Is Now an Opportune Time to Purchase Land?

Predicting return on investment when purchasing land can be hard to nail down. While no one can truly predict what the ROI of an investment will be, looking to industry indicators is a good start when choosing where to place your hard earned money. The good news is that there are resources available to those in the market for land real estate. In addition to finding a qualified land consultant, looking to industry surveys and reports can provide the guidance needed to purchase a property.

Every year, the REALTORS® Land Institute and the National Association of REALTORS® release a Land Market Survey to help buyers and sellers of land make the most informed decisions possible. With responses from land real estate professionals across the country, its results are indicative of which overall land real estate market trends to pay attention to when making investment decisions. A large percentage of the participants are Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs), the most esteemed, experienced, and well-educated brokers/agents in the industry, lending further credibility to the survey results.

Now, let’s dig into why now is an opportune time to purchase land real estate. According to this year’s survey results released on February 14, 2017, the industry’s top land professionals predict an average growth in sales volume of two percent across all land types through October 2017, with a three percent growth expected in each sector for timber, residential, and agricultural greenfield development land. As far as prices of land, an increase is also seen across all sectors defined in the survey. The highest predicted sales volume increases are attributed to timberland and residential land at a rate of three percent, closely followed by agricultural land at two percent and commercial land at one percent.

Yes, these are all predictions. However, when compared with actual transaction data from respondents, the trends fall in line with past sales data. As reported in the survey, overall prices of land across all sectors averaged a one percent increase, with the highest price increases in timberland at five percent and residential land at three percent. Another important take away is that the average time on the market for a piece of land was reported as one-hundred days, selling more quickly for agricultural non-irrigated, timberland, and recreational properties.


Brandon Rogillio, ALC, 2017 REALTORS® Land Institute National President, stated, “We are seeing a lot of very positive things happening in the land market. Like any industry, the different sectors will fluctuate up and down but seeing an overall two percent growth in transactions across all types of land real estate is a good signal. The increase in recreational and residential land sales is an especially encouraging sign of our economy’s strength over the last couple years with an increased demand for housing sales and ‘luxury’ activities like hunting. The growth in timberland also vouches for this as much of the timberland purchased will be used for either recreational purposes or timber for residential housing—it really all ties together nicely into one bigger picture. Predictions for continued growth through 2017 are encouraging for those looking to invest in land or sell it, as well as, for the real estate professionals involved in the transactions.”

The annual Land Markets Survey is a tool for real estate land professionals and those looking to buy or sell land in all sectors of the business to use for bench-marking and as an informational resource when conducting business. This year marks the fourth consecutive year that the survey has been conducted to reveal current trends and the ever-changing state of land markets within the industry. The REALTORS® Land Institute has made the full survey available for free online at

So is now an opportune time to purchase land real estate? Contact your local land consultant to see what opportunities are available.



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Inside the Agrihood Trend

Developers are bringing the farm closer to consumers’ tables in urban, rural, and suburban spaces.

Has foodie culture finally gone mainstream? According to The Urban Land Institute’s “America in 2015” survey, 73 percent of Americans highly prioritize access to fresh, healthy foods. That preference may also appear on clients’ house-hunting checklists: Thirty-seven percent of REALTORS® say their buyers want access to local food, and another 6 percent say clients seek community gardens near their new homes, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Sustainability Report.

Though ULI defines “agrihoods” narrowly—“master planned or residential communities built with a working farm as a focus”—residential areas organized around consumers’ desires for fresh, local food are popping up all over the country. And real estate pros working in a variety of markets in urban, rural, and suburban locations are finding success in this growing niche.

A Tree Grows in Oakland

Urban developments that incorporate agriculture may help residents mitigate common stressors of city living. “Townhome and condo complexes can be really concrete and not very green at all,” says Sandi Giannini, a real estate salesperson with HD Properties in Oakland, Calif. While most of her clients can’t afford a pastoral home at California’s high real estate prices, Giannini says they still prize greenery and fresh food. “People like the idea of a country setting but are living in an urban environment because of work.”

