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Land – The Original American Dream

Land has always been a staple of the American dream. From the Homestead Act of 1862 to the ongoing battle for Amazon’s second headquarters, Americans have held the desire to own and prosper from their own land close to their hearts. While owning private property today is different in many ways than land ownership in the 1800s, many of the same benefits still remain. Owning private property comes with a lot of hidden benefits that are good for you now and for years to come.

Before we dive into the benefits of private land ownership, let’s distinguish what exactly separates private property from public. Private property is land that is owned by individuals or corporations. The owner of a private property has the right of use, lease, and occupation over the land.

Public properties, on the other hand, are owned by public authorities. This land does not belong to any one person. That means the use and occupation of public land is decided on by committees and political groups instead of individuals. Owning private property makes it much simpler to decide what to do with the land. Let’s take a look at some other benefits of private land ownership.

Your Land, Your Choice

The most obvious (and biggest) benefit to owning private property is the freedom to do what you want with your land.  Of course, you still have to follow local and federal law, but how you use the land is largely up to you. This is a huge benefit if you’ve been eyeing some land as a potential transitional property. While sales can be extremely profitable, attempting them with public land can be difficult and can take years. Since public land doesn’t belong to one person, there will be lots of debates, meetings, and compromises over the best use of the land. There will be so many voices that yours might get lost.

Supply and Demand

Land is a limited resource. You can’t just create more land. That’s why land real estate in areas like California and New York are so expensive. There is only so much land to go around, and everyone wants some. Even when the market is bad, people will still need land to grow crops, raise livestock, and build homes.

In the current economy, you might not even be thinking about putting your private property on the market. Especially since owning property now can be seen as insurance against the next economic depression. Plus, keeping your land in good condition ensures that future generations will have a limited resource to profit on in tough times.

Long Term Increase

Historically, some investments in land have had better returns than the broad equity markets. Farmland investments averaged 10-13% total returns over the past two decades. It is also an excellent way to diversify your stock portfolio. Farmland values do not always mimic the market, so if other stocks plunge in value, you won’t lose all your money. People who invest all their money in a certain market or stock tend to risk losing it all when the market turns.

Tax Benefits of Private Property

Depending on the type of land you own, you could be entitled to certain tax benefits. For example, with vacant land, you can elect to add your expenses to your land’s cost bases. This will significantly decrease your taxable gain.

Here’s a great example of this theory in action from Inman.com:

Jean purchases a vacant lot for $10,000 in 2009. During 2009-2013 she elects to add $5,000 in carrying costs to the lot’s cost basis. In 2013, her adjusted basis in the lot is $15,000. She sells the lot for $20,000. Her taxable gain is only $5,000 ($20,000 sales price – $15,000 adjusted basis = $5,000).

Although private land ownership comes with tons of benefits, it has been on a slow decline for years. This is a result of many factors. Some people are wary of investing in land real estate after the housing crash of the early 2000s. Huge companies like Google gobbling up thousands of acres of land also doesn’t help. We hope this article inspires you to take advantage of the many benefits private land ownership has to offer. If you are interested in owning your own piece of land, make sure to Find A Land Consultant to assist with your purchase. Land transactions require the specialized expertise of an agent with education and experience in the field.

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

Pork Industry Brings Home The Bacon

Bacon. Hot dogs. Ham. Sausages. What would an American meal be without some sort of pork sizzling on the barbeque? America loves pork. We’re the world’s largest producer, and the sixth largest consumer of pork products. Pig farmers in America make 22 billions pounds of pork every year. While the pork industry is booming, pigs do come with their own unique set of expenses that can add up. Whether you’re new to raising pigs or you’re already a pork pro, these tips will help you save money on one of the fastest growing livestock sectors in America.

Consider Raising Feeder Pigs

Feeder pigs can be a great way to fill your fridge with meat while slashing costs. Feeder pigs are bought at around eight weeks old and raised on a soft deed or grower pellet for around four to six months. This is especially cost effective if you are raising pigs for meat for your family instead of to sell. If you are looking to make a profit off of your pigs, here is a quick run-down of some other pig types:

  • American Yorkshire Pig. These pigs produce lean meat that is ideal for bacon. They also have a reputation for producing large litters. More piglets for you!
  • Berkshire Pigs. Farmers love these pigs for their easy-going nature. They grow up to six hundred pounds on average, meaning the meat-per-pig ratio for these porkers is out of this world.
  • Spotted Pigs. There is something about this pig’s meat that people can’t get enough of. That might be why this breed has been around forever. They can grow up to be anywhere between five and six hundred pounds.
  • Duroc Pig. These pigs wean at an earlier age than most, making them perfect to sell as feeder pigs or piglets.

