could give the property to a relative or friend as a gift. You could include the land in a will or trust. You can also transfer ownership by selling the estate to someone.

Right to Use Property as Collateral

Your land has value that you can use as collateral when using a mortgage to purchase other properties. Collateral may help you qualify for a mortgage or other loan, and you may get a lower interest rate because your land offsets some of the lender’s risk. Keep in mind that failing to repay the mortgage could mean losing rights to your property.

Air Rights

For the most part, you own the right to use the air space that’s above your land. There are limitations to your air rights, though. You could potentially build a skyscraper on your property as long as doing so doesn’t prevent other owners from enjoying their land or violate any zoning laws as mentioned above.

You also don’t have the right to build horizontally across someone’s land. You can only construct vertical buildings that follow your property lines. If the building hangs over the property line, then the neighboring owner could demand that you remove the structure. Air rights especially come into play when it comes to developing on commercial land or residential land in urbanized areas.

What Landownership Rights Do Not Include

Owning land gives you considerable rights over its use, which is one of the biggest draws for land buyers in all markets. Surface rights, however, do not ensure that you control access to the ground below your feet or the air above your head. Before purchasing land, it makes sense to perform an extensive title search or Mineral Rights Search. You may discover that someone else already owns the minerals, oil, and other valuables under the surface of your property.

Understanding Your Private Property Rights

Landownership gives you exceptional rights, but private property rights can have limits. Make sure you understand your private property rights before you purchase a piece of land. Doing so could influence where you choose to buy property and how you use it.

When it comes to learning about your property rights, Accredited Land Consultant Matt Davis with Cushman & Wakefield in San Diego, CA, says “In addition to the personal enjoyment you and your family may receive from spending time on your property, owning land is a tried and true way of preserving and growing wealth. By leveraging the expertise of a land professional early in your property search, you can be confident you know what you are buying, what rights others may have that impact the property, and that you will be able to use the property the way you desire, for generations to come.”

The best way to learn about your property rights or to learn about the property rights of a property you are interested in purchasing is to Find A Land Consultant, like an Accredited Land Consultant, in your area with expertise in the land market.

Helpful COVID-19 Resources And Information For Land REALTORS®

The National Association of REALTORS® and its NAR Commercial Affiliates, including RLI, have been compiling helpful information and resources for REALTORS®. This page features highlights of the various programs and resources available to real estate agents impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. We will do our best to keep this page updated with any additional resources that may be of value to our members and the industry.

RLI Voices Of Land Podcast Episodes Related to COVID-19 and The Land Market

The new ‘The Voices Of Land RLI Podcast’, presented by the LANDU Education Program, featuring Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) host Justin Osborn just released two episodes for land agents discussing the impacts of COVID-19 on land real estate markets. The Voices of Land RLI Podcast recently released two episodes on the topic, the first being with guest Russell Riggs, NAR Legislative Policy Liaison for RLI, discussing What Land Agents Need To Know About The COVID-19 Stimulus Package; and another with guest KC Conway, CCIM Chief Economist, on The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the Land Market. Listen now.

Virtual Round Table: COVID-19 Impacts On The Land Market

The REALTORS® Land Institute 2020 Future Leaders Committee presents a panel of Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) land experts from across the country in various different land markets to shed light on the impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on land values and land market trends.

We’ve also captured the highlights from this recording for each land segment in a series of posts on the RLI Blog:

Webinar: COVID-19 Impacts On The Residential Land Market

The housing market entered 2020 with momentum as home-buyers were enthusiastic about low mortgage rates and the multifamily market continued its expansion. The sudden shock brought on by COVID-19 is impacting the housing market and wider economy as uncertainty and layoffs defer decision making.

This webinar will:

  • Help you build a playbook in real-time to navigate through today’s marketplace.
  • Give insights into the current outlook from home builders for land transactions.
  • Showcase on-the-ground experiences with pushing forward entitlements in today’s market.