That’s why Giannini loves showing off the repurposed warehouse space of the Pacific Cannery Lofts in West Oakland. The development features a raised-bed community garden of 30 plots shared with Ironhorse, an affordable rental community next door. Giannini says the garden space is a major selling point in her tour and marketing materials.

Not all residents want to cultivate food themselves, but the green atmosphere is widely appealing. Many of Giannini’s clients work long hours in the tech industry and appreciate living in a complex where tomato plants and lemon trees offer fruits to residents. “They’re not looking to become full-time farmers,” says Lara Hermanson, principal at Farmscape, the company that installed and maintains the organic gardens between Ironhorse and Pacific Cannery Lofts, among hundreds more across the region. Though Farmscape’s annual contracts are negotiable, Hermanson says few communities decide to take over the work of tending to the edible landscaping completely. “In most cases, I’m the farmer in perpetuity.”

Deep Farming Roots in the Midwest

While it may not be surprising that urban farming has taken off in the Bay Area, Hermanson points to the country’s breadbasket as a vital source of the agrihood trend. “It’s a California way of doing this for sure, but the original one is the one in Illinois,” Hermanson says, referring to the development known as Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Ill.

The community of 357 homes, which was built more than 20 years ago, celebrates its connection to both wilderness and farming. Scot Lara, a real estate professional with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services KoenigRubloff Realty Group in Libertyville, Ill., has lived in Prairie Crossing for more than a decade. He and his wife were initially drawn to the community’s nature trails more than the 100-acre organic farm at the center of the development. “We didn’t really understand what it was all about; we just loved the way it looked,” Lara says. But after they signed the paperwork on their Prairie Crossing home, coworkers warned him they were going to turn into “tree huggers,” insinuating the development was “like a cult.”

Now that he’s a real estate professional, Lara confronts these misconceptions about Prairie Crossing often. Though the area is subject to a host of environmental and land-use rules, he explains that the restrictions help keep vistas open and trails clean. “The kind of rules that are in place are the kind of rules you want in place,” he says. “That’s what allows a place to remain the way you liked it when you first moved in.”

Lara can demystify the development’s restrictions for interested buyers, but he’d rather talk about the atmosphere. He describes Prairie Crossing as a “special” place where kids “travel in packs together,” and it might take him hours to mow the lawn because neighbors keep stopping by to chat or offer a cold beer. “There’s a sense of community that would be very hard to find in your everyday neighborhood,” he says. He has sold 10 homes in the development in the last year and says his ability to sort facts from hearsay nets him referrals from neighbors: “They say, ‘He understands what we have and what makes this a unique community, and he can convey that to other people.’”

An Oasis in the Suburban Desert

The area around the 452-home Agritopia development in Gilbert, Ariz., is vastly different from both West Oakland and Prairie Crossing. It has two Walmarts, a major freeway, and a large mall filled with big-box stores, all less than three miles from the community. Though it’s now a Phoenix suburb, Gilbert was largely agricultural up until recently. After seeing many of his contemporaries sell off their farms to developers in the 1990s, farmer Jim Johnston worked with his family, builders, and developers to create a new kind of community for the area.

When construction began around 2001, the whole development—from the roof pitches and porches of the Craftsman-style houses to the low vinyl fences and narrow streets connecting them—looked foreign to Colby Myers, half of the husband-wife team at Treehouse Realty in Gilbert, Ariz. “The homes were completely different than we had ever seen,” he says. “It just has a beauty you don’t find in Arizona.”

Myers says the feel of the place and the amenities—including a working farm, community garden plots, pool, and volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts—do a lot of his sales work for him. “Agritopia has a ‘Pleasantville’ feeling. You automatically feel safe and welcome, which creates a sense of home,” he says. “As real estate professionals, we show a lot of houses in an effort to find our clients a home. From the moment you drive into Agritopia, those houses become homes.”

That makes for stiff competition. Myers says he and his wife, Michele, are involved in only one or two Agritopia transactions a year. It’s hard to score listings in the tightly knit community because the homes are often “spoken for” before they officially go on the market.