Make Your Own Feed

Pig feed can be expensive, especially if you are raising multiple pigs. One way farmers can cut costs is by making their own feed. Pigs are notorious for eating whatever is put in front of them, but just because they aren’t picky eaters doesn’t mean they should be eating garbage. Try mixing together corn, wheat, calcium and protein supplements, sorghum, and skim milk powder for a healthy pig meal that won’t break the bank. You should adjust the percentages of the different foods based off the age and weight of the pigs.

Source: https://www.fas.usda.gov/data/us-pork-exports-help-bring-home-bacon

Free Range Pigs

If you have a pasture on your property, you can whittle your feed cost down to almost zero. The practice of letting pigs rummage for food was much more common in the 20th century but went out of popularity when regulations and special feeds came into play. Many pig farmers say the flavor of free-range pigs is some of the best they’ve ever had. If you have a pasture that has plenty of acorns, oats, wheat, roots, bulbs, grass, and other crops that pigs like to eat, you might be able to raise free range pigs. Be sure to do a walk-through of the land at least once a week to get rid of any garbage that might land on your property though.

Breed Your Pigs

There’s a huge market for people looking to buy feeder pigs and piglets. If you are making good money off the few you already have, consider breeding your healthiest sow to make some extra money. Healthy piglets and feeder pigs can bring in anywhere from fifty to a few hundred dollars.

If you have a healthy uncastrated boar, you can rent him out to other farmers and collect a portion of the profits.

Butcher Your Own Meat

This suggestion isn’t for the faint of heart (yours truly included). However, if you’re not bothered by the sight of blood, you could be saving a fair amount of money. Many butchers cost a pretty penny and can rack up bills anywhere from fifty to one-hundred and fifty dollars.

Pork is a booming industry in America, and experts say it’s only going to get bigger. According to a report from the USDA, the value of U.S. pork exports has more than doubled since 2006. While pigs do come with their own set of comebacks (their smell is anything but daisy fresh), they can be a great way to bring extra cash flow to your property. We hope these tips will help you make more money off of pigs while spending the least amount of cash.

Laura Barker is a Marketing Assistant Intern for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

The Impact of Legal Marijuana on Land Real Estate

Weed. Pot. The Devil’s Lettuce. Whatever you want to call it, legal marijuana has become a billion-dollar industry in America. Farmers in areas where the plant is legal are cashing in on the fastest-growing crop. Although states are raking in millions in tax dollars, there are still a lot of gray areas surrounding the legality and long-term effects of marijuana. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this controversial new crop.

Marijuana was first made legal for medical purposes in 1996 in California. Over the years, states have slowly relaxed their laws surrounding the plant. Today, more than half of all U.S. states have legal marijuana in some form, and nine states have it legal for recreational use. Even in states where it is illegal, laws are softening. In Illinois, for example, the punishment for being caught with marijuana was reduced from jail time to a fine. The country seems to be making a push towards legalizing marijuana. But will changing laws benefit or hurt farmers?

Pro: Raking In Cash

States that have legalized marijuana are seeing green in more than one way. On medical cannabis, states are raking in anywhere from seven million to 633 million since changing their laws. Massachusetts made one million dollars in just one month on recreational cannabis.

Cannabis cash can help small time farmers, too. While there is a growing debate about the marijuana takeover by some big corporations, struggling areas found economic relief from the plant. After marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012, the cash-strapped region of Pueblo County made a small fortune off of growing legal marijuana. In fact, they received enough tax revenue to give local college scholarships to every Pueblo student who wanted one!

Pro: Cut Costs

Marijuana plants have a quick rejuvenation rate compared to other crops (especially timber). It’s ready to harvest after 65 to 70 days of flowering. The outdoor production cost of cannabis can range from 25 cents to 50 cents per gram. However, due to the unpredictability of forces such as nature and bugs, outdoor plants only allow around one harvest per year. Indoor plants costs significantly more (an average of $1.25 per gram), but you can harvest them up to five times every year.

Another benefit is that it requires little manpower. Cannabis requires one-tenth of the manpower of other crops, slashing labor costs.

Con: High Cost of Production

Growing marijuana indoors can be costly. It requires light and temperature-controlled climates, which can rack up huge energy bills. The installation costs of these lights alone can be more than many small-time farmers can afford. Marijuana is very sensitive to light and requires a lot of heat.