Watch the recording to get pertinent information from Senior Managing Principal Tim Sullivan and Chief Economist Ali Wolf of Meyers Research in this RLI Hot Topic Webinar from Tuesday, April 28. Hear updates on this topic from our presenters during their company’s weekly webinars.

NAR’s ‘Right Tools, Right Now’ Program

NAR’s ‘Right Tools, Right Now‘ initiative makes numerous valuable resources available to the association’s 1.4 million members at reduced or no cost.

Members TeleHealth

Members TeleHealth, part of NAR’s ‘Right Tools, Right Now’ initiative, provides around-the-clock access to non-emergency healthcare from more than 2,300 board-certified U.S. physicians. Common issues addressed through telemedicine include allergies, asthma, rashes, joint aches, flu and nausea, among others. Beginning April 2, NAR is funding two months of services for members who currently lack access to telemedicine and enroll in this program by April 15. Recognizing that the opportunity will likely draw significant interest from its members, NAR has also negotiated a discounted rate for those who wish to retain coverage following the two month, no-cost period.

“As we continue to solicit input from our members regarding COVID-19’s impact on their lives and businesses, NAR is grateful to be able to offer expanded access to potentially lifesaving telemedicine services,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, CA. “Medical professionals are urging Americans who are sick to stay home, and telemedicine is playing a critical role protecting our communities and our health care workers. We continue to encourage members to limit their exposure and decrease the chance of spreading illnesses to others.” Learn more about this Members TeleHealth.

Coronavirus SBA CARES Act

NAR’s Federal Advocacy team has been working closely with Congress and the Administration to ensure the interests of REALTORS® and their clients are protected in any federal action in response to COVID-19. Many REALTORS® are small businesses, or work with them as clients. In the most recent relief package passed into law, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or CARES Act, there were significant provisions aimed at assisting small businesses during this difficult time. The CARES Act appropriates more than $360 billion total for new Small Business Administration (SBA) programs – the 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program loans and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) advance grants program. View FAQs and learn more from NAR.

Congress Clears Coronavirus Relief Bill

6/17/2020 The Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday rolled out major updates to the Paycheck Protection Program, offering automatic forgiveness for certain independent contractors and creating a broader application form for forgiveness. Read more.

4/23/2020 The U.S. House passed legislation Thursday providing a fresh round of funding for coronavirus small-business relief programs championed by the National Association of REALTORS® and available to REALTORS® through the CARES Act. The Senate passed the bill on Tuesday.

President Trump is expected to sign the measure, which will clear the way for lending to resume as early as Friday under two Small Business Administration programs, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.

Under the agreement, the PPP will receive $310 billion in new cash, while the EIDL fund will receive an additional $60 billion. The bill sets aside $60 billion of the PPP funding for small and medium-sized community banks, which will provide extra help for self-employed individuals and small businesses that don’t have relationships with larger banks.

“The PPP and EIDL had tremendous demand. Although the rollout was rocky, this latest bill should provide enough funds for everyone who needs a loan to get it. REALTORS® still waiting should contact their lender again and keep trying,” says Shannon McGahn, senior vice president of advocacy for NAR. “We have a wealth of resources to help you through the process, including a new video just posted last night.”

The bill also includes $25 billion for coronavirus testing and $75 billion for hospitals.

Quick Guidance for REALTORS® on the PPP and EIDL From NAR

  • If you’ve already applied for an EIDL: The SBA is processing applications already in their system on a first-come, first-served basis. You do not need to reapply.
  • If you have not already applied for an EIDL: Check back at the SBA application page once the additional funding is signed into law.
  • If you’ve already applied for a PPP loan through an SBA lender but have not been approved yet: Check with your lender to see if they are maintaining a queue of applications during the lapse or if you will need to reapply when the renewed funding comes through.