Paying the Grocery Bill

As the agrihood trend expands, it’s becoming clear many consumers are willing to pay a premium for neighborhood access to fresh food. While these developments vary widely in how they actually distribute food to residents—from farmers’ markets to community-supported agriculture arrangements to more typical grocery store interactions—the funding of the farm is sometimes a separate charge, and often via a homeowners association. Myers says the majority of homes in Gilbert are in HOAs, but Agritopia’s fees skew significantly higher. He estimates Agritopia’s homeowners pay more than twice as much as those living in traditional developments nearby. But he adds that the demand for homes within the community makes it clear many feel it’s worth the price.

Lara says Prairie Crossing raised its quarterly fees in January for the first time in nine years, from $270 to $295. The rates are competitive with other developments in the area, he adds, especially considering all the educational programs and environmental initiatives funded through the HOA fees. Lara says the board’s focus on financial stability and long-term investment is reflected in the $1 million they keep in reserves. “The bottom line is they are all here for the same reason we are,” Lara says. “It shows you how much they care about maintaining it.”

The cost equation is more opaque in rentals. The Urban Land Institute found that Farmscape’s growing areas cost no more to maintain than traditional landscaping, yet residents pay an average of $7 more per month in rent to live in multifamily buildings that include the company’s gardens. However, Hermanson notes that the cost calculation could be different outside of California. “In the Midwest, people aren’t as used to paying for amenities as we are,” she says, comparing Farmscape to drop-off laundry services. “In Chicago, it still sounds ridiculous to not wash your own undies.”

Depending on size and complexity, developers may pay between $35,000 and $1 million for a Farmscape creation. Maintenance costs are charged weekly—between 25 cents and 65 cents per square foot for the vegetable garden and $2 for each fruit tree—and include replanting and amending the soil. Hermanson says the economics of agrihoods can work in any development with a few smart trade-offs. “Replace the pool or the gym that no one uses, that aren’t really creating the sense of place that an urban farm would,” she suggests. Additionally, developers who include access to healthy food in economically disadvantaged communities may be eligible for grants from the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, according to ULI.

Giannini predicts it won’t be long before the whole industry sees edible landscaping as a true amenity: “There are some real estate pros who don’t look at it yet as a feature, but they’re going to be pleasantly surprised by how much more interest people are going to have in this.”

By Meg White

Source: RealtorMag


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How to Find Hunting Land

Hunting, always a popular sport, is seeing new advocates as the number of female hunters rises.

According to one source, this number has climbed by 80 percent since the early 2000s. The reasons are as varied as the women who hunt, but part of the impetus is the recent (2007-2009) recession, and part is a desire to connect with the sources of food.

Add to that the empowering sensibility that women hunters get from literally “bringing home the bacon”, and it’s no surprise to see hunters in ponytails wearing Prois hunting jackets and carrying “designer” shotguns.

That aside, hunting is still a male-dominated (81 percent) sport, and the biggest problem male (and female) hunters have isn’t getting the right hunting gear or licenses, but finding land on which to hunt.

The world is crowded and getting more so every year. Finding open acreage on which to track and shoot that deer, bear, elk, or wild turkey is getting difficult. In many states east of the Mississippi and South of U.S. Route 40 (i.e., Missouri, Kentucky, and Virginia, for example), up to 95 percent of the land is privately owned. Here are some ways to simplify the search:

Contact a hunting lease association, like the American Hunting Lease Association. The fees can be steep, but the hunting is excellent.

Contact your state’s department of natural resources, or DNR. For example, the Minnesota DNR has created a new online tool for identifying public hunting and recreational land. Many states also have permit-only hunts for a fee and during a certain period of time.

In Colorado, Alaska, and Kentucky, to name but a few, there are draw hunts. These cost, but the hunting is excellent and the amount may be refunded if you purchased an annual game-specific (i.e., deer, fish, etc.) license the previous year, for example.

Check out federal reserves and refuges, i.e., the National Wildlife Refuge System, via the Federal Register.

Search your local newspaper for classified ads, under “land for sale or lease”. The best places to look are small, hometown or county-specific newspapers that publish both in paper and online. Don’t shy away from private land sales. Landowners have a dedicated interest in reducing the amount of grazing damage deer can cause.