Marijuana plants are divas. The plant is very sensitive to light and heat, so you need to be ready to spend serious cash on climate control. Even when you are hanging them up to dry, the conditions should be around 68 degrees with 50 percent humidity. If it gets too dry, the product loses its signature taste. If it gets too humid, it can mold.

Con: Marijuana Is Federally Illegal

Cannabis, being federally illegal, has had some serious drawbacks for farmers. Banking is one of the biggest issues. Banks don’t want to break federal law, and often don’t accept money from marijuana businesses. This can leave farmers without a safe place to keep their money.

Con: So Little Knowledge

Marijuana has been around 500 BC in Asia, but our knowledge about its long-term effects is still limited. Not only do we know little about the effects of the plant, but the legal cannabis industry itself is brand spanking new. Laws still vary wildly state by state, so something that works for a farmer in California may not work for a farmer in North Carolina and many successes in the field are largely due to trial and error.

Overall, legal cannabis has a lot to offer the land industry. The tax money it brings to communities can help fund everything from scholarships to helping the homeless. However, there’s a lot we still need to learn about this crop. Only time will tell the long-term impacts legal marijuana will have on the land industry. For now, we hope you enjoyed learning about what legal marijuana has to offer the land industry. It is also important to keep in mind that while there are listing sites out there specifically for cannabis real estate, it is crucial to find a land consultant with expertise in the area before making any decisions.

Laura Barker is a Marketing Assistant Intern for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

Make Your Own Luck as a Land Real Estate Professional

With the Kentucky Derby right around the corner, horse lovers are breaking out their four- leaved clovers and horseshoes in the hopes of placing their bets on the winning horse. In the land industry, it’s not uncommon for people to think luck is out of their hands. However, your odds at succeeding in the land industry are much higher than betting on this year’s winning horse. Here’s how you can make your own luck in the land industry.

1. Be Social To Increase Your Odds of Success.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you work in the land industry. The industry is so big that it can be easy to settle into a routine where you talk to the same group of people all the time. This can backfire for people trying to find new clients. If you are looking to expand your business, try going to networking events like NLC or meeting people in different areas of land expertise. The more people you talk to, the more likely your chances of meeting your next big client. Make statistics work for you!

2. Nip Problems In The Bud

The earlier you can address and fix any issues surrounding a property, the more likely it is you are going to have a successful sale. Instead of thinking “We’ll fix it when we get there,” or hoping that the worst case scenario doesn’t happen, address the problem (or possible problem) as soon as you know it could hurt the sale.

For example, is the title to a property so complicated that you’d need a team of lawyers just to understand it? Contact an agency as soon as you can. Suspect there are some environmental hazards on a seemingly perfect property? Instead of crossing your fingers, get an environmental assessment of your land. Yes, it will cost you a little extra money up front, but the long-term cost of not fixing issues with properties is usually much greater.

Being proactive about potential problems also shows clients how dedicated you are to getting them the best possible land and shows your expertise since you’ve considered all possible outcomes.

3. Find Luck In The News

Trying to stay up to date with land news can seem harder than selling land. From land laws changing almost every day to fluctuating land values, it can be overwhelming to keep track of it all.

While it is easy to get lost in clickbait-y articles, staying on top of land news is the key to making your own luck. Land news and trends offer insight into what can make you money and what won’t. Following the news is especially important before planting season. Knowing the current and predicted future value of crops is the best way to maximize profits. Following land news is also very important for those who are selling or buying land. The values of different land types vary wildly week by week, so by staying on top of the market, you’ll be able to get the best possible price for your land. Plus, having all that information only ads to your image as the local land expert in your market.

A great way to learn about land news and trends is to follow land experts on social media. At RLI, we dig through hundreds of land news articles to bring you the information you need to know. Here are some great accounts to follow:

4. Expand Your Area of Expertise.

The more you know, the more you have to offer potential clients. Having multiple areas of expertise can increase your chances of landing your next big client. One great way of expanding your area of expertise is by taking courses through RLI’s LANDU Education Program. Here are some examples of upcoming classes and webinars:

Negotiating Oil and Gas Leases (June 13)

Google Earth Mapping for Real Estate (June 25)

Gaining Community Support for Land Use Projects (May 16th)

Land Investment Analysis (September 4th)

Taught by land experts, these classes are designed to help you expand your knowledge to attract more clients. You’ll also have access to a large network of other land experts who you can learn from, including fellow students and the instructors.

