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Recreational Land 101

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

What is recreational land?

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

What should I look for when buying recreational land?

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

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

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

What are the benefits of buying recreational land?

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

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

How can I add value to my recreational land?

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

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

Tommy Stroud, Jr, ALC, recommends creating habitats for animals to thrive in. He says, in his guest post for the RLI Blog, about a recent property he helped to add value to “This [property] required thinning the trees back to 35-50 trees per acre. A skid steer with a grinder ate up a lot of the long-abandoned 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 a great habitat for all wildlife.”

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

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

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.

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.