Use social media for more than selfies. Express your interest in private land hunting on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, even Instagram. There are people out there in virtual space who own land and may not object to it being hunted.

Set up a Google alert for private land for hunting – for a fee (or ideally for free, or for a portion of the game you shoot). Texas and Louisiana both have programs that connect hunters with private land that is open to hunting. Farther west and north, Montana has a private land/public hunting program, and Wyoming has a Hunter/Landowner Assistance Program, which offers tens of thousands of acres for hunting and fishing.

Check the bulletin board at work, at church, the local sporting goods store, or at your gym. Also check the local grocery store or tavern. Better yet, make up a card asking for help locating hunting land and use your e-mail or phone number, whichever seems best and safest.

If you belong to an organization (Elks, Shriners, Masons, or Knights of Columbus), ask the people you know best, or simply bring up the subject of hunting. What else are brotherhoods for?

Talk to your neighbors, or ask your relatives. Join a hunting association and get to know fellow hunters. Do not, as one source suggests, go door-to-door, or ask at your child’s school. The first could be dangerous, and the second could send entirely the wrong message to teachers and administrative staff.

by Jeanne Roberts



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In the Wake of California Flooding, FEMA Updates Flood Insurance Plans

Given the ongoing situation in California, where six consecutive dry years – and a history of drought – have culminated in unprecedented flooding from the Oroville Dam in the north to Los Angeles in the south, it’s fortunate that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, just updated its flood insurance plan, which covers homes, or places of residence, and property.

The Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate (OFIA) is an integral part of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP. The OFIA’s purpose is to educate policyholders and property owners on such issues as buying flood insurance, filing flood claims, and appealing a negative decision on flood insurance reimbursement.

Obviously, the first step in buying flood insurance is determining whether it is necessary. The flood map service center allows landowners and homeowners to visualize their property on an interactive map which shows the flood risks.

Suffice to say, the maps are difficult to read: it’s the government, after all. However, you can also call your city, municipality, or county to find out if your community participates in the NFIP; if your property is in a flood risk area; and how that risk is rated. You might even get a discount on your house’s flood insurance if your community’s participation and status ranks high in the Community Rating System. Or you can make an end run around FEMA maps and check out Floodtools.

You can also call the insurance agent who handles your household insurance, or fill out the Flood Risk Profile to guesstimate how much flood insurance will cost. You can also Google it. In most of St. Paul, Minnesota, for example, the average cost for residential flood insurance is $300 a year (for $100,000 in coverage, which is the limit). In the western suburbs of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where new FEMA mapping has reduced the risk, it is more like $500, and for areas which still fall clearly within the floodplain, it can cost up to $5,000 a year.

The coverage for structures and contents must be purchased separately, and the contents of a basement are never covered. Both contents and dwelling have a deductible, so it can get pricey. Plus, there is a 30-day waiting period for the policy to become effective, so you can’t buy flood insurance after the fact.

But if that seems like a lot, consider this: a Federal Disaster Loan can cost $300 a month for 20 years!

Filing a claim is pretty much like any other insured loss. You will need to contact your insurance agent first, and make a list of the damaged items, the approximate date of purchase, and the estimated dollar value of each item – but be reasonable, because the claims adjuster wasn’t born yesterday. You should also provide receipts if you have them.

Taking photos of the damage is an excellent way to document losses, and with digital cameras the documentation can all be done electronically!  You will also need to file a Proof of Loss form within 60 days, or you may get nothing. The insurance adjuster can help you with this. Proof of Loss is separate from an insurance claim, and substantiates it.

No matter what someone tells you, you don’t need to wait for President Trump to declare your flood a disaster, and your policy can’t be cancelled for turning in a claim. In addition, registering for FEMA assistance provides you access to a number of emergency services like money to rent someplace to live, include a FEMA-approved group of hotels whether you voluntarily leave your home or are evacuated – as was the case with the Oroville Dam spillway failure. The Federal Emergency Management Agency advises flood victims to register for disaster assistance online, or by calling 1-800-621- 3362 (FEMA)

You can also get money for necessary expenses like medical or dental problems, funeral expenses, and personal property reimbursements for clothing, medications, and essential toiletries.  The agency will also provide funds for transportation, moving and storage of items that have survived flooding, and other expenses that are authorized by law.