While there some factors that are out of your control, being lucky in the land industry is largely in your own hands. Proactive problem solving, learning new things, and keeping up to date with land news are all your secret weapons to creating your own luck. And don’t forget to check out all the great member benefits and resources RLI has to offer its members.

About the author: Laura Barker is a Marketing Assistant Intern for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

 

 

Five Questions To Help You Find The Perfect Hunting Land

Hunting for game is fun, hunting for the perfect hunting property can be less fun. Buying a hunting property requires an extensive knowledge of land, wildlife, and what is necessary for a great hunt. Here are five questions you should always ask before buying hunting land.

1.Does The Land Provide Food Sources That Will Attract Game?

Food sources are key for attracting prey to your land. Providing animals with a reliable food source is a promise that animals will come to your land again and again. Depending on the type of animal you are trying to attract, you’ll need to adjust the food sources. Here are a few suggestions, by animal, that can help:

Deer: Deer love chestnuts, acorns, apples, clover, cow peas, and wheat. They have also been known to munch on marijuana plants.

Ducks: These birds aren’t picky, but you can lure them to your property with greens, oats, peas, and seeds.

Rabbits: Wild rabbits prefer fresh foliage over anything dry. Their diet is mostly clover, grass, and wildflowers.

Wild boar: These omnivorous beats will eat pretty much anything, but have been known to love acorns.

If the land you are looking to purchase doesn’t have these plants growing there currently, don’t abandon this property just yet. You can grow almost all of these crops on the property as long as the soil type is right for it (If the soil type isn’t conducive for growing what your game needs to eat, it’s a great time to consult with a land professional about whether or not this property would be right for you

2. Do Hunters Have Easy Access To The Land?

Some hunting spots can be a real pain to get to. Long drives or unmarked land can force hunters to spend all their time hunting for the land instead of hunting game. Hunting is supposed to be a recreational, fun activity, and if getting to the hunting land is too much of a hassle, people will go elsewhere. So, if possible, avoid land that would be difficult to get access to for hunters.

If you do purchase a property that can be difficult to access, there are steps you can take to make access easier for hunters. Clearly marked signs, directions on your website, and keeping boats by the water instead of in a shed are all great ways to make hunting on your land smoother.

3. Does The Land Generate Income Outside Of Hunting?

With a national decline hunting and uncertain land values, very few landowners are able to make all their money off of hunting fees alone. If you are looking to seek returns on your land, you’ll need to find multi-purpose land. Timber is a great export, if you can spare the trees from your hunting land.

4. Will The Neighbors Help or Hurt My Hunting?

As a land owner, your neighbors can be the biggest asset or biggest threat to your hunting land. Neighbors that are conscious about which bucks they harvest and the impact each kill has on the genetic pool are the best neighbors. Watch out for neighbors that shoot at anything that moves. Not only is that selfish, it also weakens the future generations of game. Try to meet some nearby landowners to get a sense of how they handle wildlife management.

5. Will Animals Want To Live Here?

The key to buying hunting land is to have an environment where animals want to live. Having food sources, as we mentioned in the first point, is a great start, but you need more than that . To attract the best game, you need to think like them. What do they need to feel safe? What do they need to settle down and start a family on your property? There needs to be coverage where deer or other game can feel safe, sleep, and start a family. They also need spots they can hide. Look for properties with shrub thickets or grass fields that will help the critters feel at home.

Open space in hunting land can look beautiful, but it is a deterrent to game. Animals are smarter than we give them credit for. They know how venerable they are in open spaces.

If your land has too much open space, this can be fixed. Plant shrubs and trees on your property to give your game more coverage. Here’s a great tip from Bow Hunting on how to create cover for deer:

“To start, locate a few areas that are situated on top of a rise with a view, or level areas with relatively open views that point away from the prevailing winds. Hinge-cut a tree by cutting halfway through it and letting it topple. The tree will continue to grow for a few years from the downed tops, creating thick growth. Deer, and bucks in particular, will often bed right at the base of these trees looking out into the open areas. That way they can smell predators from behind them and see anything in front.”

The perfect hunting land can be a huge boon to you and your kids. Great hunting land can be passed down through generations, providing a source of income and fun for years. Using an ALC can answer the above questions and make buying hunting land a much smoother task. Happy hunting!

 

About the author: Laura Barker is Marketing Assistant for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and had been with RLI since October 2017.