Before going to go preview rural land with a real estate agent, ask them what’s in their truck. I never was a Boy Scout. I would have loved to have been one, but just never got the experience. The Scout motto, “Be Prepared” resonates deeply with me. So take a look at the inventory of my truck and hopefully you will see what I mean.
- 2 Compasses
- Handheld GPS
- Plat Books for the 8 surrounding counties
- Gazetteer for Alabama
- Sundry assortment of aerial and topographical maps
- Blank copies of contracts to purchase and listing agreements
- Dozens of Real Estate Consumers Agency and Disclosure (RECAD) forms
- 3 bottles of water
- 2 blaze orange vests and hats
- 30 feet of heavy chain
- 20 foot tow strap
- 3 AlaLandCo signs, 4 directional signs (2 pointing right, 2 to the left)
- Post hole diggers
- Large and small pruning shears
- Bolt cutters
- Pruning saw
- $20 bill for emergencies (such as paying someone to pull you out of the mud)
- Pistol with extra ammo
- A bundle of keys to various properties
- 2 walking sticks
- Digital Camera with extra batteries
- Flip Cam
- Smartphone w/charger
- Rope, ratchet straps, and bungee chords
- 2 rain jackets
- Gerber multi-tool
- Roll of flagging tape
- Wasp spray
- Insect repellant
- 2 pairs of binoculars
- Laser range finder
- 1 pair of snake boots
- 1 pair of taller neoprene boots
- Small towel
When I look at this list it shows there are 4 main scenarios I prepare for:
- Know exactly where you are; don’t get lost.
- Make your customer comfortable and safe.
- Don’t get stuck.
- Be prepared to do business if they are ready.
Most land companies have tools at their disposal such as ATV’s or UTV’s to make showing land easier. Many agents use laptops and tablets to aid in mapping and navigation as they travel a property. The point of this article is for consumers to know that not all real estate agents are equally competent about land transactions. If you are meeting an agent to preview some rural land and the agent shows up in their Mercedes sedan, you might want to consider taking a look with someone who specializes in land sales. I tell people not to trust an agent with a clean truck. It means they are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing: showing land. Look for some dents and a little trail-pinstriping that is proof they know their way around the woods.
It is not helpful at all to see a piece of property with someone who wants to “paint a picture from the road” and describe what the land is like. You have to get out on it and touch corners and see the ups and downs of the tract. It burns me up to see agents advertise land and only post two maps and a picture from the road. I lost a listing to another agent last year that offered to sell some land at a lower commission than I did. Once the listing was secured, the agent posted 5 pictures on their personal website and offered a 7 word description of a $500,000 tract. Now tell me if the sellers were better served by this agent at a lower commission or by paying a little more and getting exceptional marketing and service.
Let me also dispel the notion that women are not qualified to be land agents. I know some knowledgeable and real land pros like Marisa Morgan Dallman from Kansas, Susan Morrison from Alabama, Jennifer Beecher from Georgia, and Beverly Callaway with AlaLandCo. I am not ashamed to say that Beverly is a better hunter than I am too. She has lots of experience in the woods, is very knowledgeable about land-related issues, and has helped transact some large deals in the past two years. The biggest land deal in my county this year was put together by Kay Beckett with Bill Mackey Realty. She made lots of other agents in the area envious when she sold nearly 4000 acres of ground this spring.
The key is finding an agent that has the knowledge and skills to offer you the best advice and who you feel has your best interests at heart. You have worked way too hard for your money to lose it in a land deal because of an inexperienced or unqualified agent. Find an agent who can be your trusted advisor for all things pertaining to land, and get out there with an agent who is prepared and buy some dirt.
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