Where flooding and subsequent evacuation has separated family members, FEMA’s National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System, or NEFRLS, can help reunite them. The NEFRLS program is automatically activated after the President declares a national disaster. Register online at, or call 1-800-588-9822, 24-hours a day once a disaster is declared.

by Jeanne Roberts



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Thinking of Going Off-Grid? Here’s How to Pick the Best Property

Secluded, sustainable, self-sufficient: going off-grid’s been the ultimate American dream since the days of Thoreau. But these days, getting away from it all is obviously a bit trickier than just packing up and moving to a cabin in the woods. Unlike in Walden, you’re probably going to want some basic amenities, such as electricity. But it’s hardly impossible, especially with land that’s good for solar production. Here’s what to look for when you start shopping around.

Seek Out Land with a Flat Clearing

Tree coverage is often a death sentence for solar panels. Heavily-shaded areas just can’t compare to the production of sunnier spots; if you live out in the woods, some installers may even tell you solar just isn’t worth it. But tree removal and ground clearing for heavily forested areas can run up to $6,000 per acre, which is an expense you don’t really need if you’re already putting down thousands of dollars on a down payment and solar energy system. If you can, opt for a property that already has a clearing available to you.

You’ll also need to decide how you’ll mount your system, which can come into play regarding the land you choose. A solar calculator or professional installer can help you better understand the best size system for your household needs, but usually your average-sized five-kilowatt panels won’t be able to support the demand from a typical home. You should definitely consider high performance features, like energy-efficient heating and cooling and tight building envelopes, but you’ll still probably need to purchase a solar panel setup that runs on the larger side.

In fact, if you manage to find land that is flat and even, you can potentially opt for a ballasted ground mount system, which will allow you to install multiple panels to create your own miniature solar farm. That lets you position the panels in the optimal direction,rather than relying on the orientation of your roof. For instance, south-facing panels typically demonstrate the best energy performance—but aesthetically, that might not be the best direction for your home. Land that’s amenable to ground-mount panels gives you options.

Avoid Areas with Restrictive Property Covenants and Zoning Regulations

Homeowners associations mean well—their rules are largely meant to maintain safety and bring up property values in the area. However, locations with stringent covenants, conditions and restrictions—affectionately known to realtors as CC&Rs—could put a damper on your dreams of your own self-sufficient paradise.

Notably, counties with restrictive zoning regulations may penalize homeowners for erecting certain structures, like barns, dugouts, and straw-bale houses. Homeowners associations might be even more strict, preventing you from building gardens, raising livestock, or even installing solar (more on that below). You’re entitled to see all CC&Rs after you make an offer on a property, and you can withdraw your offer without penalty (or forfeiting fees) if you don’t like what you see.

Review Your State and Local Laws for Solar Easements

Likewise, homeowners associations can potentially prevent local residents from erecting solar panels on their property. However, to protect solar residents and encourage the growth of the solar industry, many states and local governments enforce solar easement laws, which restrict HOAs from prohibiting solar.

The best way to check your area for solar easements is to make your way to, the website for the Department of Energy’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Here, you can search through a long list of incentives and legislation for solar, state-by-state.

Check State Legislation in the Area You Want to Buy

State attitudes towards off-grid properties vary vastly by location. In some parts of Florida, for instance, residents are required to hook up to the grid—the state lets local utilities decide whether or not homeowners can go off-grid.

Before you buy, try to get a general feel for your state’s thinking in regards to renewable energy. Many states, particularly those in coal-heavy areas, have recently witnessed battles between utilities and solar advocates over the extent to which state governments can legislate solar. That’s a trend that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future, so it’s a smart idea to look somewhere with a track record of pro-solar legislation.

That may seem like a lot to digest, but it will definitely be worth it when you’re living free and clear on your own off-grid utopia. It’s just like Thoreau said, “if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams… he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Written by Erin Vaughan

Modernize, Buying Land

Source: Lands of America

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ADVERSE POSSESSION – Zuckerberg Drops Hawaiian Kuleana Land Case, Offers Apology

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of 700 acres of land in Hawaii, is finding out the hard way that land ownership can be an uncertain thing at best.