If you have not applied yet for a PPP loan through an SBA lender: Have the application form filled out and your documentation ready to provide to your lender. (For businesses with employees, have payroll documentation; for independent contractors, have your 2019 Form 1040, Schedule C, and 1099-MISC.) If you have an existing relationship with an SBA lender, you should go to that lender first once the program reopens, but be prepared to try multiple lenders, which you can find on the SBA site.

Additional Resources

NAR Commercial: Webinar – Insights For Commercial Executives

his webinar from April 15, 2020, covers the latest news on legislation and SBA loan programs, key transactional guidance from NAR’s legal team, and insights from commercial real estate executives on their experiences working through today’s volatility and how they are helping clients navigate changing opportunities in the coming months. Watch recording.

COVID19 Webinar for Commercial Real Estate Agents

CCIM: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources and Guidance For Commercial Agents

CCIM Institute has prepared a resource page for commercial real estate professionals to provide additional professional guidance around Coronavirus (COVID-19). This page hosts information about FEMA extensions, Tax Extensions, and updates on other legislative advocacy issues.

SIOR: COVID-19 and CRE: What You Should Know

As CRE leaders around the globe, you are feeling the impact of COVID-19. SIOR has provided a collection of resources available to you to keep you up-to-date on latest news and industry impacts.

IREM: COVID-19 Resources and Information for Property Managers

If you are a property manager, this page from IREM is filled with resources for dealing with the impacts of COVID-19.

buying land

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Land

Buying land forces you to make a lot of choices. Unfortunately, people who don’t have much experience buying land rarely know how to avoid common mistakes. And even experienced buyers can make mistakes.

Check out these pitfalls to avoid so you can make informed decisions the next time you are in the market buying land.

1. Choosing the Wrong Type of Funding Source

You have several funding options when buying land. If you have exceptional credit, then you might find that a conventional bank or credit union will lend you money.

Another option is going through the Farm Credit System. “The Farm Credit System (FCS) in the United States is a nationwide network of borrower-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations. The Farm Credit System provides more than $304 billion in loans, leases, and related services to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, aquatic producers, timber harvesters, agribusinesses, and agricultural and rural utility cooperatives.

Congress established the Farm Credit System in 1916 to provide a reliable source of credit for farmers and ranchers. Today, the Farm Credit System provides more than one-third of the credit needed by those who live and work in rural America.”

Don’t assume that you have to rely on a bank and a loan, though. Crowdfunding has become a popular alternative to traditional investing.

Explore as many options as possible to make sure your funding best meets your needs.

buying land

2. Accepting High Interest Rates That Increase the Land’s Price

If you decide to get a loan for buying land, look for a lender that will give you a low interest rate. The more interest you have to pay, the higher the land’s overall price becomes.

Putting in extra effort to find a low-interest loan can help you save a lot of money. Even a couple of percentage points will affect how much you spend.

Land loans usually have short repayment schedules, so you will need to repay the lender within five years. Let’s say you borrow $100,000 at 3% interest. At the end of five years, you will have spent about $7,812 on interest.

At 6%, the total interest comes to nearly $16,000. The extra 3% more than doubles your interest payments.

Fight for a lower interest rate when buying land. Otherwise, you will find it much more difficult to repay the loan or earn a profit from the property.

3. Not Inspecting A Property Before Buying Land

Never purchase land before you have it inspected by a professional. The features that you look for will depend on how you plan to use the land. For example, you need to test the soil before you can turn the property into a farm.

Other essential factors to inspect before buying land include:

  • Access to the property
  • The area’s topography
  • How the neighbors use their land
  • Whether the land is in a flood plain

Additionally, you need to hire a surveyor who can show you the property lines. Don’t rely on an old map that shows where one property ends and a different one begins. An inaccuracy could eventually cost you a lot of money, so don’t take any risks.

4. Failing to Get the Right Insurance Policies

Don’t start buying land without getting insurance policies that will protect your investment. Talk to your land consultant to determine what policies you’ll need. Then, determine whether you need additional policies designed for specific uses of land. Below are a few common types of policies landowners can take out.

