By Albert N. Allen, ALC – Chapter President Elect
CHOOSING A TEXAS REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL TO HELP YOU WITH BUYING OR SELLING RURAL LAND NEAR HOUSTON CAN BE A CHALLENGE. WORKING YOUR WAY THROUGH THE MAZE OF CERTIFICATIONS, DESIGNATIONS, LICENSES, SPECIALIZATIONS, ORGANIZATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS IS LIKE LOOKING FOR THE PROVERBIAL “NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK”. HOPEFULLY, THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION WILL SIMPLIFY MATTERS.
IF YOU PLAN TO BUY OR SELL RURAL PROPERTY, CHOOSE A BROKER WHO SPECIALIZES IN RURAL LAND.
All serious real estate professionals (hopefully they are Realtors) specialize. A professional agent will typically be a “pro” in a particular property type such as residential, commercial or industrial for example. They may have even earned a certification related to that property type or activity such as leasing or management.
Rural Land Brokers are no different. They specialize in farms and ranches, rural recreational, country estates, transitional land, commercial and development land. They have their own association (Realtors Land Institute) and their own professional designation (Accredited Land Consultant). They regularly attend courses, conferences, seminars, broker property exchanges and various social events related to rural property.
REAL ESTATE BROKERS AND AGENTS.
The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) provides for two categories of real estate professionals; Brokers and Agents. Managing Brokers are responsible for all brokerage activities of the agents they sponsor and for the administration of the business affairs of their brokerage. Associate Brokers primarily act as sales agents. Sales Agents must be sponsored by one Broker and they work with clients under the supervision of that Broker during the buying and selling process.
Real Estate Brokers and Agents are licensed by the State of Texas for the protection of the public. Before receiving a real estate license, an individual must meet certain requirements to include; taking and passing various real estate classes required by TREC, successfully pass a comprehensive state real estate agent’s exam and submit to a background check. Additionally, an agent must achieve a certain level of experience under the supervision of a sponsoring Broker, take and pass additional courses and pass a comprehensive Brokers examination before earning their broker’s license.
Both agents and brokers in Texas are subject to continuing education requirements every two years which include real estate subject matter, legal standards and various contract classes. They also must abide by the TREC Canons of Professional Ethics and Conduct.
WHO IS A REALTOR?
Many brokers and agents decide to further develop themselves professionally. A Texas Realtor is a Sales Agent or Broker who has decided to join the National, Texas and Local Association of Realtors. These individuals have pledged to abide by a strict Code of Ethics that goes beyond what is required by TREC. Realtors are bound to a high standard of client interests and professional behavior. Additionally, a Realtor has an impressive array of professional development options to include education and certifications. Most local associations have well developed MLS websites which provide members a wide variety of marketing options. Ask your real estate professional if they are a member of the Texas Association of Realtors.
WHAT IS THE REALTORS LAND INSTITUTE?
The individual Realtor who wants to specialize in land brokerage related to all types of rural property will often join the Realtors Land Institute (RLI). In many ways the National Association of Realtors is an umbrella organizations with various specialty affiliates. The Realtors Land Institute (RLI) is one of the oldest affiliates and has been in existence in one form or another since 1920. The RLI serves two primary purposes; specialty land education (expertise) and collaboration within the land industry (networking).
Expertise. LANDU is the educational program of the RLI and consists of a full array of courses such as; Fundamentals, Investment Techniques, Recreational, Agriculture Marketing, 1031 Exchanges, Site Selection, Transitional Land, Subdividing and more. The RLI Member is exposed to intensive land education far beyond that of other real estate professionals.
Networking. The land professional who is a member of RLI develops close relationships with land practitioners in the land industry such as other land brokers, lenders, title companies, subdivision developers and production agriculture specialists. These relationships result in an expanded market for their clients.
WHAT IS THE ACCREDITED LAND CONSULTANT?
The Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) is the only land specific designation recognized by the National Association of Realtors. The individual who earns the ALC designation has completed a rigorous program of education, comprehensive examination and significant experience in land brokerage. They adhere to a strict code of conduct in addition to the Realtor Code of Ethics. There are fewer than 100 ALC members in Texas. These professionals represent the elite of the land industry in Texas.
WHAT A REALTOR LAND INSTITUTE MEMBER WILL DO FOR YOU.
Buying and selling rural property should be an enjoyable experience. Choose a member of the Realtor Land Institute and rely upon their knowledge and expertise. The following are just a few of the ways an RLI Member will help.
Save you time and frustration. There are a lot of decisions to be made and a proper order in which they need to be accomplished. Your agent will organize the entire process saving you time and frustration. Let them gather data, preview properties and arrange the showings. Rely upon their knowledge of the marketplace and contacts in the land community.
Objectivity. Unlike the buyer or seller, the land professional has little emotional involvement in the process. They have the negotiation skills and temperament to maintain their composure. The have knowledge of the neighborhood, properties and comparable sales data and their expectations are based on experience.
Assistance with contracts, closings and beyond. They will assist you with writing the earnest money contract. You will need help with the inspections and surveys. They will guide you through choosing a title company and the closing process. A good land agent will help you with hiring vendors and answer questions after the closing.
Buying or selling rural property is a significant financial transaction and involves informed decision making, attention to detail and adhering to deadlines. Make sure you choose a member of the Realtors Land Institute.
Members of the Realtor Land Institute have paid a high price in time, money, effort, education and experience. Take advantage of their knowledge. “You might think you can’t afford a professional until you hire an amateur”. Red Adair