In 2014, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, bought two adjacent tracts of land – a 393-acre Pila’a Beach tract, and a 357-acre former sugarcane farm called Kahu’aina Plantation. It would have been an ideal getaway for one of the world’s richest men, if not for the fact that the plantation contains as many as 24 tiny plots of land that Zuckerberg hasn’t been able to buy, and whose owners are free to cross his land at any time they choose.

These tiny parcels, known as “kuleanas”, are by law (and historically) the property of families who have passed ownership down through the decades. Kuleana rights include “reasonable access, agricultural uses, gathering rights, rights to a single-family dwelling, water rights, and fishing rights”.  In Hawaiian, kuleana means “right, privilege, or responsibility”.   Some of the kuleanas contain huts, and are used as weekend or vacation getaway spots.  All are protected under a 2012 Hawaiian Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the original decision laid out 160 years ago vis à vis tenant farming rights.

Zuckerberg, who filed eight lawsuits known as “quiet title and partition” actions to obtain the parcels, has since dropped his litigation efforts and apologized. Reports indicate he hopes to negotiate a solution with the individuals and communities involved. Given the uncertain nature of land titles in Hawaii, this may be the best resolution, especially as some kuleana owners don’t even know the boundaries of their land. The situation is sadly reminiscent of Native American tribes in the 19th century.

The kuleana holders are not squatters in any sense of the word, and Zuckerberg is far from the first to face this dilemma. In fact, land taken by squatters, sharecroppers, tenant farmers, and the homeless – a process known as “adverse possession” – has plagued many a buyer who thought he, or she, had finally purchased the home and/or acreage of his or her dreams.

Moreover, land law and land rights may actually recognize the ownership of squatters and the homeless after a certain amount of time has passed. In California, for example, someone who takes over an abandoned building, or sets up farming on an open plot of land, can obtain a document of ownership for said property after five continuous years of occupation.

In Pennsylvania, a couple who lost track of one of their land purchases actually forfeited most of it to someone who lived next to it and used it consecutively, for 21 years. Each state views adverse possession somewhat differently, and some mandate that the trespasser pay the local property taxes for a certain number of years in order to claim the property.

Historically, the law tended to differentiate sharecroppers and tenant farmers by noting that the latter usually had their own farming tools – a distinction that has not clarified adverse possession status. A tenant farmer using a verbal agreement can farm the land for a number of years without sharing the profits of his labor and then demand adverse possession status. A piece of property that is purchased and then ignored can pass to a sharecropper who faithfully shares the profits of his labor and then asks the court for title to the land.

According to one global land policy institute, the rights to land are commonly related to the amount of labor invested “as an extension of the right to the fruit of such labour”.

The bottom line is simple. Property owners should either inspect their lands regularly or hire someone to do so, and every granting of right or easement should be accompanied by legal documentation of the exact rights given – or taken.

Source: LandHub

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All About Conservation Easements: How to Protect Ranch Estates for Future Generations

Few resources on this planet today are more important than the land itself. As populations and commercial businesses continue to grow, protecting large property ranch estates is important for the conservation of U.S. water, wildlife, and wilderness spaces. That’s one reason why conservation easements were first established hundreds of years ago and continue to be effective today. Learn more about how conservation easements work and their benefits for governments and landowners alike.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a voluntary donation or sale of private property to a government agency that allows the resources of the land to receive federal protection from further developments. The public benefits of the land — such as water access, wildlife habitation, farm and ranch property rights, outdoor recreation uses, etc. — are safeguarded against future subdivisions or developments for as long as the property remains privately owned.

What are the benefits of conservation easements for landowners?

Conservation easements give private property owners a generous estate tax incentive, which allows land to be passed from generation to generation fully intact. Sometimes, the prohibitive cost of estate taxes can cause parts of ranch estates to be subdivided and sold off — but with an easement, property heirs can exclude up to 40% or $500,000 worth of land from their tax claims.

What does the government get in return?