Title Insurance

Ideally, your property has an accurate history showing who owns the land. Mistakes happen, though. With title insurance, you get protection from:

  • Delinquent tax bills from former owners
  • Unpaid mortgages from former owners
  • Forged documents
  • Hidden mortgages
  • Clerical errors
  • Easement problems
  • Claims from the children or spouses of previous owners

Buying land without getting title insurance is a big gamble. You could lose ownership without getting anything in return.

General Liability Insurance

Anyone who gets hurt on your property can sue you for damages. It’s a problem that all landowners face. The possibility of injury becomes even more significant when you buy land for hunting or agricultural uses.

General liability will pay for your legal protection. Instead of paying a high-priced lawyer, you give your insurance company a relatively small amount of money to avoid court.

Property Insurance

If you plan to build structures or store equipment on your land, then you should property insurance. Property insurance can help cover structures and equipment like barns, vehicles, and tractors.

Crop Insurance

Investing in agriculture can lead to exceptional long-term profits. Unfortunately, you can’t predict how the weather several years from now will affect your crops. Crop insurance can help protect you from significant financial loss caused by unforeseen conditions.

Talk to crop insurance providers about Revenue Protection and Revenue Protection – Harvest Price Exclusion policies to help you decide which option works best for you.

5. Working With the Wrong Type of Agent When Buying Land

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all real estate agents have the same level of experience in doing land transactions – in fact, most have never done a land transaction. Land transactions are different from buying a home. When buying land, you need to find a land consultant in your area with experience working in your market doing the type of land transactions that are similar to the type of land you are trying to buy.

You can easily ensure that you get help from a qualified land professional by using an agent with the elite Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) Designation.

dynamic duo

Dynamic Duos: Cost Segregation and Section 453

The old west is known for its dynamic duos. Buffalo Bill and Anne Oakley. Frank and Jesse James. Earp and Holliday. John Wayne and Anyone. And of course, the most famous dynamic duo… cattle drives and beans. But there is one Dynamic Duo that is here today and can help ranchers and farmers in an amazing way.

The latest Dynamic Duo is cost segregation (CS) and Section 453, and it provides farmers and ranchers with an amazing opportunity to accumulate more wealth. Here is how the Dynamic Duo works.

Cost Segregation and Land Real Estate

Depreciation is a huge opportunity when owning income producing real estate. Depreciation can be used to shelter income from cattle or farming operations. What if there was a way to increase depreciation and shelter more income. That’s a good thing, right? Absolutely and that’s exactly what CS does.

So what is the first half of the Dynamic Duo, cost segregation? A cost segregation study (CS case study on Vermont family farm) is an engineered based study approved by Congress on each of the assets in a real estate transaction. This could be an irrigation system in a farm or a structure in a cattle operation to wiring in a building.  The purpose of CS is to bring more accelerated depreciation to the property which will result in higher deductions in the early years of the business, keeping more money in the business owner’s pocket because of reduced taxes.

A cost segregation study can increase the rate of return which could help a farmer or rancher sell a property or make the property more attractive to buyers.  At the same time, a CS study can help a seller because the study may be able to shelter more income which would increase the rate of return when that’s a main concern to a buyer. A good CS program can also lessen taxes because more depreciation shelters more income so there is less income to pay taxes on.

That’s the good news but now there is also some not so good news. When using cost segregation to accelerate depreciation, that depreciation must be brought back in for tax purposes when selling. Having said that, you can transact a 1031 exchange and defer the accelerated depreciation, but the accelerated depreciation will count against the replacement property that you buy so there will be less available depreciation. But don’t worry – there is still good news. If there wasn’t, there wouldn’t be a good reason to write this article.

cowboys sunset

Section 453 and Land Real Estate

The seller still has opportunities to defer the accelerated depreciation and that’s why Section 453 is the second half of the Dynamic Duo. Just call me Buffalo Bill…or John Wayne. Either works. What if you could use cost segregation to shelter income and reduce taxes and then defer the accelerated depreciation recapture tax for as long as the property owner would like.

