So… for the past week, you’ve been experiencing shortness of breath, a slight pain in your chest, radiating down your left arm… and it seems to be getting worse. You recognize that it’s time to see a doctor. The only question is: “Which doctor?”
There are many choices: opthomologists, gastroenterologists, orthopedists, cardiologists, and the list goes on. Would you choose one of the first three, or realize that the only correct choice is a cardiologist?
At first glance, you might say, “Why does it matter, after all they’re all licensed doctors!” While that’s true, each specializes in a different part of the body, i.e. 1) the eyes, 2) the digestive system, 3) bones & joints, and 4) the heart.
The first three know little about the “SA node”, the “Bundle of His” or “Atrial Fibrillation”, but it’s the cardiologist who knows the working of the heart from “A-fib” to “V-fib”. Each of the doctors, by specializing in a specific field of medicine, understands all the hidden defects that lurk beneath the surface, and how to approach them successfully.
So, what’s that got to do with real estate – and more specifically raw land? Like doctors, real estate brokers are all licensed by the state to practice in the real estate field. Unlike doctors, however, there are no residencies required to practice a specialized type of real estate. In real life, most new licensees think real estate means “houses” and thus enters the field of “residential” real estate.
This is a specialized practice of its own. It’s a world where termite inspections, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, deed restrictions, and homeowners associations abound. Contracts that address personal property, zoning, discount points, VA & FHA loans, and home inspections are the norm.
But wait! If residential real estate is a specialty, there must be other specialties too. Consider just a few, like commercial real estate, industrial real estate, multi-family real estate, and “raw land”. Although there is little public knowledge of these very different fields of expertise, the National Association of REALTORS® addresses this important aspect of real estate in its Code of Ethics – to which all REALTORS® subscribe.
Article 11 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics reads as follows:
The services which Realtors® provide to their clients and customers shall conform to the standards of practice and competence which are reasonably expected in the specific real estate disciplines in which they engage; specifically, residential real estate brokerage, real property management, commercial and industrial real estate brokerage, land brokerage, real estate appraisal, real estate counseling, real estate syndication, real estate auction, and international real estate.
Realtors® shall not undertake to provide specialized professional services concerning a type of property or service that is outside their field of competence unless they engage the assistance of one who is competent on such types of property or service, or unless the facts are fully disclosed to the client.
Going back to the question about choosing a doctor, it becomes readily apparent that for a heart attack, the correct choice is a cardiologist. For buying and selling raw land, the correct choice is a broker who not only professes to specialize in land, but who can also produce a history of successful land transactions.
To a residential broker, the terms riparian rights, topo maps, rights-of-way, boundary surveys, due diligence, hunting leases, mineral rights, conservation easements, tree blazes, and viewsheds may seem inconsequential. A land broker understands the impact of each on a contract for the purchase of land.
Sellers and buyers attempting to choose a land specialist should look for a broker who has a wide selection of listed land parcels, not just one or two, and who, further, has no homes listed for sale. This broker will use GPS coordinates, and offer detailed topo maps, aerial photos, Google Earth visuals, and property surveys and tax maps. Sources of land financing will be provided.
The final supporting evidence of a true land broker, is his or her jeans, hiking boots, and willingness to “bushwhack” through wooded land, and hike strenuous trails without complaint. On very large parcels, land brokers will provide access on a UTV, such as a Polaris Ranger or John Deere Mule.
Whether looking for a “doctor, lawyer, Indian chief”… or land broker, the right choice is always the specialist.
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