Every conservation easement is created on terms and agreements specific to the land itself. For example, a ranch with land bordering a national or state park can serve as a “buffer” zone for the migrating wildlife that roams the area. A lakefront property, on the other hand, might benefit from an easement that allows for water preservation or fishing tourism.

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The Economics of the Most Successful Large Western Ranches

Finally owning your own large property may feel like a dream come true, but once the sale closes, your work has only just begun. The most successful large western ranches are run on sound economic principles and a profitable production schedule that uses every available acre. We’ve compiled some of the best pieces of advice for turning your ranch real estate into a place that you can comfortably call work and home.
1. Manage your herd by acre and worker.
The amount of acreage for sale isn’t the only factor that will influence how many head of cattle you might be able to manage on your ranch. You also     need to consider how many workers or hired hands you can afford to help with tending to the herd. Most mid- to large western ranches typically             budget one worker for every 800 to 1,000 cows.
2. Make your property multi-use.
Depending on where you live and the type of land you have available, you might be able to allocate some parts of your ranch as seasonal private hunting land, which can help generate additional revenue with very little overhead. American hunters average 21 days dedicated to the sport every year, for a combined total of 282 million days annually. Many are willing to pay top dollar for managed land with good prospects for deer, elk, fowl, or other game.

3. Build a community.
Ranching is often perceived as a solitary kind of lifestyle, but it’s essential to establish a network among other ranchers, especially your neighbors.         The ranching community is often a tight-knit community built on trust and helping each other out when times get hard. Experienced veterans are         always ready to offer kernels of wisdom to newcomers.

Ranching life may not always be easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. There are few things more gratifying than living off the land and   appreciating it for what it’s worth. To keep your dreams afloat, be sure to make your land as usable and profitable as possible while still preserving its beauty. For more information on how to find the ranch property of your dreams, contact us at Sports Afield Trophy Properties to work with a knowledgeable land broker today.


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The Easiest Ways to Protect Your Land from Rural Crime

Rural property crime is an ever-increasing problem. That can be a depressing thought for people who have moved to the country, eager to avoid the problems of city life – including crime.

But regardless of whether you own a single-family home in the country, are searching for farms for sale in the United States, undeveloped land for sale, or any type of country property, landowners can be victimized by crimes ranging from burglaries to equipment theft to livestock theft to illegal dumping.

Here are a few security suggestions for rural property owners:

Report every crime to local law enforcement, no matter how petty. Don’t think you’re just “being a bother.” Those reports allow law enforcement to spot a developing crime trend and then appropriately plan to combat it, often “nipping the problem in the bud” before the crimes become even more bothersome and costly to your neighbors and you.

Security setups don’t have to be costly or obvious. Solar-powered, motion sensor security lights can be purchased for as little as $20 and require no electricity usage or hookup, allowing them to be deployed anywhere. Most are extremely sturdy and last for years in all types of weather conditions.

Fuel Tank Security. Basic common sense is your best friend as fuel theft is one of the most frequent rural crimes. Remember that what is most convenient for you is also most convenient for criminals, so, if possible, place the fuel tank in an out-of-the-way spot, far from any roads. If you live on the property, place the tank in a place where you can see it from your home but it’s not easily viewed from a roadway. And while a determined thief can cut through most any lock, purchase expensive padlocks for your tank and fences. Don’t use a $2 padlock to protect $1,000 worth of fuel.

Contractor Diligence: Be careful of whom you hire to do work on your property. We’re not talking about paranoia here, but keep in mind that even if you have the utmost confidence in a particular company or contractor, you’ll want to make sure that they are equally dedicated to employing only high-quality, reputable people themselves. This is especially true if you are budget-conscious and know that the contractor offers low wages to workers. Once you allow access to your land, it’s all too easy for people to survey what you have and how to get it.

Illegal dumping. The illegal dump site can be both dangerous and very expensive to clean up, and features old tires, household trash, medical waste, automobile and other vehicles, hazardous chemicals, and even the remains of clandestine drug laboratories. One of the best ways to combat this dilemma is to securely mark your property boundaries. Illegal dumpers are searching for a quick and convenient spot to dump their junk, hopefully with easy access from the road. Be sure to block access points and roads to your property that are no longer used and give the dumpers no spot where they can easily pull in and offload their trash. Keep your fences and gates in good repair and locked, otherwise you could face a cleanup that’s a huge hassle and a big expense.