Section 453 can be a great opportunity when the farmer or rancher wants to sell and retire or wants more real estate. If he wants to retire, our Section 453 tax deferral strategies can defer the capital gains tax, state tax, depreciation and accelerated depreciation recapture and the Obamacare tax on the gains on his sales proceeds for as long as he would like and the tax deferrals and the income generated from the deferred taxes can be passed on to his heirs. Also, by deferring taxes, the seller can generate a much larger lifetime retirement income than if he paid taxes first. Seller wins.

Let’s change gears and now the property owner wants to sell and buy another property. Our Section 453 tax deferral strategies can often work better than a 1031 exchange. Here’s why. When selling and using a 1031 exchange, you do not get a new depreciation schedule but rather, the non-depreciated portion of the original property plus the increase in the new property. For example, say the original property that is bought for $1 million is depreciated at 80% and sells for $4 million and using a 1031, a $5 million property is bought. The depreciation on the new property will be the 20% of the original property and $1 million on the new property. You can use a Cost Segregation Study, but the benefits will be limited because of the limited depreciation of the new property.

However, using our Section 453 proprietary trust, you can sell your property and then at any time in the future, buy another property of any kind for any price. Whether the new property is more than $4 million or less doesn’t matter. The property owner can defer the accelerated depreciation in addition to the capital gains tax, state tax, and the Obamacare tax on the sale of the old property and complete a new cost segregation study to shelter more income from the new property. Sheltering more income also reduces taxes and accumulates wealth. Another win for the seller, Buffalo Bill and John Wayne.

The bottom line is that the Dynamic Duo can be a great opportunity for brokers to help their clients keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets and provides opportunities to reduce taxes and make properties more attractive when buying or selling. So, get to know the Dynamic Duo. Let’s call Groot to make us some beans but preferably without all the cattle. Best wishes and Happy Selling!

About the Author: David Fisher is the managing partner for Creative Real Estate Strategies, a national firm that can defer taxes on highly appreciated real estate when a 1031 isn’t appropriate or can’t be completed. He has been an RLI sponsor since 2006 and has sponsored over various RLI events nationwide. He can be reached at 713-702-6401 or david@cresknowsrealestate.com.

sunset oil land

Getting It Right: Mineral, Oil, and Property Rights

When you buy land, you might assume that your property rights give you ownership of everything below your feet. That’s not always the case, though. While you have surface rights, someone else may have mineral rights to its metals, oil, natural gas, and other commodities.

If you currently own land, then you may need to have someone research its previous ownership rights to determine whether you own the mineral rights or not. Ideally, though, you will know your surface rights and mineral rights before you buy land.

Owning Land Doesn’t Always Mean You Own What is in the Land

When surface and mineral rights get separated, you need to know it affects your property and ownership.

Surface Property Rights

Surface rights only apply to the surface of the land. When you purchase a piece of property, you always get surface rights for the plot of land. Surface rights do not apply to anything below the surface of the property.

Mineral and Oil Rights

Mineral rights apply to ownership of anything below a property’s surface. It often refers to more materials than minerals like copper, gold, and silver. It can also refer to oil and gas rights.

When someone owns mineral rights, they get to access and harvest commodities below the land’s surface. Drilling, mining, and other harvesting options often disrupt the surface. That may not seem fair to the person who buys property. Still, the owner of mineral rights can, within reason, make changes to the surface while accessing sub-surface minerals.

In some cases, companies can access commodities without disturbing the surface. For example, a company may use horizontal drilling to extract oil and gas from the land.

property rights

Leasing and Selling Mineral Rights on Your Land

It’s possible to earn money by leasing or selling your land’s mineral rights. In 2013, landowners made about $22 billion from their mineral rights.