As you search for land to buy or farms for sale in the U.S. or any type of rural property to purchase, we know you can find the land of your dreams here on At that point, just a bit of work and a few dollars can help you keep it safe from those who’d like to rip off your stuff and poke a hole in your pleasant day in the country.

by Mark Bingaman

Additional Tips: Rural Crime Prevention: Livestock Theft, Washington State Department of Agriculture

Ranch and Farm Theft on the Rise: Utah State University Extension


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How To Begin Birding

Like birds, but don’t know how to make the leap to becoming a birder? Here are three easy steps to get you into the field.

By Nicholas Lund 

I’m biased, but in my opinion, birding is the Greatest Pursuit Available to a Citizen of the Modern World. It’s basically a lifelong scavenger hunt played across the entire earth. It’s equal parts science and poetry, hoots of triumph and quiet reflection, adventures to far-flung corners of the world and discoveries in your own back yard.

Your life is going to be better with birds in it. If you’ve always loved birds but never known how to actually make the leap, here’s how to begin.

  1. Get Excited — and Read Up

So, there’s no rush. While aching knees or backs will eventually force your peers to hang up their skis or mountain bikes, birders can bird for as long as they can walk, roll, or look out a window (I’m genuinely excited to impress my peers at whatever nursing home I eventually get put into). Take a moment to learn about what you’re getting into.

Start by getting your hands on a field guide. Any book will do as long as it has pictures of each bird and maps of their range. Keep this book in a place where you’ll be able to leisurely flip through it for a couple minutes each day—the bathroom works as well as your nightstand. What are the different kinds of birds? Where do they live, and in what seasons? Don’t worry at this point about how to identify anything, just focus on figuring out what’s out there.

To supplement your field guide examination, learn some things about avian biology and the sport of birding. Watch all of the BBC’s Life of Birds series, hosted by your new hero David Attenborough.  Learn about why birds are birds, and how they’ve evolved into such incredible creatures. Read The Big Year by Mark Obmascik (unsurprisingly, the book’s better than the movie), and learn about the extreme end of this hobby—not as something to emulate (yet) but as a point of reference. Excited yet? Good, let’s go to step two.

2. Gear Up

A great thing about birding is how little equipment you need to actually do it. To get started, you really just need something to hold to the eye to make those far-away little birdies a bit bigger. In the beginning, you don’t need to worry about what kind of binoculars you’re using. All you’ve got is a pair of hulking, 14-pound black plastic behemoths from your mom’s house? Use them. Little opera glasses that you hold to your face with a stick? They’ll work. One of those extending telescopes that fit in your pocket? Get ready to run through the woods like some sort of bird-watching pirate. If they make far away things seem a little less far away, use them for now.

And that’s it!  Some form of binoculars and that field guide you bought earlier are plenty to get started.  As you get better, you may want to invest in a nice camera or a spotting scope (for the really far-off birds), but they’re by no means required.

3. Get Out There

The time has come to actually get outside. The first experience is important; if you’re overwhelmed, or you don’t quite “get” what you’re supposed to be doing, you may not return for a second chance. So start with a plan.

Here’s what I recommend: pick a bird and go find it. Use that field guide you bought and pick a bird you’ve never seen before—one that you’re reasonably sure lives nearby at that time of year—and go find it.  There are a lots of resources you can use to determine what birds have been seen nearby, like the “explore data” section of eBird or postings on your local birding listserv. Then just go out into the actual world and start looking until you find it.

Believe me, the accomplishment you’ll feel when your chosen bird is all of a sudden flapping or paddling or sitting in front of you, no longer a flat image in the book but a living creature—that feeling is what this is all about. You’ll recapture it with every new species you find.

And that’s it, you’re a birder! There are a lot of ways to proceed from here—finding buddies to bird with; chasing your first rarity; taking your first trip out of state—but all those will come naturally once you’ve gotten started.

Congratulations on your new hobby—I’ll see you in the field.




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