When selling mineral rights, you give someone or a company absolute ownership of the commodities in your land. Unless you have the opportunity to repurchase the rights, your property rights will never include ownership of oil, coal, and natural gas. Depending on the terms of your sale, you may get a lump sum from the buyer or receive a percentage of the money earned when the owner sells the oil, natural gas, or other commodity.

Some people assume that leasing their mineral rights gives them more advantages than selling the rights. The benefits and disadvantages depend on the terms that you and the other party reach.

After you lease mineral rights, the new owner may extract everything of value. If that happens, then you may lose future opportunities to make money from the mineral rights. Leasing can also mean that you don’t get any money unless the new owner finds and makes money from commodities in your land.

By leasing, you get your mineral rights back after a determined amount of time. You also run the risk of making less money and losing the opportunity to earn money from the land in the future.

Things to consider before selling or leasing mineral rights include:

  • How it will affect your taxes.
  • How accessing the minerals, oil, or natural gas will affect your land.
  • Whether removing the commodities will make your land’s surface sink.
  • Whether drilling or digging will affect wildlife or water near your property.
  • Clauses that define things like where drilling can occur and who will pay to repair any damage caused to the land’s surface.

Before you agree to lease or sell rights, make sure to work with a qualified land consultant in your market who can refer you to a lawyer with plenty of experience in these areas. You will need an expert to explain the details and help guide your decision.

Ideally, You Should Know Your Property Rights Before You Buy Land

When you buy land, earlier property rights agreements still apply. If a previous owner sold the mineral rights, you are stuck with the conditions of that deal.

You can learn more about your rights before buying property by performing a title search or Mineral Rights Search. Plenty of title companies offer services that will help you understand your property rights.

It’s important to remember that title searches don’t always find all of the information relevant to your land. Some experts recommend assuming that you don’t own mineral rights when you buy property. If anyone has sold the rights in the past, then you will not own the mineral, oil, gas, and other commodities beneath your feet. When land gets sold to dozens or even hundreds of different people, it’s easy to miss an instance when one of those owners sold the rights.

If you want to buy a piece of land, start by finding a land consultant in your area who can give you accurate information about surface and mineral rights in your state. The rules in one area aren’t always the same as those in other places.

flooded field

The Realtors® Land Institute Applauds The New WOTUS Rule

January 23, 2020 (Chicago) – The REALTORS® Land Institute applauds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for replacing the 2015 Clean Water Act, also known as Waters of The U.S. (WOTUS), with a new Clean Water/WOTUS rule that provides much-needed and long-awaited regulatory certainty for landowners nationwide.

The new rule brings clarity to which level of government – federal or state – oversees land that is usually dry but may take on water depending on weather. The new rule does not change who oversees permanent waterways, such as lakes, rivers, streams and other bodies that always or usually contain water. However, it does make clear that usually dry areas, like Prior Converted Crop (PCC) land, should not be considered federal waters and will remain excluded from their jurisdiction.

The 2020 National President of the REALTORS® Land Institute Kyle Hansen, ALC, responded to the news with the following comment, “The REALTORS® Land Institute and National Association of REALTORS® have long been strong supporters of the review and repeal of the WOTUS rule so that clarifications like this could be made to ensure that both private property rights and clean waterways are protected. This is a big win for landowners across the country, and a perfect reminder of the importance of using a qualified agent to help you navigate both the local and federal regulations that can come with conducting a land transaction.”

About the Realtors® Land Institute
The Realtors® Land Institute, The Voice of Land, continually strives to maintain its status as the acknowledged leader for all matters pertaining to the land real estate profession. The Realtors® Land Institute provides the expertise, camaraderie, and valuable resources that are the foundation for all land real estate professionals to become the best in the business. For more information, visit rliland.com or call 800.441.5263.

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